Collaboration

Tip of the Week: How to Share Documents in Google Drive

Collaboration is something that no modern business can do without, which helps to explain why so many current applications feature it so heavily. Let’s focus on Google Drive and its multitude of collaborative capabilities that so many businesses are now making use of.

Document Sharing

This is the foundation of any collaborative process: the capability to share a file and allow others to edit it. Google Drive provides you a few means of doing so:

● From My Drive, click one of your various documents to highlight it and click on the Share icon in the toolbar at the top-right of the page.

● Right-clicking the document and selecting Share will provide you with the option to do so.

● Google Drive’s assorted applications, like Docs, Slides, and Sheets, each feature a prominent Share button at the top of the page.

Each of these options pulls up the same window: The Share with people and groups panel. Let’s examine the options that this panel provides.

The “Share with people and groups” Panel

This panel allows you to select who can access your document, and what they can do with it afterward. As a result, it is simple to share with anyone from a single coworker to an entire department—all you need to do is type in the appropriate name or email address, add a quick message if needed, and determine the access you’re granting:

● Editor­—Someone with editor-level access privileges can make whatever changes to a document that they see fit, as well as extend permissions to others to share the document in question.

● Commenter—A commenter has much more limited capabilities, as they are not able to directly change the content of a given document or share it out, but they can leave their feedback and suggestions for an editor to review and approve or deny.

● Viewer—A viewer can read through a document but can leave no feedback or send it along to others.

You can also adjust these settings even more, taking away or adding capabilities as you need to (or even taking away permissions entirely). In the Share pane, click the field that specifies the user’s access and make the changes you need to. From there, you can set an expiration date to their access to match your needs.

The Share pane also allows you to generate a link that allows your document to be shared that way. Under Get Link, you can select the option that gives anyone with the link the appropriate privileges, whether that be edit access or the ability to comment. This access can be removed whenever you need it to be.

Determining Which Documents Have Been Shared

Finally, Google Drive also simplifies the process of establishing which documents have had their access shared. A small icon will appear next to the filename that looks like two silhouettes, so long as you aren’t working in Grid view.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of the capabilities that Google Drive offers in terms of collaboration. There are plenty of other ways that your business’ IT can help to facilitate teamwork, too, so give us a call at 334-834-7660 to learn more today.

 

 

 

A Document Management System is the Modern Filing Cabinet

Do you realize how much paper you use each year? Do you realize how much paper you have stored in your office? Do you realize that none of that is necessary? Today, digital filing systems as a part of a document management strategy can keep you from wasting your business’ resources on paper, filing, and printing. Here’s how:

Introducing a Document Management System

What if a file cabinet could:

● Independently sort out and organize the files it contains

● Work with your other business solutions to put these files to their proper use, on a variety of devices

● Simplify collaborative processes

● Assist you in your business continuity preparations

● Pull the files you are looking for via a simple search interface

● Protect the files you have stored in it, while ensuring you remain compliant to industry-based regulations

● Enable secure access for your remote workers

All that is possible by integrating a Document Management System into your business’ IT infrastructure. Not only can you get all your documents from almost anywhere at any time, you can cut down the substantial costs associated with file storage and retrieval. 

A cloud-hosted DMS can cut document retrieval time and storage costs, dramatically. It’s also a massive benefit for those workers who need access to paper documents, but work outside of your business. Remote work is more prevalent today than ever before and giving your staff the ability to have anytime, anywhere access to any file they need can be very beneficial for your workers, your customers, and your bottom line. 

If you would like to learn more about how a comprehensive document management system can help your business cut costs and give you remote access to files that you could only access by going to your office before, call the IT experts at Jackson Thornton Technologies today at 334-834-7660.

 

Helpful Features Found in Google Docs

Within Google Workspace is Google Docs, a useful word processing solution that can be accessed through your web browser. In case you’re new to using Google’s productivity software, we have decided to assemble a short introduction to some of Google Docs’ most useful tools and features.

Want to check out Google Docs? It’s free for anyone with a Google account, although if you are going to use it for your business, you should talk to us about Google Workspace. 

You can log in at docs.google.com to see how the free version works.

Version History

Undoubtedly, one of Google Docs’ most useful features must be its referenceable version history. Think about it—you could go back and review how people have edited the document and the rate that progress has been made. This not only enables a higher level of accountability in your work, but it also makes it clear who made certain changes and when these changes were made.

As a result, it is far clearer to everyone involved who has contributed their share, and how the status of the team’s efforts currently stands. Accessing this area is as simple as clicking File>Version history>See version history and choosing from the list of dates and times provided.

If you want to restore a file from one of these past versions, it is as simple as clicking the Restore this version button at the top of the screen in the review section when one of the past modifications are selected.

Interacting with a Document

Due to the collaborative nature of Google Docs, the likelihood is high that your documents are frequently shared throughout your organization and amongst your clients. Of course, not everyone who has their hands on these documents necessarily needs the capability to make changes—or even leave feedback at all.

Google Docs enables you to share these documents while also dictating the amount of access that your recipients have—as well as to limit your own capabilities as well, to help you effectively accomplish specific tasks. This can be done by altering how the document is presented, which comes in three modes: Editing, Suggesting, and Viewing.

Predictably, Editing mode enables a user to make changes. However, with the document set to Suggesting mode, the user can only (as the name would suggest) suggest changes to be made. Likewise, Viewing mode only allows a user to view the document—pretty handy, especially when you’re looking for feedback over collaboration.

Mobile Capabilities

Google Docs also comes as a very capable (if limited by the platform) mobile application, enabling your team to potentially make quick reviews and edits while on the move. While we wouldn’t recommend anyone write their next novel from scratch using this method, it can prove handy in a pinch. As you would expect, any changes you make there are reflected to any collaborators you are working with.

Obviously, Google Docs offers many more capabilities that we encourage you to discover for yourself. For assistance in implementing it for your organization, or more information about the other options available to you, give us a call at 334-834-7660 today.

 

 

Let’s Look at a Few Collaboration-Themed Applications

Boosting collaboration is a central theme to many companies' operational strategies. The more that people can do as a team, the less costly operations have to be. That is a sound business strategy. Today, many businesses are looking to software to build a successful collaborative situation. Let’s take a look at three such apps that, if used properly, will help any business boost their team’s ability to work together. 

Discord

Discord was developed as a video conferencing solution for gamers, and operated in that fashion for a number of years, but over time it gained popularity because of the number of communication options that the software presents. Some organizations have gone so far as moving from more traditional collaboration apps to Discord because it is effective. 

At its base, Discord is basically a conferencing application that is free to use. Users can create their own servers and use them to host several types of communication such as video chat, audio chat, and text messages. You can easily share screens and do it all in real-time. This is the part about Discord that gives it its benefits. Discord offers bots that help keep users focused on a task and offers organizations a great option as a team-building app.

Without the massive list of useful integrations found with titles like Microsoft Teams and Slack, Discord doesn’t provide a lot of the tools built in to those other platforms, but is an extremely useful tool for collaboration nonetheless.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams’ biggest benefit is a direct integration with Office 365. In a single window, users can view their Outlook-based communications and calendars, as well as create, share, and edit work found on the Microsoft Office platform. Shared workspaces are abound in Office 365 from apps such as OneDrive, OneNote and SharePoint. It provides a centralized platform in which to communicate, manage, and delegate work. 

Microsoft Teams also offers a bunch of active integrations that provide third-party applications access, building on this cache of apps regularly. This provides teams with tools that aren’t native to Office 365. More than that, a direct integration with Skype provides meeting capabilities that fuel collaborative endeavors and push initiatives along faster. 

Slack

Slack, much like Microsoft Teams, is an extraordinarily useful tool for teams looking to collaborate. is a collaboration software designed to make project-based management easier. It is set up as a chat program with forum-like resources and a massive amount of integrations available to teams of people. Therefore, users can customize their Slack experience to meet their needs. The platform is used by millions of companies so the application integrations are current and updated with new features regularly. 

In utilizing Slack, companies can work to replace a lot of the other traditional business communications such as email and text messaging and are available on desktop platforms and mobile platforms for continuous communication. 

Is your business looking to add to its collaborative toolbox? Would any of these three work for your needs? Does your organization utilize any of these?  

 

Reviewing Zoom’s Efforts to Improve Its Security

As a communication tool, the video conferencing app Zoom saw a considerable bump in its popularity with both personal and business users as the coronavirus pandemic made other means of meeting no longer viable. However, this sudden increase in its user base also revealed some serious security issues with the platform. Let’s examine what Zoom has done to resolve these issues since then.

Zoom’s 90-Day Security Plan

On April 1, 2020, Zoom announced that it had a 90-day plan to address the numerous security concerns and criticisms that had plagued many users. The crux of the issue was that Zoom links were commonly being shared on social media… effectively opening these meetings to anyone who could find that link. As a result, the concept of “Zoombombing”—unauthorized users hijacking meetings and sharing offensive content—was born.

After numerous attacks were waged against organizations of all kinds, Zoom saw that it needed to make some changes. Therefore, on April 1st, the company announced that it would be pausing any new features to focus specifically on those related to the platform’s security. These include:

● Passwords are now required to access all meetings

● Waiting Rooms (a space where a meeting’s guests had to wait to be approved by the host) are enabled by default

● The default settings only enable the host to share their screen

Furthermore, Zoom’s acquisition of Keybase has enabled them to incorporate end-to-end encryption. Other internal changes are also now in place including a bug bounty program, deeper penetration testing, and other security improvements.

Some Brief Controversy

However, Zoom has not escaped all criticism as it has made these changes. In June, CEO Eric Yuan shared that the end-to-end encryption feature would be exclusive to paying users. Once users and security advocates alike spoke out about this policy, Zoom quickly walked this policy back. While it is still rolling out this capacity, and it may interfere with some other features, Zoom is also actively planning for the future with its next improvements already planned out.

So, is Zoom Safe to Use?

Compared to where it was? Absolutely. However, you may still want to take what you plan on communicating into account when deciding whether to use Zoom for certain conversations, just to be safe. Erring on the side of caution is always the better option when your business communications are involved.

Whatever your business’ technology needs may be, Jackson Thornton Technologies can help you find and implement the solutions to fulfill them. To learn more about what we have to offer, give us a call at 334-834-7660 today.

 

What Hardware Do Workers Need in 2020?

The office is in itself a tool designed to improve business. Remember the office? Some long for the day when they can get back there, while a majority of remote workers enjoy it. One thing is certain, many people are still working from home, sent home in March. Many, with no return date in sight. Today, we’ll take a look at a couple pieces of technology that are popular with the remote work crowd. 

When you last were at the office, you had everything that you needed to do your job: your work PC, all the accessories, access to the Internet, printers, and other internal resources. During the pandemic’s stay-at-home orders, you didn’t have access. You may be back at your office today, but if you aren’t you are probably using the mandatory COVID-19 home office technology. Let’s take a look at it.

Laptop

The home office isn’t like the real office. First of all, going into March 2-in-3 people didn’t have a dedicated workspace. If you tried to work from the couch, your favorite chair, or worse yet, your bed, you may have found productivity hard to come by. Once it was clear that nobody was going back to the office for a while, most people made a solid effort to dedicate a small part of their living quarters into a makeshift office. If you are like millions of other people that had to work from home (or are still working from home), having a PC was essential to getting your work done; but, if you don’t have a lot of room, a laptop is perfect. Not only can you take it with you, but many laptops are more powerful than the typical workstation that your company would give you. 

Smartphone

For a sudden shift to telework, no piece of technology has been as important as the smartphone. At first, many companies were just trying to figure out if they could run their businesses remotely. The mobility provided by smartphones largely made the shift possible. Not only could the smartphone be used as a business phone (through a VoIP platform and its softphone app), it can be great for collaboration. Today, most smartphones can be configured with work profiles, which provides a dedicated app drawer for all your business apps. This not only allows the company to manage their data better, it also is advantageous for users who can turn access to work on and off with a tap of their finger. 

Collaboration Apps

Software is important for almost every business, but for the business relying on remote workers, it is quite literally a business’ saving grace. With a remote staff, collaboration becomes even more crucial and software of all kinds are adding in cooperative options. Productivity software like Microsoft 365 or Google’s G Suite have collaborative options baked right in; management software like Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), or Professional Services Automation (PSA) provides end-to-end operations management, supply chain management, and support options; and, collaboration platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams provide communication options and software integrations to keep teams on-point.

COVID-19 has put a big damper on business, but if you can have the right tools, you can still get your job done. If you would like to talk to one of our expert technicians about getting the right technology to keep your business profitable while the new normal forms, call Jackson Thornton Technologies today at 334-834-7660.