More than Outlook and a filing system: 4 powerful apps waiting for you in Microsoft 365

If you have a subscription to Microsoft 365, chances are you’re across the core suite of applications available (think Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and OneDrive).  

But have you investigated the rest – some 36 (and counting) apps and services? 

According to Travis Carter, Director, Retrac, the answer is probably: no. 

“Most people think Microsoft 365 is just email and files without knowing its full capability; most people are underusing the apps available to them. Maybe 10% of our customers are currently accessing the full value of their subscription. And even of those, only a small number of people are utilising the tools they’ve got, says Travis.  

In short, this means that there is probably an opportunity to use more apps and replace costly point solutions or paper processes with tools already available to you. Take a look at our top picks to make the most of your Microsoft 365 subscription. 

#1: Best practice planning with Microsoft Planner 

Running a complex project need no longer be managed with a whiteboard and a slew of meeting invites. Microsoft Planner brings the micro and the macro of project management together, automating specific, task-based instructions while giving participants an overarching view of a project’s progress. 

“You can take a team of people and allocate tasks for them to complete, notifying them through Teams and emailMicrosoft Planner puts an automation process in place, following up with people as their tasks are due, notes Travis.  

Microsoft Planner is team based, enabling you to keep your team of five or 50 on task and up to date with its agile process planning capabilities. Planner also includes an inbuilt ‘To Do’ list, so you can throw away your scraps of paper and sticky notes to level up your personal admin processes. 

#2: Ditch your survey subscription, use Microsoft Forms instead 

As we covered in our recent article, The birth of the good robots, death of the on-premises server and other tech trends of 2021one of the major attractions of running a Cloud environment is the ability to automate time consuming paper processes.  

Examples of simple automation with Microsoft 365 include using QR codes to monitor stock room access and levelsautomating leave forms and running expense forms using receipts photos and integration with MYOB, XERO etc. 

But did you know that you can also run surveys through Microsoft 365With Microsoft Forms you can collect data using free survey templates.  

Microsoft 365 offers surveys that are simple to use, with default instructions and questions provided. You can add questions and fields to the survey template to make it more specific to your business,” says Travis. 

Other benefits offered by Forms includes the ability to 

  • Share your survey link directly to your mailing list, with responses recorded directly in the survey template; 
  • Gather info through a questionnaire template in Word; and 
  • Take the hassle out of formatting test questions with a multiple-choice test survey template. 

Microsoft templates for surveys are incredibly intuitive and can be adopted for all sorts of uses. This is also a good example of an app within the Microsoft ecosystem that can replace an existing point solution (like Survey Monkey) subscription,” says Travis. 

Cut costs by ditching your third party paid survey subscriptions now folks! 

#3: Power up your PowerApps  

Power Apps allows you to unlock time and process savings in your business. Using prebuilt templates, drag-and-drop simplicity, and quick deployment, Power Apps empowers you to build and launch appto address all sorts of business needs, including HR, IT, finance, sales, customer management and process management.  

“Power Apps is a Low-Code Application Platform that allows citizen developers to build apps quickly, easily and stress free. It offers the ability to take data out of a list, or SharePoint, and create a user-friendly app,” says Travis. 

The simplicity and low-code approach of the platform makes it popular and successful. A Microsoft commissioned Forrester Consulting study found companies using Power Apps reported: 

  • 188% return on investment 
  • 74% reduction in app development costs 
  • 3.2 hour/week improvement in employee productivity 

“It’s a very powerful, very configurable solution, with no coding knowledge needed, Travis adds. 

#4: Microsoft Stream: Your own internal YouTube 

Described as a YouTube channel for internal use, Microsoft Stream allows you to create and securely share video content across your business.  

“It’s a great place to share those videos only your company should watch. You can create instructional videos, record team meetings, share messages across your network or stream a live Town Hall meeting,” says Travis 

Microsoft Stream includes speech to text transcription, auto-generated closed captions, and face detection features, making the content easily searchable and accessible.  

“You can search a word or a phrase and go directly to that point in the video. It’s a really interesting tool,” says Travis.  

Keen to know more? 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Within the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, which are available to all Complete Cloud customers, there are endless opportunities. 

Come and ask and we’ll help – whether that’s pointing you to the right app, teaching you when you need a little help, or deploying developers, we’ll work with you to solve the problem,” says Travis. 

To find out which apps you might benefit from, contact the team at Retrac.