Office 365 is the catch-all term for the Microsoft subscription plans that offer users a bundle of productivity software and services. In exchange for a monthly fee, subscribers gain access to all of the standard Microsoft applications — including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote and Outlook — as well as cloud storage and other services intended to improve workplace productivity.
There are many useful and powerful tools in the Office 365 suite that can help businesses, small and large, be more productive and collaborative. However, it’s often hard for businesses to make sense of all the offerings available under Office 365. Here’s a quick guide to the Office 365 productivity tools that you have at your disposal.
The Benefits of Office 365
One of the greatest advantages of Office 365 for businesses is its cloud-based nature. This means that the applications and storage that you use are hosted by Microsoft so you save in IT costs and overhead while leveraging Microsoft’s enterprise-grade platform and security – benefits that allow businesses of all sizes to scale and reduce costs and IT complexity.
The cloud-based nature of Office 365 has a number of beneficial implications for your business. For one, you no longer have to worry about crashes or disasters, as you would if you ran an in-house solution. Because all of your data is within the cloud, Microsoft takes total responsibility for support, maintenance and backups. In addition, your data remains safe and secure under Microsoft lock and key, yet you can still access it from anywhere at any time using only an internet connection.
Office 365 is especially helpful for small and mid-sized businesses because it offers all the productivity tools for a predictable monthly cost that can be canceled at any time, rather than requiring you to make a risky investment in a solution up front. What’s more, your subscription plan can scale alongside you as your business grows and you need more user licenses and storage.
In short, with Office 365 you can save time and money, as well as increase productivity and profitability – all with an investment that you can afford.
If you want to get more out of your Office 365 with one comprehensive tool, this webinar is for you. Watch full webinar here: Make Your Intranet Awesome on Office 365.
Office 365 Productivity Tools
Once you subscribe to Office 365, your business gains access to a number of helpful productivity tools, from familiar software like Word and Excel to more advanced applications. Here’s a summary of some of the tools you may not be familiar with.
What it is: Microsoft’s solution for secure file hosting in the cloud.
What it’s used for: synchronizing files across all of your devices and sharing them with colleagues, such as your latest presentation.
What it is: is a key tool for businesses because its all-in-one capabilities help companies become organized by getting a better handle on their documents, data and projects. By basing your intranet on SharePoint, you can improve usability, take advantage of powerful pre-built modules and enjoy an easy-to-use interface.
What it’s used for: building intranet portals to manage and search through your internal communication and data. SharePoint-based intranets can integrate and unify SharePoint and other Office 365 tools, as well as other business applications. This means that SharePoint enables you to bring your business together in all aspects in a single place.
What it is: a smart tool that displays recent and relevant content, documents, people, etc. to you in a personalized dashboard view.
What it’s used for: quickly accessing new and relevant information and people based on the intelligence of who you work with and the content you work on.
What it is: an enterprise social networking tool, like “Facebook for your business.”
What it’s used for: sending ideas and communications that don’t necessarily require an instant response, like brainstorming or sharing news.
What it is: a suite of Microsoft business intelligence and analytics tools.
What it’s used for: analyzing and visualizing business data sourced from Excel files, databases and third-party sources such as Salesforce, QuickBooks Online, and Marketo.
Skype for Business
What it is: a solution for video and audio calling and instant messaging.
What it’s used for: communicating with colleagues and business partners via calls, meetings, and screen sharing.
What it is: an application for creating, assigning, and completing tasks.
What it’s used for: collaborating among small groups of coworkers in order to break down a larger project into discrete tasks.
What it is: a solution to easily create business applications and share them with team members.
What it’s used for: letting users at any technical level build and publish mobile apps to assist with business processes.
What it is: a chat-based workspace to support team collaboration via voice and video calls and integration with other Office 365 services.
What it’s used for: communicating in real time with colleagues for messages that require an instant response.
What it is: an app that provides users with the tools they need to publish professional-looking newsletters, brochures, and booklets.
What it’s used for: communicating information to a wider audience with attractive, formal, more permanent material.
What it is: a basic productivity app for capturing information by typing notes.
What it’s used for: allowing the workforce to take notes on their mobile devices when they are on-the-go, which can then be retrieved from any other device.
Office 365 Intranet
Although Office 365 Intranet is not an official Office 365 tools (though it sits on top of SharePoint and Office 365), it is truly a powerful and versatile tool particularly for businesses looking to improve the way they work and be more productive. Many vendors are in the business of providing these ready-to-go Office 365 solutions which are easy to use, don’t require any special skills or IT resources to setup and maintain, are quick to setup (within days), and are cost effective
An Office 365 intranet delivers added functionality by way of built-in modules and features for common processes like Project Management, Forms Management, and HR and Employee Management; thus extending the basic intranet features and eliminating the need to invest in separate solutions that offer these capabilities.
You can think of Office 365 intranet as a separate tool which when installed, connects to your Office 365 and SharePoint environment, to give you added functions and features discussed above.
So in sum, an Office 365 Intranet can be your go-to, comprehensive workplace solution that brings your business and Office 365 together in one place and in one unified experience.
How to Get Office 365
Office 365 is easy to get. You can visit the Microsoft site and pick a subscription plan that is suitable for you.
Small business plans range from a very nominal $5/user/month to $12.50/user/month and depends on the Office applications and business services included.
Monthly Enterprise plans range from a basic plan – Office 365 Enterprise E1 for $8/user/month, which only offer business services including email, file storage and sharing, Office Online, meetings and IM, etc., to a premium plan – Office 365 Enterprise E5 for $35/user/month, which offers all the Office 365 tools plus some advance features like security, analytics, and voice capabilities.
Office 365 offers special pricing for Government, Educational and Non-profit institutions.
If you want more information about Office 365 tools or you want to learn about an Office 365 Intranet and see how it can transform your SharePoint and Office 365 environment into a business hub, here are a few more resources for you: