Microsoft 365: The lesser-known apps that make a difference

Microsoft 365: The lesser-known apps that make a difference

When it comes to the Microsoft 365 landscape, everyone has their go-to favourites. Many of us tend to stick with them. But do you know all the apps, including the ‘lesser-known’ ones?

They are familiar, easy to use and integrate perfectly with the other 365 apps we use. So why would we want to changehow we work and organiseg tasks that work so well?

The answer might lie in the wide range of lesser-known 365 apps and features we haven’t yet tried. They might have the potential to make life even better! This is the third and final blog in the series. Click here to read apps for remote working or more that make a difference.

Here are just a few of them and the different aspects of your business they can help:

Customer Management

If you aren’t giving your customers the best experience possible, you risk losing them to a business.

Fortunately, a handy duo of Microsoft 365 apps can make a difference in your customer relationship management.


People is the address book that can be created and shared across the business. It can incorporate room bookings, external and internal contacts, and groups.


If your business relies on appointments, then Bookings can be a lifeline. It is a web-based booking calendar that can be embedded into existing websites and shared via links or social media.

Bookings integrate with other 365 apps, such as Outlook, to send reminders and is even available as a feature within Teams. This allows users to create new calendars, assign staff and manage appointments in one convenient space.

Lists & Forms

Organisations are increasingly reaching out to customers and colleagues. Whether it be through a checklists or forms. This can be as part of the qualities that businesses strive for in a world.


Lists help us stay on track and get things done. Don’t be fooled by the name, it is not a to-do list, but rather a checklist. It is available as both a mobile and web-based app. This ensure users have everything they need at their fingertips, wherever they are.

Lists are intelligent and highly flexible and can easily be created and embedded into Teams channels with templates for every conceivable requirement. It does come with some templates which include issue tracker, employee onboarding, work progress tracker and even a content scheduler.


Forms are elegant and straightforward; it allows users to reach out to anyone on any device or browser for customer feedback, test knowledge, or evaluate learning.

The forms themselves can be highly customised, and integration with SharePoint lists and PowerApps can create incredibly rich and highly automated surveys, polls or quizzes with security and compliance built-in as standard.

File storage & Collaboration

OneDrive and SharePoint

As so much of the business world is working outside of their offices, the need to organise, store and share files and access them on a range of devices has never been greater for many businesses that use OneDrive. This solution works well for many and comes with a range of benefits.

However, SharePoint is a cloud-based service for any sized business that takes file storage, secure access, and collaboration to another level. SharePoint allows users to create entire sites and provides access to vital company information safely and compliantly.

SharePoint is one of the leading Intranet solutions for business, one on which many of the top companies already rely upon.

Note Taking

Nearly everyone relies on notes at some time or another. What better way to jot down reminders, tasks for the day or important information we might need later? OneNote is, for many, the ideal way to organise notes, translate text and share them when needed, but there is another option with just as much potential.


Sharing thoughts, ideas, and brainstorming are crucial aspects of a successful business; Whiteboard enables a simple, no-nonsense interface. It is ideal for mobile devices and tablets, allowing users to share sticky notes, drawings, images or pasted text with a simple link.

As with so many of the apps in the Microsoft 365 environment, Whiteboard’s strength is integration. For example, as a part of Teams, it can be invaluable, a benefit that other whiteboard-style apps don’t have.


It is one of those apps that doesn’t quite fit anywhere. Visio is a great app for creating those visual maps, flowcharts, process maps etc. This used to be an app outside of 365 and an additional cost but has been brought into the fold and is now part of the suite. Visio has lots of templates to get you started, or you can start from scratch.

If you want to learn more about ways to help your team to work together more safely and efficiently off-site, why not book a slot for a free discussion with me here

Microsoft Office 365: More apps that can make a difference

Microsoft Office 365: More apps that can make a difference

Following on from our recent look at the sheer range of applications for business within the Microsoft 365 environment, we will continue by looking at some of the household names. The apps that everyone will be familiar with, along with one or two of the fascinating supporting cast. The little-known ones you might not know as well but which can help your business perform at its best.

Office staple apps

Word and Excel combined to form the backbone of most people’s needs when it comes to Microsoft Office. They are familiar, comfortable and intuitive to use. However, they can still surprise us occasionally.

Many users don’t realise that Word can be a powerhouse tool for collaboration. The Co-Authoring feature allows users to work on documents stored in SharePoint or Onedrive with anyone, anywhere. Simply by clicking on the share icon and adding the email addresses of the people they want to work with, users can collaborate on documents in real time.

Without a doubt, Excel is the ‘go-to’ app for anyone working with spreadsheets.

The ‘smart lookup’ function is just one of Microsoft 365 features. Right-clicking on word and selecting the smart lookup function launches Bing. Bing then searchs the internet for information on whatever is highlighted.

Communication apps

Microsoft 365 has a range of inter-connecting communication apps; Teams, Outlook and Yammer to name the essentials.

Outlook has everything we need to do business. Most things can be done from your inbox simply by selecting the drop-down menu in the Outlook inbox. From there, contacts can be added, appointments scheduled, and emails assigned to specific days just by dragging them onto the calendar icon.

Yammer is, for many, the ideal way to add private, secure social media to their business. Users can connect, engage and share thoughts and ideas across their business. Therefore, staying informed and creating a sense of community and sharing resources or simply saying thanks.

Think of it as similar to your business’ own private Twitter network.


Delve is accessed through a browser. It’s a cloud-based platform ideal for remote working across an array of devices and forms a valuable hub for users and colleagues. Invaluable for files, collaboration or even enterprise networking.

Delve can fill the user’s space with things they might find helpful. It also allows users to search and choose their content. Delve keeps those things private by default, only sharing the desired content and resources.

Tracking user data and overseeing efficiency and productivity are vital parts of a successful team. MyAnalytics gives a detailed overview of the time spent performing different tasks, hours worked, and things such as attending meetings or working late.

Reports and dashboards give essential insights into business processes, team configurations and business productivity with a powerful automation tool helping to place focus right where it’s needed.


Teaching, making compelling proposals and pitching ideas are all possible with PowerPoint, with rich presentations that look great with little need for expertise or specialised knowledge. Users even have the potential to add audio to slides, such as voiceovers, effects or soundtracks.

Sway is a niche app for many, but it allows users to create content-rich, visually appealing designs for reports, web pages and newsletters. Content can be dragged in from various sources, and users can even add forms, slideshows or image stacks for viewers to click through like a retro photo pile.

Sharing video content safely and securely for learning, presenting, and meetings is easy with Stream. It has the potential to become an organisation’s very own video hub. At a time when so many rely on remote solutions, Stream is one of the most useful.

To discover how you could utilise Microsoft better in your business, why not book a slot for a free discussion with me here?

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Microsoft 365: Apps for remote working

Microsoft 365: Apps for remote working

With so much of the business world working remotely now and probably beyond the foreseeable future, some things have become more challenging.

One of the most obvious is the challenge companies have faced in ensuring their teams have all the hardware they need to work effectively from home. The second is ensuring they are up to speed on using the apps and services that make up the software side of things too.

Many of us are familiar with Microsoft 365 and aware of the benefits the right features can deliver. As a consultant and ex-virtual assistant, I am well used to collaborating with teams off-site. I have been using various tools within the 365 environment for a long time.

When it comes to productivity, security and user-friendliness, here are some of the best ‘once used, forever relied upon’ 365 applications that empower users to work safely and securely from home.

Microsoft 365 OneNote

OneNote is a personal information management application with all the functionality you need at your fingertips (or stylus). You can organise notes exactly how you need to, share them and sync them with other devices.

OneNote even has the valuable ability to translate text. The Translate feature has the potential to be incredibly useful for businesses in multilingual markets.

Microsoft 365 OneDrive

As compliance laws around data become more robust and the need for remote access grows, OneDrive delivers a secure, effective solution that works.

With an impressive amount of cloud-based storage available on 365, OneDrive provides users all the space they’ll ever need to store and share files and collaborate with the people they need to, even on mobile devices.

Files are synced in real-time, and thanks to features such as SSL encryption and Personal Vault. You can rest assured they are always safe. Users can set up password protection for shared files and folders and, if any account is compromised, there is a restore option to roll back the entire drive to any previous date within the last thirty days.

Microsoft 365 Teams

Teams have become a vital part of the 365 environments in a world where many are now working remotely. Much like its competitors, such as Zoom and Hangouts, it has gone from occasional use to essential business tools in recent times.

One-on-one conversations, group messages, video and audio calls are all vital features of Teams, along with game-changing integration into other 365 applications such as Word, Outlook and SharePoint.

Microsoft 365 Planner

Managing teams and projects can prove impossible when the team itself is spread far and wide. Planner delivers a centralised hub for every one of them; to share files safely, make plans, oversee progress and assign and organise tasks to other users.

The big selling point of Planner over similar task management apps is 365 integration.  Microsoft 365 Planner has all the efficiency for which the 365 ecosystem is well known and works together with other 365 features like Outlook, SharePoint and Teams.

Its interface is intuitive and paired back but still shows all the information users need on projects completed and those in progress.

Microsoft 365 To Do

Task management and productivity are both significant parts of keeping professional and personal lives balanced and organised. Microsoft 365 To Do is a simple app designed to make both easier and merge them if needed.

Available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, To Do helps users monitor outstanding tasks and tick them off when needed. It’s also cloud-based and conveniently synched on any connected device.

To Do focuses on the individual user; tasks can be arranged into handy lists or grouped to be completed simultaneously. The useful ‘My Day’ function allows users to focus on essential tasks on any pre-determined day.

To Do also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Planner to keep users up to date on tasks or events they are a part of. It has the potential to organise both personal and professional tasks in one incredibly convenient place.

This blog is part 1 in a series of 3. Check here for more apps that make a difference and lesser-known apps.

If you are thinking about ways to empower your team to work safer and more efficiently off-site, or if you want to learn more about the right Microsoft 365 tools for you, why not book a slot for a free discussion with me here.

Top Tools For Business

Top Tools For Business

Running a business in today’s world can seem to some like an endless battle to keep things afloat. Markets change, customer habits evolve, and goalposts shift regularly.

It is worth seeking every bit of help you can get, and the good news is, it’s all out there just waiting to make life a little easier; to save you precious time, resources and money.

If you can identify those areas where a little extra help could make all the difference…

Finance software

A common issue for small to medium enterprises is the occasional need for specialised financial know-how. There are accounting software packages out there, such as Quickbooks or Xero, that can solve that problem. They allow you to customise invoices, accept payments, manage tax and run payroll through a simple interface.

Users can also file VAT directly to HMRC in the UK, saving around 8 hours per month and a lot of stress.

Customer Relationship Management

CRM software can handle sales and marketing with a level of efficiency that a small business might struggle to match otherwise. The automation that CRM brings to the table can help a business manage interaction with customers and potential customers, plan and manage marketing and make the most of sales opportunities.

CRM can give businesses a new level of automation and a real advantage over their competitors.

Microsoft Office

It is much more than Word, Outlook and Excel. Throw in calendars for diary management, Teams for remote working and other lesser-known apps such as MileIQ for tracking expenses, To Do for comprehensive task management and Bookings for any business relying on appointments, to name just a few.

Office is packed full of potential for every business, which takes the time to really get the most out of it.

Social media

An engaging, authoritative presence on sites such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram can do so much to earn authority and drive people to a company’s site or services, yet how many neglect it when things get busy elsewhere?

Automation is one possible answer. Social media management tools such as SocialBee and PromoRepublic let users plan content and publish it at a time of their choosing.


A website can benefit massively from a blog. It can be a place to showcase new products and services, identify an audience’s problems and provide solutions. Blogs are also the perfect tool to drive people to your e-commerce pages and help you climb the search engine rankings.

Many SME’s rely on freelance writers and virtual assistants to keep their websites full of engaging and meaningful content then utilise the services of tools such as Missinglettr to create up to a year’s worth of social posts from a single blog piece.

An easy and effective way to direct traffic to your site while you might be busy doing other things.

Planning software

When looking at planning software we need to think of a few things

  • It’s usability
  • The interface
  • Integrations
  • Cost and value for money

The key features you are looking for are

  • planning and scheduling
  • task dependencies
  • Project timelines, calendar views and roadmaps
  • Task management
  • Collaorations and communication feeatures
  • Budget planning and tracking (by project)
  • Client portal

It really depends on what the needs of the business are; do you want an all-in-one team tool or just a planning/task tool.

The list is endless in this section. Some of the big names have used the planning software as the base for their collaboration and ‘all on platforms’. These include; Avaza, Click-up, Flowlu,, Plutio.

But if you are looking just for a planning tool then you also have Microsoft Planner, Asana, Trello. Microsoft planner can be used on it’s own or inlcuded in Teams to be a collabortive tool.

Instant chat

We are now all familiar with tools such as Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Zoom; these tools have gone from occasional use to vital business tools in under a year. It is also worth bearing in mind that tools such as WhatsApp have an engaged user base in the region of 1.5 billion users; that is quite a bit of potential for any business.

But there are the chat / pop-ups on your website, such as

Websites and Graphic design

Every business with an online presence relies on the quality of its website to match the quality of its products and services. Still, is it necessary to invest (often heavily) in a specialist web designer?

Sites such as Wix and WordPress give users all the templates, tools and simple interfaces they need to create eye-catching, quality-hosted websites for a much more modest annual investment.

They also offer to work with their teams to build better sites and make the most of the SEO tools on offer.


There is no list or set of tools that will fit every business out there. The collection of tools we use and how we use them can be as individual as the business.

But, as a business evolves, so do the tools. It is essential to audit the business as a whole to see what is being used. It is not uncommon to find indiidual department using different providers for the same tool, e.g. Mailerlite and Mailchimp. This risks duplication of data, and an increased risk to data breaches. But there is also an increas in costs.

If you are thinking about tools to improve your business or if you want to learn more about the right tools for you, why not book a slot for a free discussion with me here?

*Please note that by clicking on a link from this page, you will be sent directly to the product’s website, where we may earn a small affiliate commission for any purchases you make. Check out the resources page for more details.

Compliance and the benefits of accreditation

Compliance and the benefits of accreditation

Whenever the subjects of compliance and accreditation are brought up, many of us focus on ensuring everything is okay without considering the potential benefits.

We think about the mandatory things we need to do to ensure our products and services are legally safe, that they adhere to the standards set out for them and that our teams are working in a safe, compliant environment.

We invest a lot of time and resources into ensuring those boxes are ticked; we have to, after all! However, there is also a whole range of other accreditation and certification that isn’t mandatory.

You and your business have already put in the hard work to get the compliance you need; is it worth your time to bother with anything else?

Yes, it is. It can pay off in all kinds of ways…

Gaining an edge

You don’t need me to tell you any competitive business advantage is worth grabbing with both arms. Taking compliance and accreditation to the next level is a powerful way to do that…

  • Boost your reputation and allow you to gain a competitive edge over others in your industry
  • Win you more business and empower you to bid for lucrative contracts with external agencies
  • Improve the inner ethos of your organisation, maximising staff morale, productivity and giving your teams a real sense of pride
  • Win trust and confidence in your business, which can be essential in some sectors, such as social care or the financial sector
  • Drive growth for small to medium-sized businesses
  • Accreditation can highlight legal compliance, green credentials, and an ethos of sustainability.

Investing in your business and its people

The range of accreditation out there for your business can be considerable. It ranges from ISO standards like ISO 27001 (managing information), ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety), and ISO 9001 (quality management) to industry-specific accreditation that will allow you to bid for contracts with government agencies, schools, and the NHS. For charitable organisations, accreditations such as NCVO can demonstrate their trustworthiness and win the confidence of potential donors.

On an individual level, accreditation can also have a positive impact; mental health champions, data protection, and safeguarding, to name just a few, are all precious accredited courses for key employees; they might also go some way towards gaining Investors in People accreditation, an award which any forward thinking company should be proud of.

A sign of quality that is easy to share

Showcasing your accreditation is an easy and effective way to show your qualities to the world and prove that you stand head and shoulders above your competitors. You can add them to your website’s homepage as logos, share them via your social media channels, blog about the important part they play in your company’s story, send out newsletters and even contact the local paper!

You’ve gone the extra mile, after all. Why wouldn’t you want to shout about it from the rooftops with pride and passion?

If you are working towards gaining accreditation to drive growth and demonstrate your quality, collating the right materials and information, then presenting it in the correct format is essential. Failing to do so can cost you time, money, and more than a bit of frustration…

We have over ten years of experience in quality and compliance across a broad range of sectors. Get in touch today for a free chat!

Good Compliance is Good for Business

Good Compliance is Good for Business

Every industry has standards. Some are legal standards, set in stone and mandatory. There are also various regulatory compliance measures to ensure conformity. Regulations and legislation set a standard and ensure compliance. But being compliant is not only a regulatory obligation, but is showing that you are compliant is good for business.

The need for transparency

Independent regulators exist to ensure they are upheld, like the Care Quality Commission, The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are just a few. It’s important to remember, though, that they exist to help, and the advice and resources they offer can go a long way towards ensuring your business is legally compliant.

Why should we be compliant?

Compliance is essential for business, but it can also serve as one of the best tools for promoting a brand, raising standards and driving productivity.

Compliance has many other, notable benefits:

  • Reducing the risk of costly legal issues
  • Creating a safer, more efficient workplace (with happier, more motivated teams who stay on board for the long term)
  • Winning customer trust in a way that few other things can
  • Compliance can be a powerful tool for public relations

The broad spectrum of compliance in business

If you are looking at compliance for your business, where on earth do you begin?  Well, a lot can depend on your service and your industry. There are, however, several key areas applicable to us all.

Health and safety policies:

If your business has five or more employees, a written Health and Safety policy is mandatory. For less than five, however, it is still a good idea.

Data protection & GDPR:

If you are dealing with data, you have to commit to protecting it by the law; your policy should consider your company’s size, activities, and existing IT policies.

Other industry-specific compliance measures include Safeguarding, Cookies, Kite marks and certain pre-requisites if the organisation is looking to partner with Government agencies or the NHS.

Sought-after compliance

For those with the desire to really showcase their brand, its services or products, some standards take customer care and staff welfare to levels above those of the competition. They can demonstrate transparency, ethical practices, philosophy and good principles.

While they might not always be mandatory, we might be foolish to neglect them…

The International Standards Organisation offers a wide range of non-compulsory but highly sought after standards.

ISO 9001 is one such standard linked to Quality Management Systems. It is the yardstick for many businesses looking to demonstrate their products and services meet customer needs and fulfil legal and regulatory requirements.

ISO14001 represents another sought after standard in the business world of today. Focusing on environmental management, it serves as proof of compliance with applicable ecological and environmental regulations. In a world of increasingly aware consumers and potential partners, it can make all the difference.

How can a we support you?

Regardless of whether you are seeking to conform to mandatory legal/regulatory compliance or quality standards that can be either mandatory or highly recommended, then we may be able to help.

Compliance is a specialised field, and many companies can find it challenging to collate the information they need and present it in the correct standardised format. A specialist Virtual Assistant can:

  • Identify what materials you need for submission and often pinpoint the ones which fulfil multiple criteria
  • Deliver the help and support you need to collate it
  • Offer help and advice around the submission process
  • Support to create your policies and procedures
  • Ensure your submissions are professional, relevant and on-brand
  • Help you to create internal audits and self-assessments
  • Highlight key areas for external audits by independent regulatory bodies

Good compliance is good for business. If you’d like help and support ensuring your business ticks all the boxes and stands proudly above the completion, get in touch today.

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