Businesses Connect with Microsoft Office 2010
When your business supplies healthcare clinics with the electronic infusion pumps that deliver continuous chemotherapy treatments to cancer patients, accuracy and productivity matter. In such 24x7 enterprises, correctly placing, maintaining and repairing equipment has life-and-death consequences.
That’s why Michigan-based InfuSystem, a leading provider of these state-of-the-art pumps, began adopting Microsoft Office 2010 in its equipment sales and service division immediately after the suite’s release last year.
“Office 2010 has so many features that make tasks faster, easier and more accurate that we were eager to begin implementing it right away,” says Matt Peterson, former network administrator for the company’s 60-employee division located in Kansas City, Kan.
As an example, Peterson cites the receiving department’s process for checking in pumps requiring repair, which includes plugging specifics into the appropriate Excel spreadsheet.
“Before, if someone in the back office also needed to work with data in that same spreadsheet, they would have to wait,” Peterson explains. “Now, both people can edit the same spreadsheet, at the same time, because Office 2010 controls revisions to prevent accidental overwrites.”
(Related: See our guide on the differences between Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft BPOS.)
Called co-authoring, this collaboration capability is achieved by deploying Office 2010 in combination with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. “With co-authoring, we’re achieving significant efficiencies without compromising data integrity,” Peterson says.
Even InfuSystem’s mobile employees will soon contribute more effectively. “Once we deploy Office Web Apps within SharePoint, offsite workers will be able to edit documents from their mobile phones,” Peterson points out.
Further productivity improvements will come from leveraging Outlook’s integration features, such as conference room scheduling. Other benefits include linking calendars and task lists across the enterprise.
The InfuSystem IT team uses Outlook 2010 as a front end for a trouble-ticket system Peterson designed with SharePoint.
“Tickets automatically link to my Outlook tasks,” he says. “Then, as I complete ticket tasks, users automatically receive notifications in Outlook. This improved transparency reduces the need for users to contact me about the progress of their trouble request.”
Reconnecting Silos Reaps Rewards
It’s these types of real-time collaboration capabilities that have SMBs adopting Office 2010 at a relatively faster pace than previous versions, according to industry-watcher Melissa Webster at research firm IDC.
Does your company have plans to evaluate or implement Microsoft Office 2010?
38% We have no plans to implement Office 2010
33% We are researching and evaluating our options
18% We are currently implementing Office 2010
11% We have already implemented Office 2010
SOURCE: CDW poll of 385 BizTech readers
“After 20 years of essentially living with a set of silos, now there’s an urgency to connect those silos back together,” says Webster, program vice president for content and digital media technologies. “That’s the added value of Office 2010.”
And, for rewards beyond combining Office 2010 and SharePoint, Webster suggests evaluating Microsoft’s Lync Server 2010. “Lync provides web conferencing capabilities to help SMBs move toward unified communications,” Webster asserts.
In Chicago, international seafood importer Mazzetta is doing just that, having recently begun an upgrade to Office 2010 while also adopting Lync and other back-end Microsoft applications.
“Lync offers greater flexibility for dynamic communications, internally and externally,” says Peter Szponder, IT administrator for Mazzetta, which operates with 50 employees in five U.S. locations, including a warehouse facility on the East Coast.
Just one example is web-enabled conferencing “We’re looking forward to instantly hosting video chats by clicking on a contact in Outlook,” Szponder explains. “We’ll be able to conference with partners, suppliers and customers — anyone who has a webcam and Internet connection.
“And, this is our first foray into integrated web conferencing,” he adds. “Previously, we only had a site-to-site video conferencing system, so our employees are also eager to explore other capabilities, like broadcasting PowerPoint presentations live over the web.”
Despite all of these new features, deployment and user adoption have been exceptionally smooth, Szponder reports. This includes requiring only an evening to upgrade 10 end-user machines.
“Plus, our end users are finding many new ways to get their jobs done more efficiently,” he says. “In fact, the more they learn about 2010, the more excited they are.”
Enabling a Virtual Workforce
On the West Coast, OnSite Consulting relies heavily on Office 2010. Although headquartered in Los Angeles, OnSite is a completely mobile and virtual restaurant and hospitality industry consultancy with 65 employees spread across the United States.
“We rely almost exclusively on Microsoft applications to run a fully remote workforce without breaking the bank,” says James Sinclair, OnSite’s founder and principal. “Everything in Office 2010 is designed to help people get things done faster.”
One of Sinclair’s favorite features is Outlook’s tight integration with the business networking social media site LinkedIn. “LinkedIn profiles appear on the Outlook taskbar,” he explains. “By clicking on a profile, I can learn more about a person before I send them an e-mail, or get on a conference call. It’s absolutely fantastic.”
Other features streamline common tasks, Sinclair says. “For example, I can preview my 25 most recently used files,” he points out. If there’s a downside to Office 2010, it’s getting accustomed to navigating the new features. “I’ve had to Google to locate a couple icons I was familiar with in a previous version,” admits Sinclair. “But, once I found them, I just created a button on the task ribbon for the future.”
Regardless, Office 2010 still conserves seconds that total up to hours. “Saving my staff 30 seconds on tasks they perform 100 times daily adds up,” Sinclair emphasizes. “That’s nearly an hour they can focus on something business-critical or just spend more time with their families.”
Matt Peterson, former network administrator for InfuSystem, concurs. “Whenever we can reduce the number of mouse clicks from dozens to a handful, while simultaneously improving data integrity, that’s a win for our clients and the patients they serve.”
Novices and power users alike have a lot of features to love in Microsoft Office 2010.
- Customizable task ribbon: The task ribbon introduced in Office 2007, which replaces menus and tool bars, now permits users to add tasks and group them for easy access.
- Robust photo and video editing: Advanced manipulation tools permit editing of embedded photos and videos directly from within Word, Excel or PowerPoint.
- Snipping tool: This feature allows users to capture a screen shot (“snip”) of any object, or an entire window, which can be dropped into an Office document, annotated, saved in various graphics formats or shared via e-mail.
- Excel Sparklines: Colorful mini-charts can be added to any cell in the form of a line graph, bar chart or win/loss graph that automatically updates as spreadsheet data changes.
- Outlook Conversation View: This feature permits grouping e-mails by conversation, which also helps reduce the Exchange load because users can quickly determine which conversations are stale and can be deleted.
- Outlook Quick Steps: One-click buttons can perform multiple actions at once, such as sending e-mail to your team, or filing a conversation while simultaneously marking it as read.