by Jane Cage, COO, HTS
Do you have more than one location? Are you considering an expansion? Running a business with more than one office presents a set of challenges all its own. Here are some of the ways to use technology to bridge the distance gaps:
1. A VoIP (Voice over IP) Phone System – Our phone system uses the same network cabling as our office computers. That factor alone has saved us money with every expansion as we set up a new location. We can run one set of wires and connect our computer network and our phones. More important, however, is the capability our system gave us for extension dialing and outside line transfer among locations. Before the VOIP system we had separate phone systems at each location. We discovered that it hampered open communications between staff members who needed to speak with each other. There was just a natural resistance to picking up the phone to tie up an outside line to make a long distance call. As soon as we connected the new system, communications between offices blossomed. Employees who were only “an extension” away seemed much more accessible.
2. Microsoft Lync – Lync is the most important tool we use. Lync is a secure internal instant messaging system. It’s big advantage over external systems you might use such as Live Messenger or AIM is that it uses “presence”. What is presence? It’s a way to let me know whether someone is actively using their computer. Before I transfer a call, I check Lync to see if an employee is in the office and available. Lync synchronizes itself with Microsoft Exchange as well to let me know if someone is in a meeting or out for the day. It’s been a real time saver! We also purchased inexpensive webcams for many employees who use Lync for face-to-face conversations as well. The latest release of Lync gives us the ability to share our screen with another user. There is no better way to solve a problem than to actually see what is going on inside our accounting program on another users screen. Lync also becomes a collaboration tool when we are working on presentations, spreadsheets, etc as we can both see the same screen at the same time.
3. SharePoint – Our internal SharePoint side is the repository for company wide documents and messaging. Our HR site contains the employee handbook as well as any form that employees or managers might need. Our marketing site has current brochures, spec sheets and promotion information. Our engineers run a discussion board on their internal site to share information about problems and issues. The operations group uses an RMA tracking system to keep up with returns and credits for every location. There’s never a worry about where information resides because it’s available to all of us.
4. Last – we use Microsoft Outlook as a way to spread the news throughout our company. Each week, we send out a company wide email filled with news about the personal side of each location. It has become the equivalent of water cooler conversations and company bulletin boards as employees share their kids prom and sports pictures, their new dog photos and whose team won at football. It only takes a little work on my part each week to make the connection among employees.
It’s easy for remote offices to feel isolated. These cost-effective measures have produced an return on investment many times over. We’re happy to speak to you about our experiences with any and all of them.
Bryan Antepara: IT Specialist
Bryan Antepara is a leader in Cloud engagements with a demonstrated history of digital transformation of business processes with the user of Microsoft Technologies powered by the team of eMazzanti Technologies engineers.
Bryan has a strong experience working with Office 365 cloud solutions, Business Process, Internet Information Services (IIS), Microsoft Office Suite, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Customer Service.
He has the ability to handle the complexity of moving data in and out of containers and cloud sessions, makes him the perfect candidate to help organizations large and small migrate to new and more efficient platforms. Bryan is a graduate of the University of South Florida and is Microsoft Certification holder.