As cloud IT models gain more market share and small- to medium-sized businesses become more comfortable with cloud security/governance, opportunities are growing to save money and increase productivity. The Microsoft Office 365 platform not only offers email and document management in the cloud, it goes beyond these key offerings to help transform day-to-day business tasks. In addition to anytime, anywhere access to email, documents, contacts and calendars on any device, it offers many ways to increase productivity for your team and partners to collaborate, while automating core business processes and workflows.

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Like many customers, you are probably just happy to get rid of your Exchange Server and use MS Office web apps instead of installing and maintaining them on every machine in the company. Unfortunately, this is very common as many Office 365 subscribers just stop there. They don’t utilize more than basic office automation, like email and office applications, to take advantage of the transformational productivity available within Office 365 with team collaboration and business process automation features. Some customers, who already had applications like Lync or SharePoint deployed locally, leverage these applications in a very limited way like having a simple SharePoint team site to store and share common documents, calendars or create few discussion lists.

To get the full ROI from your Office 365 implementation, it is worth looking into the features and capabilities of SharePoint Online. Getting more productivity from Office 365 by leveraging SharePoint Online can be cost effectively achieved with proper planning, utilizing many out-of-the-box options to automate everything from time-off, to hiring and employee onboarding to expense reporting. Following are a few examples of processes that can be automated by using a SharePoint workflow:

  • Approval (route a document or item for approval or rejection)
  • Collect Feedback (route a document or item for feedback)
  • Collect Signatures (route a document, workbook or form for digital signatures)
  • Disposition Approval (manage document expiration and retention)
  • Three-State Tracking (track an issue, project or task through three states or phases)

Blog 2More complex processes can be automated by combining multiple workflows or designing a custom workflow using SharePoint Designer 2013 which is a free download from Microsoft. SharePoint Designer extends the workflow functionality to the next level. It offers many conditions and actions to build complex workflows without writing a single line of code. What’s more, if you are more comfortable designing your workflow in Visio, SharePoint Designer can import that workflow and attach it to a list or site.

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As you can see, the possibilities are endless to save time and money by utilizing SharePoint Online features and capabilities to automate your business processes. And this is just scratching the surface.

Office 365 SharePoint Online also includes a number of application templates which provide at least 80% of the functionality most organizations need. Other social and business intelligence features can help make your department sites (HR, Finance, Marketing and IT Support) look more user-friendly and productive by applying out-of-the-box security and governance features. I would like to take an opportunity to highlight some of the other exciting features:

Yes, Microsoft Office 365 is much more than just email and document management. Start exploring all these features and get full return on your investment! Learn more about the impact Microsoft Office 365 can have on your business and how CDW can help with implementation.