Bring Mobility To Your Small Business
Amid all the grandiose promises and hype of cloud computing, it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of cloud applications available right now that deliver on some of those promises. Project collaboration for small businesses is one of those promises, and among the best of those products is the HyperOffice Collaboration Suite.
HyperOffice provides users with business email, document management, Intranet/extranet capabilities, a calendar, contact management, and project management tools, all accessible through the Web.
You can snag a free 30-day trial of HyperOffice from its Web site. Setup takes just a few minutes and is made simple by easy-to-understand wizards. Additionally, a HyperOffice representative will call you in short order to help you set up HyperOffice and navigate your way through its features. HyperOffice also features live phone and online support if you have questions.
Navigating HyperOffice on your own is easy enough, though; the interface is GUI-heavy and intuitive, and contextual pop-up boxes offer assistance with whatever feature you just selected. You can turn off the pop-ups if you don’t need them.
With the setup wizard, you can customize HyperOffice with the features you want to include and specific users you would like to add. (You can perform both of these customizations later, as well.)
The Personal Desktop
When you log into HyperOffice, you’re greeted by your personalized Desktop.
Each HyperOffice user has a personal online Desktop environment. From the Desktop, you can access your email, calendar, documents, contacts, and other day-to-day items you need for organization. You can even see your Tasks, Links, Notes, and Reminders.
These features are all available on the Navigation sidebar (which you can opt to hide) on the left side of the screen, but they’re also right there on your online Desktop. Additional Desktop-only items are Newsfeed, links to your Groups, and Skype (which is the IM client for HyperOffice).
You can have multiple Groups, with a link to each on your Desktop. For each Group, you can create an entirely unique workspace.
You can create a project for the group, create tasks for the project, and assign them to various group members. Further, you can add all sorts of details for each task, track when they’re complete or where they are in the process, and add links and comments to the tasks to guide the person through.
Each task can be sorted by a variety of criteria, such as Completed, Overdue, Assigned To Me, Assigned By Me, and so on. With this set of tools, you can keep a detailed record of what is getting done, by whom, and when, and include comments and notes all along the way.
Each Group has its own home page, complete with Group News, a Message Of The Day, a Schedule for the group, Tasks, Shared Documents, Shared Links, and even Open Voting Items. On the Navigation bar on the left part of the screen, you can also access Shared Contacts, Forum, Publisher, and an option to create a group Wiki.
Each Group has its own home page, complete with Group news, messages, schedule, tasks, documents, and links.
The Forum is a handy tool for holding discussions about topics or brainstorming without physically gathering all of the necessary participants at one time, and the Wiki is a related feature where all of the information for a project can be built, organized, and stored.
The Publisher feature is an especially powerful tool that lets you use templates and wizards to easily create Intranet and extranet pagesas well as pages with content pertinent to the group. From a Publisher page, you can upload images and create custom group homepages, too. No HTML skills are required; it’s all drag-and-drop functionality.
Available group applications include Web Meetings and Web Databases. Web meetings are online video conferences between group members. With Web meetings, you have the option to include an audio feature that lets users phone in if the video function is unavailable for that person. Both audio and video are recorded, so you can look back through a meeting in case you missed something. If group members want to join a Web meeting after it has commenced, it’s easy to add them.
The Web Databases feature has tools that let you manage your HyperOffice data in the cloud. HyperDrive is an online file storage provided by HyperOffice; it allows you to store your files online, but also lets you access your files in an Explorer window on your computer as if the folders were stored locally. It’s also simple to transfer files and folders from your computer to HyperDrive—all of it using drag-and-drop functionality. HyperDrive is supported by Mac OS X 10.4 or later, as well as Windows XP/Vista/7.
Within a Group, you can create, organize, manage, and track projects and tasks.
The other Web Database tool, HyperShare, allows you to sync HyperOffice with Microsoft Outlook. You can access many of your HyperOffice tools and data (and even update them) from Outlook.
Why You Want It
As an increasing number of workers telecommute on a regular basis, services such as HyperOffice give them and their colleagues the ability to create a virtual office in the cloud, allowing them to stay in touch, collaborate on projects, and keep an entire team of workers organized regardless of their location in regard to one another.
Features such as the Forum, Wiki, and Publisher are powerful tools for group collaboration and the creation of Intranet, extranet, and custom group pages.
That said, HyperOffice’s many features would be beneficial in virtually any office environment, even if all the members were in the same location. It eliminates the need for email attachments, for one, saving a hefty amount of storage space for a company’s servers. And it keeps track of every change in every document, allows users to continuously collaborate in real time, and ensures that every detail of every project is tracked and logged with no extra effort or input.
As a cloud product, HyperOffice also removes the burden of data storage, management, and security from a brick-and-mortar business. All the work a user performs with HyperOffice, as well as all the user-generated documents, emails, and other files, are hosted by HyperOffice, leaving companies more free to work on core projects without getting sidetracked.
by Seth Colaner
A La Carte
The HyperOffice Collaboration Suite is the full set of tools available from HyperOffice, but you can also purchase various services on their own. These include Business Email, HyperMeeting (online meeting and conferencing), HyperCampaign (automated email), HyperBase (database management), and HyperShare for Outlook.