Could SharePoint do more for you behind the scenes?
As we discussed last month, SharePoint is here for the long haul. If your organization relies on it to facilitate employee duties, this is great news. Microsoft continues to improve the platform’s deep integration with the rest of Office 365, which makes it possible for users to work with SharePoint without seeing it. If your users have struggled with saving files to SharePoint, or if you’d just like to save people a little time each day, consider the following integrations that may be of value to you.
#1: Save Files Directly to SharePoint from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
Generally, when a user creates a new file, they save the file to their hard drive and then upload the file into the appropriate SharePoint library. This requires them to navigate to the SharePoint site in a web browser, open the destination library, and navigate to a particular folder before the file can be uploaded. This can be a tedious process, which is probably why Microsoft implemented a new upload mechanism within Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
When SharePoint users follow sites, the sites are added to a pinned list of locations for saving Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files. This means users can save files directly to any library in any site without touching a web browser. Office apps even support the entry of SharePoint metadata for a file through the built-in properties panel.
The properties panel provides further potential for streamlining work processes. For example, automated SharePoint workflows can be triggered by selected values set in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. From there, further user actions can be prompted via Outlook email notification with a link to a task form. These SharePoint integrations make it easy for users to participate in SharePoint workflow processes, such as document approvals or signature gatherings, from of the comforts of familiar Office apps like Word and Outlook. The process itself is still built on and supported by SharePoint, but users may never know the difference.
#2: Manage SharePoint List Data from Outlook
Email communication is vital, so chances are you’re always using Outlook. The need to stay in contact keeps it with us around the clock on our computers and smartphones. On top of that, Outlook’s event scheduling, contact management, and task tracking features keep many working within the application for reasons other than communication. SharePoint has special list types for storing these kinds of data, and they can sync directly with Outlook for viewing and management.
If your department's site features a calendar with key dates, it only takes a few clicks to overlay it within your Outlook calendar. Likewise, it’s easy to keep track of and update your active and upcoming tasks from Outlook, as SharePoint’s task lists sync seamlessly with Outlook. This also applies to SharePoint’s contact lists, which provides an elegant alternative to .CSV-based contact imports.
#3: Store Files in SharePoint via Apps like Teams and Planner
As mobile devices become more powerful, we expect mobile experiences to be just as capable as their desktop counterparts. With this in mind, Microsoft developed two of the newer Office 365 tools, Teams and Planner, to provide all the same information and functionality regardless your current device. What’s even better is that these tools were built on SharePoint’s foundation; behind each instance of these simple, intuitive collaboration tools is a robust document storage repository.
When a new Team or Plan is built within one of these applications, Office 365 generates a new SharePoint site collection to support it. When users upload files through their Teams or Planner application, the file is uploaded to a SharePoint document library. The full-fledged mobile experiences of Teams and Planner will provide users with mobile access to files stored in SharePoint wherever they go.
Microsoft’s vision for SharePoint’s future is deeply intertwined with that of Office 365. This link creates endless possibilities for the practices they support, such as providing simplifications or alternative methods to make things easier for end users. If reading about these SharePoint Office 365 integrations inspired you to streamline your own business processes, ask us how we can make that a reality.