Today’s post about Office 365 was written by Gordon Loeb, chief operating officer at Loeb Consulting Group.
Loeb Consulting Group grew out of my wife Natalie’s expertise and passion about helping people reach their potential at work. It all started about 17 years ago, when Natalie began consulting for the law firm where she had worked as a training manager designing professional development programs. Her drive to help people achieve as much as they can in the workplace and enjoy what they do is responsible for the growth of her consulting business.
I joined here full-time about two and a half years ago, and today, with four employees and 25 consultants working across the United States and in the United Kingdom, Loeb Consulting Group has reached a juncture in its evolution. At this critical moment, it’s essential for us to look professional and to have sound business practices and a reliable, scalable infrastructure so we can attract new investors and partners. That’s why we use Microsoft Office 365 business productivity tools.
Our in-house training department, one-on-one executive coaching sessions, management and leadership development workshops, and student leadership programs are all expanding. Natalie travels a lot for leadership coaching and to meet with clients, partners, and consultants, and I’m transitioning to more of a business development role. We are bringing on a business consultant and expanding our services. All this would be a lot more difficult to manage without the communication and collaboration services in Office 365.
We have standardized company email addresses for our staff and consultants, so the firm presents as a cohesive group with a consistent brand and a high level of professionalism. Previously, consultants used their own email addresses and it was difficult to share calendars to arrange meetings. It took a while to bring a consultant on board, even for a short-term project. Now we have a seamless process for signing up consultants in Exchange Online, so we can onboard them quickly to meet client requirements.
These changes have been helpful, but the collaborative possibilities available in Office 365 will make the biggest difference to how we work as a team. This is a document-heavy business; we coauthor proposals, presentations, and articles and share files constantly with consultants, partners, and customers. With Office 365, we can store all our Microsoft Office files securely online, then access and share them internally and externally anytime on any device using Microsoft OneDrive for Business. Natalie and I have Office 365 ProPlus, which enables us to run the latest version of Office on all our devices. We look forward to knowing that any edits we make to a file will be saved to the cloud, and that we can access the current version later on a different device. Now we can coauthor drafts using Office Online to access files directly from the browser. Creating proposals will be so much easier because we won’t be sending versions around as email attachments.
We also plan to use Office 365 to help our business accommodate a growing trend in the training and leadership development market: e-learning. While nothing can replace the benefits of in-person one-on-one mentoring, we believe that the videoconferencing feature in Skype for Business will be an effective way to supplement our in-person sessions. Natalie will also use videoconferencing to connect with clients and to debrief with consultants immediately after a public workshop series, so we can understand if there are areas that we can improve upon going forward. And when we set up team sites using Microsoft SharePoint Online, we will be able to collaborate with our partners more closely to keep them apprised of our client interactions and conversations so we can coordinate our efforts more effectively. These solutions will also save Natalie a lot of travel.
The scalable, cost-effective business productivity solutions in Office 365 are helping us grow, and they will be the foundation for our business as we head into this period of transition. In a way, Office 365 reflects what we do at Loeb Consulting every day: help people achieve as much as they can in the workplace—and enjoy what they do.
To read the rest of Natalie’s story and the stories of other small business owners like Natalie Loeb, download our eBook, “What I wish I knew.”