May 15, 2017

Using Office 365 in Your Small Business: 8 Little-Known Features You’ll Love

Microsoft Office 365 has quickly become one of the go-to office suites for small business, and it’s no wonder: Office 365 is a powerful suite of software that’s simple to use.

Whether you’re new to Office 365, or just interested in ideas and features of Office 365 that can help improve your productivity and teamwork, here are 8 little-known features of Office 365 that your business is going to love:

  1. Office 365 Co-Authoring: Are you tired of working on a document, only to go back and edit it but find you’re locked out until somebody else’s edits are complete? Office 365 allows everyone edit a document at the same time in Word, PowerPoint or Excel. While they’re editing, you can see the changes in real-time, as well as who is doing the editing. Forget the pain of emailing attachments and waiting. You can approve or reject the edits as soon as they’re made, too.
  2. Chat Via Skype: While you’re poring over those edits, you may find a mistake or something that needs clarification, but it requires a more detailed explanation than another edit line. Instead of picking up the phone, just click the “Chat” button to begin chatting with everyone working in the document over Skype. Even if you close the document, you can still talk with everyone involved on the project. Managers love this feature – it leaves the management to them, not the “micromanagement”.
  3. Forget Attachments, Just Send Links: When you’re working with a ton of documents, spoofing by a bad actor that’s looking to phish information from your company is common in the internet security world. Every day thousands of these spoofing emails go out worldwide, and sometimes a tired executive or two will inevitably click them. The solution to this? Make your workplace an attachment-free zone. This way, your workers can assume any email with a document attached is a spoof. Use the cloud version of Outlook (the Outlook Web App) and link to the file on your cloud. Once you’ve made this a business practice, you’ll have strengthened internet security and have a protocol in place for all of your documents. (You can also set individual security settings for all of these documents, too.)
  4. Turn Your Notes Into Calendar Items: Microsoft’s note-taking tool, OneNote, is easily used inside of Microsoft Outlook. Using the OneNote, you can create a to-do list that can convert into deadlines and reminders on your calendar. Using OneNote, you can also automatically add calendar meeting details such as date, location, time, schedule and attendees, to your notes. You can even then use OneNote to email the meeting notes to your attendees — kind of like an electronic secretary.
  5. Teach Your Inbox to Sort Your Email: You’re a small business, so you don’t run a mail room, but your Outlook email can end up in disarray if you don’t use Microsoft’s Clutter tool. If you use Outlook 2016 for Windows, “Clutter” will help you filter low-priority email, saving time for your most important messages based on your behavior and preferences. Your Outlook email server will keep track of the email you read and the ones you don’t. When you get new email, Outlook will direct messages you’re most likely to ignore and move them into the “Clutter” folder. If you don’t like this feature, that’s OK, too. And unlike Outlook’s competitors, you always have the option of turning it off if you don’t like how it sorts things.
  6. Add Real Signatures to Documents: If you’re in a business that requires actual, verified signatures on documents, it’s a pain to scan, fax and use all of those other, “old school technologies” to get the document where it needs to go. Docusign for Outlook retires those technologies for you, allowing you to use a true and traceable signature on all emails and other documents that require them. With DocuSign for Outlook, small businesses can productivity and reduce costs. Individuals in your  organization can legally and securely sign and return documents directly from the Outlook inbox.
  7. Presentation? Turn Your Mouse Into a Laser Pointer: Many businesses still give presentations using PowerPoint, so this nifty little trick in Office 365 allows you to turn your PC’s mouse into a fake pointer. This is especially useful if you’re using charts or diagrams and need to point out specific data points. Even if you’re using an iPad or other device with no mouse, when you hold your finger down on the iPad, a red fake laser point will appear. Great for impromptu presentations or trainings, too!
  8. Flash Fill Reads Your Mind: Office 365 has one powerful feature that practically reads your mind. Flash Fill exists because retyping data that’s already in a spreadsheet is pretty frustrating. The Flash Fill feature in Excel 2013 and later sees what you’re doing, and often will usually offer to autofill a column for you. It’s smart enough perceive a pattern in your data-entry work, such as when you’re separating data from one column into two. To use Flash Fill, you must work down a single column, not one column after another. If you type a first name and then a last name into two separate columns, you won’t see the Flash Fill option. But if you work with one column at a time, Flash Fill can suggest a list of entries to a second column. When you’re happy, simply click “accept” and you won’t have to retype a large list of data.

These are just a few great features you’ll see when you’re using Office 365 in your small business. If you’re looking for more great ideas, get in touch or check our blog for more tips.