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Getting the best out of Microsoft 365 Part 3: Productivity and Data Insights

Posted by Dan Felix on February 23rd 2021

Welcome to the third and final part of our three-part series of how to get the best out of Microsoft 365.

In part one: security we focused on the key settings which you need to enable and/or tailor to the requirements of your organisation to ensure you are getting the best out of Microsoft 365 security features.

In Part two: communication and collaboration we discuss that many businesses are only scratching the surface of the communication and collaboration features available within Microsoft 365, and explain the underutilised features which can transform communication and collaboration across teams and organisations

In this final part of the series, we look at productivity and data insights. So, let’s jump straight in…

Reduce information overload with OneNote

We live in a world of information overload, picking up actions daily, sitting in meetings and note taking – it can be easy to lose track of notes and information in to organise yourself and feel overwhelming.

What is OneNote?

OneNote is a note-taking application. It provides a hub for all of your notes, which can be organised into separate notebooks, and individual sections within notebooks. It is compatible with a range of digital formats, meaning it’s possible to pin multimedia documents as well as simple text.

Microsoft OneNote, part of the Microsoft 365 suite of applications, has become an essential productivity tool for businesses. But many don’t fully appreciate the valuable contribution that the system can make at work. OneNote fully leverages the cloud and Microsoft technologies to make capturing, storing and sharing any kind of information easy.

You can even photograph a whiteboard, printed document or PDF and Office Lens will digitise your notes for you and save images to OneNote.

Helpful resources:

  • Video – what is OneNote
  • Video – start using OneNote
  • OneNote – a not-taking app for all your devices


Quickly find information and contacts through powerful search functionality

Organisations have thousands and even millions of documents.  Finding the one you need can be like finding a needle in a haystack.  By storing your files centrally in OneDrive or SharePoint you can search using key words or sentences just as you would when using a search engine.

Microsoft 365’s intelligent search will identify text within in documents, find whiteboards, receipts, people in your organisation, and even screen shots.  Microsoft has also integrated LinkedIn profiles so that you can identify experts inside and outside of your business in a single click.

Helpful resources:


Improve efficiency of meetings with Teams

The average middle manager spends 35% of their time in meetings, and as you rise to upper management this increases to an average of 50%. Meetings are part of our professional lives, but it doesn’t mean that all meetings are productive – most are ineffective and usually interrupts focused work time.

Here are five ways to improve meeting efficiency using Microsoft Teams features:

1. Stay muted unless speaking and (almost) always keep video on. This practice encourages active attention and helps meeting facilitators gauge participant reaction and engagement.

2. Have a structure – for regular team meetings we recommend a Huddle format, where every participant shares relevant updates, their top priority for the day and any work requiring assistance from other members of the team.

3. Take things offline – Keeping Teams meetings efficient means staying focused on the topic at hand. Any issues raised that don’t need to be resolved to meet the meeting’s objective should be moved offline for progression outside of the meeting.

4. Use the chat – Messaging responses or questions allows speakers to address feedback without interruption. In a meeting with many participants, using a direct message chat between individuals allows for side conversations or discussions which don’t interrupt the meeting flow.

5. Utilise screen share – Allowing participants to focus on the material being presented and not on the non-verbal cues of the speaker can reduce fatigue and ensure focus.

Helpful  resources:


Create insights from your data with PowerBi

Data is the considered the new oil.  It’s the most powerful asset in a business. It allows organisations to identify what’s happening, it helps predict what may lie ahead and it inform key decisions every single day.

However, for most organisations their data is not dynamic – it’s held across different files, sources and platforms which don’t talk to each other.

A Power BI dashboard is a single page, often called a canvas, that uses visualisations that is an excellent way to monitor performance and productivity across the business. A dashboard isn’t just a pretty picture; it’s interactive and the tiles update as the underlying data changes.

PowerBI aggregates and organises data from multiple sources and locations providing organisations with live insights on productivity and performance across the business – from productive employees are, to how the business is performing against target.

Helpful resources:

Improve your work patterns through personal productivity insights

More people than ever feel they lack control over their time at work. Many teams spend 80-90% of their week sitting in meetings, sending emails, and talking on the phone. But 50% of meeting time is seen to be unproductive and almost half of employees report that their work interferes with their family life.

MyAnalytics is an extension of your Office 365 client experience that helps you find opportunities to build better habits and get back in control of your time. It uses everyday data from Microsoft Office 365 to give you insights into how you spend your time. It then provides insights and tips that help you work smarter and improving your focus, wellbeing, network, and collaboration.

Helpful resources:


Closing words

If you have Microsoft 365 the chances are you are only using a fraction of the features and functionalities that have the power to truly transform your business for the post-pandemic world, which has redefined what the ‘workplace’ looks like and how it functions.

We understand that adopting new ways of working and transforming into a truly modern workplace can appear overwhelming.  At BCN Group we specialise in supporting businesses in their modern workplace transformation every step of the way, helping them to get the very best out of Microsoft 365.

To fast-track your modern workplace transformation and ensure you are digitally equipped, skilled and competitive please get in touch, we’d be delighted to support you.

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