Tag Archives: SharePoint

The most important feature of Office 2013 – Integration with SharePoint

Why use Office 2013? Integration with Sharepoint

Many companies are still using older versions of Office. They often ask me why they should move to Office 2013. There are many new features in Office 2013. However, among the most important (and often overlooked) benefits is integration with Sharepoint. Therefore, this article is dedicated to features related to SharePoint, Office 365 and OneDrive usage.

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Marketing: How to interact with external agencies efficiently

As a marketing professional, you need to work with multiple agencies – Direct Marketing, Lead generation, Event management, Advertising, Social Media, PR and so on. You are typically managing multiple brands, campaigns and complex set of KPIs.

Do you really handle all this using email? Is it not chaotic? Don’t you get lost in the confusing deluge of conversations, artworks, revisions, interactions, pending decisions?
If yes, here is a better way… read on to find out.

Even if you are not a marketing professional you will find this article useful if you need iterative interaction with external parties.

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Continue reading Marketing: How to interact with external agencies efficiently

Manage business contacts with OneNote and OneDrive

Practical Problem

There are many methods available for managing contacts and visiting cards. Using a card scanner and using OCR works well. But most methods fail due to lack of discipline.

Here is what you can do. By the way, this can work for you as a person or the entire organization.

Use OneNote

    1. Create a new notebook using OneNote. DO NOT make a local notebook.
    2. Store it into OneDrive or SharePoint. This way you can access it from any mobile or pc anywhere. Name it Contacts. Create sections like personal, business, friends, recruitment, customers, etc.
    3. Everyday, take photos of new visiting cards which you received. Just use any simple mobile camera. Make sure the photos are sharp. The resolution does not matter. Even 2 Megapixel camera will be fine.
    4. Import the images into OneNote and put them in the correct section.store business contacts as scanned image
    5. Now you can search for any text in that notebook. CTRL F – find , type any text. Choose the area to search – section, this notebook or multiple notebooks.image
    6. OneNote can search for text automatically. The OCR (optical character recognition) software is built-in to OneNote. It also supports multiple languages.image
    7. If you want the full text from a visiting card, right click and choose Copy Text from Picture and paste it into any other place.image
    8. This way you can create a simple but effective contact management system!

Adding photos directly with OneNote on Mobile

OneNote is available for free on Windows Phone, Android and iOS. Using OneNote mobile makes it even more easier. Just open the notebook – Insert Picture – take a photo of the visiting cards. That’s it.

Working in a team

Share the OneNote notebook with your team members. Create a section for each person and ask them to add photos directly.

Adding the backlog

Remember that you don’t need to take the photos separately for each visiting card. You can arrange multiple cards on a table and take a photo. This way you can add all your existing cards quickly to OneNote. Make sure you add all the past cards.

Sharing = 1 copy in 1 place (SharePoint)

Recap

In the last article we saw how email misuse leads to enormous amount of inefficiency.

The solution was to share files (or any other shareable thing) by keeping a single copy at a central location.

In this article, I will explain the solution in more detail.

Storing the single copy – where?

Where to store the document? The answer is simple. It should be kept in a place which is available to all those who need it and from all places they need it from.

On the face of it, there are many solutions available – these are cloud (internet) based hard disks. DropBox, Google Drive and so on.

However, I find SharePoint to be ideally suited for business sharing and OneDrive for personal sharing.

You store the file there. And then can see it on laptop, mobile, tablet etc. That means sharing has happened across devices and it is location independent.

If you decide to share the file with others, you can choose whether they can see or edit the document. This way you can share without making copies.

Needless to say, whomever you share with can view it from any location and on any supported device.

This is how all the problems associated with email based sharing vanish instantly.

Storing a single copy – of what?

Although the current discussion is about files – the concept is by no means limited to files. Here are other things of corporate importance which are equally amenable to SharePoint based sharing.

  1. Company Holidays
  2. Corporate Event Calendars
  3. CSR activities
  4. Training Schedules
  5. Departmental Activities
  6. Statutory Submissions
  7. Investor Centric Activities
  8. Marketing / Product Launch Schedule
  9. Security Drill Schedule
  10. Common Contacts (at least at departmental level)
  11. Task lists specific to projects / departments
  12. Picture libraries (Events, Top Management, Awards, Achievements, Factories, Product Images, Advertisements, Social Campaigns, etc)
  13. OneNote notebooks shared across departments, project teams, crisis committees, etc.

Now let us get our focus back to files. But remember that everything we are discussing below is applicable to anything which can be stored in SharePoint

How to access the file if not connected?

Although this concept is fairly well known, not many people are using this as a default method of storing documents. We still prefer to create documents on the PC and then upload it to some web based drive.

One of the reasons for this is the fear of losing control over the file. If your original file is on the internet and you don’t have a connection (or a good connection), then it is as good as not having the file.

This is an unacceptable scenario. But there is an easy solution to it.

SharePoint and SkyDrive provide Sync tools for your local PC. Once installed, it acts like a folder on your local drive. You save the files to that folder and it will automatically upload and synchronize the files with the internet storage.

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This gives you best of both worlds. Central, single shared file and ability to edit when offline.

SharePoint and SkyDrive storage does not blindly copy and sync files. For Office files, it only changes the part of the document which has changed. This way you get faster sync performance and it also minimizes your bandwidth utilization.

Try this out and see the benefits for yourself.

Does your company have SharePoint?

Don’t assume that you don’t have SharePoint. Many companies have SharePoint or Office 365. But often IT does not make it available for all staff members. So it is best to check with your IT team. Ask them if they can create a Team Site for you and then give you administrator permission within that team site. This site can be used for sharing documents, data, pictures, calendars, tasks, links, notes and so on.

Common mistake

Many of us have access to SharePoint or similar internet based storage. Unfortunately, if you are not careful, you will misuse this facility. Often, people work with internet based storage like this…

  1. Create a file
  2. Save to PC
  3. Open browser
  4. Go to the SharePoint site
  5. Click Upload button
  6. Upload the file
  7. Store in SharePoint

This is absolutely WRONG. It is a misuse of SharePoint platform.

Why is this wrong? Because you already made two copies – one local and one on server. This violates our simple rule = Sharing = 1 copy.

So what is the way out? Store the file directly to SharePoint and then sync it to  your local folder so that you can edit the document even when you are not connected (Offline)>

Office 2013 makes it very simple to store documents to your SharePoint or SkyDrive folders.

The file Save As menu automatically shows the SharePoint site which is associated with your account. This way, without changing the way we save files, you are getting the benefit of centralized storage.

Sharing with Onedrive SkyDrive

The SharePoint site “MaxOffice” is shown twice because we have two independent SharePoint places mapped here.

Homework

Look at your day to day work and try finding out files and processes which benefit from this concept of sharing. For a team of your colleagues and try this out.

Unless you get the confidence of using the system well, you will not end up using these concepts and continue to send CCs with attachments!

Your biggest enemy: CCs with attachments

Till now, most of my articles focused on individual efficiency. Now it is time to introduce team efficiency.

The most commonly used application is email. Unfortunately, it is also the biggest reason for inefficiency!

No matter how much you invest in collaboration tools, cloud based storage and so on… we still happily spoil our own lives by misusing email.

In the good old days when the only way of sharing documents was email, this was fine.

But good old days are over. Bad new days are in.

Does this sound familiar?

  1. You are supposed to create a critical document (say, response to RFP or Tender) and submit it before deadline
  2. You need inputs from technical team, finance, operations and legal
  3. So you create a shell document containing the main headings and send CC to those 3 people.
  4. Congratulations, now you already have four copies of the same document. That is called IT as an enabler!
  5. Each of those people try to put some information into the respective sections… and send it back to you.
  6. More achievement! now you have four documents with same name but different content
  7. You love such challenges. You have a Post Graduate degree in Copy Paste Management.
  8. With eager enthusiasm, you indulge in the pleasure of repairing Formatting inconsistencies, tables with their own minds, adamant pictures and incongruous collection of fonts
  9. Finally a 5th copy is born
  10. Now you send that copy to all those people again… because till now they have not had a chance to see what each other has written
  11. Welcome to 9 copies
  12. Now you get 3 more replies – another round of rejuvenating Copy Paste marathon
  13. After many such iterations the document is finally ready

We are so used to it, we don’t even think it is a problem

Experience with technology has taught us that this is absolutely normal. Part of the game. Everyone does it. Boss also does the same thing. Competitor also is in the same boat.

Is there really something like “MY documents”

In business context, My Documents is a misnomer. Invariably, you will need to involve someone else for something about any business document. For review, reference, inputs… whatever.

The hard truth is that even if you created a document, it is never fully yours!

The solution: Think before you Attach

Email was designed for communication and delivery of stuff. What used to go by telegram, telex, fax, courier can now be sent by email – faster and cheaper.

That is true even today. However, over the years, we have been misusing it for doing things which are not just inefficient, but they are actually hampering business execution.

We have to actively stop this bad habit.

There are two scenarios you have to choose from….

Am I delivering the document or am I sharing it?

Delivery means you give it to someone and then forget about it. No review, update, reply… nothing.

For example, if I send a mail to my staff with their salary slip attached, it is called DELIVERY.

Sharing is different…

Sharing means I am interested in what happens to the document even after I send it to others. When you attach a document which you are interested in – you are making a big mistake… You just created a copy of the document.

So the cardinal rule of sharing is that you never make a copy. The thing being shared is always a single copy. Others who want to work with it must use the SAME copy.

Sharing = 1 copy

Now the question is… where do we keep that copy? On your own PC? Or on a departmental server?

It should be in such a place that it is accessible to everyone who needs it but it should also be secure.

Finding such a place as a replacement to email attachment will improve your efficiency.

I will explain how to do this in the next post.

But for now … remember this…

CCs with attachments are the enemy of efficiency!