By Kellie Uhlhorn, Agency Consultant, Kite Technology Group
You are probably already familiar with and using Microsoft Office applications like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but what about SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams? Have you explored how useful these applications can be to your insurance agency? They each provide valuable features that can improve your agency's efficiency and modernize how you manage your documents and collaborate with your colleagues. We're going to review how agencies can take advantage of the many features within SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams to improve collaboration and maximize productivity.
SharePoint – Agency Intranet and Document Management
SharePoint can provide tremendous value to your agency when utilized as an intranet. It is entirely configurable and can serve as your agency's information 'hub' that all employees can access. A company intranet is a great place to store important agency information like employee handbooks, training schedules, calendars, events, and much more.
SharePoint can also be an incredibly helpful tool when used for document management. It allows you to store, edit, and collaborate on documents from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, all within one place. Have you ever asked for a report and received three different versions? SharePoint enables teams to work more effectively by focusing their time on developing great content, rather than wasting time figuring out who has the latest version. Your agency staff can save time by:
Grouping documents in Folders and Sub-folders to improve organization and ease of finding information
Emailing documents directly from SharePoint
Editing and collaborating on the same document simultaneously.
Last but not least, SharePoint has enhanced security features, allowing you to control who can read or edit specific documents.
OneDrive – Safer Than Saving to Your Computer
Maybe you are working on a document or project that you are not quite ready to share or distribute. We've all had it drilled into our heads to save your work frequently; however, only saving it to your Desktop or My Documents is not the most efficient, and you are taking a gamble on the safety of that file. Computers are great until they stop working, and they could decide to stop working at any time. If that occurs- what happens to that project you were working on? If you only saved it to your Desktop or My Documents, the odds of retrieving that file could be slim depending on the extent of the technical issue.
With OneDrive, you get personal cloud storage for all of your files, documents, and projects. By saving your work to OneDrive, you will always be able to retrieve it from any device, anywhere. Not only that but after initially saving your document, OneDrive will periodically save your progress automatically, so you no longer need to worry about remembering to hit Save.
Teams – Agency Communication and Collaboration
Microsoft Teams has been gaining more traction among agencies, especially within the last few months, with everyone working remotely. Having the ability to stay in touch with your co-workers and clients is now more critical than ever, and Teams helps you accomplish just that! Here are a few ways you can use optimize Teams for seamless communication and collaboration with your remote colleagues and clients:
Video Conferencing- Stay safe and reduce travel expenses by scheduling video conferencing calls for renewal meetings. Share files within that meeting to those in attendance and record the session for those unable to attend. You can even view and edit documents in real-time with clients or colleagues.
Chat Functionality- Send fewer emails and save time by texting quick questions to your colleagues via Chat. With as many emails as most of us receive throughout the day, why send more when you can just as easily type a quick chat message to that person instead? Even if they are not available at the time, they are more likely to see your notification on Teams first rather than your message in Outlook, where it can get lost among so many other emails.
Team Organization- Create a Team for each department to organize conversations and save time. For example, Commercial Lines does not need to see Personal Lines topics and vice-versa. Invite employees in those departments to their specific Team so that they will only see messages within their department.
Employee Engagement- Microsoft Teams doesn't have to be all work and no play. With so many of us working remotely, being intentional about creating opportunities for positive employee engagement is more critical than ever if you want a thriving culture. Create a 'Fun' Channel in Teams as a place for your employees to plan, chat, and participate in fun activities. Ideas for your Fun Channel can be anything from Fitness Challenges to Book Clubs to Recipe Sharing – make it something fun that can be an outlet for your employees in-between or after those long workdays.
These are just a few of the ways your agency can take advantage of features within SharePoint, OneDrive & Teams to modernize document management, improve collaboration with colleagues and clients, and maintain a healthy culture. At Kite Technology, we take pride in helping our clients get the most from their technology investment so they can operate more effectively. To learn more about our insurance focused Managed IT and Consulting Services, please visit our website or contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.