How to get the most out of your Office 365 subscription

Office 365 subscription

Office 365 is the bedrock of many businesses, relied on for everything from communication to presentations to file sharing. Yet despite the popularity of the software suite, new apps and features often go underused, as people rely on the same software and processes they’ve been using for years.

While not everything that gets added to Office is worth raving about, there are some features that can seriously boost your productivity. Here are some of the things you may not be aware you can do in Office 365, and how using them can help you get more out of your subscription.

Level up your presentations with Sway

You’ve probably seen Sway among your Office 365 apps, but not taken the time to explore it. One of the big reasons Office continues to be popular is continuity, and the familiarity people have built up with the software over the years. As a result, when Microsoft adds new software to the package, it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

Sway falls into that camp. Positioned as a ‘complementary’ service to PowerPoint, Sway is in many ways a presentation tool for the 21st century. While it isn’t going to replace PowerPoint in everyday use, it’s a good way to make your presentations stand out from the crowd, and harness the benefits of embedded media.

Sway is a web-based presentation suite, with a focus on creating quick and impactful slideshows. Its flagship feature is the ability to quickly embed media from around the Web, whether that’s videos, photos or documents. You can find these yourself, or you can let Sway find media for you based on the text you’ve added to your slides.

Sway has a range of automatic design features to make your presentations look good with minimal effort. Unlike PowerPoint, it’s also built for collaboration, and makes it easy to edit together with colleagues. If you’re looking to make a quick presentation for internal use that keeps people’s attention – and scales superbly across devices – Sway may be worth a look.

Integrate with OneDrive and SharePoint

Due to the rise in remote working, collaboration and cloud storage services are becoming increasingly integral to all kinds of businesses. The good news is that Microsoft 365 offers two great tools to enable this, and both of them integrate seamlessly with Office 365.

OneDrive is a simple cloud storage service, which enables you to store files online and retrieve them from anywhere. All of the Office 365 apps allow you to save directly to OneDrive, and to load documents from OneDrive – ensuring that you always have access to the latest version of your most important files.

SharePoint is designed to foster collaboration by providing a large amount of information to contextualise files, with features such as co-authoring, version tracking and advanced metadata. SharePoint integrates directly with Office apps to add features such as ‘checking out’ an article or requiring approval to make documents visible to others – allowing you to better organise your cloud document storage.

Import online spreadsheet data

There are often times where you need to import or copy data from an online source into your Excel spreadsheet. Whether it’s Google Sheets, a PDF or tables on a Web page, copying and pasting data into Excel can present all kinds of formatting issues, and cost you a serious amount of time.

By clicking on New Query in Excel’s Data tab and selecting From Web in the Other Sources list, you’ll be presented with a box to input the URL of a web page. Once imported, Excel will generate previews of the data from the page for you to select from, which you can then load into your document.

This isn’t just a hassle-free way of adding online data to your spreadsheet, but also a way to make it dynamic. Once you’ve imported the data, you can right click on the table and select Refresh to update the data directly from the original internet source – making it even easier to copy information into a more permanent record.

Harness Dynamics 365 CRM

If you are currently using the Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement Plan – including apps such as Dynamics 365 for Sales and for Customer Service – you can easily integrate these applications with Office 365. This will allow you to set up a dynamic document which can be repopulated with the latest data, which you can then forward, print and distribute.

By going into the Settings menu within Dynamics, you’ll find a section called Templates. Click on Document Templates, then New, and you’ll have the option to create either a Word or Excel document template. From here, you’ll have a wide variety of options that will dictate the data, entity, field controls and more that you want to apply to your new dynamic document.

As you might expect from a CRM, Dynamics 365 also meshes well with Outlook. The Dynamics 365 App for Outlook allows you to link emails to an account or opportunity, quickly view relevant information tied to an email, and quickly access templates or knowledge articles when creating emails or setting up meetings.

Office 365 is an enormous suite of software, where each application can take years to fully master. While we can’t fit a masterclass into a thousand word article, we hope that the tips and tricks above can enhance your workflows that little bit more, and open your eyes to everything that Office 365 has to offer.

Sota is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of professional IT support in Kent, cloud computing, cyber resilience, connectivity, and unified communications. Having worked with countless businesses over the years, they are experts in their field, ready to advise and offer tailored solutions for each and every company.