7 Microsoft Apps To Boost Productivity + Collaboration (You Might Already Be Paying For Them)

Are you getting the most out of your Microsoft 365 license? Outlook, Exchange, Word, Excel, and Teams are the usual factors driving small businesses to purchase Microsoft 365 licenses. But did you know that most M365 subscriptions provide access to additional apps that can improve communication, collaboration, and productivity? Who knows, maybe one of the many M365 apps that you are already paying for could replace a costly 3rd party tool. Let’s take a look at a handful of these apps so you can take full advantage of your subscription.

Microsoft Forms allows you to create polls, quizzes, and surveys quickly and easily. With these forms you can measure customer satisfaction, employee feedback, or organize events. Forms can visualize the data collected by automatically creating helpful charts and graphs. Forms also integrates with Teams, the perfect place for surveys and quizzes, as well as Excel with a data import option.

OneNote can be viewed a supercharged version of the familiar Windows app Notepad. While it is excellent for jotting down a quick thought, Notepad hasn’t seen many new features since it was created in 1983. OneNote gives you a rich feature set with the ability to organize, collaborate, print, and search all of your notes. You can insert pictures, add tables, move containers, and even record your voice within OneNote. Additionally, Notes/Notebooks made in OneNote are stored online, meaning you can quickly access them from any mobile device.

Planner is similar to other project management apps like Trello or Asana. Planner acts as a hub for employees to create, organize, assign, and monitor progress of tasks or projects. Managers and team members can use Planner for quick, at-a-glance updates to improve productivity, resource allocation, and to meet more deadlines. This living approach to project management gives everyone involved a clear action plan and details into both their own and their team members responsibilities.

Microsoft Planner Board Example

While Planner helps manage a department or team, To Do helps you manage your personal schedule. It is simple to use and To Do has great integration within the Outlook program. The ability to quickly switch between To Do and your calendar can make scheduling a breeze. Additionally, you can setup To Do to import flagged emails automatically, keeping all your tasks for the day in one place. To Do also integrates nicely with Teams, a common trait across the Microsoft suite of apps.

Microsoft Lists bring back some of the functionality that existed in SharePoint prior to the updates applied in 2016. In addition to using Lists to organize tasks and track information, this app includes ready to use templates for common business use cases. Lists users can find templates for new employee onboarding, social media content scheduling, and asset tracking just to name a few.  

It is worth noting that there is some crossover functionality of Planner, To Do, and Lists. Deciding on how you use each in your environment will come down to workflow, company culture, and personal preference. Some businesses find using all three is incredibly useful, while others can be just as productive using only two. Jumping in and exploring the apps will help you make the right determination for your specific organization.

Microsoft Delve pulls content from your organization’s Microsoft applications like OneDrive, Exchange, and SharePoint with the intention of showing users information relevant to them. The content displayed to users within the Delve dashboard is based on past user activity and interactions amongst team members. For example, if you are a member of the Human Resources Department, Delve will show you recently updated or edited documents with HR tags or from the Human Resources folder in SharePoint. Delve does not adjust permissions and will only show users files to which they already have access. To get the most out of Delve, users need to access it often and update their personal profile regularly.

Microsoft Delve Profile Example

Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. But when the entire team can’t all gather in the conference room, Microsoft Whiteboard can replace that familiar experience of writing with Expo markers and covering a board with post-it notes. Use Whiteboard alongside Microsoft Teams to write, draw, add text, import images, drop in documents, or use pre-built templates to collaborate with your team regardless of their physical location. While Whiteboard can be used on traditional desktops and laptops with mouse and keyboard, the functionality shines with touchscreen devices like smartphones, tablets, and 2-in-1 laptops.

While not every app on this list will be beneficial to every small business, it is important for owners, admins, and staff members to know that they exist. Not only to improve productivity and collaboration, but also save you money. If you are interested in moving to a Microsoft 365 solution or want to learn more about how Microsoft 365 can improve your business, reach out to us here!

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