Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) firms face common business and technology challenges. Firms are addressing those concerns by using the applications and services in Office 365. To find out how, keep reading.
Office 365 is an integrated experience of apps and services designed to help businesses grow, collaborate, and improve client/customer experiences. Contrary to Microsoft Office (which was essentially a software purchase of common apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), Office 365 is a cloud-based service that focuses on accessibility, collaboration, and security. These elements are fundamental for every type of business, but this article will focus on its role in updating AEC firms. For reference, the applications SharePoint, Teams, and Sway help firms enhance work productivity on a consolidated platform. Most importantly, adoption of Office 365 can not only improve management in the workplace, but also bolster client relationships in both small and larger firms.
Application 1: SharePoint
Description: SharePoint provides tools for sharing documents and data across various organizations within a company’s network. Typically deployed as a series of intranet sites, SharePoint lets various departments control their own security, workgroups, documents, and data. A SharePoint site is accessible by way of a URL that the user can access using a standard web browser.
Benefit: Organized and clear communication with clients, file sharing for large documents, collaborative features, integrations with LOB applications, document management, and project management. Documents can be shared with both internal and external users.
How it helps AEC: Large files can be placed onto the site and clients have clear and up-to-date communication. Documents can be stored and collaborated upon with all the benefits of SharePoint rather than emailing back and forth.
Office 365 includes a cloud-based service called SharePoint, which is a web platform for easy collaboration within and outside of an organization. You can set up a website (or intranet) that includes links, files, images, calendars, and more. Users that are granted access to the site can stay up-to-date on projects and company news, among other things.
Within SharePoint, you can organize, share and access information from any device. This is especially useful because it constructs clear communication between you, your client, and your co-workers. In addition, SharePoint has made file-sharing large documents more efficient. Now, you can upload large files to the website without having to email files back and forth. SharePoint clears miscommunication and creates a productive work environment.
Application 2: Teams
Description: Teams is a chat-based collaboration tool that enables work groups to work together and collaborate through a common workspace, using features such as team chat, one-on-one chat and document collaboration.
Benefit: Collaborative activities, 3rd party app integrations, project management capabilities and helps keep email activity at bay.
How it helps AEC: A global workforce is primarily mobile and remote. Being able to access company data in real time is essential for the workflow of your company. Also, Teams facilitates communication with work groups/teams and eliminates the need for emailing large files.
Another useful tool within Office 365 for AEC Firms is Teams. Teams is a chat-based tool that encourages co-workers to collaborate in a common workspace, using features such as team chat, one-on-one chat and document collaboration. This is especially pertinent for employees that are working remotely because it increases workflow for the company.
For AEC firms, this tool can benefit workers that are working on-site to still be up-to-date on information that is going on in the workplace. Teams has also enhanced meeting experience by implementing high-quality voice and video using Skype. Other platforms, such as G-suite, do not include a chat-based tool for members in your organization to collaborate. With Office 365, you and your co-workers can communicate on a consolidated platform.
Teams is a powerful tool with so many capabilities, it is hard to list them all! The best way to wrap your mind around Teams is to see it in action. Watch a short demo that gives insight into this powerful tool.
Application 3: Sway
Description: Sway is an app in Office 365 that makes it easy to create and share stunning interactive reports, personal stories, and more.
Benefit: It’s easy to share reports, stories, presentations and newsletters with coworkers, colleagues, and clients without signing up, signing in, or downloading anything. You can change the privacy settings for any Sway whenever you want more control over what you share.
How it helps AEC: Work collaboratively with clients that have minimal design skills and allow them to incorporate their ideas in real-time.
Design firm Potion describes how Sway helps them collaborate with clients –
“Over the past 10 years, we have tried almost every type of document sharing that exists with our clients. From email attachments to Word docs to custom websites—we have been looking for a way to share and present the clients’ own stories back to them in a well-designed package that is also time-efficient for us to work within. Sway allows us to gather and organize stories in a clear, coherent form that represents Potion well as a design firm but is also highly collaborative. We can work together on a story with a client that has minimal design skills, but strong narrative ideas, and allow them to incorporate those ideas in a real-time way with us.”
Office 365 offers much more for AEC firms than the three services listed above. We decided to focus on these three, but the opportunities that Office 365 can provide (especially in partnership with a BIM or VR technology) advances the playing field and assists in leveraging the cloud to offer measurable benefits. If you’re already using Microsoft Outlook, then you’re halfway there. Techmedics® has helped several AEC firms begin their journey to the cloud with Office 365 with great results. Contact us today to get a free consultation to find out if Office 365 is right for your firm.