Efficiency Matters – The Hidden Power of Microsoft Office

Posted by Theresa Hietpas

Mar 22, 2016 1:00:00 PM

workflow_image.jpg“Our employees already know how to use Outlook, Word and Excel…”

The easiest way to save time and money is to work better with the tools you already have.  Most businesses vastly underestimate how much a little inefficiency here and there actually costs; and routinely refuse even an hour or two of training that could recoup thousands of dollars in lost productivity.

Your staff may “know how” to use the tools they’ve been using for years, and have very good systems for doing what they do--the way they’ve always done it. But they probably have no idea how many time-saving tips and tricks have evolved in Microsoft Office since they learned to use it, and developed the processes they use today.  Here are just a few examples of tools you probably aren’t using, in Microsoft Outlook alone:

Quick Steps, Quick Parts and Other Options in Outlook

All offices have routine tasks they do again and again, and most spend more time doing that in Outlook than any other program.  Do you routinely forward emails to your supervisor, administrative assistant, or particular groups of employees?  Always close with the same salutation & signature? Have form e-mails that you use for responses or requests? Have snippets paragraphs of information you repeat again and again? Set appointments or meetings based on the content of an email, and want to attach or include the text of the email?  And what happens to that email when you’re done responding or acting on it?

Quick Steps sit front and center on the Outlook Home toolbar. There are a few standard options like “Email Team”, “Email Manager”, and “Reply and Archive”, but you can create custom Quick Steps for tasks and sequences of Actions that cover the things you do most often.

Example:  If you send a weekly recap or minutes of meetings, you can create a Quick Step that:

  • opens an email addressed to the group of people you report to,
  • includes a specific subject line
  • sets the importance and flag it for followup (for yourself or the recipients)
  • includes all of the body text that is standard, and your signature.

All you have to do then is fill in this week’s changed details, and send.  Better yet, add a few more Actions to the same Quick Step, and you could:

  • file the original item in your “Recaps” folder
  • launch a Meeting in your calendar so that you can set the next meeting date for your group
  • create a task for yourself to send out reminders to the group a few days before the meeting

With a single click, you have launched a series of actions that would have taken several minutes and a great deal of mouse-clicking and copy/pasting to do one step at a time.

Other things you can do to save time every day:

  • Use “Quick Parts” to save routine blocks of text like directions to your office, instructions you give repeatedly, or the structure of standardized email requests, so you can insert them with a mouse click or two.
  • Use AutoText to offer you the full text of abbreviations you create
  • Use multiple Signatures for casual, formal, and alternate roles. Replace your standard signature block entirely in two mouse clicks -- no cutting & pasting
  • Share a selection from your calendar (with or without details) in the body of the email, so you don’t have to type multiple available dates when trying to coordinate a meeting.
  • Include voting buttons in group emails that require choosing from a list of options
  • Limit forwarding
  • Delay delivery so you can type it now, and have it send when you choose
  • Specify someone else to receive replies
  • Add favorite options to the QuickAccess toolbar at the top of your screen so you don’t have to click tabs to find them

There are many other ways to save time and create better workflows and more powerful content in every one of the standard Microsoft Office programs, and to expand on them with SharePoint, OneDrive and all of the other features that Office 365 adds.

The Application Services Group at River Run can help you find and use some of the most powerful features in Microsoft Office with general Microsoft Office training at your site or remotely.  Or our Consultants can take you even further…by working with you and your staff to configure and customize Microsoft Office to automate your routine tasks, simplify and standardize processes across your organization, and find ways to help you do the work you do, better.

Contact us to discuss on how we can help save you hours of productivity costs by providing training to your team!

Topics: Microsoft, Office 365

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