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How do MT Services use Office 365?

While not an in depth explanation of how every feature of Office 365 can be used to the full, below is a description of how MT Services have implemented various features of Office 365 to meet a number of business requirements.  We use the Office 365 Enterprise Plan as all our users have access to our Terminal Server, Office 365 Business Premium would be used in a non-Terminal Server environment.

Office Suite – My own use of Office is an example of the benefit of our Office 365 Plan, I have a PC at work, I also use our Terminal Server during internal meetings, I have a small Windows tablet for external meetings, at home I have a MacBook I use for work and an iPad.  This means I use all 5 of my Office installations, if I didn’t have an Office 365 subscription I would have to buy at least three individual Office licences and a 3rd party app for my iPad.

Exchange Online – Before we migrated to Exchange online, we had a dedicated Exchange Server at our office.  This meant we had to maintain and power the server and backup the Operating System and Exchange everyday (in fact we had three different backup solutions).  As part of our local network if we had any system/internet connection downtime we would be unable to get our email and we would have needed an additional local Lync server to use Lync properly. Also every time Microsoft released a new version of Exchange we had to upgrade which usually meant a new server, operating system and the time/disruption to carry out the upgrade.

Lync (skype for Business) – At first glance Lync does seem to be the same as Skype, in fact many of the features we use such as internet calls and instant messaging are available in Skype.  What makes the difference for use is the integration into exchange which tells you to if the person you’re trying to contact is busy/in a meeting and the video conferencing.  We mostly use Lync in two ways, firstly to contact people onsite either by internet call/video (enables engineers to show people in the office what they are looking at) or via instant message if the question is not urgent.

The other way we use Lync is for video conferencing where the ability to share applications/monitor displays provides essential functionality not available with Skype.  One of our Account Managers is currently on maternity leave, however using Lync she can still take part in our internal training sessions (we also record these sessions using Lync and store them on SharePoint).

SharePoint Online – We mainly use SharePoint Online for document storage although it is capable of much more.  When we migrated to Office 365 the first thing we did was create a SharePoint site for all our Archived sales documentation, this was information we needed to keep ‘just in case’.  The reason this was the first thing we did was that we were running out of disk capacity on our file server and we were able to move almost 70GB of from the server, saving us the cost of new hard drives & backup media and reducing our backup Windows.

We also have a Marketing SharePoint site where all our finalised marketing Material is stored. Using SharePoint means we can control what material is available for the sales team (if they aren’t using old files or works in progress they found on our network) and the material is available anytime and anywhere so they can email customers information during meetings.

OneDrive for Business – OneDrive is ideal for people who want to work from other locations apart from the office. For example I started this blog in the office but saved the half-finished document in my ‘OneDrive for Business’ folder on my office PC, which synchronised automatically with Office 365. I’m now finishing the blog at home on my MacBook as it’s easier with no distractions, all I had to do was open the word document from my Office 365 portal on the web. In the past I’ve had to email files to and from myself or remember to save them to a memory stick (and remember to the memory stick)

OneDrive for Business has also helped the sales team improve the way we prepare for meetings and share customer information.  All our information from different sources is collated into Microsoft OneNote which allows us to combine typed text, other office documents, pdf reports and pictures ready for each meeting.  Typically the Account Manager will create the original OneNote document and save it in their ‘OneDrive for Business’ folder, they will then share the OneNote document with other members of the team (with edit privileges) via ‘OneDrive for Business’. This means the team can all access and update the OneNote document and everything syncs back to the original document and onwards to all the teams devices running OneNote.

As we have also provided the sales team with small windows tablets (now available a very reasonable prices) we have vastly reduced the number on paper printouts used in our meetings.

Neil Norton