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Transitioning to Office 365

16 October, 2020

This guide has been written for you if you’re on Office 365, but are only really using it for hosting your email and more recently MS-Teams. You might be using an on-premise server for document storage, and feeling you’ve got access to the full Office 365 suite, but aren’t using a great deal of it, and wondering where to start?  

If you’re using your own server for document storage, this is how most of the industry works - staff are typically comfortable with this and it helps address some of the specific challenges around managing drawings and photos.  

If you haven’t got a dedicated IT team or large IT budget, but are feeling that you aren’t going to replace or continue to invest in on-premise servers, making the most of your Office 365 existing subscription is a great place to start.  

Why do this?  

Most of the devices, forms, and types of communication we manage utilises cloud-based storage, The concept of investing thousands of pounds just to have a server in the office, represents a debatable amount of wasted money. Our use of Office 365 has accelerated through the pandemic to deliver an increased level of productivity, and in years to come the way we manage and store information will undoubtedly change.  

By implementing SharePoint project sites into your business, you’re also able to centralise project-specific MS-Teams communication in to the site, along with the emails filed through Mail Manager, and get the most out of something you’re already paying for!  

The benefit of using Mail Manager with SharePoint  

One of the challenges businesses who have deployed SharePoint face is that there’s a disconnect between their project documents & emails. Trying to rely on people to manually file/save as or use a project email address, only delivers one thing which is inconsistency  

SharePoint is also primarily used to search for documents, and isn’t designed to search through the hundreds of thousands of emails. This is why Mail Manager has been integrated with SharePoint to: 

  • Have a connection between SharePoint & staff inboxes  
  • Deliver consistency in staff filing behaviours 
  • Provide a purpose-built email searching solution which allows you to find any email on any project in seconds  

Using Mail Manager means from an IT perspective your data is stored where you want it, but from an end-user perspective they don’t see SharePoint or care where an email is stored, they just need to find it quickly through Mail Manager.   

Should I just transfer everything over to SharePoint?  

No, SharePoint isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and we’ve got the benefit of working with over a thousand companies in AEC to attest to this. SharePoint can be used for the majority of your documents, but there will always be a case for some specific types of files to be outside of SharePoint. I.e for things like drawings, which aren’t suited to a formal check in/check out process because of the fluid nature of the design process.  

Changing mindset – we’re in a ‘Information now’ age 

Historically, we tend to feel comfortable with everything in one place, but now we have company data spread across Teams, inboxes, a server, and mobile devices. This is all based around the need to have information at our fingertips, as the need to have it now overrides any concern over where it’s stored.  

Moving your business over to SharePoint involves setting the right expectations and approaching the process in a way that is straightforward and lightweight for you.  

  1. What stays on the server? Drawings, model files, photographs  
  2. Should we move historical information over? Is there a benefit of moving over historical projects? Will having them available on your server, potentially on some cheaper disk space, make more sense?  
  3. What information should go over to SharePoint? The rest of your folders from your company and project drives
  4. How do we start this in SharePoint? Creating project sites, with a list of folders reflecting your current filing structure

Top tip: Start by trying SharePoint on one project in a small team to ensure everyone’s comfortable.  

  1. Create a correspondence folder linked to Mail Manager to centralise your email correspondence in to one place.  

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