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: 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. 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”. 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.) 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. 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 […]

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Office 365 or Google Docs? Finding the Perfect Solution For Your Small Business

The increasing popularity of cloud computing has brought with it countless benefits for small business owners. Among the largest is the rise of productivity solutions that allow you to share documents and spreadsheets, while improving your email efforts and maximizing your storage capabilities without having to worry about an on-premise solution. But within this cloud productivity market, you have a number of options that can easily seem confusing. Microsoft’s Office 365, for example, has engaged in a fight for supremacy in the space with Google Apps, a similar solution that claims to offer many of the same capabilities. Which works better for your small business? The below evaluation can help you answer that question, using 6 distinct variables. 1. Range of Features Naturally, the first variable to consider should be the actual programs that are part of each suite. Both alternatives offer a relatively similar range of products, from word processing to presentations and cloud storage. Office 365, however, does come with a couple of additions to which Google has no alternative. More specifically small businesses can take advantage of Publisher as a solution to design print materials, in addition to the basic (and well-known) Access database. Both can easily help you improve the way you run your small business, giving Office a crucial advantage in this area. 2. Email Capability In this feature, it’s Outlook vs. Gmail for business. You’re probably familiar with both, so the adjustments are not major in either case. Which works better for your business depends entirely on your comfort level and needs. Ultimately, both are relatively similar products. Outlook does have a more easily integrated calendar feature compared to Google, which can help you better manage your business time and scheduling coordination. In addition, Gmail’s offline access is limited to the past month, while Outlook offers unlimited offline access to retrieve old messages and work on new ones. 3. Storage Possibilities Both Office 365 and Google Drive offer cloud storage solutions that allow you to keep all of your documents and file easily accessible for everyone in your business. Which works better for a small business like yours? Again, much of that answer comes down to preferences. CNet has created a great comparison of the most popular cloud storage solutions available for small businesses. OneDrive, Microsoft’s product, integrates seamlessly with email and is compatible with most mobile and desktop operating systems. If your business runs on Windows PCs, it will typically be your best choice. 4. Collaboration Opportunities Ultimately, one of the biggest advantage of any comprehensive cloud productivity suite is its ability to allow your business to collaborate on different projects and edit multiple files at the same time. So naturally, the individual alternatives’ options should be a crucial point of consideration in choosing between Office 365 and Google Apps. Shared spreadsheets, for example, need to be editable by more than one user at the same time. Just as importantly, users should be able to track changes by their peers, add and respond to […]

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S.M.A.R.T. Goals Make For Successful Projects

SMART Goals Lead to Project Success

Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal. — Elbert Hubbard Elbert Hubbard was a man who knew how to set a goal and achieve it. He was one of the most successful traveling salesmen of his time and, due to that success, was able to become a renowned and prolific writer, publisher, philosopher, and artist. His ability to organize his energy around a goal enabled him to reach significant heights. But as he showed, it’s not just about having initiative or having a passion for a achieving a goal or even working hard. It’s about working smart — S.M.A.R.T. to be precise. What Is S.M.A.R.T.? The mnemonic acronym S.M.A.R.T. began to appear in the early 1980s and is often tied to the Management by Objectives concept that was developed by Peter Drucker. At its core, S.M.A.R.T. is a process for creating goals and monitoring their achievement progress. It is lauded by many as the most effective way of forming goals so that they are simple to understand and easy to see when they have been successfully completed. When it comes to setting goals for more technical or transformative projects, having a clear cut game plan is necessary. For example, if a company decides to implement a customer relationship management system, it is essential that the integration of the system goes smoothly and as planned. Disruption in customer interaction and experience can cause serious customer loss and can be incredibly detrimental to the company’s reputation. Using S.M.A.R.T. to create the process for achieving that goal will enable the company to flesh out what is required for completion and when completion can be expected. When an individual or organization is developing a goal, and using the S.M.A.R.T. method, they simply form the goal around the five tenets of the system. Each letter in the acronym stands for one of the tenets. S Is For Specific The goal that is being set should be specific, clear, and simple. This means it should likely include relevant dates, times, numbers, names, locations and whatever other fixed information is pertinent–in other words, the why, what and how of your goal. It should not be vague or open to interpretation in any way. The goal should not be: To implement a customer relationship management system. The goal should be: To have customer relationship management up and running by May of 2017 with full staff training completed. M Is For Measurable/Meaningful Your goal shouldn’t be layered behind fluffy words that are difficult to quantify. The reason for this is that you want tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished the goal. So not only should you include a completion date, but what it will look like when the goal is completed. The goal should also mean something to everyone who is going to be involved in accomplishing it. If there’s no passion behind working towards something, the likelihood that it gets done at […]

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Microsoft Office 365: The Multi-tool for Small Business

At work, the way we communicate is changing. Because more employees telecommuting and flex-timing, interoperability and seamless communication are becoming more important to each company’s success. Recent improvements to and availability of mobile technology and cloud-based managed services are providing the infrastructure needed to fuel this transformation, making employee remote collaboration possible. Familiarity + Usability = Better User Experience Currently, 1.2 billion daily users all over the world are using MSOffice, Outlook, Skype, Yammer, and OneDrive to communicate, collaborate, and get things done for work. One reason for the popularity is the importance that Microsoft places on user experience. Recently, the commitment they made to creating a person-centric IT is becoming more evident. While maintaining the familiar MS Office branding, they have updated their interface to simplify the usability and create more engagement. Microsoft Office 365 has built in all of the tools necessary for the modern workplace, while providing new users with a familiar interface and low-cost training for easy onboarding. MS Office 365 could be the key differentiator for businesses seeking to improve productivity, streamline operations, and promote opportunities for real-time collaboration. Real-time Co-authoring to Streamline Projects In this global and increasingly mobile work environment, in-person collaboration is less and less possible. When information or content needs to be shared, and feedback needed immediately, the real-time, multichannel communication offered by MS Office 365, is crucial. The feature, which has been available to MS Office users for several years, has been upgraded to include all of Office 365, OneDrive, and Skype users. The access to each other and the exact working document is truly the closest approximation to real in-person collaboration. Thanks to MS Office 365, it is no longer required to wait days or even hours for revisions, and it virtually eliminates miscommunication, which is a boon to the efficiency and productivity of your small business. Communication Interoperability The newest version of the cloud-based MS Office is built for collaboration. These tools offer any company —regardless of size, an optimal workplace experience. Whether in-house or on-the-go, your employees are able to effortlessly communicate with each other. Since all of the content created is kept in the cloud, sharing with co-workers is a breeze. This capability extends to shared calendars, a feature which is integral to collaboration and makes the functionality and reliability offered by Microsoft Office 365 integration attractive. Yammer, where the workplace meets social media is another option for content sharing. The social media-style platform designed for sharing and communicating makes it a fun addition to traditional interoffice communication methods. Outlook’s Massive Storage Because it is entirely cloud based, Office 365’s mail product, Outlook is perfect for use with mobile devices. Users receive 50GB of storage and it allows sending attachments as large as 150MB. Fully integrated with all of the other Office 365 tools and applications, Outlook can be accessed from any application or program, or through the main single portal interface. Single Portal Interface From this single portal interface users can sign-on to multiple applications, send mail, […]

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