Optimize Office 365 for Your Business

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Office 365 has become ubiquitous for most small businesses. You realized that you needed your email server in the cloud and wanted to get your whole team using the same version of the Office suite. Great, that was a smart decision, but Office 365 can do so much more than just host your emails and give you access to the latest version of Word. We get clients asking us all the time, “How can I get more out of my spend with O365?” Well, the answer is pretty easy, use all of the awesome features that Office 365 offers. Now we know that specialized tools exist for a lot of these apps. For instance, your accounting software may offer a digital invoicing option, but the bulk of our customers find a few of these tools useful enough to cancel subscriptions with other companies in favor of the Office solution. In this post, we will outline some of the solutions and tools our clients use the most.

What do I get?

Well, that depends on what subscription you have. We know licensing can get confusing, especially with Microsoft so we made two easy charts. Office 365 PlansOffice 365 Apps

You can have different license levels within a single company in Office 365. This means some users may have access to more or fewer apps that we talk about here based on what license they have. You can look at the chart above and start to derive some value based on how your team would use these apps. Now it’s time to dive into some of the specific apps.

OneDrive for Business

Don’t get that confused with OneDrive. Microsoft creates an automatic OneDrive account when you install Windows. This can confuse some small businesses when we have talked to them because they believe they already have OneDrive. OneDrive for Business uses a lot of the same interfaces and easy to navigate portals and OneDrive but works more like a small file server. It does this by taking advantage of the SharePoint backend. That’s right OneDrive for Business is really SharePoint. When you create a new SharePoint site the files portion of the site is controlled by OneDrive. This means that you can use groups and other existing organizational structure to quickly build a cloud file share. One way Microsoft chooses to think about it is: every group gets a SharePoint and every user gets OneDrive to access that SharePoint.

OneDrive for BusinessOneDrive for Business works on PCs and Macs. It interfaces with File Explorer and Finder like any mapped drive you use today. This allows users to easily navigate to save, open, and share files like they do today. It does add features to those sharing options as well. You can manage who has access to edit or read the file just by right-clicking. You don’t even have to have the files taking up space on your hard drive. Since the files are in the cloud you can map the folder to your machine but not download them. Then when you need to edit you can do so then it will automatically sync back with the web version.

Speaking of the web version this is another great feature of Office 365. You may be familiar with collaborating on documents with Google Drive. Well, O365 has the same feature but using the tools, like Word, that you already know and use every day. When you access a file via your web browser you can edit it using the online version of Office apps like PowerPoint and Excel. While a colleague could be editing that same document. Imagine the efficiencies your team could have working on that big presentation at the same time instead of email versions back and forth. You can also comment on documents and chat right there in the app as well. Users that prefer the desktop versions can collaborate as well. As long as the file is stored in your OneDrive folder anyone with edit access can edit at the same time. And then you can share and talk about those files, even with those outside your organization, with our next tool.

Teams

Microsoft isn’t known for the most creative names for their apps, but their new realtime communication tool but take the lazy naming cake. Teams is a tool that can take your internal, and sometimes external, business communication to the next level. With the Teams app, users can chat one to one like any other chat tool and even group chat with many users. Where Teams really comes into its own though is in the Teams and channel section. Imagine that you could create little boards in your office where every file, email, and ad hoc conversation about a client could be stored for anyone to reference at any time. Then imagine that you could invite your client in to view portions of this board at any time and collaborate with your team. That is the optimization that Teams offers.

Microsoft Teams UsesInside of an individual team, you can chat, jump on an audio or video call, share documents, collaborate on Office documents in realtime, and bring in bots to automate work. Now we know this sounds like a lot and would be very confusing, but the app is rather intuitive. It works a lot like a social network. You can create a post sharing information for the team, or maybe a document for them to review. They can then comment on it or make changes without sending a single email. And all of this conversation and sharing are documented for anyone to review. Imagine coming back from vacation and getting caught up on the big quarterly project in minutes by scrolling back through the conversation. Or maybe you integrate a bot to notify a team every time someone fills out the contact form on your website. Then the team can claim the lead and discuss it, again without a single email being sent.

Because of the robust security permissions available, Teams runs on Azure servers so the data is compliant with many major standards, you can even invite outside users in to collaborate with your team. This allows you not only to have better internal communication but also makes your team more efficient in communicating with your clients.

In the end, Teams is a great tool that you are most likely already paying for. If it works for your team you could save money by no longer paying for other tools like GoToMeeting, Basecamp, Dropbox, Slack, or whatever other tools you use to increase collaboration and communication. There is another set of apps new to Office 365 that could also replace some of the 3rd party apps you are using today.

New Office 365 Apps

Microsoft is always adding new features to existing apps, but recently added a new suite of apps that could be core to your business. Let’s look at an example of how these apps could help a landscaping company. New Office 365 Apps

Now, as we said before you might prefer the apps you are using today to accomplish some of these tasks. But it is worth trying out some of these apps to see if they could save you time or money in promoting and running your business. These tools can be used in many other situations as well. For instance Microsoft Bookings. It can be used by your salespeople to allow prospects to block off time on their calendars for a product demo. You can even integrate your meeting software, like Teams or Zoom, into the invite automatically. You could even automate out a survey for the prospect to fill out to get more info before the call. Each of these tools could warrant their own blog post so we will just end it here by saying, give these tools a try.

In Conclusion

Its time to use your Office 365 for more than just emails. If you need help integrating these features into your business we are here to help. Techlocity has experience in migrations to O365 from Exchange or GSuite. If you are already using O365 we can help you set up more tools in the way that works best for your team and help with training and adoption as well. Whatever the need, O365 related or not don’t hesitate to reach out to us, we love helping companies make IT work for them.

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