20 Dec Getting the Most From Microsoft 365 – 5 Lesser-Known Tools You Should Be Aware Of
Most businesses are drawn to Microsoft 365 to take advantage of its core applications. These include Teams, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, Word, PowerPoint and Excel, and they represent an integral part of the Microsoft 365 experience.
What many users fail to discover however, is the range of ancillary apps and services that compliment these central platforms, often bringing new functionality designed to improve workplace productivity and further aid collaboration. If you’re already a 365 customer, some (or all) of these additional applications may be available to you already, some are free for anyone with a Microsoft account and some may be available to you for a small surcharge.
Here’s a brief guide to 5 lesser known Microsoft 365 tools that you should be aware of.
Despite being almost 2 decades old at this point, OneNote is a platform that has been overlooked by a significant proportion of Microsoft users. So what is it?
In essence, OneNote is a digital notebook designed to assist with both individual and collaborative projects. It allows recorded information to be organised into categories (mimicking a traditional paper notebook), and features an intuitive search feature that makes it easy to locate specific topics and notes.
In addition to typed notes, users can attach files, video and audio clips and even annotate and draw on their notes resulting in swift, easy notetaking and fluid collaborative sessions. Important Notes can also be ‘tagged’ so that critical information gets followed up, and thanks to the cloud, sharing notes with colleagues couldn’t be simpler.
OneNote is featured in all Microsoft 365 subscriptions and is even available as a free, standalone application: so there’s no reason not to give it a try.
Just as OneNote acts as a digital notebook, Microsoft Whiteboard functions (unsurprisingly) as a virtual whiteboard. While OneNote can be used for personal brainstorming and note-taking, Whiteboard is all about real-time group collaboration. Launchable within Microsoft Teams, Whiteboard can make meetings more hands-on and interactive, with attendees able to contribute to a shared board in real-time. Users can draw, type, insert pictures, add ‘sticky notes’ and stickers to create visually appealing and immersive boards that encourage participation.
Like OneNote, Microsoft Whiteboard is a free-to-use tool available on the web, as a standalone application or as a feature within Microsoft Teams, so why not give it a go in your next meeting?
Microsoft Planner is the keystone of Microsoft 365’s task management offering: a range of platforms and features designed to aid collaborative workflow management.
Featuring an easily-interpreted ‘Kanban Board’ layout, Planner makes it easy to organise and assign tasks, launch new projects, keep track of task-relevant documents and monitor task progression. Planner features the ability to conduct discussions within the app itself, (keeping task management and task-relevant discussion in the same platform) and a number of views allow task progression to be viewed within the context of the bigger picture.
Microsoft planner is included with business essentials, business premium, Education and all the 365 Enterprise subscription plans, so you may already have this empowering app at your disposal. Available as an Android and IOS app, as web-app and launchable within Microsoft Teams, Planner is an indispensable task management tool that offers deep integration with the rest of the Microsoft 365 product line.
Microsoft is an application that allows users to create diagrams, flowcharts and a number of other visualisations. Visio is a great way to communicate processes, concepts and ideas that might otherwise be difficult to visualise, with drag-and-drop functionality making it easy to create diagrams that the whole team will be able to understand.
Uses for Visio include:
- Business process mapping
- Creating network diagrams
- Website Mapping
- Drawing up floorplans
- Creating timeline representations
The platform features a number of prebuilt templates designed to expedite the process of creating sharp, visually appealing diagrams, and integration with Microsoft Excel allows data-driven charts to be launched within spreadsheets. Visio also enables real-time co-authoring via its web app, and it can even be launched as a tab within Microsoft Teams to further enhancing the platforms collaborative potential.
Microsoft Visio isn’t included with any Microsoft 365 subscription, and is instead available to 365 users at an additional monthly surcharge or as a one-time purchase.
Microsoft Bookings is a simple scheduling application that removes the hassle of managing meetings and appointments. It does this by placing greater responsibility in the hands of attendees, allowing them to choose from a list of available times either on an online booking page or via the Bookings app for Teams.
Bookings allows attendees to reschedule if necessary, and features automated reminders to avoid missed appointments. The tool also features Outlook calendar integration to ensure that appointments won’t conflict with existing commitments.
Microsoft Bookings is included with most Business and Enterprise subscriptions, so why not explore whether this helpful tool could take the pain out of managing your meetings and appointments.
With a vast range of apps and services to choose from, Microsoft 365 is likely to feature a tool to tackle your most pressing workplace challenges. So why not explore your options, and discover tools that will help your team communicate more effectively, manage their workloads better and provide a more seamless collaboration environment.
At Netcom we are well-versed in helping companies in various sectors to navigate the often mystifying, jargon-filled world of IT. With over 15 years’ experience covering virtually all aspects of business IT, we can help guide your business to a prosperous future with the right IT at your side every step of the way. We can help you deploy cutting edge solutions that will not only help you weather the storm that is modern IT but also keep your business at the top of its game post pandemic and beyond. Contact us today.