Today, as work cultures and organizational structures evolve, collaboration has become the norm of getting things done and knowledge management systems (KMS) are designed for just that. KMS is short for a whole bouquet of software products and enterprise services that help people work together with ease.
According to research and advisory firm Forrester, KMS includes initiatives that:
- capture information and processes, and
- disseminate this information in a relevant and timely way.
Microsoft, the key player
The two main key players in the KMS market has been the Microsoft products–Office 365 and SharePoint Online.
The Office 365 productivity suite brings together many business tools that companies have been using separately under a single umbrella, along with added features and capabilities. The Office desktop series is now embellished with cloud-based versions of collaboration services like Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. This allows companies and teams to access emails, documents, contacts and calendars from practically anywhere. It also facilitates seamless work possibilities with Microsoft Office and other programs that are in use on a daily basis.
SharePoint Online is the service that leverages the mettle of cloud computing for your team. The service allows you to create sites through which you can share documents and information with clients, colleagues and customers. More than 78 per cent of Fortune 500 companies have been known to use SharePoint for collaboration. However, this service can be adapted for use by organizations of any size–big or small.
Such cloud-based knowledge management systems ensure that information and data can be accessed from any device, from anywhere, at any time, thus improving productivity of your employees and maintaining a healthy workflow.
Why Office 365 and Sharepoint Online is way ahead in the game
While there are many other options of KMS to choose from, like Google’s CloudConnect, OneWindow, Salesforce and so on, a majority of companies opt for the combined use of SharePoint Online and features from Office 365 productivity suite for managing their documents and data. Let’s find out what sets these Microsoft products apart from their competitors:
Effective, streamlined document management: Today, knowledge management goes far beyond that just sharing documents and files. Office 365 comes with a user-friendly interface that enables enterprise-wide collaboration. It not only deals with internal data sharing, but the Business Connectivity Services (BCS) in SharePoint allows connectivity to external data. BCS connects to several other enterprise applications like SAP, Seibel, Cognos, and also other cloud-based offerings like SQL Azure, thus making meaningful collaboration possible. This also facilitates knowledge sharing between different teams in the same organization or with clients and customers outside the company.
Efficient workflow management: An efficient knowledge management system can operate seamlessly only if roles and responsibilities of every person involved in the workflow is clearly defined. The workflow engine in SharePoint helps companies achieve this effortlessly. Preset workflow templates like Approval, Approval Review, Verification, Feedback and so on saves time and ensures ease of operation. By syncing these workflows with enterprise directories, it sets out a clear path for employees to follow while they function as part of a collaborative process.
Undisturbed and unified communication: Organizations, today, are spread across the world with remote employees and teams working from different continents across various time zones. Services like Lync Online provide effective communication capabilities like instant messaging and audio/video conferencing, thus bridging the gap that distance creates within your team. With features like screen sharing and virtual whiteboards, collaboration with a global team has become easier than ever.
The Microsoft KMS arsenal
Now that we know why the Office 365 productivity suite and SharePoint Online are way ahead in this race, here are the other programs, plugins and extensions that you can use with these to build the most efficient KMS for your company:
- Outlook: The email provider of Microsoft has been used by business ever since we can remember. Constantly evolving with time, Outlook has come out with a whole array of new features recently. The focus is regaining control over your mailbox. With features like automatic integration with calendar, simplified summary cards, focused inbox and @mentions, Outlook is clearly moving with the time to help make communication as efficient and useful as possible.
- OneNote Online: This is the one place online to save all your notes in. It enables writing and reading in over 105 languages and also allows co-authoring, syncing with other Office 365 services and sharing among different users.
- Project: Microsoft’s project management tool helps cloud-based management of teams, resources and projects. This helps plan out projects, assign resources and team members, track progress and communicate effectively with your team. By ensuring a smooth workflow, it improves productivity, saves time and cuts costs.
- One Drive: This is a personal cloud storage for each of your team members. They can store up to 1TB data individually in the form of documents, videos, audios, presentations and so on.
- Yammer: An enterprise social network, Yammer makes information sharing as simple as ever. Employees can communicate and collaborate with coworkers in their company as well as clients outside the organization. Yammer features include external messaging, integration with Apple Watch, real-time group activity and group updates feed.
- Delve: A powerful tool that curates relevant information for each person on your team depending on the past work they have executed and current project they are on. Presented in a beautiful, card-based design, Delve works through insights delivered through Office Graph, which maps the relationships between people, content and activity across Office 365.
- Power BI: Armed with the brand new scheduled workbook refreshes, Power BI for Office 365 is a boon for users of Project. Other added features include bigger workbooks, the ability to add workbooks to the Q & A and ask questions in your natural language.
- Planner: A new tool for structured team collaboration, Planner sits right in the middle of Outlook and Project in terms of its features. While Outlook helps to manage personal lists and Project manages projects, Planner helps you manage both and events, office moves, user training and so on. You can schedule, prioritize and assign tasks, manage resources available and integrate information across programs and channels with this tool.
A sound knowledge management system is key to the success and smooth functioning of any business today. It facilitates better decision-making, encourages innovation and fosters a culture of collaboration and learning.
So what are your favorite knowledge management tools? Let us know in the comments section below.
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