Collaboration, Productivity and Cloud-Based Tools

What every SMB needs to know  

O365 at Rackspace

If one person completes a project, it’s likely to be one-dimensional. The finished product will have a single perspective and reflect both the strengths and weaknesses of the creator. Odds are, the results will have limited success.

When a team of people with different skill sets, perspectives and experiences collaborates on a project, it is likely to be of higher quality, reach completion quickly and meet the needs of more customers. According to McKinsey & Company, social technologies can increase worker productivity by 20 to 25 percent.

However, collaborating doesn’t solve all problems. It actually introduces a few new issues small businesses must overcome to deliver high-quality results. According to a study on, document access and sharing make up a majority of business activities conducted using Microsoft tools.

The study concluded that collaborating with a team almost always requires working with shared documents. Because shared documents involve concerns about access, privacy, versioning and multiple simultaneous users, businesses must use tools that overcome these concerns in order for project collaboration to deliver the best results.

Office 365 Tools Increase Productivity and Collaboration

Here are three Office 365 tools all small businesses should use for collaboration:


Teams is a new Office 365 tool that creates a shared space team members can use for real-time collaboration.

The tool combines email, text chatting and video conferencing in a single interface. Because all communications are kept in one location, it is much more efficient than sending multiple emails or using external tools such as Skype.

When setting up Teams, you define groups with specific people who need to collaborate with each other, such as the accounting department or a cross-functional product team. Teams is also flexible enough that you can have your entire company in one Team — and create more Teams in the future as your company grows.

Or, if your employees are currently using Slack to communicate, you can save money and increase productivity by switching to Teams. By eliminating Slack and using a tool that is included in Office 365, you eliminate the expense. This also gives your IT department one less tool and vendor to manage. Additionally, employees no longer need a separate login for Slack, but can use a single identity for all tools. While security has always been an important consideration for IT, with recent large breaches it has been moved into the spotlight. Using fewer tools

While security has always been an important consideration for IT, with recent large breaches it has been moved into the spotlight. Using fewer tools gives attackers fewer opportunities to attack your business and use their nefarious ways to get your company’s data or get credentials that might give them access to other systems. Migrating from many disparate systems to one makes it tougher for the bad guys — which is, of course, a good thing.

As the quality of the tools your employees use at home increases, their expectations for the tools they use at work also increases. This leads to employees finding creative ways to get their job done. Fortunately, Teams is full featured and can easily stand up to the likes of Slack. It will keep your users from getting too curious about what else is out there.


Instead of using a storage program such as Google Drive or Dropbox, or emailing files back and forth, teams can share files and documents through OneDrive. This gives employees the ability to share large files that are too big for email or Dropbox.

Many small businesses find that if they do not provide a solution for sharing files, employees will use personal Dropbox accounts, especially when working remotely. This opens up privacy and security issues for your data and business.

OneDrive allows your employees to seamlessly share and access files from whatever device they are currently working on — smartphone, laptop or tablet. OneDrive also integrates very well with SharePoint and allows employees to use OneDrive to share files from within SharePoint.

OneDrive has all the file-sharing functionality that users want, with all of the stuffy, boring IT security that the pointy-haired bosses want. It’s a win-win.


If you haven’t heard of Planner, you aren’t alone. Many small and medium-sized businesses overlook this lightweight project management tool that’s included in Office 365 and is perfect for managing moderate-sized projects.

Planner can be used for many purposes, including go-to-market planning and launch, legal review, marketing approval and the product team review process. Team members can open Planner from within Office 365 and see the status of project tasks as well as tasks assigned to them. It’s simple to add new tasks, complete a task or reassign a task to a different team member.

By using this tool to put processes behind the tasks, you can eliminate the frustration of waiting for another team member to perform a task or experiencing delays from a missed step. Having your project in Planner makes it that much tougher for Jim in accounting to play dumb when you ask him for that TPS report you’re waiting on.

Office 365: Ultra Secure, Awesome Uptime

By using the Office 365 tools for collaboration, you benefit from the best-in-breed security built into the Microsoft suite. Office 365 works continuously to fend off malware, get rid of spam and avoid DDOS attacks. Additionally, all tools are automatically updated, so you can be sure employees have the latest features and security patches. As for Office 365’s availability, its uptime for the second quarter of 2015 was 99.95 percent. That might be more reliable than water being wet. Isn’t that something to smile about?

As for Office 365’s availability, its uptime for the second quarter of 2015 was 99.95 percent. That might be more reliable than water being wet. Isn’t that something to smile about?

O365 at Rackspace

Todd Klindt has been a professional computer nerd for over 20 years, specializing in SharePoint for the last 15 years. In 2006 he was honored to be awarded the MVP award from Microsoft for Windows SharePoint Services. He has had the pleasure of working with SharePoint farms both large small, and has written several books and magazine articles on SharePoint. Todd has presented sessions on SharePoint at many major conferences both in the United States as well as Europe and Asia and does the user group circuit, SharePoint Saturday events. He chronicles his SharePoint adventures on his blog, You can follow him on Twitter @toddklindt.


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