Communication and Collaboration
Technological advancements have changed not only how employees perform their jobs but also how they communicate and collaborate with each other and with customers. Besides calling and emailing, employees now rely on instant messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, voice over IP (VoIP), mobility solutions and other forms of communication and collaboration. This integration of these communication services is often referred to as unified communications.
Selecting the right tools is just the first step. To keep your systems running with minimal downtime, it is important to monitor them as well as create policies governing their use.
Understand Your Options
Communication and collaboration tools are as diverse as the information they are designed to handle. Email systems can be on-premises or in the cloud. Instant messaging, video conferencing, and screen sharing services are available using standalone programs, cloud services, or software suites. Phone services can be delivered through traditional phone carriers, cable service providers, and mobile phone networks. Phone services can even be provided through Voice over IP (VoIP) systems, which enable voice calls to be made over the Internet.
If your business is established, you likely already have phone and email systems in place. With all the available options, you should not have any problems finding supplemental communication and collaboration tools that will work well in your business. One consideration to keep in mind, though, is whether or not you want to integrate your communication and collaboration systems.
Businesses often use several communication and collaboration solutions. For instance, a company might use a traditional phone carrier for phone services and Microsoft Office 365 for email, instant messaging, and video conferencing. In this situation, the two solutions run independently. Their processes and user interfaces are not integrated in any way.
If your business relies on a VoIP system for phone services, there is a way to integrate all your communication and collaboration tools. You can add a unified communications solution, which uses advanced technologies to integrate and streamline communications generated by your existing communication and collaboration systems.
The end result is being able to read your emails, check your voicemails, chat via instant messaging, and attend video conferences—all from a single user interface that is accessible from a variety of devices, including smartphones, notebooks, and desktop computers. Having all your communications in one place, whether you are in the office or on the road, can improve your productivity. A unified communications solution also enhances voice and video conferencing capabilities, making it easier to collaborate with other employees.
A unified communications solution can be complicated to set up. This is where our experts shine. We start by reviewing the options that make the most sense for your business. Then, we eliminate the headaches of setting up by installing and configuring it for you. We can also provide friendly training so your staff will become more productive, saving you money and making your team more efficient.
Create Policies Governing the Use of Your Tools
Communication and collaboration systems are powerful tools, so it is important to create policies that provide guidance to prevent misuse. Policies regarding conduct when using email, messaging or social media tools are important to protect your liability. While we are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice, we can offer insights into why having a policy is crucial:
- It lays down the rules that employees need to follow when using your communication tools. For example, you can let employees know that they should not send and receive personal emails to their business email address.
- It gives you an opportunity to let employees know that their emails can be read at any time. Even if you do not plan on regularly monitoring and reading their emails, you need to protect your right to do so. If you do not forewarn employees and then later read their emails, they may be able to sue you for violating their privacy, even if they are being investigated for workplace misconduct (e.g., harassment).
- It can help with legal matters if employees are caught using your email or other tools for inappropriate or illegal actions. Having a policy that explicitly states employees must not use the company resources for inappropriate or illegal purposes can reduce your business’s liability for their actions.
- It gives you an opportunity cover best practices. For instance, you might provide guidelines on how to create strong account passwords and include a list of risky behaviors, such as clicking links in emails from unknown senders, or what is permissible when posting to company social media accounts.
Monitor and Manage the Tools
Communication and collaboration systems are not set-and-forget tools. They need to be monitored and managed. Some examples of regular activities that we can perform for you:
- Apply software updates as soon as they are available. Updates close known security vulnerabilities, fix known bugs, and provide enhancements.
- Apply firmware updates when they are released. Routers, VoIP phones and other devices should be updated whenever the manufacturer provides a new firmware release. If these updates are not applied on time, your systems can be exposed to security threats.
- Upgrade your software when necessary. When vendors stop supporting an application because it is old, it is time to upgrade to a newer version. If you keep running unsupported software, your business will be more vulnerable to cyberattacks because the vendors will no longer provide security patches.
- Monitor the tools’ performance. For example, it is important to regularly monitor the performance of your email system to make sure it is available and performing as expected.
Our team can remotely monitor and manage your communication and collaboration systems so that they are secure and operating at peak efficiency.
Communicate and Collaborate with Ease
Communication and collaboration tools make it easier for employees to do their jobs—and our experts can make it easier for you to do yours by remotely monitoring and managing the systems you currently have in place.
We can also help you select and install new communication and collaboration tools, including setting up a unified communications solution. We will provide the right recommendations so that you do not overspend on features that you do not need, but have the flexibility for upgrades that align with your growth.
Contact us to discuss which communication and collaboration options can make your business more productive.