Choosing the Right Productivity Suite

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Also called an office suite or office software suite, a productivity suite is a collection of programs used by an organization’s staff to – you guessed it – enhance productivity. The most common components of a productivity suite are programs for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email, database management, graphics and desktop publishing. Many additional features, including collaboration and social media tools, may be available depending on the productivity suite you choose.

Microsoft Office is the productivity suite that has long dominated the workplace, a fact reinforced by a recent Forrester survey. That study revealed more than 90 percent of organizations provide a version of Office to employees. The biggest reason for this is familiarity. Most people have been using Office for years and use it for at-home computing. Another major factor in Office’s dominance is Microsoft Outlook, an email client that integrates with the most popular communications software and applications.

The folks at Microsoft have heard the most common complaints from IT managers – Office has too many unnecessary features and it’s too pricey – but this hasn’t affected the position Office has held for years as the most preferred productivity suite.

However, Microsoft Office isn’t the only option. Forrester points out that 20 percent of responding organizations are using cloud-based email, while 25 percent are planning to use the cloud. Google Apps for Business and Microsoft Office 365 are two such programs. A key advantage of cloud-based platforms is that software upgrades are unnecessary. When features are added, you can start using them the next time you log in to your account.

Other productivity suites include iWork, which can be used on all Apple devices and is now free, and IBM’s Lotus Symphony, a derivative of OpenOffice that is offered at no charge. Even as these alternatives to Office emerge, it’s a good idea to make sure that files and applications are compatible with Office because of its widespread use.

Other factors to consider when choosing a productivity suite include:

  • Existing productivity software and legacy applications. Do your software and applications need to be upgraded? Are they critical to your business or are better programs available? (Note that Microsoft support for Office 2003 ends on April 8, 2014, meaning security patches and updates will no longer be issued. It’s important to upgrade these applications before that date.)
  • Remote and mobile workforces. If you have multiple locations or employees who work remotely on mobile devices, you may want to consider online applications and cloud-based solutions.
  • Collaboration. Would your organization benefit from a productivity suite that enhances internal communication (chat, text, audio, video) and enables the exchange and modification of internal documents?
  • Licensing. What types of licensing options are available? Do they suit your business needs? How much do they cost?
  • Security and privacy. How will data be protected and monitored? What tools will prevent security threats from compromising your network?

Ultimately, the decision about which productivity suite to choose should be based upon how your business processes, communication and customer service will be enhanced. Let the experts at help you choose and take full advantage of the right productivity suite to help you achieve your business goals.