It’s no secret that Microsoft is doing good when it comes to their subscription-based Office 365 package, it’s also not a secret that this is the preferred way for Microsoft to sell the Office package for their customers, as prices for volume based licensing are on the rise. But why should you opt in to this subscription?
Lets take a quick look at what is included in the Office 365 space, and how this can help to improve your organization.
For those that think Office 365 is just another way to pay for the Office package, your wrong, there’s a lot more included in this service than first meets the eye.
I will take a quick look into the features/services that I personally feel adds immediate value to almost any organization.
This is a no-brainer, the well know office package, in web based, and locally installed versions.
The difference here is that you will always have access to the latest and greatest version of Microsoft Office, all included in the subscription, no need to repurchase, or renew licenses to get the new version.
With the license you can install the Office package into 5 phones, 5 tablets, and 5 pc/macs – minor variations here depending on your selected plan, but the norm here is that a user can install office on 5 computers.
(1 license is not to be used on 5 different people, as the license is personal)
If you choose a subscription plan that includes Outlook and hosted Exchange, you get 50-100GB of mailbox storage, per user, included – that should be enough for most mortal people.
Reporting to Microsoft regarding license usage for Office also becomes a breeze, just check how many users you have subscriptions for, done, no more looking for what is installed where around the organization.
Want to install Office 365 on shared computers or terminal server/RDS/Citrix? – go for a subscription plan that includes ProPlus/Shared Computer Activation, and install using Shared Computer Activation on those devices, the device is then unlicensed by default, and users can come and co to these devices, using their own credential to provide a valid license for use on these devices – without this taking from the users 5 device licenses.
Microsoft OneDrive for Business
Familiar with Dropbox or Google Drive? OneDrive for Business is the Microsoft equivalent to these.
You get 1TB of cloud-based storage, per user, included in the subscription.
OneDrive is a great tool to ensure that you always have access to your files on whatever device you are using at the time – files get synced across.
Recently Microsoft also added protection for important folder, meaning you can easily chose to protect the basic folders like My documents, photos etc. This gives your users an easy backup of files and help eliminate data loss due to hardware failure/other failure, on the user’s device. Failed device, get a new one, install Office 365, and the files get synced back down and you’re up and running.
OneDrive for Business also integrates into the Office package, so that you can save/open/edit files directly from OneDrive from your chosen app, if the file is stored on OneDrive, you also get the automatic save function activated when you are working on a document – to further secure the user from forgetting to click the save button and loosing precious work.
OneNote is a personal favorite, this is a great tool to help you collect notes, take notes, and basically be your drawing board for you day to day tasks.
You can collect notes via mobile or computer, this includes taking notes via mobile camera. You can then organize your data in collections and tabs within OneNote, giving you a go to place for information you need quick access too.
Pair this with Microsoft Office Lens – mobile app – and you get the possibility to take great notes from whiteboards and presentations straight from your phone into OneNote.
There’s also a lot of more powerful features inside OneNote, but I will not go into details on that here.
Allover it’s a great tool to work with data, whether its meetings notes or other notes. Also available for tablet, and of course stylus for writing is also supported.
For some advanced tips on OneNote – you can check out Ståle Hansen’s OneNote life hacks on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgSo98A6d9I
Move your company’s document library away from file shares, and into SharePoint, giving you a web based secure document library to store company data.
Permission levels can be set and thereby separate the needed information to those that should have access – not everyone. This also integrates with Office, so that you can open documents within SharePoint directly in the web browser using the Online editions of Office, should you prefer to open in a local version of an editor, you can to that to. Documents added to SharePoint gets versioning, meaning you can go back to previous versions if something gets overwritten by mistake.
How you customize the look and feel of your SharePoint site is all up to you, there’s a ton of possibilities, including third party add-ons should you not feel ok with the standard SharePoint options.
Skype for Business
Skype for business gives you a collaboration tool, with instant messaging, voice/video chat, online meetings, screen sharing, and can also be used for phone services, and can in that regard reduce your cost for telephony by using Skype for Business via VoIP.
Instant messaging gives you the benefit of getting instant replies and is quicker and more responsive than e-mail. In your contact list you can easily see online status for your contacts and see who is available or not.
Skype for Business integrates to your Outlook calendar, so your contacts see you as busy when you have something scheduled in your calendar, and then changes your online status depending – on the fly. If you want, you can override and set your own status as you prefer.
Millennials today expect any company to use some sort of collaboration tool like this for instant communication.
Other benefits of online collaboration includes reducing the need for traveling, and with that also travel expenses, as work can be done online, via online meetings, sharing etc.
Microsoft Teams is something I wrote about earlier in more detail – that article can be found here:
This is altogether a great tool, and it should be mentioned at this also is available for free as of recently.
Microsoft Teams gives you a tool to create an online meeting place for all your internal communication – eliminating the need for the old preferred endless internal e-mails.
You get at tool that lets you create Teams with team members/owners, and channels under each team for various subjects if you need.
This gives your business transparency when it comes to internal communication and invites everyone to participate in the day to day discussions that may be going on within a team/channel.
You can also use Teams to create a separate team for a specific project your company is working on, and adding the needed members, and channels for different topics/phases of the project.
Members can then communicate freely from mobile devices as well as computers wherever they are, all is visible to all members of the project, at all times.
This is also great news when it comes to new employees, as you no longer need to dig up old emails should there be some information there that should be made available for new members.
Meetings can be scheduled directly within Microsoft Teams, as well as group video/chat, and 1:1 chat/call/video.
A side-effect is that members can freely give input to discussions if they feel they have something that needs to be said.
On Microsoft’s roadmap they had plans to make available all Skype for Business Online features within Microsoft Teams, and today they just announced that this goal has been achieved:
Microsoft will continue onwards with the plan to replace Skype for Business Online with Microsoft Teams as time passes.
Within the Teams and Channels of Microsoft Teams, you can also integrate other services directly, like OneNote and PowerBi, as well as external services. Making Microsoft Teams a truly great tool for collaboration.
Microsoft Bookings is something I wrote about earlier in more detail – that article can be found here:
Microsoft Bookings gives you the flexibility to put the work of scheduling something onto your clients.
You get an online calendar, where you choose to make various scheduling options/types available, these in turn are connected to the people in your organization that takes these appointments, this can be different people for different appointment types. Microsoft bookings integrates into Outlook and knows when your employees have free time or not.
The client then sees available times based one the free time in your connected employees’ calendar, and choses from this the time that they see fit. The employee and the client then get a confirmation email about the selected appointment, and the employee also gets the booking added to their calendar at the selected time.
The confirmation email also includes information for the client to reschedule/cancel the appointment should the need arise. This makes it flexible for the client and frees up your time, while allowing you to generate business without the hazzle of arranging appointments back and forth to find the right time.
Now, many would see this as something to be used at hairdressers/dentists/physical therapy etc, but why not use this to make yourself and your services available? If you are doing client interaction in some form, you could get added benefit by offering this flexibility, after all, you are already paying for the product, so why not use it.
Microsoft Bookings also integrates easily onto Facebook etc should you want that as well.
Working with sales/services, why not put out an appointment type via Microsoft bookings offering your current and future clients a free company presentation?
You could also add the link to the Booking page to your e-mail signature, just to make it available.
If you add cost for services to the appointment types, you also get a nice overview within Microsoft Bookings showing you how much revenue Microsoft Bookings has generated for you.
A great tool for organizing teamwork. You create a plan for each task/project, assign tasks to members, add task dependencies, add your own sub-tasks etc.
Everyone then sees the status of the “plan” and thereby eliminating the need to ask in every direction for a follow up to track the status of the work that needs to be done. All you need to do is open the selected “plan” and the status on everyone’s tasks, with status, is there in broad daylight.
Available across devices, making it easy to update on the fly.
Microsoft Planner can also be integrated into Microsoft Teams, should you need to make it all available in one place.
Tired of doing mundane and repetitive tasks? Look at Microsoft Flow. This tool lets you automate workflows, across several apps and services, freeing up your time, and letting you focus on the more interesting tasks.
You can make actions based on triggers like new rows in an Excel Spreadsheet, copy files automatically to OneDrive, automatically send emails if selected criteria is meet etc. Best way to get into this is just to take a look and try it out to see what it can do for you.
Power BI is a business analytics service, giving you interactive visualizations on datasets. Users can create reports and dashboards without depending on IT staff or DB administrators. Data can be updated in Real-time depending on the source, giving you the power to see what is important for you at any given time, without the need to go in to various sources manually. You can use it to analyze big data and use that data to make your decisions.
Senior System Consultant at Serit IT Partner Møre AS, localized in Møre og Romsdal, Norway. Primarily focus on virtualization and datacenter solutions. Specialized in Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop, certified CCE-V.