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Recently we have been talking to SME businesses about this very subject. Cost, down time and information security are usually reasons that nothing happens. There is also a throwback to the old style of working. “If they aren’t in the office, they can’t be working”.
Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business is the Cloud based solution that we recommend as a starting point as it answers many of the concerns small business owners have about Cloud security and ease of use. It lets you store and protect your files, share them with others, and access to them from anywhere on all your devices.
Different staff use different devices to do their work. Office based staff may use the traditional PC. For others, it’s laptops, tablets or smart phones. OneDrive for business is accessible on all of them and they can still access their files if they are offline. The files will sync as soon as they are back on the network or have access to mobile data.
One of the many advantages to OneDrive is that your crucial files are not kept on a local device. So, if the hardware fails or is lost, your files are still accessible to you from another device. The same is true if your physical office can’t be used for some reason. This capability was proven to be very useful with the recent water shortages that effected parts of North Taranaki in February this year. Many of our clients using OneDrive for Business were able to let staff go home and continue working. This meant less financial pressures on business owners (to supply water for drinking and sanitation) and less stress on both staff and management to function in an unusual situation or challenging environment.
Another issue that OneDrive helps to overcome is the problem of multiple variations of templates and documents across an organisation. The history of a document can be tracked, and people can see what changes have been made. This is very helpful if there are sales people, part-time staff or other people who are away from the office. They know that when they log in to their OneDrive account the document is up to date and accessible. Any changes made happen in real time.
Sharing documents to people inside and outside the organisation is also much easier. Users can decide who they want the document shared with and if the person they share the document with can read or edit it. The people you share the document with don’t need to have a OneDrive account to access it either. And as you are in control of the shared file, you can stop sharing the file at any time.
The ability to grant folder or file group-based permissions is a feature that can be a game changer for some organisations. Teams within the company can be granted permission to access only the folders in OneDrive that relate to the project they are working on. Because the information is Cloud based, the team can access this information while offsite. And as mentioned before, any changes to files they are working on happen in real time. This saves the need to notify everyone that there have been changes, or someone using an out-dated document or plan.
Perhaps the biggest concern people have is “How secure is my information in the Cloud?” There are multiple layers of security to your data when its stored in OneDrive. The data is encrypted between the Cloud and the user as files are moved between them. Files are also heavily encrypted while “at rest” in the Cloud. Microsoft uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) with 256-bit keys and is Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 compliant. The only people who can access the files are people you grant permission to.
For more information on OneDrive or to discuss how OneDrive can be used within your organisation contact the Baker Tilly Staples Rodway Business Computing Services Team. Email Greg.Taylor@staplestaranaki.co.nz