PUBLISHED: 22. January 2018.

Have you bought Office365? Have you received, as a part of your licence, additional tools that you are familiar with only by name and do not know their purpose? We will show you in this blog post how often neglected tools can mean a significant change in terms of your business.

Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has enriched the set of tools included free of charge in the majority of Office 365 licences. Unfortunately, users often circumvent such tools. This mostly happens because they are not familiar with their purpose or they are short for time to try them out in detail.

The set of tools that we are about to cover is included in most Office 365 licences (before purchasing one, we recommend you seek a licensing expert’s advice to obtain precise information on availability of each respective application in a specific licence).

The tools that Office 365 users most frequently encounter and (unfairly) circumvent are as follows:

Each of the specified tools can additionally raise value of the companies already using Office 365 and, what tops it all off, they are all free of charge. Read on to find out what these “mysterious” tools have to offer.

To-Do – Always be up to the task

Microsoft has launched a new to-do list app called Microsoft To-Do, which is available on the web, iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices.

To-Do is an application that lets you create simple to-do lists, set reminders and keep track of projects.

“To-Do is set to eventually replace Wunderlist”

The new app bears a striking resemblance to Wunderlist and even offers the possibility of importing the existing Wunderlist lists – which is not a coincidence since Microsoft purchased Wunderlist as far back as 2015.

One of exceptionally useful options is the “My Day” feature, which encourages users to focus on daily tasks. The application is connected to Office 365 and offers built-in integration with Outlook along with other Office applications. An intelligent suggestions feature is integrated to recommend tasks for each new day based on previous items or old entries. Lists can also be assigned emoji to easily tell them apart, and of course will easily synchronize across whatever devices you are using To-Do on.

Microsoft is planning to bring more features from Wunderlist to To-Do, including the ability to share lists. Mac applications as well as tablet applications for iOS and Android are also planned, whereas the definite plan is that To-Do will eventually completely replace Wunderlist.

Microsoft Forms – Quickly and easily create surveys, quizzes and polls

Following the launch of Microsoft Forms in education last summer, Microsoft heard from clients that they need a simple tool for creating surveys, quizzes, and polls. As a result, Microsoft Forms is now available in preview to Office 365 commercial subscribers.

Microsoft Forms is a simple tool that lets you know what your clients think about your products/services, measure employee satisfaction and organize team events. When we say simple, we really mean it – you can create a survey in minutes, and respondents can fill it out on any browser without having to install a separate application.

Survey, quiz and poll results are all available in real-time. What you need to do is just navigate to the Responses tab, where you will find auto-generated charts for instant data visualization. You can also open all results in Excel with a single click if you need a more detailed analysis.

Microsoft Forms allows question branching, which means that you can control how the survey flows. You can also personalize surveys by changing themes or adding your company logo. The result? Attractive material prepared without much effort. After you create the material, just send out a link to your survey and it will adapt to every screen, making it easy for respondents to fill it out on the go.

Stream for Office 365 – Never better video content

Microsoft Stream is a replacement for Office 365 Video app. What we have here is a tool for uploading, sharing, managing, and viewing corporate videos that can be used for education, training, and information sharing.

Like Office 365 Video, Stream is built on top of the Azure Media Services platform. The tool is designed to integrate with SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, and Office 365 Groups, and it uses Azure Active Directory for authenticated access along with providing encryption.

Also, Stream features speech-to-text conversion in audios as well as face recognition in videos. Microsoft improved the Stream user interface by adding more granular management controls.

Microsoft StaffHub – Superior work coordination

There are estimated over 500-million employees working in retail stores, hotels, restaurants, manufacturing and other service-related industries. These employees typically do not have their own office, desk or computer, which makes it hard to access and share business information. As a result, they rely on manual processes and outdated tools – creation and printing of shift schedules, bulletin boards crammed with notes and numerous phone calls and text messages to cover shifts. Microsoft has offered a solution.

StaffHub is a new app for Office 365 designed to make managing everyday work activities easier using schedule management, information sharing and the ability to connect to other work-related applications and resources.

Schedule managing

Microsoft StaffHub enables managers to easily create, update, and manage shift schedules for their team.

Employees have access to all their shift information, including the ability to easily swap shifts with others right from the Microsoft StaffHub mobile application.

The application home screen provides a summary of upcoming shifts as well as any important notes. Employees can also see who else is scheduled for the day, which is useful if they want to know who they will be working with or if they want to swap shifts.

When schedule conflicts come up, Microsoft StaffHub makes it easy to swap a shift or offer a shift to someone else. Requests are always routed to the manager for approval, and updates and notifications are automatically sent to the team.

Information sharing

With Microsoft StaffHub, managers can quickly distribute important information (corporate standards, bulletins, news, and videos) to the members of their team. They can also send instant messages – for example, to let an employee know that “lights in the lobby went off” or “the regional manager is arriving in 15 minutes.” Employees can also send messages directly to each other or to the entire workgroup.

Flow for Office 365 – Let the work flow smoothly

What is Microsoft Flow? Just like many other offers from Microsoft, Flow is a new application that is part of Office 365 suite. It is included in most of Office 365 subscriptions and can be accessed via Office 365 app launcher. It allows you to automate business processes by building workflows based on certain actions. For example, once a new entry is added to the SharePoint list, you can send an email to the user asking a review or, when a file is transferred to the document library, an email will be sent to your manager asking for an approval/feedback of the document.

How is Flow different from SharePoint Designer?

SharePoint Designer is purely a SharePoint-specific tool. Creating a workflow in SharePoint Designer is not something one can do in an afternoon. You need to learn the syntax, all the quirks of SharePoint Designer and spend time adjusting the code.

Microsoft Flow, on the other hand, employs a graphical user interface that allows building workflows almost the same way you would be building them in Visio. What makes the Microsoft Flow simple is that your workflow can interact with other applications like MailChimp, Dropbox, Twitter, SharePoint, and OneDrive.

PowerApps for Office 365 – Simplify application development

Microsoft PowerApps. What kind of tool it really is? What does it do? Do I already have it? Is it tough to use? Here is a “simple” explanation.

PowerApps is a Platform as a Service (PaaS). It allows you to create mobile apps that run on Android, iOS and Windows devices, and through almost any Internet browser.

But… PowerApps is also a mobile app! Historically, mobile app development has mainly involved creating specific applications for each respective operating system they need to run on. (One for iOS, one for Android, one for Windows).  This results in tripled development work, tripled costs, and significant increase in invested resources.

With the PowerApps Mobile Apps, all of the PowerApps you create run through PowerApp applications. This tool takes care of the differences between the operating systems and allows you to run your applications easily. It is essentially a container that makes mobile apps much easier to use across mobile platforms.  In addition, there is also a web version of PowerApps, which has the same concept, but runs through any web browser instead of a mobile app.

What exactly does PowerApps do?

PowerApps provides a nice drag and drop GUI to allow you to add different controls (i.e. text field, choice field, etc), media (images, video, camera controls for your phone), forms, and screens to construct mobile apps. It also allows you to connect to external data sources or store data directly inside the app. Once you have created an app, you can immediately launch it and use it within your company.

What is this tool used for?

PowerApps is designed to be used for BUSINESS Mobile Apps. The tool is not designed for end users due to the licensing model as well as technical limitations when sharing with external users to your company.

If PowerApps fails to fully meet your requirements in terms of mobile apps, the good news is that Microsoft intensifies the tool upgrade with new features and enhancements.

Do you have PowerApps?

If you have an Office 365 Enterprise E1 or above subscription, the good news is: you have PowerApps!  However, that does not mean that you have every feature of PowerApps. We advise you to check the PowerApps licensing page to see all of the different license levels, features included with each license, and how to get A-la-carte licenses if you do not have Office 365.

The PowerApps formulas are designed along the lines of Excel to allow business users to use the tool as quickly and easily as possible, without much training.

Microsoft Planner – Always be informed

What is Office 365 Planner?

This tool is best described as a teamwork organizing tool (just like Asana, Slack, and Wunderlist). Office 365 Planner makes it easy for teams to create plans, organize and assign tasks to different users, and monitor progress through control tables, all in a single app. It also provides a centralized spot for file sharing and comprehensive overview of teamwork.

Office 365 Planner is closely connected with Office 365 groups. Each time you create a new plan, you automatically create a new Office 365 group (and the other way round). The feature that makes this possible is Office Graph, a back-end tool that applies machine learning to map relations, data and activities, and to personalize user experience.

Sway – Presentations that leave you breathless

If you are a fan of PowerPoint, you will certainly find interest in Sway: Microsoft’s latest tool that you can use to create and share presentations like never before! Here is what you should know about this digital tool.

Sway is a free app from Microsoft Office that helps you gather, format, and share reports, newsletters, web pages, and other media content as well as interactive presentations of content that looks great on almost any screen or platform. With Sway, you can use videos or interactive reports to engage your audience like never before.

This tool is more than ideal for those who want to create attractive PowerPoint presentations. Sway does all the formatting, chooses the themes, fonts, and sets the variety of other features. All you have to do is put in your presentation content – the app will take care of the rest. For improved control, you can use the Remix! button to see automated looks in real time.

Drag-and-drop lets you quickly insert web content into your presentation without having to exit the app. You can also add content from your social media accounts like Flicker, YouTube, Bing and more.

One of the best features of Sway is quick and easy sharing of your presentations with other users, even if Sway or Office 365 is not installed on their devices. All you need to do is send a link to presentation and, when needed, adjust the privacy settings to control which recipients can access the content and edit it.

Sway is available in Windows 10 operating system, and can be used on the web as well as on iPhone and iPad devices.


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