Making more of your Office 365 Subscription

by | Jun 25, 2018

Let’s assume you have a Microsoft Office 365 subscription and you know what most of the apps do. Like most users across the world, you’re familiar with Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and even SharePoint, all of which you use regularly if not every minute of every day.

But recently, you think you might be missing out. You have noticed a few apps appearing, like Delve, Sway, Planner, Forms and people are talking about them but you don’t have the time to work out what they are or what benefits they offer.

So here is a quick overview that explains what a few of these new apps do and when you might use them. There’s a lot of information and advice on Microsoft’s site, but if you want a more detailed discussion or some training to get the most from your Office 365 subscription, please get in touch with Michael at michael.owen@circyl.co.uk

Office Delve

The volume of information swirling around your organisation increases every day and keeping track of what you have and where it is can be tricky. To help you find the files and data that are important and relevant for you. Delve was devised, deployed and developed.

Delve is a collaboration tool. It helps users work with colleagues to create, edit and share documents, whilst allowing them to embed documents, images and even videos.

Delve displays profile information about users, including pictures, projects and relevant skills to make it easier for people to find and connect with the most appropriate colleagues. Users can also utilize the search-and-find feature to locate fellow members.

It shows recent and relevant documents, presented on content card displays, each of which includes a name, photograph and most recent activity. Information designed to help a user understand why a document is relevant to their work is also available to them.

Another useful productivity feature of Delve is to allow users to create boards that highlight relevant or related documents. A board can show documents related to a specific project and allow access to everyone involved in that project, who can add contact cards to it.

Importantly, Delve only allows users to view the documents they have permission to see. Users cannot see the records or documents of users who have not granted access.

To help drive improvements in productivity, Delve also offers a suite of analytics to help users better understand how they spend their time – this was re-branded as MyAnalytics and typically involves an additional monthly cost per user.

The benefits of Delve

  • Quickly access content regardless of where it is stored
  • Discover new relevant content from around the business
  • Understand who works on similar projects
  • Basis for a skills directory not just a phone directory
  • View organisation structure

Office Planner

Planner makes it simple for users to coordinate and collaborate on all their projects. It has been designed to bring more detail and order to the teamwork necessary to ensure everyone delivers more in less in time.

It is an intuitive management tool that allows responsibilities to be delegated and plans created. Each plan has a board where tasks are organised in buckets, with tasks categorised by status or who owns them.

Planner uses an engaging dashboard format that offers users a graphical representation of the projects in which they are involved; a chart. To update the status of a task or assign actions to another user is a simple drag and drop process that helps speed up the process and builds collaboration.

When someone is assigned a task, or included in a group working on a project, they will automatically receive an email informing them of the situation to ensure everyone knows what is going on, all the time.

Planner plays to the real strength of Office 365 in its ability to allow users to attach files to tasks, collaborate closely with those files and chat about the tasks without switching between apps.

All of the team’s discussions and deliverables remain in one location, the plan. This approach prevents important information becoming spread across different applications, where there is a risk it may be missed or not acted upon.

To see progress of any project or to see if the team is making the expected progress, it just takes a quick look at the appropriate chart. It’s that simple.

The benefits of Planner

  • Task management for small groups
  • Break larger projects into discrete tasks
  • Improve efficiency and productivity
  • Greater collaboration across teams

It really is a case of just getting under the bonnet with Office 365 and having a poke about at the applications. There is a lot to help improve productivity, increase efficiency and bring colleagues closer together and critically for the modern organisation, they all work anywhere, anytime, across all devices.

Office Flow

Microsoft Flow is an online workflow service that will help users be more efficient and work smarter. It allows workflows across the most common apps and services to be automated, based on certain triggers and actions. It will eventually replace SharePoint Workflow (both 2010 and 2013 engines).

It all starts when something happens; for example, when a new entry is added to a SharePoint list, an email can be sent automatically to request someone reviews the entry. Or, if a document is added to the document library, an email can be automatically sent to a manager/colleague seeking feedback or approval.

But it’s not just about the information within your business. Flow helps you monitor what people are saying about your business by creating a flow that will run every time a tweet contains a hashtag relevant to your business.

The flow could add the details from the tweet into a database, a SharePoint list or even an Excel file and using the collected data, you can create actions to connect it to Power BI, spot trends or interrogate the data in more detail.

Flow also allows users to schedule workflows to start automatically, at set times of the day or night, on a given day or date and once a day, an hour or a minute.

What makes Flow unique is the ability for workflows to interact with other applications and 3rd party solutions, like SharePoint, OneDrive, MailChimp, LinkedIn and DropBox. Currently, the list stands at around 200 different applications. Most of these are included as part of your Office 365 licensing, a few require a premium license in order to connect to the 3rd party.

Whilst not that simple to use, it’s easier than learning to code and worth learning to use if you have data stored in different places and applications that you want to bring together.

The benefits of Flow

  • Automate simple processes such as approvals
  • Improve existing business processes with enhanced automation and systems integration
  • Keep systems updated without developer resource
  • Integrate with internal and external 3rd party products and services

PowerApps

PowerApps is a collection of software services and apps that work together to fundamentally transform and accelerate how you build and share custom line of business applications.

PowerApps connects to the cloud services and data sources you’re already using, giving you the ability to quickly build apps that suit specific needs – building on skills you already have. You can share apps instantly with your co-workers across the web, tablets, and mobile devices. PowerApps also integrates with Microsoft Flow, making it possible to trigger workflows from within apps. PowerApps can be simple and fast – capable of producing an app quickly that pulls in data from Excel or a cloud service. But PowerApps is also robust and enterprise-grade, ready for complex requirements like tracking assets across a corporation and tying into your backend systems.

The benefits of PowerApps

  • Easy to get going and build a basic App quickly
  • Extremely flexible for building a wide variety of solutions
  • Utilise resources and data from our solutions such as Flow, Dynamics, SharePoint, etc.
  • Deploy to multi devices in different form factors such as iPhone, iPad, Web, SharePoint, etc.
  • Enterprise scale

PowerApps is an extremely capable tool, and just like Microsoft’s other Cloud Apps it’s being improved all of the time. If a feature is not available today, more likely it will be soon.

However, it’s a lot to take in while doing your day job, so remember, if you want a little professional help or some training to get more from your Office 365 subscription, we’re only a call or an email away.