Small businesses in the Cloud
In the previous article we explored the Cloud and how the current technological landscape of the planet allows for ways of working that only a decade ago we could barely have dreamt of. We also touched on the fact that, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and their need to continue working at any cost, business owners were (somewhat begrudgingly) forced to adopt the Cloud and various tools with little knowledge of what they were buying. To make it all easier to understand, we then briefly broke down some of the jargon used by IT professionals when referring to the Cloud as it can be difficult to understand.
***Your* current technological landscape**
We are going to presume that during the peak of the pandemic you went out and ‘panic
bought’ tools – with little to no knowledge of what they do or are capable of – to allow you and your team to continue trading, and who could blame you. In normal circumstances we would not suggest doing this at all, but would instead recommend that you take your time to research tools in order to guarantee that you find the ones that are the most beneficial and cost effective for your organisation.
The problem with these tools is that, due to the haste in which they were purchased, insufficient training meant that they are not currently being utilised as effectively as they could be, and some of them aren’t even necessary.
It is safe for us to presume that – in running a small business – you use Microsoft’s suite of tools – if this is the case it is likely that you already have all the tools you could possibly need as part of your subscription (or are at least very close). Many don’t know the power of the tools that they already have at their disposal or how – when integrated with Cloud computing – they can be utilised to their full potential.
Let’s take Microsoft Teams for example.
***Teams* within Microsoft Teams**
You first need to build-out a digital footprint of your business within the Teams architecture. Grouping access to files, folders, and other associated resources within Microsoft Teams all takes place within sections, identified as – yes, you’ve guessed it – ‘Teams’.
You could create Teams by functional departments such as Sales, Marketing or Purchasing, by client or by project – or any combination mix that best suits your requirements. You need to make a decision on the DNA of your business and how you choose to run things before organising your files, because, as we all know, what works for some may not work for others so it is imperative that you spend time in discovering what is the best option for you. To enable access, each team will have only appropriate users assigned to it, in the process keeping files and ‘the conversation’ related to that individual client, project or department ring-fenced to the users that require it. This ring fencing is important, because if – for example – a new trainee had access to a sensitive conversation/ file regarding an upcoming merger or perhaps regarding an appraisal of one of their colleagues, this could be disastrous and would be a serious breach of confidentiality.
A Channel is a subdivision of a team and is a place where focused conversation can take place on a less broad subject. Channels can be made accessible to all or you can choose to make an individual channel private – this is useful for implementing the ‘need to know’ principle. As we touched on previously, extend access only to those that need it.
When you create a ‘Team’ within MS Teams, a corresponding SharePoint Site is automatically configured. Subsequently, creating a Channel within the Team will automatically launch a subfolder within the associated SharePoint site. In less technical terms, what you create within Teams is effectively mirrored within SharePoint, in the process saving you the hassle of having to configure each platform separately.
The permissions granted within Teams are carried over to SharePoint. This means only those with access to a particular team or channel will have access to the corresponding file libraries within SharePoint. Again, it goes back to the fact that you don’t want certain members of your team having access to information which is not relevant, or appropriate, to them.
Teams also has a way of communicating on a casual level too. Let’s take a look, shall we?
There are two ways to conduct a discussion in Teams:
1.By using the group ‘Chat’ feature, located on the left of the Teams interface.
2.By posting communication under the ‘posts’ tab of a specific channel.
The ‘Chat’ feature is designed for an informal chat but Channels, on the other hand, are optimised for more project-led discussions. Here are some of the most important differences to take note of:
Channels are quieter as, by default, they don’t send notifications whereas Chats does. For example, send a message in your group chat and everyone will get a notification and be alerted, whereas when you want to get someone’s attention in a Channel you need to use the @mention feature which allows for conversations in Channels to be more personal. Due to this, Chats can be very distracting (especially if you have the entire team in one informal chat), although, luckily, the option to mute is there if you need it.
Channels supports more app extensions than group chats. For example, you can add Planner to a Channel discussion – which you can’t pin to a normal Chat.
•Channel discussions are far better for document sharing. Take SharePoint, for example – its integration makes Channel discussions more convenient when it comes to document sharing. Sending a file in a Channel presents a link to the associated SharePoint location, whereas a group chat doesn’t have any SharePoint location associated with it.
•It can be difficult in a group chat to distinguish between multiple discussion threads, often leading to confusion, wasted time and reduced productivity. With Channels you can post targeted replies to specific messages, allowing certain team members to converse without getting the entire team involved.
This is just one example of a Microsoft tool that, if used correctly, has features that can make other tools in your repertoire obsolete. Teams allows you to have an informal ‘chat’ and work-related conversation, whilst simultaneously having effective file management in the ‘Teams’ section.
The point we are making by breaking down the effectiveness of Microsoft Teams is that, by utilising tools to their full potential, you will need to manage far fewer tools in the future…
By effectively using all the tools at your disposal you can then take things one step further. You can then introduce BPA (Business Process Automation) into your daily tasks, taking away human influence where it is no longer necessary. With your apps all working in conjunction on the Cloud BPA can then make things a whole lot easier.
For example, your business is doing well and has amassed a reasonably large following on Twitter and various other social networking Channels. With BPA no staff need to waste their time replying and following all those potential customers that are tweeting – instead it can be automatically done for you.
We hope that both these articles have helped you realise the benefits of Cloud computing and how important it is to use the tools at your disposal as effectively as possible.
Armco IT: IT Support and Managed Services for Businesses Across York, North and East Yorkshire
There’s nothing we love more than seeing Yorkshire businesses flourish by harnessing the power of IT. Our team of dedicated engineers stands ready to help you overcome any technical challenge and deliver tailored solutions that help your business meet its goals and growth ambitions. From our base in Malton, we deliver proactive IT support and services across York, North and East Yorkshire. We have a strong track record in delivering impactful IT to clients across a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, design and insurance, among many others. We focus on maintaining, optimising and securing your digital estate, so you can focus on the growth and success of your business. Contact our team and let us start our journey together today.