Improving Productivity: Our Recommendations

10 October 2017

I recently did a Facebook Live on my recommendations for off-the-shelf software products businesses can make use of to improve productivity. My disclaimer at the beginning was that there is no Holy Grail. There is no off-the-shelf IT product that is going to solve all our problems as business owners. That said, there is some great software out there at cost-effective subscription prices. And, with a little help from businesses like Emerald, you can easily integrate them together! 

So I have shaped this into my Top 5 for you (in no particular order!)

1. Microsoft Office 365

I have had a difficult relationship with Office 365 over the years. I really didn’t like it at first but I have come to see its benefits, even though I think it could look a lot better on the web interface. If used with the relevant applications like Outlook and Office running locally on your computer then you won’t need to worry about this too much anyway. Shared calendars and Shared Mail Inboxes and other features reserved for Exchange Server users only are accessible to much smaller businesses for a monthly subscription with Office 365. We make use of the Shared Calendar and Shared Inbox feature for our Technical Support team

1.a) One Drive

An Office 365 subscription also provides you with a One Drive platform which is perfect for micro-businesses wanting to collaborate on shared documents and files. You can create personal and shared areas. Set-up costs are low and you can do a lot of it yourself.

2. Emerald Cloud

This is a collaborative solution between File Cloud’s software and our Data Centre in Northampton. We have invested significantly in our infrastructure over the past three years so we can offer a great value document collaboration service to our customers. If you want to work on documents and files with teams whether you are online or offline, then this is the product for you.

3. Microsoft Sharepoint

Unlike Office 365, I have loved Sharepoint from our very first interaction! A lot of people think it has had its day but I love it still! It adds value, you can have team discussions, and create intranets to make it more interactive. It does require some technical set-up and I would advise training on how best to use it; but don’t dismiss it because it has been around for a while. It’s a great product still!

4. Microsoft Teams

I’m conflicted on this one because there are three great products in this space and I have used them all: Slack, Trello, and Microsoft Teams. Teams is the newest and I think my favourite because in this interface Microsoft do have it right. It’s interactive and fun still, but it has more of a professional feel than Slack and easier to manage cross-channel and cross-team communication. Try all three if you are looking for a way to manage projects in real-time and reduce internal email and decide which fits you. Happy to do a demo on any of them and show you how they work for us.

5. Docuware

All great businesses are run on a system like Docuware! It’s an SQL database that stores data you input into forms while on the move or scan in as PDFs etc. It’s easy to integrate with other systems or even your own personalised user interface. We use it for our data management and we have customers using it from financial services to sales teams to heating engineers to skip hire. It’s a truly flexible and versatile system.

If you have a spare 10-15 minutes then do check out the You Tube video which mentions other software and gives you more information on how and when to use them. I am also more than happy to give you a demo on any of the products mentioned as we are using them all!


"Emerald has become our go-to for all our technology requirements. If we think we need to address an issue, we contact them and explain, and they suggest a solution not only for immediate use, but also looking at the longer term picture for our business too.
They keep a constant eye on our systems and usage and suggest when appropriate courses of action should be taken to enhance our working environment"


"In the past, we had experienced problems with IT companies who had the ability over promise and under deliver.

This was not the case with Emerald. Emerald are now our trusted partner for all of our IT support needs. They offer honest, impartial advice that is delivered in a language even the novice can understand.

Having one number that our team can call with any IT or telephone concerns makes such a difference, especially when this is backed up with prompt resolution."

Richard Hall - Inn Express

"We've been working with Emerald for many years and their support has been invaluable on all aspects of IT from maintenance of systems & phones to new purchases and solutions.

Emerald are professional and their services are precise and innovative where needed. Their customer support is outstanding. Highly recommended."

Jeryl Stone - Hitchman Stone

"When your whole business rests on a cloud-based system, having a flexible, cost-effective, secure, and well- maintained solution is what helps you sleep better at night. That's what Emerald is here for"

Leech & Co Solicitors Data Centre Backup

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