The Office 365 platform has become a very popular option for companies to take their first steps into using the power of the cloud.

office-365-clouds Hosted email is the backbone of the online suite, powered by Microsoft Exchange 2013, and the standard that other mail platforms are compared to. Microsoft goes a step further by offering access to SharePoint Online for document storage, collaboration, along with a powerful set of tools for developing websites, blogs and other business solutions. Microsoft Lync adds to the communications layer with messaging, conferencing and screen sharing, now providing you a giant leap into the cloud.

This blog will only scratch the surface of this powerful platform. I encourage your organization to take advantage of its many features and even consider training that will help users gain the skills needed to succeed with Office 365.

Offline access

Skydrive Pro is cloud storage for business—a place where employees can store, sync and share files across multiple devices with ease and security. With this application you will no longer need to hesitate on working with a cloud document storage solution. Now you have the ability to sync any document library or Skydrive library to your local computer. With the offline copy of your document, you can make edits and all changes will upload to the cloud when returning to an Internet connection. This removes the concern of needing to download files before your next trip.

Uploading files

Typically when a user wants to move their documents to an online file storage solution they would click the upload button and browse through the files that they want to move to the cloud. In SharePoint Online and Skydrive, users have the ability to drag and drop a file into a document library directly from their desktop or documents folder. You also have the ability to save new documents directly into your SharePoint library from your Office 2013 application.

Collaboration

One of the biggest advantages to using SharePoint is the collaboration tools. Multiple users can access a document at the same time while making simultaneous changes and view the updates in real time. When turning on versioning control, users can roll back to earlier versions with just a few clicks if necessary. If a team member edits the wrong section of a document, the changes can be reverted back in a matter of seconds. On the flip side, when necessary, users have the ability to check out a document preventing other users from making edits at the same time.

Excel surveys

Have you ever wanted to create a survey and receive quick feedback to improve your business? Surveys are an important tool that helps you better understand your customers. Office 365 provides the ability to easily create a survey in Excel and access it online through a web link. Once you create the survey and send out the link to your participants, users go to the webpage to complete it. You no longer need to use a third party survey service to get results. Your survey can include specific questions, a sign-up sheet or even a petition where users can add their name to a running list. You can even create a survey with a drop-down choices.

Following content

SharePoint Online provides the ability to follow almost every kind of document. The social feature in the application can inform you of changes that are important to you. Simply add the document to your followed document and you will easily see updates in your newsfeed related to activities with that document. If you need to know if a document is shared or edited, you will know as it happens.

Shared mailboxes

A shared mailbox is a mailbox that multiple users can read and send email messages. They make it easy for a group of people in your company to monitor and send email from a common account. Some reasons to set up a shared mailbox include:

  • Provides a generic email address for customers to inquire about your company without giving out your personal email address
  • Allows departments that provide centralized services to respond to questions
  • Allows multiple users to monitor and reply to emails

Another benefit to using shared mailboxes is the ability to manage resources using the shared calendar feature. Forgetting an obligation with a client or partner could be disastrous for a business. This feature helps teams manage tasks and meetings and saves time by eliminating the need for back-and-forth phone calls and emails.

The best use of the shared mailbox is that you can now use them to store former employees’ mailbox data. Prior to the shared mailbox, when an employee left an organization, their mailbox would be exported to file in local storage. Now their mailbox can be converted to a shared mailbox and those that need access are provided permission.

The best part of the shared mailbox is that it does not require a user license in Office 365. When an employee leaves you can keep their mail available online and do not have to continue to pay for it!

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