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Using Microsoft Teams in each Department

With many of us continuing to work from home, and the likelihood of this carrying on into the future, the use of video conferencing software such as Microsoft Teams has become a daily occurrence.  Also, for people who are going back to the office and having to follow social distancing regulations, using Teams really helps departments across companies to continue to successfully collaborate and continue working effectively.  If you have never used Teams before or have perhaps only used the chat facility, it can feel overwhelming to make the transition to using all the different parts of the software.

Let’s have a look at how Microsoft Teams can help each department individually and improve team collaboration:

Marketing

Marketing teams need to create and collaborate with many groups of people both within the company and outside of it.  Teams provides a shared workspace for all conversations, files and third-party services.  Teams makes it very easy to manage marketing campaigns, social channels, collaborate on content creation and plan events.

Top Tip: Add Adobe Creative Cloud Directly into Teams: https://appsource.microsoft.com/en-us/product/office/WA104381222?tab=Overview

Sales

Teams can help sales teams to deal with enquiries and quickly build quotations and proposals with input from different stakeholders.  Collaboration, reporting, and knowledge sharing can happen in one place, helping sales professionals everywhere – in the home office and the field – work together to meet sales objectives.

Top Tip: Use with PowerBI to create a dashboard for data relating to forecast and actual sales https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/

Finance

Finance teams need to collaborate on aggregating and reporting on data while conducting business reviews on a regular basis. Teams provides a central hub in which all files, data, conversations and meetings can happen in a single place, safely and securely.

Top Tip: Use file sharing to share monthly or quarterly reports with management or company owners.

Human Resources

Teams can help the HR team to manage recruitment and employee onboarding activities, including sharing CVs and interview notes, keeping track of candidate information, communicating employment decisions, and sharing new employee documents.

Top Tip: https://www.simpleinout.com/ and https://www.attendancebot.com/ are great addons to Teams that help keep track of your team.

IT

Teams provides the IT team with a single hub to collaborate, plan, execute, and manage all phases of infrastructure deployments and rollouts.  It is a very useful tool to help drive transformation and change management across the organisation.

Top Tip: Utilise the chat feature to answer questions your team may have about new systems.

Engineering

Engineers move quickly between ideas, development and deployment of a concept when delivering new features. Teams is integrated with developer tools, enabling continuous discussion across a distributed team to keep projects on track.

Top Tip: Utilise Planner to manage projects and OneNote to organised notes.

Project Management

Project managers often use a myriad of planning, meeting, and communication tools and services. Teams enables collaboration in one central hub with all the tools to organise and share project files, manage stakeholder meetings, and track progress for multiple projects.

Top Tip: Use Microsoft Planner to better manage projects within your team https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/microsoft-365/business/task-management-software

If you would like more information about how Teams can be used within your business, download this helpful guide.

It can all seem a bit overwhelming making sure Microsoft Teams is set up correctly, but Ilkley IT know all the tips and tricks to help you to set up Teams so that you can use it effectively.  They will take you through each step to ensure that everything is configured correctly so that you use Teams to its full potential.

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help!

Why the Cloud is not a backup

There is a misconception that storing data in the cloud means it is backed up.  Unfortunately, people delete data, mostly accidentally, sometimes intentionally.  There are also threats from hackers and malware.  This means that even in the cloud, data can be lost.  Without a cloud backup solution for Office 365, you are missing a critical component of data protection that ensures your data can’t be lost.   

The statistics show that 1 in 3 businesses report losing data stored in cloud-based applications. In addition, out of all MSP reported SaaS ransomware attacks, 49% occurred in Office 365, up 17% from last year. Not only can the loss of the data itself be devastating to a company, but the time lost in attempting a recovery can be equally damaging. 

 

What does SaaS Protection Recover?

OneDrive:  

All files (including One Note) and folders with file structure intact. 

Contacts:  

All contact information (excludes photos). 

Calendar:  

Events (including recurrence, attendees, notes), attachments and any calendars owned by users. 

Mail:  

All emails, attachments, notes and folder structure. 

SharePoint: 

Primary, custom, group and team site collections 

Custom generic site lists  

Folder structure 

Document libraries and sets 

Site assets, templates, and pages 

 

Fast & Effortless Restore

One-click restore means companies easily avoid business downtime. Quickly identify and recover individual items or entire folders without overwriting existing files. 

We recommend using a 3rd party SaaS protection as a backup system to protect your data, reducing the risk of data loss and being vulnerable to hackers.  SaaS protection gives you the peace of mind that data loss can be recovered to the time of the last backup.    

Ilkley IT offer full cloud backup for Office 365 and can manage the entire process for you. Our support packages also offer unlimited restores so you know you will be back up and running quickly.  Download this useful article which provides more information.  Get in touch with us today to talk about cloud-to-cloud backup and how we can help with this. 

 

5 Top Tips for Working from Home

With the events of the last 3 months, it feels as if almost overnight everything changed.  Businesses have had to be flexible and adjust to the changing environment.  Many people found themselves, for the first time, having to adjust to working remotely and from home.  If it is the first time you are working from home or even if you have worked from home before, but now it is for an extended period, how can you make sure that your workspace is set up effectively to enable you to be the most productive, stay connected with your colleagues and to manage your time efficiently?

Here are our 5 top tips for working from home:

Set up your physical workspace:

This is the most important tip – choose a designated workspace specifically for where you will work, separate from personal space, this will minimise disruptions for you.  This space should have good ventilation and lighting and a proper desk and office chair.  It is important to sit at your desk correctly and have your screen as close to in line with eye level as possible and to have the correct posture.   You will need a secure, password-protected Wi-Fi network and when using a wireless connection, you will need to consider your distance from the router as this may affect the quality of your connection. If you do have the space in your workspace, extra monitors can really increase productivity and help you to get more work done.

Set up your virtual workspace:

Working in the cloud allows you to collaborate and stay productive online from wherever you are working.  Microsoft has products such as OneDrive, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel and Word which make collaborating with colleagues and syncing documents very easy.  With these tools you can make your documents virtual and accessible on the web across all devices.  Always make sure you back up the documents you are working on in the cloud.

How to stay focused:

For many people it is the first time you are working from home and so it might feel very strange and take a while to get used to it.  It is important to create a routine, wake up at the same time every day and give yourself enough time to do everything you need to do before starting work.  Set an ‘end time’ and finish work at the same time every evening so that you can relax before going to sleep.  Tidy up after the day and create to-do lists for the next day.  Block off time for specific tasks.  If you find it difficult to concentrate, try working in 25-minute chunks.  There are many ways to do this, one such app is the Pomodoro Technique (https://bit.ly/2MW5vib) which you can use to manage your time.

Look after your wellbeing:

Have a lunch break and regular screen breaks.  Make time for exercise whether it is 10 minutes or 60 minutes.  Go for a walk and get some fresh air whilst making a call.  It is easy to keep snacking during the day but plan healthy and nutritious meals and stick to designated mealtimes.  Celebrate your achievements throughout the day, for example if you tick something off your to-do list, celebrate it, if you complete a difficult task that you have been putting off, congratulate yourself.  This will keep you motivated to keep powering through your to-do list!  Why not try meditation, this technique can really help to keep you calm, manage stress levels and sleep better.

Remote communication:

It is easier now more than ever to keep connected to your colleagues and clients using one of the many video conferencing platforms such a Microsoft Teams.  Make it a habit to connect frequently with your colleagues either daily or weekly.  Looking specifically at the platform Microsoft Teams, it allows you to record a presentation to a client or training with colleagues, which you can then share afterwards, it also gives you the facility to share your screen during meetings and facilitates  collaboration through the chat facility, making it easy to send a quick message or share a document, updates etc.  Using a camera on video calls helps you to connect with colleagues and clients, read our 5 Top Tips for Successful Video Conferencing for more about this topic.

If you need help with adjusting to working from home, setting up a secure workspace and solving Wi-Fi or printer issues, then the team at Ilkley IT can help you to make sure you are set up to work effectively and productively.  Ilkley IT can also offer advice and recommendations on the Microsoft Products mentioned and get you up and running and using them very quickly and easily.  Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help!

It is time to swap your physical server for cloud services?

Have you been using your servers for many years and finding that they are now getting old?  Are your systems and applications running slower because your servers have reached their limit?  Are you facing rising costs for the maintenance of your hardware?  It might be time for you to seriously consider swapping your physical servers for cloud services.  All elements of your server infrastructure can be moved to the cloud. The thought of this might fill you with anxiety and seem like an impossible mountain to climb but Ilkley IT can help you and make it a smooth process.

Migrate Files

Migrating your files from your server to the cloud is a straightforward process however the timeline for this needs to be considered.  A realistic timeline needs to be worked out and this can depend on several factors such as the number of files and folders, total amount of data being moved and the complexity of file and sharing permissions.  Ilkley IT will work with you to determine the best plan for this and recommend carrying out the migration during quieter times, such as the weekend to avoid work disruption.

Move to Cloud Software

More and more software companies have cloud-based software products, such as CRM and Accounting packages.  Some companies only have cloud-based software and are moving away from on-premise versions completely.  Cloud-based products can be accessed at any time from any location, whether you are working remotely or from the office.  Accessing tools in the cloud is very secure and provides a huge amount of flexibility.  It makes any product updates much quicker and easier as there is no need to manually install the updates on every single local machine.

Migrate users to Azure Active Directory (AD)

If you are worried that you will lose your log-in details for all the systems and programs you use, there is no need to.  The process to migrate cloud logins for all users can be done seamlessly. Using cloud logins also opens the door for single sign on for 3rd party web applications.

Cloud Printing 

It makes sense if you are moving your server infrastructure to the cloud to also move your on-premise print infrastructure.  Cloud printing is the technology that enables printers to be accessed over the network via the cloud, in simple terms, it is a service that connects your printers to the web.  You can print from anywhere using any internet connected device.

Transitioning Legacy Software to your Cloud Server

Once you have made the decision to migrate your business to the cloud, the second step is to decide which software programmes to take with you.  You might think, well all of them, but it is the perfect opportunity to evaluate the tools you are using and whether these are serving their purpose within your business or not.  Some legacy software might not be compatible with being used as a cloud product, depending on its age but others can be successfully migrated.  It is worth considering if there is a cloud solution offering the same functionality that can replace the legacy software.

The team at Ilkley IT have the expertise to help you to migrate your business to the cloud, so if this is something you are considering, contact us today to find out how we can work with you to do this with minimal disruption to you and your business.

5 Top Tips for Successful Video Conferencing

Conducting business meetings and team meetings online via one of the many platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams and many other services has always been a part of our business lives but it has now become an everyday occurrence in the “new normal” with many people working from home and unable to visit clients.

With so many people now spending most of their day on video calls as part of their day-to-day activities, how can we make sure we follow the correct etiquette during these virtual interactions?

Here are our 5 top tips for successful video conferencing:

Test your technology:

Check that your technology is working properly, you don’t want to delay a meeting with a client or your team because you can’t get your video conferencing system to work or your audio/video settings are incorrect.

Test the video:

Ahead of signing in and joining an online meeting, test the video.  Use this opportunity to get the camera at exactly the right level – make sure it is slightly above eye level so that the height is at a flattering angle and you are looking directly into the lens.  Make any adjustments by raising your device up on some books or a box to get the correct height.  Also, check if you are sitting too close – arm’s length is the optimal distance from the camera for a video call.

Get the correct light on your face:

Front-facing natural light is always best so open your curtains and your blinds and make sure the light is hitting your face straight on.  Alternatively, if it is an overcast day, put a lamp behind your computer so that it shines on your face.  This will give you a “brighter” look and put you in a very flattering light!  Also check your screen brightness and adjust accordingly if necessary.

Minimise distractions:

Choose a designated area to sit when doing your video calls and make sure you always keep the background neat and tidy to minimise distractions. You will always be ready to do a video call and won’t need to worry about what is in the background.  Some of the video calling services are offering virtual backgrounds, make sure you choose an appropriate one for the call you are on as these can be distracting in themselves.  If you can, go for a neutral colour background.

Treat it like an actual meeting:

Treat it as if you were attending a face-to-face meeting. Make sure you are on time for the call.  Stay professional, wear work- appropriate clothing and make an effort with your appearance.  Mute yourself when you are not speaking, even though you may think you are being quiet, microphones pick up minor background noises and with platforms such as Zoom, the camera flicks to where the noise is coming from, which is distracting for all the participants.

Finally, be prepared and get settled as you would in an actual meeting, have everything you need close to hand as you will not be able to get up during the call!  And most of all, make sure you remember you are on camera, act as if you were together in person.  Pay attention, you can be seen if you get distracted, start doing other work or pick up your phone and look at it!

Get in touch with Ilkley IT if you need any advice on which video conferencing platform would be best for your business and if you need help with getting this set up to ensure a smooth video conferencing experience!