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December 11th, 2015

Office365_Dec11_CMicrosoft’s cloud-based Office 365 is a tool that promotes collaboration and productivity in the workplace - that’s just one of the many reasons businesses are adopting this powerful application. But migrating to the platform is not as simple as it might seem. There are many things to keep in mind, and it’s important that you don’t make bad decisions about the migration - since they often can’t be reversed. Here are some useful tips to make your Office 365 migration a successful one.

Do your research

Researching Office 365 can seem a little overwhelming at first, but it will certainly give you a good idea of how everything will work, and what you can expect before, during, and after the migration process. You should understand and anticipate how your business’s daily operations will change when you make the move to a cloud-based platform. You also need to be aware that traditional Microsoft Office programs and Office 365 applications are completely different in terms of functionality, features, and interface.

Create a checklist

Most businesses fail to create a comprehensive migration checklist, because they tend to focus on the technical aspects without addressing other areas that are critical to the migration’s success. These include elements such as training, informing users, and gathering adoption feedback. You can start by drafting a step-by-step plan that clearly defines the phases of the migration process, and then keep refining the plan until everything is covered.

Check email settings

For a seamless transition, you need to synchronize accounts between your active directory domain and Office 365, by using Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory Synchronization tool. Don’t forget to point your company’s mail exchanger record to Office 365, so new emails will be sent directly to the new mailboxes in Office 365. Misconfiguration of email sync during the migration could flag your organization’s email as spam, disrupting the communication process with your clients and partners.

Choose your migration

Each migration plan looks different, and you should choose the one that best fits your needs. Generally, Office 365 migrations can be divided into three categories:
  • Cutover migration - this is a single provisioning and transfer of mailboxes, users, contacts, and mail groups to Office 365. The cutover process can handle up to 2,000 mailboxes, and the migration time depends on the number of users and mail volume.
  • Staged migration - if you don’t want to migrate all your resources at once, staged migration is a good alternative. It allows you to move mailboxes in smaller batches over a much longer period of time.
  • Hybrid migration - this type of migration is perfect for organizations that need to move more than 2,000 mailboxes and wish to run local Exchange servers and Office 365 simultaneously.

Test everything

Once you have broken down the whole migration into various phases, it will be easy to design a testing procedure for each phase. Standard testing processes include migrating a small amount of data, sending and receiving emails, and application trials, in order to ensure that everything works as expected. The more components you can test before migrating to the platform, the less chance there is of your company facing issues afterwards.

If you’re considering an Office 365 migration, why not let our expert technicians do the job for you? We can migrate your resources seamlessly and smoothly without disrupting your business. Get in touch today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

October 27th, 2015

Office365_Oct20_CWhen it comes to the best email management software for businesses, Outlook is among the top tools on the list. But the program contains so many functions, settings, and capabilities that it’s near impossible to master them all in a short time. That’s why many users don’t bother to try out all those buttons and menus in Outlook, when in fact some of them could really come in handy. With that said, we’ve listed some quick Outlook tips that you can implement to save time and work more efficiently.

Filter emails

We all get bombarded with new emails every day. Finding relevant emails and messages that you really need to re-read can be time-consuming, especially if you have to keep going back to old emails in a huge inbox. That’s where the Filter Email option comes in. With this filter you can instantly sort your mailbox to show only certain types of emails, such as those with attachments and specific time periods. You can also type into the search box to drill down even further in your filtered view.

Write new emails instantly

This shortcut is designed to save you time from switching back and forth between Outlook and other programs. Regardless of what you currently have on your screen, you can create new emails, appointments, meetings, contacts, and tasks easily. Simply right-click on the Outlook icon to open a list containing these direct shortcuts.

Assign categories

If you receive a large number of emails every day, it certainly helps to create categories and assign emails to their corresponding groups. Outlook allows you to create color-coded categories such as green for Done, yellow for Pending, orange for Urgent, red for Due, and so on. This way you can quickly identify the status of each email and prioritize your tasks at a glance. To create a new category, right click on the Categories column and select All Categories from the dropdown list.

Create folders

This is one of the most basic and useful email management tips that is often overlooked. You can avoid cluttering your inbox by creating custom folders for specific emails. While there’s no limit to the number of folders you can create, the general rule of thumb is to create a folder for each client or subject. To create custom folders, simply right click on Outlook’s left navigational panel and choose New Folder from the dropdown list. Moving the emails from your inbox to a custom folder is as easy as dragging and dropping.

Email templates

If you have to send emails that contain the same basic information that is rarely updated, templates can save you a lot of time. Start by writing a new email message, entering essential information that you need to reuse, and leaving a visible blank space for new information that needs to be changed each time you send the message. Then navigate to the Files tab and choose Save As. From the dialog box, change the file type to Outlook Template (*.oft), and save. Whenever you want to use the template, head over to New Items > More Items > Choose Form... and select the template file that you have saved, then begin customizing it.

Outlook is a great email communication software that is included in the Microsoft Office 365 package. For more information about Office 365 and how it can improve your business’s productivity and bottom line, get in touch with our experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 4th, 2015

Office365_Aug27_COutlook in Office 365 has been gaining popularity amongst businesses of all sizes. With integration with Office 365’s multitude of business applications, Outlook has proven to be a powerful email service that combines both usability and security. The best part is that Microsoft is now pushing things even further with the latest Outlook release. With updates that enhance the platform even more, it's packed with new productivity features.

Cleaner UI

Outlook in Office 365 now features a simplified, cleaner user interface (UI) that aims to help you work more efficiently. A new Action bar is available across Mail, Calendar, People and Task experiences, for utmost convenience and ease of use. The Action toolbar provides quick access to commands like clearing your inbox, replying to an email or adding an event to your calendar.

The email subject line is larger and more prominent, and messages in the reading pane are now indented for easier reading. More buttons in Calendar allow for simpler navigation and quicker creation of new meetings.

Enhanced inbox control

New tools have been added to help you sort through your email and identify the most important items to tackle first.
  • Pin - you can now pin any message in your inbox to have it highlighted in yellow and kept at the top of your inbox. This keeps important messages handy and prevents them from getting lost in your inbox.
  • Sweep - provides a simple set of actions to manage emails from specific senders, great for managing recurring messages like newsletters and special promotions. You can choose to keep messages from a specific sender for a specified number of days, only keep the most recent message, or delete all messages from the sender.
  • Archive - quickly move messages out of the inbox to a folder of choice with one-click archiving.
  • Undo - undo unintended actions with a single click.
  • Improved single-line view - a preview of the message contents in line with the subject, allowing you to perform common actions in bulk and more quickly.
  • Immersive reading pane - when in single-line view, clicking a message now displays the message in the same window.

Visually engaging emails

Outlook in Office 365 now provides the ability to easily resize images, add custom borders, apply shadow effects, rotate images, and more. Emojis have also been added, so you can express yourself better than ever before. You can also find the people you want to reach more easily; when you place your cursor on the recipient line, Outlook shows a list of the people and distribution groups you most commonly email. The list of recipients is automatically refined as you type, and adapts as the people you email change over time.

Calendar improvements

Calendar now features a five-day weather forecast. Icons next to each day give you a quick look at the forecast, and clicking on one will show a more detailed view. Calendar now supports charms - icons you can choose from to apply as visual cues that help you quickly identify different types of events. For instance, you can add an airplane charm to an upcoming flight, a music note for a piano class, and so on.

You can also create email reminders for any Calendar event and specify the recipient list, include a quick message, and set the day and time you want the email reminder to be sent. Birthday and holiday calendars are also available, and can be either overlaid across your work calendar or viewed separately.

Better mobile browser experience

A number of UI and navigational improvements has been made to enhance the mobile browsing experience, including updates to more closely resemble the UI of Outlook apps on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. Navigation has been improved in order to simplify switching between Mail, Calendar and People, and comes along with more prominent search commands. A better UI allows for the simpler creation of new events and ease of using the scheduling assistant in Calendar, and the Time strip has been updated to show the full week within the calendar. You can now switch between emails without returning to the message list, too.

Looking to learn more about Office 365, its applications and how they can benefit your business? Talk to one of our Office 365 experts; contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 16th, 2015

164_C_O365If you’ve recently been thinking about signing up for an Office 365 suite or are a current user, Microsoft made a recent announcement concerning their E4 plan that will have a direct impact on the service. Before the year’s end, the tech giant will phase out their E4 package entirely and replace it with a new, upgraded version known as E5. How will this affect you? Read on to learn more.

What’s included in E5?

According to Microsoft’s Office Blogs July 13th post, the tech giant announced that the E5 plan will include the following new capabilities:
  • Skype for Business services with support for features including Cloud PBX and PSTN Conferencing
  • Analytic features such as Delve Organizational Analytics and Power BI Pro
  • Advanced security features like Customer Lockbox, eDiscovery, Advanced Threat Protection and Data Loss Protection
With these new service offerings, Microsoft believes that business owners will be able to reach new customers and increase value for their existing ones.

The cost?

While Microsoft’s Office 365 current E4 package costs $22 a month in the US, there was no official announcement of the price for the E5 version.

However, since E5 will include services such as Advanced Threat Protection, which currently costs an additional $2 per user/month, as well as Power BI Pro, which is priced at $9.99 per user/month, a price increase seems inevitable - and very well could be significant.

Your options

Because E4 will be retired when E5 is released, that means that current E4 users will have to either upgrade to E5, or change to E3 plus Cloud PBX.

For those who have yet to sign up for Office 365, however, you’ll also have the additional options to choose an E1 or E3 package with available upgrades.

Is it worth it to upgrade to E5?

That all depends on your business, and likely the price of the upgrade. However, the question you need to ask is, “will the new capabilities enhance your organization enough to justify the higher cost? If you need additional help understanding how E5’s new features and capabilities can create value in your business, we’re happy to assist you.

Curious to learn more about the Office 365 E5 package? Get your questions answered, and give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 18th, 2015

Office365_Jun4_CFor all the undeniable value that email brings to both personal and business users around the world, there’s something else that can’t be denied: the amount of time we waste dealing with the seemingly endless flow of unwanted and irrelevant messages that land in our inboxes. Even when a message is somehow valuable to us or our business, chances are it’s not something we need to deal with right there and then and disrupt our productive flow in the process. But no matter how many email management hacks we use to try and control email flow, the messages keep on coming. Clutter from Outlook could be the magic solution.

Originally announced at Microsoft’s Exchange Conference at the start of 2014, the Clutter add-on for Outlook began rolling out last November to Office 365 business customers who had signed up for the first release. During the initial trial period for Clutter, the function was disabled by default - now that’s been changed, and as of June 15 the tool was due to be turned on by default for all Office 365 users.

At the heart of Clutter is a desire to prioritize email, and move less important messages from your inbox so that you can review and deal with them at your convenience. With only your highest priority emails waiting for you in your main inbox, the idea is that you enjoy fewer distractions and so enhance productivity in your real job - which, for most of us, isn’t email at all. Clutter is an intelligent tool, meaning it picks up hints on which emails are important to you based both on the type of the message and how you are addressed in it. It also uses the Office Graph social feature to track your prior actions both within the Outlook Web App and on Outlook clients for desktop and mobile devices.

Messages identified as lower priority are whisked away to a specific Clutter folder for you to review when you have the chance. Alternatively, you can simply choose to ignore the messages, treating the Clutter folder as another kind of junk filter, and the messages will remain conveniently out of view. In order to ensure that it doesn’t inadvertently start mis-identifying messages as low priority, Microsoft is keen to stress that Clutter won’t do anything until it is confident it has a thorough understanding of your behaviors and your email preferences - for most people this will happen within a matter of days, depending on the volume of email you receive.

You’ll receive daily and weekly notifications so you’re aware which messages Clutter is moving, and don’t miss something important - significantly, these notifications are no longer sent as emails, since replacing an inbox-cluttering message with another one would seem to somewhat detract from Clutter’s purpose. If a message is wrongly picked up as low priority and moved to your Clutter folder, you can move it back to your inbox to be dealt with sooner, and Clutter will learn from the mistake in order to improve its handling of your messages in the future. In the same way, you can choose to proactively teach Clutter about your preferences by marking specific low-priority messages as Clutter.

According to Microsoft, Clutter already shifts more than a million low-priority messages daily, and saves its users almost an hour and a half in productivity each month - figures which are expected to rise as the tool is adopted more widely. If you’ve already enabled Clutter manually, or have enabled it but later switched it off, nothing will change; if you haven’t yet taken any action at all, it will be automatically turned on for you if it hasn’t been already. If you want to disable it, you can do so from the Options page of either Outlook on the Web or the Outlook 2016 Preview, or can simply click the turn it off link at the bottom of notifications.

Clutter gives you a highly personalized email filter that knows which messages are of interest. If you want to learn more about using Office 365 in your business, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.