It is much easier - and cheaper - to run a business today. In the past, you had to pay a fortune for business software. But cloud services have changed that. Today you can get access to enterprise-grade (that means large business-approved) business software at the monthly cost of one fast food meal. Out of all of these, the first and most important is a good email/calendar suite - and there are none better than Office365.
What is Office365?
In Office365 you get top-level email and calendar services right through your browser or a mobile app. It is one of a few similar online services, but Office365 leads the market.
Now, it may be a little confusing because Microsoft also calls the desktop software it sells by the same name. Here though we are discussing Office365 OWA (Outlook Web Access) that can be reached via https://outlook.office365.com.
OWA is effectively the Microsoft software, but accessed over the internet. It is an email application, a calendar, contacts and a task-list.
A personal or home OWA subscription also gives access to all the online versions of popular Microsoft applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Sharepoint and many more. Each of these can be loaded and used through a browser or app. If you subscribe to a slightly higher tier of Office365, you can download the software as well.
Setting up Office365
The easiest way to get Office365 is to sign up at Vodacom Business. There you can select one of the packages - these range from personal use to business use, which also vary the price. The sign-up process should help you create your first account. If it didn’t or if you want to add more users, you can go to the Users area and add more users. You may also want to add your business domain so your emails look more official. Doing this is a little more technical and will require help from the place currently hosting your domain, which is likely your ISP. Contact them for more help and follow these instructions. Once you have an account, you can start using it for email. It will take around 24 hours for your domain to move, at which point your emails will use your business address.
Set up your mail app
Office365 has its own app, but you can use it with most popular mail/calendar apps today:
- Search for the Microsoft Outlook app on your preferred app store. Download it, then select Outlook as your service and fill in your details.
- Use your Gmail app and add another account. It is very simple to do if you are using Office365. These instructions will show you how.
- If you own an Apple device, Office365’s mail can be connected to the native iOs app and calendar. Visit these instructions to learn more.
- It is a good idea to keep your personal and work emails separate, even by using different apps. There are many great third-party mail/calendar apps such as Spark, Edison Mail and Newton Mail.
Office365’s browser client lets you do numerous business tasks that make your life easier:
- Meeting requests sent to your email address can be added to your calendar. You can also create an event out of any email by clicking on the down arrow in the topright corner of the email and selecting ‘Reply all by meeting.’
- If you use the ‘Archive’ button, the mail will be sent to the Archive folder. You can browse all the folders on the lefthand bar. You can also create sub-folders and, if you mark the star next to a folder’s name, it will be added to your Favourites list at the top.
- Create automatic replies such as holiday notices by clicking on the Gear icon at the topright of the screen, then choosing ‘Automatic replies’.
- Not always online? In the same area under the Gear menu, you can turn on offline settings.
- Switch quickly between services: at the bottom left of the folder bar, there are four icons that give quick access to Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks. If you click on the blue icon with white dots at the topleft of the screen, you can access applications such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and more.
- If you add a task under the Task area, click on ‘Show more details’. This adds a wealth of options, including adding reminders.
If you have an email selected, at the top of the email screen are a series of buttons: New, Delete, Archive, and so on. One of them is ‘Move to’. If you select this and start typing the name of a folder, it will filter the view and you can quickly select a folder to send the email to.