The growth in the adoption of the Microsoft Office 365 platform is staggering. Though deeply dependent on the inertia of the eponymous desktop application suite, it is also the mix of complementary services Microsoft continuously adds which is making this particular cloud productivity platform very popular. Microsoft is estimating Office 365 will pass 100 million active business users by the end of 2017, but it is not uncommon for many businesses to merely scratch the surface of what Office 365 has to offer. Here are five ideas to help you make better use of Office 365.
Office Delve helps users to discover and find information that is pertinent to them via a customisable personal page which shows recently accessed documents, profiles of colleagues and a feed of suggested content. Now also in mobile app guise, Delve is an incredibly quick way to jump to frequently used content, instead of navigating through SharePoint sites or OneDrive folder trees.
Delve powerfully converges content from across the various Office 365 services, including Exchange, the traditional Office productivity applications and even Yammer. As with any new service, discovering how Delve can help you will require exploring it and experimenting with the ways in which it can be customised, but you are bound to navigate through your Office content much quicker with help from Delve.
Businesses in frontline service industries such as hospitality still rely on manual, paper-based processes in part because these processes lack the scale or perceived importance that warrant a purpose-built IT system. Microsoft has targeted StaffHub, available to Office 365 enterprise subscribers, at exactly this group. As opposed to an open-ended collaboration platform, StaffHub focuses on frontline functionality.
StaffHub aims to take these manual processes online with a mobile-friendly hub that makes scheduling shifts and sharing internal resources easier. There is some overlap with apps such as Slack, as the StaffHub app also offers team chat and photo and document sharing. With push notifications as shifts are allocated and the ability to automatically change shifts pending approval StaffHub can revolutionise the productivity of your frontline staff.
Real-time collaborative editing is a powerful way for workers to quickly build documents without the wait of revision ping-pong. Initially only available on Office Online, Microsoft has committed to enabling real-time co-authoring across the feature rich desktop apps. Starting with Word and more recently PowerPoint, you can now update your Word document or PowerPoint slides in your favourite desktop application, and watch your colleagues do so simultaneously.
Co-authoring in real time solves two big problems: files that are locked due to other users editing them, and the fact that file unlocks are not always honoured immediately. By storing your documents on SharePoint or OneDrive you can make sure everyone has around the clock access to all your documents, thanks to real-time co-authoring.
On the topic of collaboration, Office 365 has a myriad of overlapping solutions. They’re worth trying out. Take Skype for Business for example, which is a terrific tool for arranging online meetings regardless of where workers are physically located. Previously called Lync Online, the business edition of Skype is geared towards productivity and can even facilitate webinars.
Skype for Business should not be underestimated as it can act as a complete telephony platform. Many Office 365 users are already paying for Skype for Business through their Office 365 license so making use of the built-in PABX and voice features can lead to lower costs and productivity gains as contacts and documents are merged in one communications platform.
Outlook is packed with productivity and efficiency features, but because e-mail is viewed as a simple application few users hunt around Outlook to see what is on offer. Which is a shame, given that the average worker can spend up to 30 hours a week checking email. For example: dispose of annoying reply-all email conversations by tapping the aptly named Ignore button, or tap Sweep in Outlook Online to instantly clear out hundreds of unwanted and irrelevant emails.
If you prefer the Outlook desktop application, try Quick Parts for repeated content, instead of frequently retyping chunks of text – it’s quicker than copying and pasting from a source too. Frequent email searches are easy to automate in the fully-fledged desktop client: simply set up Search Folders for your most commonly used searches.
One of the challenges which Office 365 business subscribers face is the constant renewal and refreshing that is associated with using any SaaS implementation. Yet switched-on businesses can take advantage of the growing, rich pool of features and services in the Office 365 suite. Microsoft makes a solid effort to communicate changes and improvements, and by keeping an eye on Microsoft’s announcements you can keep your staff in the loop on the latest productivity improvements in Office 365.
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