Blog

September 10th, 2014

Office365_Sep08_CCloud-based solutions that are public oriented, such as Microsoft's Office 365, offer a wide variety of features that the majority of business users want and need. As a result, the service tends to look the same for all and the ability to customize how Office 365 looks has often been a requested feature. In an effort to make the cloud-based suite more useful, Microsoft has recently announced the ability to customize Office 365.

Coming soon to Office 365 (if not already): Themes

In early September, Microsoft announced that in the following weeks the company would be rolling out a couple of new options that will allow businesses to personalize the look of Office 365. In fact, there are not one, but two new personalization options available for Office 365 users with business subscriptions.

Option 1: Company-wide custom themes

The idea of establishing company brand is not a new concept to business owners, who realize that one of the factors to success is creating positive brand recognition amongst stakeholders, including employees. One of the best ways to achieve this is to include identifiable visuals and colors repeated in as many places as possible. Almost every company has colors that they use as part of their corporate image and brand identity.

To help cement your brand with your employees, you can now customize the theme of Office 365 so that the theme is applied to all users in your organization. When it comes to customizing your theme Microsoft has noted that you will be able to:

  • Pick the color scheme, which includes a base color and text/icon colors. Set the base as blue for example, and the menu bar across the top will be that color. Set the text as yellow and all icons/text in the menu bar will also be yellow.
  • Set the color of the Office 365 logo. You can pick up to three colors for the Office 365 logo.
  • Upload a custom logo. You can upload your company logo and have it applied to the top-left of all Office 365 menu bars.
  • Make the logo a clickable link. Once you set a logo, you can also make it clickable by adding a custom URL. When a user clicks the logo, they will be taken to the predefined URL.
If you would like to apply your company's brand to Office 365, and have it automatically applied to all users in the company, you will need to be the admin, or to log in as an administrator. Once you are logged on, click on Admin from the main Office 365 screen. Then, click on your company's hyperlink located at the top-right of the Admin screen (right below the menu bar) and select Custom theming.

In the screen that opens, you will be able to set your desired theme, and when you are finished simply hit Save and the theme should be applied.

Option 2: Personalized themes

While company users can set a theme related to their brand, individual users in the organization can also select their own theme from a list of 22 provided by Microsoft. Each theme changes:
  1. The top navigation bar color scheme
  2. Menu colors
  3. Background
  4. Office 365 logo colors
You can change the theme of Office 365 by logging into your account, pressing the Settings cog at the top-right of the screen and clicking Change theme. Once you have selected a theme you like, press Save and it should be applied immediately.

If you are looking to learn more about Office 365 and how you can get the most out of it, contact us today for a chat.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 13th, 2014

Office365_Aug11_CThe iPad has become one of the most popular business tools, and earlier this year it became even more useful when Microsoft released iPad optimized versions of their popular Office apps. Office 365 subscribers can now access, edit, create, and share PowerPoint, Excel, and Word docs from their device. In an effort to improve the apps even further, Microsoft has updated them.

Excel updates

There are three major updates that have been introduced to the iPad version of Excel:
  • Increased pivot table interaction - These tables are among the most useful for business users working with data. With the new update you can now filter, sort, collapse, and expand details. You can now also refresh pivot tables whereby data is pulled from the workbook. Beyond this, you can also change the visual style and layout of the tables.
  • Flick to select large amounts of data - Working with large amounts of data, or spreadsheets with a large number of rows and columns can be tough on the touch screen. So, to make things easier, you can now select large amounts of data by flicking. For example, if you want to select all the rows in one column, you can simply tap on the selection handle of the top row and flick down to select the whole column.
  • Easier manipulation of data - While touch screens are great, and useful, there are times when working with spreadsheets using a keyboard is much better. In the latest update, Microsoft has added increased support for keyboards. This includes support of many familiar keyboard shortcuts, like CTRL+2 which allows users to switch between cell entry modes.

PowerPoint updates

As with Excel, there are three updates that have been introduced to the iPad version of PowerPoint:
  • Presenter View - Many people had taken to using their iPad to run presentations while connected to a projector. In the previous version, your iPad would just show what was actually on the screen, but now you can enable Presenter View. This view shows your slide notes on your iPad's screen, as well as the slides that are coming up next while your presentation runs via the projector.
  • Easier inclusion of visuals - With the new update, all embedded videos and sound recordings now play natively over your iPad; meaning they will play directly from a presentation. You can also add media directly to a presentation from your iPad's Camera Roll, which means you can record and add content all from your iPad.
  • Better annotation tools - There are a number of new annotation tools, including an improved pen and eraser which are designed to make annotations on the iPad's touch screen show up on presentations more easily.

Updates across all apps

Microsoft has been listening to the feedback from Pad app users, and has introduced the three most requested features that apply to all three main apps: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.
  • Send the file as a PDF - PDFs are one of the most versatile document formats for businesses. Because most systems have software to open these document, it's great for users who don't use Office. Now, you can send the document you are working on as a PDF directly from your iPad. You can find this option under the Share menu.
  • Better image editing - With the update, you can now tap on an image in any Office app to either crop or resize it. If you make any edits, and find they aren't to your liking, there is also the ability to revert to the original image by pressing Reset.
  • Support for third-party fonts - Some businesses prefer to use fonts that aren't included in Office. Up until now, only Office supported fonts could be used on the iPad, but the recent update implements support for third-party fonts (fonts not made by Microsoft) installed on your iPad.
If you are looking to learn more about Office 365 and iPad apps, contact us today to see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 30th, 2014

Office365_July28_CYammer has become an increasingly popular Web app among businesses today. With integration and updates from Office 365, Yammer allows organizations to enhance workflow and productivity through seamless communication. To that end, Office 365 has introduced its latest Yammer-based update, simplifying the login process for Yammer. Let’s take a look at what Yammer really is and see how this simplified login works.

What is Yammer?

Yammer is Microsoft’s social network platform, focusing on your business and your organization’s clientele. In order to join, you must have a working email address from your company’s domain, which will also enable you to create external networks to allow non-employees like suppliers and customers to communicate with your company effectively and easily.

What is simplified login and how do I turn it on?

Simplified login integrates Yammer and Office 365 through user mapping to save you time when signing into Yammer via Office 365. Here’s how to turn on the simplified login feature:
  1. Administrators must sign into Office 365 using the global administrator account.
  2. Select Admin, Sharepoint; and once in Sharepoint admin center, select Settings.
  3. On the Settings page, under Enterprise Social Collaboration, select Use Yammer.com service.
  4. Click on Yammer from Office 365 to check that you won’t have to log in again and can start connecting with people right away.
If you previously made Yammer the primary social experience for your organization, you can enable this for your Office 365 users by following these steps:
  1. Access Sharepoint admin center and select Settings.
  2. Under Enterprise Social Collaboration, click the Use Sharepoint Newsfeed button to clear previous settings
  3. Select Use Yammer.com service and click Ok to apply changes. Each of these two updates might take up to 30 minutes to complete
  4. Once you’re done, Yammer will replace Newsfeed in the Office 365 navigation.
Keep in mind that users without existing Yammer accounts are taken to a streamlined signup and verification process. And although user mapping saves time, it’s not a complete single sign-on solution, meaning when you go to Yammer.com directly or use Yammer mobile apps, you still need to log in with your Yammer.com credentials. Looking to learn more about Office 365 and its functions? Call us today and see how we can help.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 16th, 2014

Office365_July14_CEarlier this year, Microsoft announced an enhanced document collaboration experience with the Outlook Web App for Office 365 users. With collaboration becoming a vital aspect in most businesses, it’s for a comprehensive view of the added features of Outlook Web App that help simplify your email tasks and boost collaboration.

Side-by-side view of documents and email

When your colleague sends you a document to review, you’ll see the document attached in an email in your Inbox. When you open the attachment, you can now see the contents of that document within the email itself. No more flipping back and forth between windows to get the information you need.

Files supported for viewing in this new feature include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint files, most types of image files and PDF files. You can perform all of the standard messaging actions right from within this unified view making it easy to review information in the email alongside the attachment itself.

Easy document editing and reply

What do you do when you want to edit the attachment in your email? You download the attachment, make your changes, re-attach the file and send your reply. Now you can say goodbye to all that hassle. With the new side-by-side view, all you have to do is simply click Edit a Copy right above the attachment and message.

When you do this, a draft reply-all message is created for you to store this new edited version of the attachment. Then, a new editable copy of the attachment you received is created and renamed with your name at the end of the filename. This way you can differentiate the new copy of the file from the original one. The new copy of the attachment is live, meaning any changes made are automatically saved. Once you're done editing, simply type a response in the email and click Send. Types of files supported for editing include Word, Excel and PowerPoint files created in Microsoft Office 2007 and above.

Additional enhancements

In addition to the side-by-side view and edit-and-reply enhancements, the attachment user interface has also been updated. Now when you attach files, the overview is bigger and better looking. You can also now download multiple attachments at once in the form of a single zip file, making life a tad easier.

While Outlook Web App's added features might not be a total game changer, you can be sure that the next time you’re looking to collaborate, you’re able to do so faster and easier. Want to learn more about Office 365 and its apps? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 2nd, 2014

Office365_June30_CMicrosoft Office 365 is one of the most popular cloud-based solutions for small to medium businesses. With a bevy of powerful features and apps that are immediately familiar to anyone who has used Microsoft's Office apps, utilizing Office 365 is almost a no-brainer. In mid June, Microsoft announced a new program - Office 365 roadmap - that allows you to keep track of upcoming updates.

The Office 365 roadmap

Earlier in 2014, Microsoft announced that they would be moving to a faster rollout schedule for their popular software solutions like Office 365. This means that we can expect to see updates for some software being introduced on a fairly regular basis.

Because of this, it would help to know exactly what Microsoft is working on and when you can expect an update or introduction of new features. To cover this, Microsoft has recently announced an Office 365 roadmap that covers what the company is doing in relation to the business oriented version of Office 365.

You can view the roadmap on this Microsoft website which has been designed to showcase the status of features based on:

  • Launched - Features that have been completed and implemented in various Office 365 apps. These features should be accessible to all Office 365 for Business users.
  • Rolling out - Features that have finished development and are ready to be implemented to the various apps but are not accessible to most users at this time, but will be in the near future.
  • In development - Features that Microsoft developers are working on or testing, but aren't ready to be implemented.
  • Canceled - Features that have been canceled; developers are no longer working on these, and they won't be implemented into Office 365 apps.
When you visit the roadmap site, you can click on the different sections and see the recent features that are relevant to each. For example, if you click on Launched, the recently launched features will drop down. Click on one to see a brief overview of the feature, along with a link to learn more.

This can be a useful site for businesses, especially if you rely on Office 365's features and are interested in which new ones will be introduced. We should stress however that the features listed on the site are relevant only for Office 365 for Businesses and Enterprises. Private and Home users may not necessarily see these features introduced.

Office 365 First Release program

For those users who look at the Rolling Out section of the roadmap site, and would like to have access to fully tested and supported features that are just about ready to roll out, Microsoft has also introduced a new program called First Release.

This program allows Office 365 for Businesses and Education users to sign up and gain access to upcoming features two weeks or more before they are introduced. If you would like to sign up for this program, you can do so as long as you are the admin of your account. If you are the admin for your Office 365 accounts, you can enable First Release by going into the Service Settings area from your management console. You should see an option to enable First Release, which you need to tick to turn on.

Once this is enabled you should be notified within a month letting you know that the first batch of early features is ready to implement. Microsoft has noted that the features implemented early via First Release will apply to the Office 365 user experience, SharePoint Online and Exchange Online. At this time, other apps like Lync Online will not be part of the program, but you can probably expect this program to expand to cover other apps in the coming months and over the next year.

Both the roadmap and First Release features could prove useful for power users of Office 365. If you are looking to learn more about these concepts and how Office 365 can be used successfully in your business, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 4th, 2014

Office365_June02_CReports to be finalized hold you captive in your office; business meetings keep you in the conference room all day; and the ritual of exchanging ideas with your business partners keeps you locked up in your workplace. Break free and boost productivity outside of your office with Microsoft Lync, a messaging tool that allows you to escape your office and still perform all your duties just as effectively.

Get immediate response with instant messaging

Sending emails is a fast and standard way to communicate in business. However, there are times when you have to convey or get hold of some important information in the soonest time possible. Stashing your message in a pile of emails might not cut it and this is when you can switch to Lync’s instant messaging feature. Your message will be sent immediately, with a pop-up also appearing on the recipient's device to flag the message so you know it will most likely have been seen. It’s fast, efficient, and by cutting to the chase, a real time saver.

Hold meetings with HD video conferencing

Reporting can be done with ease through Lync’s HD video conferencing capabilities. This enables you to gather your associates from anywhere in the world, whether to present specific data or deliberate a decision. Not only does this allow communication with several people at the same time but also transmits clear videos to the other end of the line with its 1080p HD quality.

Brainstorm with your team through application sharing

Online meetings sometimes prohibit the sharing of files. With Lync’s application-sharing capabilities, you can easily exchange ideas with your team. You can share PowerPoint presentations, documents, images, Web pages or your desktop with your team to stimulate conversation based on your input and what you have to report. Lync supports all animations and features of Microsoft PowerPoint, letting you create an engaging presentation without the restriction of your location. If you choose to share your desktop instead, you can select which part of your screen you’d like to show your clients, eliminating the unimportant clutter flashed on your monitors. You can also share a virtual whiteboard that allows you to collaborate with your team as if you were stood in the same room. Online communication has become today’s trend for conducting business meetings. However, the choice of which application to use to accomplish tasks requires knowledge of the key features of specific programs. Through Lync’s online communication system, companies have minimized expenses allotted for reserving third-party conference areas, business trips, and in purchasing expensive communication systems. Lync supports Windows, iOS and Android systems. What could it support, enhance, and boost in your business?
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 24th, 2014

Office365_May19_CThere are a number of analytical tools businesses can use and using trendlines can present a clear picture of trends in your business by connecting a number of points on a graph. What is revealed is a possible downturn or upturn in the direction of the group of values identified in the data. Understanding how to use trendlines can help reveal what might happen in the future.

Predicting the future

Trendlines allow businesses to see the difference in various points over a period of time. This helps foretell the possible path the values will take in the future. This can help reveal performance, value, and competitiveness of specific products and services, along with the relevant business departments, such as sales.

By knowing how to add a trendline to your presentation, you can create a graphical representation of the values you have computed. This will enable the user to easily comprehend and analyze the message you are trying to imply.

Add a trendline to your Excel chart

If you use Office 2013, you can create a trendline to complement your reports by right clicking the data series (e.g., the information that has been graphed to charted) in the chart you created. This will show a drop down menu where you can find the option to Add a Trendline. This will open another window where trendline types are available. You can choose the one which suits the chart you created.

Another option is to click your chart and look at your Excel menu bar. Head on to the added tab, Chart Tools, and in the Design tab, click Add Chart Element where another drop down list will appear. At the bottom part of this, you will see Trendline, click this for a list of options that will best fit your data.

  • Exponential trendlines: This creates an uneven arc that is more curved at one side than the other on charts with values that fluctuate. It cannot be used when you have a zero or a negative value in your chart.
  • Linear trendlines: Most common when the values in your chart create a straight line. This shows a continuous rise or fall trend that indicates a path it will steadily continue in the future.
  • Logarithmic trendlines: Where there is a sudden increase or decrease in the chart, which then continues on to become level.
  • Polynomial trendlines: Used for larger set of data with fluctuating values. If the direction of your values continuously changes, then this option could suit you best.
  • Power trendlines: Almost the same as exponential, only in this, the arc is more symmetrical.
  • Moving average trendlines: Used when your points seem to have too many ups and downs. This levels out the extreme fluctuations for easier trend analysis. Depending on the number of periods set, this option gathers the values together and computes its average which is then used as the trend point.
Whatever your reports, it is easier to spot the direction of values when you use graphical tools to show data. This ensures that reports are easily understood, along with the trend at which your values are headed as a result of the lines appearing in the chart. The ability to fully grasp the value and use of trendlines and other Excel functions will allow you to use your computer programs to unlimited use. Want to know more? Get in touch!
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
May 8th, 2014

Office365_May06_CIt is an established fact that Office 365 can immensely help your business run smoothly but choosing the best plan to fit your business needs and goals can become a mental tug-of-war. This article aims to identify a clear winner for your business goals by arming you with the features of each plan. You can then decide which one would best fit your business needs.

The world can’t seem to get enough of the options that Office 365 offers. However, the variety of subscription plans can challenge your decision-making skills. Arming yourself with good research and knowledge allows you to gain more confidence in making wise business choices. You are off to a good start by reading about this article's comparison of the different Office 365 subscription plans.

Choosing the right subscription should start by identifying your business size. Whether you are running a small enterprise or a business empire, Office 365 has the subscription plan to fit every business need. In Microsoft standard definition, a business with 1-10 employees is considered small-sized. A medium-sized business has between 25-300 employees. Anything beyond is deemed to be a large-scale enterprise.

Office 365 for small businesses

If you anticipate having more than 25 employees in the near future, it is highly recommended to skip to the medium-scale subscription. If you are certain about your business size and you don’t have plans to expand, you can choose from two small business subscription plans.The Office 365 Small Business has all the standard features as follows: hosted email, Web conferencing and hosting, spam protection, 24/7 phone support, guaranteed uninterrupted service, SharePoint and file management via Web browser. The other subscription plan is The Office 365 Small Business Premium which comes with three additional functions on top of the standard features, namely the ability to download desktop versions of office applications, site mailbox access and mobile functionality.

Office 365 for midsize businesses

For medium-size businesses with up to 300 users there is a plan that has all the inclusions of the Small Business Premium Plan but provides reinforcement for your business IT infrastructure through better management of user permission credentials. If your business uses a huge chunk of Excel spreadsheets, this plan is for you as it has the Excel add-ons, with Power Query, Powerpivot, Power View and Power Map from multiple sources. In addition, this plan also includes a desktop version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013.

Office 365 for large businesses

The high rollers in the business realm can choose from three plans, namely E1, E3 and E4. E1 has more or less the standard features of the Office 365 Small Business Plan and can support an unlimited number of users, plus it has the feature of user credential management, Yammer integration and access to a site mailbox. With E3 and E4 you can install the desktop version of the office applications. The only difference is that E4 has call capabilities via Lync Online calling, which is ideal for companies in countries where there are no VoIP prohibitions.

There are a lot of productivity tools in the market today and it can be a challenge to choose between the sea of options. In the realm of business, critical thinking should be observed, whether for small or big decisions, as any one of these choices could impact the success and productivity of your business. These decisions can range from low-impact, such as deciding which productivity tool to use for your day-to-day business functions, to high-impact, such as your long-term business plans.

Choosing the right productivity tool to use in your business needs to be taken seriously as this can take create a lot of difference. A good productivity tool makes a better organized work style and this can only mean a business that is easier to manage.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Office 365
April 9th, 2014

Office365_Apr07_CThe latest version of Microsoft OneNote was released in 2013 and is now available for download for free. This cross-platform application lets you create notes online and access them on any device where OneNote is installed. It also allows sharing and collaboration with other users, making it easier to work on a continuing project and keep up to date. You can save what you like on your notes, including images, tables, and more.

If you are looking for a powerful note program, OneNote has some great features.

Access and edit notes anywhere

Windows PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone all support OneNote. Install the appropriate version and you can access your notebooks from any of these devices. Previous versions require that you manually sync your notebooks to make them accessible on all devices. However, with the latest version this is no longer required as your notes are automatically synced on your OneDrive. This means you can view and edit them anywhere where you have an Internet connection.

You can access notes on your mobile device that you originally created on your computer. If you have access to a computer that does not have OneNote installed you can easily find the application on the Web. If you go to OneNote’s page on the Web you can log in to the account linked with your installed versions of OneNote and use as you normally would.

Organize data in notebooks

OneNote is a great tool for organizing different data and files. You can create various notebooks that contain information on specific subjects. For instance, you could create a notebook for personal use, a notebook containing client information, etc. Each of these notebooks can then contain various sections with color coded tabs, making it easy to organize files.

This feature is helpful, especially if you are working with a large volume of data. Searching for specific information or data is also straightforward with a convenient search function. You can simply type your keyword in the search field and wait for the result. Click on your chosen result and you will be taken to that particular note.

Third party integration

The latest version of OneNote also has a new cloud API that allows third party applications to be used. This allows users to enjoy more features, as they are not just confined to the features that are native to OneNote. One of the apps that you can use is OneNote Clipper. Install this on your browser and use it to automatically save clippings from the Web in just one click.

Work on important tables

Tables are often used for creating databases or for comparing and listing data. Creating tables in OneNote 2013 is more convenient as it now allows you sort data within a table, designate header rows, as well as change the color of the cells. You can also insert an Excel spreadsheet into your notes.

Write handwritten notes

If you are using a touch capable device you can write notes or draw using a stylus or your fingers. This is especially helpful for jotting down quick notes or reminders about what to insert on a page. Circling or underlining a word or group of words is quick and easy to do.

Organized data and files are easy to access, which is vital when you need this information at your fingertips. OneNote keeps data in order so you can easily find what you need when you need it.

Find out how OneNote and other tech innovations and updates can support your business productivity. Get in touch today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 12th, 2014

Office365_Mar10_CMore than just avoiding the most common presentation mistakes, you need to have a firm understanding of what techniques to use when creating an effective PowerPoint presentation. If that’s what you’re looking to do, then you’re definitely in the right place. The 5 tips we’ll be sharing in this article will help you create a PowerPoint presentation that will get you results you desire.

Choose a font size and style that can be seen by your audience from a distance

There is no point in creating a PowerPoint presentation if your audience can’t even see or understand what’s on your slide. One of the best ways to ensure that your audience does in fact understand what’s written is for you to use the proper font size and a simple font style.

You have to consider how far back your audience might be sitting when watching your presentation along with the technology you will be presenting on. For example, if you are in a theater using older projection technology, it may be hard to read certain types of font, colors, etc. So it is better to use a larger font size and contrasting colors.

If you can, try to practice the presentation ahead of time and sit at the back to see whether your slides can be seen and read.

Emphasize on the information and not the look of your slides

Don’t ever compromise how your information is presented for the sake of how the slides look. Remember that the point of doing the presentation is to convince your audience to act and not to impress them with a beautifully made presentation.

In order to do this simply create your presentation with only the information your audience needs. Leave out any visuals and focus on outlying the information first. Once you have the information on the slides, then you can add the effects and visuals, being sure to keep them minimal so the information shines and is highlighted.

Avoid handing out printouts of your presentation

One of Seth Godin’s - a marketing and presentation guru - tips for avoiding a really terrible PowerPoint presentations that focus on selling products or services, is to have a maximum of 6 words or lines per slide. The slides are more for points that you will talk about and expand upon. Anymore than that is less than ideal.

Now imagine what would happen if you give your audience a print out of your presentation. They probably won’t be able to make out what your message is since there are only a maximum of 6 words per slide. Beyond that, note packages often lead to people reading ahead and paying attention to the notes in front of them, rather than you, the speaker. Plus, the rustling of paper when people flip pages can also be distracting for the audience and presenter alike.

What we suggest is instead at the beginning of the presentation note that you will make the presentation available online after the presentation is over and providing scrap paper or notebooks for people who wish to take notes. That being said, if the presentation you are giving in educational, notes with a copy of the slides would be a good idea, but be sure to keep the content of the actual slides minimal, more just talking points.

Be consistent

Whether we’re talking about the message that you’re trying to convey, the theme of your slides or the tone/pacing of your presentation, you have to be consistent.

The more consistent you are, the more focused your audience will be. This is because consistency helps establish and give clarity to your message, making sure that it doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Phrase your points in a way that it talks directly about the benefits

We all like to be on the receiving end of something good right? If you focus on telling your audience about the benefits that they can acquire, chances are they’ll be very attentive because your presentation is all about their benefits.

These PowerPoint presentation tips can help you get more results out of your presentations. If you are looking to learn more about how you can leverage PowerPoint for better presentations, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.