When most of us hear about Microsoft Office installation, our minds quickly shift to the purchase of a Microsoft Office CD. However, a few years back, Microsoft introduced Office 365 -a subscription option offered by Microsoft to enable organizations to have various applications available for use within the business in the most efficient way.
The initial and to some extent current perception of Office 365 is that it is just the Microsoft Office Applications being offered in a subscription model. However, this is a very small part of the offering. What Microsoft has done is to come up with a platform that enhances the operational efficiencies of an organization and within it incorporated the already very popular office applications as part of it.
Below is an overview of the various features included in Office 365 and their value to business operations.
It is impossible to imagine any organization in the current age operating without email. Office 365 has an inbuilt email server (Exchange server) that enables an organization to manage all it’s staff email accounts in a central server in the cloud. Each user is identified uniqury by their email and creation of group emails is just a click away to ensure that users within a pre-defined group (department, project team etc) can be communicated to via one email address.
Centralized Document Repository
All organizations have documents that are continuously being created or received from external sources that need to be stored in a central location that is accessible by anyone in the organization. Office 365 has a feature called Sharepoint that has the ability to be used as a document repository. Sharepoint can be used for many more purposes, but the one purpose that all organizations would identify with is being the Document Management System (DMS) platform for the organization. A well implemented DMS ensures that documents are not only well organized in a central location, but that access to the documents is set-up such that users of the system are only able to access what they are allowed to access.
When you think about how staff need to meet and discuss various subjects in the course of business, you will not run out of subjects to include. This could include meeting with the client to discuss their requirements, or meetings to come up with a proposal to send to a client, or meeting to discuss project progress etc. All these meetings or phone discussions need to be managed in such a way that when one needs to refer back to a specific project or client meeting, they will be able to follow the flow of how the subject was handled without having missing links. Office 365 has Teams, an application that is very versatile and can enable users to create a Team (a project, a client, a department) that will then be used by all the concerned staff to save all information relating to the Team within the same Team repository. Types of content that can be placed in the Team repository are so wide and listing them here would not be practical. But to list just a few, you can have Microsoft Office documents, Text conversations (like WhatsApp), meeting conversations, Video conversations, OneNote (improved version of Notepad), etc. You can also hold live chats, or video meetings on-line within Teams.
One of the greatest pain that most organizations find challenging to address is processes that need to be automated to ensure standardization in workflow process. This can be as mundane as having all bank statements received via email are automatically saved in a central location available to the relevant people or approval process flows for the different procedures of the business. Office 365 incorporates a feature called Flow that can be used to create various workflow processes that can be triggered either manually or via another process within the Office 365 platform. This means that with Office 365 you have a feature than can enable you to automate various business processes thus ensuring that standards of operation are followed in many situations.
Internal Business Apps
It has now become the norm for Apps to be used as a platform for almost any process and these are now very popular due to their availability using smart phones. Using Office 365, organizations are able to use Power Apps to create any App for their internal use. The advantage of Power Apps is that it integrates very well with all components of Office 365 and therefore incorporating information from the various applications in Office 365 is made very easy. For example, creating a Leave Management Platform for an organization within Office 365 is very possible and this platform is able to identify the reporting lines for staff members if this has been set-up in the Exchange On-line system used for email. You can also create a platform for applying for expenses reimbursement with the capability to take photos of the relevant receipts at the time of applying for the reimbursement. There are many more examples of procedures that can be automated using Power Apps within Office 365 and it would not be possible to list all of them in this article.
Office 365 may sound from the name to be just Microsoft Office Applications in the cloud, but this is just but a small part of what it is. Office 365 is actually a platform for organizations that want to leave in the future now. AI has been incorporated into Office 365 and this makes the platform give information that would have needed another whole process to extract or locate. Streamlining your business process is as easy as getting an Office 365 subscription. Click here to find out how.
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