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Collaborate better, collaborate smarter! – Unleash your business’ potential with Microsoft 365

We’ve already looked at Teams; 365 comprehensive communication platform designed to allow remote workforces to stay connected and collaborate effectively. However, it’s not just Teams that enables easy group work, as easy collaboration is a concept woven into every facet of the Microsoft 365 experience. Sometimes it comes in the form of a dedicated application like Microsoft planner or Teams, but often collaboration capabilities come in the form of built-in features that are incorporated within virtually every surface of 365. Let’s look at a few of the feature that makes remote collaboration through Microsoft 365 so effortless.

 

Live Document Editing

365 lets several people co-author a single document, at the same time, in real-time! Make collaborative changes to Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents and avoid sending files as email attachments in the hope that they make it back to you in one piece.

To enable co-authoring, you just must ensure a few simple conditions are met:

  • Shared storage. OneDrive or SharePoint storage locations will allow communal access to files for collaborative editing.
  • Supported file formats. Ensure the file format is relatively modern. For Example, ‘.docx’ In Word or ‘.xlsx’ in Excel.
  • Grant permissions to those you want to edit. Add individual ‘members’ to a SharePoint site to allow collaboration on large volumes of content. Alternatively, you can send individual document links which permit editing.

When you want to share a document for co-authoring simply click on ‘share’ on the top right of the window and then enter the names of the individuals you want to work on the file with. They will then receive an email with a link to your file which opens in the web version of the app by default. When someone is working on a document you’ve opened, their presence will be highlighted by their ‘user icon’ displayed near to the ‘share’ button in the top left. You’ll also notice their whereabouts through the presence of coloured cursors which show you which a part of the file individuals is working on, and you’ll be able to watch them make changes in real-time.

Sometimes you’ll want to query an aspect of a document without making a change. You can do this by adding a comment. Right-click the selected text and choose ‘new comment.’ You can then ‘tag’ users within the comment to draw the attention of specific collaborators.

“@JohnMCExample Can you check these figures?”

When you tag someone in this way, they’ll automatically be sent an email with a link to the query.

Another great feature of live editing is ‘follow-ups.’ These let you draw attention to aspects of a document that require further attention. These work in a similar way to ‘comments’ allowing you to tag other users and draw their attention to the part of the document you need help with.

‘Reviewing Mode’ is a great way to make suggested changes without editing the document itself. To activate this view on, go to the box slightly right of centre above the document:

Any suggestions you make will be distinguishable by their colour, and the document owner will be able to choose or reject your suggestions one-by-one.

When you return to a document that has been edited in your absence, a notification will appear in the top right informing you that changes have been made, as well as a list of those involved in these changes. You’ll also notice blue dots displayed beside content that has been added and coloured text will draw your attention to suggestions as well as content that has been altered.

With live editing/co-authoring through Microsoft 365, you’ll be able to expedite the document editing process while staying in control of your files thanks to OneDrive and SharePoint cloud storage – your precious files never leave your control.

 

Sharing Files and Permissions

There are 2 main ways you can share files and control permissions within Microsoft 365 – using SharePoint sites and individual file links.

SharePoint Sites are the best way to extend large-scale file access to several people. Define site “owners,” members” and “visitors” and attach permissions accordingly. There are 3 permission levels you can assign:

  • Read permission level. This is the permission level assigned to site ‘visitors.’ This grants access to material on the site, but all editing is strictly forbidden.
  • Contribute permission level. Assigned to site ‘members,’ this permission level lets users edit content but denies the ability to change the site itself.
  • Full Control permission level. This permission level group is for the site ‘owners.’ It lets users edit content and control all aspects of the site itself. Site ‘owners’ are also able to manage permissions relating to other users.

SharePoint site ‘owners’ control who has access to what. They can choose to give unrestricted access to a site, or instead restrict access to certain folders or even individual files.

 

Controlling individual file permissions

You can exercise control over file access outside of the SharePoint management architecture.

Microsoft 365 lets you share OneDrive and SharePoint files to anyone using a link, but don’t worry…you retain control. You can block downloads and restrict editing so that your document remains uncorrupted. You can also permit only certain types of editing through the ‘restrict editing’ feature; you might want to permit comments for example but prohibit changes to the document’s text.

 

SharePoint Workflows

Your business processes likely involve files changing hands multiple times before task completions. Someone creates a document, the document then goes to person x for proofreading, then it gets passed to person y for further review, then the client receives the final copy for approval. Carrying out this process for hundreds of documents is an onerous task that involves a lot of communication, chasing up, reminders, sending documents back and forth and so-on. SharePoint workflows are essentially small applications that keep the above process ‘on rails’ by providing a template for your document processing tasks.

There are 5 ready-made workflow templates within SharePoint, each with a distinct task in mind:

  • Approval workflows. This workflow template routes a document to a series of individuals for approval or rejection.
  • Collect Feedback workflows. This type is designed to automate the document review process. The files can be distributed to specific individuals to gain their feedback. This process of review is then recorded.
  • Three-state workflows. Designed to help you track the progress of high-demand concerns (such as customer support issues), this workflow type ensures nothing slips through the net by assigning a task owner and status to a task through three phases of completion. Once one phase is complete, the status of the task is reset, the document is passed on to the next person in the chain and then the process repeats until the task is complete.
  • Collect signatures workflow. As the name suggests this workflow template allows documents to be passed between users to acquire their digital signature.
  • Publishing approval workflow. Like an approval workflow in that, a document is passed between relevant individuals for approval. The difference here is that more restrictions are applied to the approvals process to ensure tighter controls – this is perfect for situations where you need extensive control over the document approvals process to ensure quality/consistency etc.

A great driver of productivity, SharePoint workflows will let your staff focus on the task at hand by automating the time-consuming and often messy task of workflow management.

 

Release your business’s potential with empowering tech choices.

Here at Cloud Nexus, we draw on over 20 years of experience in the IT sector to help the hundreds of businesses we work with unlock their true potential using technology.  We help small and medium-sized enterprises increase their productivity, improve efficiency, and safeguard their digital assets often by helping them get the most of the technology they already have at their disposal.

We know Microsoft 365 inside-out, but we’re often dismayed by how few businesses utilise its full potential.  Why not get in touch and let us guide you through the options that may already be sitting on your PC waiting to be opened.

 

Release your business’s potential with empowering tech choices.

Here at Cloud Nexus, we draw on over 20 years of experience in the IT sector to help the hundreds of businesses we work with unlock their true potential using technology.  We help small and medium-sized enterprises increase their productivity, improve efficiency, and safeguard their digital assets often by helping them get the most of the technology they already have at their disposal.

We know Microsoft 365 inside-out, but we’re often dismayed by how few businesses utilise its full potential.  Why not get in touch and let us guide you through the options that may already be sitting on your PC waiting to be opened.

Please contact the team today on +44 (113) 539 0192 or hello@cloudnexus.co.uk.

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