laptop glowing in the dark with hidden microsoft tools

Untapped Power at Your Fingertips: Microsoft Secrets

Untapped Power Blog Series

While Google Workspace (Google’s collection of cloud computing apps, formerly called G Suite) is growing in popularity, Microsoft Office has been a business software standard since the 1990s. And Microsoft is a monster. Not in a bad or scary way, but in the sense that it is massive. It has so many programs that integrate in so many ways, it can be difficult for any professional to fully explore—and take advantage of—them all. As your trusted technology partner, we’re here to help you get more out of the tools you already have in place.

Learn about the untapped power of OneNote here. Learn about the untapped power of Teams here. Learn about the untapped power of Planner here.

Discover Powerful, Hidden Tools

Microsoft 365 (M365), formerly known as Office 365 or O365, is used by over a million companies worldwide. More than 600,000 companies in the United States alone use the office suite software. It is the group of software applications providing productivity related services that include Outlook, OneDrive, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint and Teams.

We use it here at Infinity, and our own Ryan wanted to share some of the hidden tools, or lesser known features and apps, he uses personally. By reading below, you may find you can stop paying for some third-party service or see an easier way to help your team or clients. 

Microsoft Teams Features

Since our initial blog about Microsoft Teams, new features and integrations have been added, and I thought we’d ease in with a program you’re probably familiar with already.

I’m a fan of the real-time document collaboration, so we’ll start with that.

When you are in a channel of one of your Teams, the files shared within that Team can be opened and edited right in the Teams program.

  • You can see another user’s cursor and changes happen right in front of you, without interfering with the changes you make.
  • You can add comments to the file.
  • You can click on the Conversation button and chat with others in the team while you’re reading or editing the document.
  • And you can choose to open the file outside of Teams if you want to. When you save and close, the changes will be applied to the shared file.

This collaboration removes the need to send a file to various people via email, wait for it to come back, or try to merge various people’s changes into one version. There is one file, everyone in the team has access to it, and everyone can work together on it.

Screen-sharing with Teams is also incredibly helpful.

At any time in a chat – whether with one person or multiple – you can share your screen with the click of a button.

  • Ask about a questionable email before clicking on a link or attachment.
  • Get a second opinion on an image or drawing draft without sending a large file.
  • Show what you’re doing or what’s happening if you think something isn’t working right or if you need guidance on something new.

It’s instant and easy and doesn’t require any additional software.

Another thing I like about this is how the screen-sharing options appear when you hit the button. If you have multiple monitors, they will appear as options on multiple rows. If you have multiple programs or windows open, they will appear as options on that monitor’s row. You don’t have to worry about minimizing anything or accidentally showing something else—the specific screen choices are all right in front of you.

Microsoft Whiteboard

Microsoft Whiteboard is a freeform, digital canvas where people, content, and ideas come together. Just like a whiteboard in your office or conference room, you can use the Whiteboard app for drawing, writing lists and important notes, and making diagrams. But unlike a whiteboard secured to the wall, you can use Microsoft Whiteboard to collaborate with your team to accomplish many activities — whether your team is in the same place or in multiple locations. 

Uses and activities include: 

  • Brainstorming 
  • Event planning 
  • Running effective meetings 
  • Project planning 
  • Problem solving 
  • Process improvement 
  • And so much more.

You can use the Whiteboard program on its own and also as an integrated tool in Teams. And similar to how Teams files can be shared and updated in real-time as described above, the same can be done with Whiteboard.

When you use Whiteboard in a Teams meeting, each member of the team can add or edit text, post sticky notes, and add shapes. Need a meeting icebreaker? Play a game of tic-tac-toe. Need feedback on the gaps or delays in a process? Have your team diagram the steps and write down what’s happening (or not happening) at each handoff. Want to make sure work is being distributed equitably? Have members list their projects or duties and shuffle as necessary. The applications here are practically limitless.

NOTE: If you have M365 but have never used Whiteboard, you may need it to be enabled. Reach out to your IT partner to add this tool to your arsenal.

Microsoft Forms

With this tool, you can build a form or survey in minutes, share it out, and analyze your results. 

Since it’s fully integrated with the rest of M365, use it to take a quick poll during a staff meeting in Teams. But keep in mind it’s not limited to within your organization.

This tool may not have all the frills of paid survey tools, such as conditional logic, but it covers the basics and can easily replace external free programs your staff may be using. It offers the standard types of questions: multiple choice, text field, choose from a list, etc., and you can mark questions required or not.

  • You can share it via link, with anyone, or you can limit it to within your organization.
  • You can send it as editable by the respondents in case questions are missing or need to be worded more clearly.
  • You can create a QR code image for easy mobile scanning of it, get a link to share, embed it, or send it via email.
  • Once you have your responses, you can see simple charts in real-time and easily send to Excel to analyze more deeply.

Wondering whether to return everyone to the office? Send an internal survey. Want to get to know new employees or clients? Build a form to learn their favorites and interests. Curious about whether people have heard of your new product? Create a quick poll. 

We’ve used it for trivia in Teams staff meetings, as well as for giving company feedback. It can be set up and sent out in moments, so see for yourself today.

These are just a few of the applications that many M365 users already have access to. Others you may be interested in include Bulletins, for company announcements, Shifts, for scheduling teams and departments, or Milestones, for tracking individual projects or goals.

Microsoft continues to roll out features and integrations with our existing software, and you can find their help documents here. If you’d like to discuss training options, ideas you’re not sure how to execute, or if you have any questions at all, please reach out to us.