Microsoft’s Office 365 productivity suite is a powerful tool for modern businesses. Combining traditional apps like Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with more advanced cloud-based applications like Access, OneDrive, and Power BI, Office 365 can drive day-to-day success and long-term growth.
But that’s only possible if you understand the robust capabilities of Office 365 and the opportunities it offers to boost productivity and efficiency. At CMIT Solutions, we’ve deployed Office 365 for thousands of clients, helping them navigate the ins and outs of the productivity suite while tailoring specific solutions to specific needs. Below you’ll find some of the tips and tricks we return to often, along with a few common Office 365 questions we hear the most.
1. Rely on the Scheduling Assistant.
Setting up a meeting with several people is always difficult — especially when you need to know each person’s availability. In Office 365, you can utilize Outlook’s connection to Exchange Online to make things easier. In Outlook, simply create a new meeting invitation, add the contacts you want to invite, then click on the Scheduling Assistant to access their free/busy/out of office information to look for a convenient time.
2. De-clutter with Clutter.
Office 365 keeps track of your normal inbox behavior to help you focus on the messages that matter most. If you save certain emails for a specific day/time or don’t open messages from certain senders, Outlook will learn from you and place them in the Clutter folder. These won’t be deleted, but they also won’t clog up your main inbox, either. And if the organization doesn’t feel right, simply move messages from Clutter back to your Inbox to “teach” Office 365 the right way to react to certain senders or subject lines.
3. Use Word’s Ink Editor to take live notes.
Track Changes have changed the way that multiple users edit and revise documents, but Office 365’s Ink Editor takes that a step further by digitizing the old red pen method. From Word’s Draw menu, simply click on Ink Editor and then the type of “pen” you want to use. Then you can red line specific words or phrases, highlight sections to remove or revise, or cut, copy, and paste using quick “pen” strokes—and Word will make the edits in real time.
4. Toggle between document versions in Word.
If you’re collaborating on a Microsoft Word document with multiple users, sometimes sensitive information can get lost in the version control shuffle. Thanks to Office 365’s cloud-based OneDrive file storage system, you can easily avoid these errors by viewing historical versions of files. Simply choose the file you wish to restore, open the Context menu by clicking on the three-dot icon, and then choose Version History. Select the version you want and click either View or Restore.
5. Import and refresh Excel data.
In the old days, updating an Excel spreadsheet with new data required a long, tedious game of copy and paste. But in the Office 365 version of Excel, this task can be streamlined—especially if you’re bringing in data from a web page. Under the Data tab, click New Query, then choose From Web from the Other Sources list. Enter the URL of the page that contains the data you want to import or refresh, then click Load. Once you confirm that it’s the right data, right-click the table and click Refresh.
6. Share notes with anyone.
The way we take notes has changed radically in the last few years, with countless cloud-based apps available to take our electronic scribblings with us wherever we go. But why not integrate those notes directly into your Office 365 account using OneNote? Once you save a OneNote document, move it from your desktop to the cloud and you’ve immediately got a personal, private folder for sharing documents with anyone—and maintaining your latest version across any device.
7. Don’t pay for unused licenses or mailboxes.
Office 365’s operations exist in the cloud, which is great until you need to understand the basic framework of the software-as-a-service and who uses it. Many of CMIT Solutions’ clients initially purchase several Office 365 licenses or mailboxes, but as employees come and go, some of those licenses or mailboxes can go unused, costing you unnecessary money. Work with a trusted IT partner to review the Office 365 admin center and determine how many total licenses you have, whether your subscription is up to date, and what users need what kind of mailboxes.
8. Back up your data regularly, remotely, and redundantly.
Office 365’s cloud-based data storage offerings are important for businesses looking to work smart in today’s digital environment. But just in case that data is affected in any way, it always helps to have multiple copies of your data backup in multiple locations. At CMIT Solutions, we’ve helped countless clients recover from natural disasters and ransomware attacks by accessing their regularly and redundantly stored information—and seen countless others suffer because they only kept one outdated copy of their data in an affected location.
At the end of the day, Office 365 is an incredible tool that can boost productivity and enhance efficiency for businesses big and small. Like any piece of new software or hardware, it takes time to understand Office 365’s full capabilities, along with the knowledge and support of a trusted partner who can help you navigate its ins and outs.
If you need help with your Office 365 subscription or want to leverage the software suite to work smarter for you, contact CMIT Solutions today. We deploy the right tools for every business situation, and we worry about IT so you don’t have to.