PowerApps Development

The Power of PowerApps

Did you ever wish you could create an App that could make your business work smarter or help streamline a process that current involves emails and spreadsheet being sent around.

Well if you’re an Office365 subscriber you have the ability to transform that brilliant idea into reality using PowerApps.

PowerApps won’t allow you to create consumer-facing apps that you can place in the Apple or Android stores. But it will allow you to deploy the application to your Office365 users, who can access it via any browser or via an app on a mobile or tablet.

Connect to Hundreds of Other Applications

Just because PowerApps is a Office365 service it doesn’t mean you can only connect to data in SharePoint. Using one of the hundreds of built in connectors you can extend the functionality of your app by utilising Twitter, GSuite, MailChimp, YouTube etc… You can even create custom connectors that would allow you to connect to virtually any service out there using API’s

Typical PowerApps Use Cases

As Office365 consultants, we focus on using PowerApps to create business applications for our clients. While the use cases are really only constrained by the imagination of our customer we have found that the most common uses have been around digitising current manual process or cumbersome task. Examples of these are:

  • Holiday Request Applications
  • Expense Claims
  • Health and Safety Reporting
  • Employee Onboarding
  • Project Reporting

If your interested in learning more about how PowerApps can streamline your business process then please do contact us

Office365 Remote Working

Remote Working For You and Your Business

Home working, remote working, teleworking, WFH – whatever you call it, working remotely is on the rise.

There are a number of reasons for this, our roads are getting more and more clogged with cars, pushing up the average daily commute time significantly. Public transport is either not an option, due to the infrequency of the service or its spiraling cost make it an uneconomic option. Even organisations are affecting the need for more teleworking as they close there regional centres meaning local office’s are simply not there.

Employees are also demanding more flexible working and many organisation are losing talented people because they are not providing adequate options around this.

Of cause giving people the ability to work away from the office has to benefit not only the employee but also the employer. Luckily recent research has shown that providing this flexibility does give businesses tangible benefits.

CanadaLife found that home workers productivity increased by 10%, while a PowWowNow survey found that more than 60% of workers were significantly more motivated. Additional research from FlexJob showed that employee retention increased by 82% for those based away from the office. While Cardiff University found that employees were happier to work additional hours if they could do this work from home.

However a YouGov report found that while most companies were open and actually wanted to implement a more flexible work place, nearly 20% said there IT systems simply did not allow this.

Our own experience backs this, even companies who have systems such as Office365 just haven’t embraced the benefits and flexibility such as system can give an organisations.

So how can Office365 help bring in a more flexible remote working policy?

  1. Communication – it’s the key to any teleworking strategy, people need to be able to get hold each other no matter where they are. Having the ability to access your Outlook email on any devices is taken for granted now. However showing people your on-line, in meetings, out to lunch using MS Teams presence features is a great way to show your whereabouts and its ability to turn quick instant message messages to voice or video chats between one or multiple people really does make it a must have for any remote worker
  2. Access to Your Data – You need to be able to be easily access your files and data wherever you are. SharePoint and its tight integration with not only the standard Office applications such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint, but with Power applications like PowerBI, PowerApp and Flow means you can not only save files online but also build in depth analysis of your data and create workflows and mobile applications. OneDrive integration means that you can even access your files when your local internet connection goes down.
  3. Collaboration – Of cause being out of the office shouldn’t mean you lose the ability to collaborate with colleagues. MS Teams can be used to host conference calls, project sites can be created in SharePoint or with MS Planner and features such as co-authoring means multiple people can even work on a single document at the same time. Teams can create a virtual platform to host meetings, notes and chats in an easy to access location. While Yammer groups can help keep people involved in online conversations and be part of a community in a similar way to Facebook does.

Our hectic lifestyle means that people need more flexibility, while organisations need to become more agile and dynamic. Fully implementing systems based around the Office365 platform can help business of all size achieve this.

If you are looking to bring in a more flexible and collaborative way of working then contact us to help you on your journey.

Microsoft Bookings

Give Your Customers an Online Booking System

Did you know that your Office365 subscription gives you the ability to provide your customers with a online booking or appointment scheduling system?

It wouldn’t surprise us if you didn’t. Its one of those small unknown features that Microsoft seams to add but really doesn’t advertise very well.

Microsoft Bookings, as it is called, has actually been available since 2017, but its only recently that a number of enhancements has made it a system that people should really look at seriously.

Microsoft Bookings

The service will allows you to publish your booking calendar online, allowing your customer to see when slots are available and then book the time and service they need. They will get a confirmation email and calendar invitation, and if required they can even reschedule or cancel.

The bookings then go into your calendar were you can assign it to a member of staff if required.

One of the great features of the product is its ability to hook into Facebook, so your customers can make appointments straight from the social media platform.

Microsoft Bookings Facebook

Another neat component is that all your customer details are saved, meaning that over time you will buildup an excellent record of all your clients contact details. Its a bit like a mini CRM system and with will mean you can start to use this information to drive further customer interactions.

Recent improvements have mean’t that you can even integrate it with online payment systems.

For a large organisation it can even be used purely for internal bookings.

We’ve recently implement Microsoft Booking for a number of our small business customers who had been quoted thousands to develop a custom solution that did a very similar job.

If your a small business and looking to provide an online appointment system to your customers then give the team at PureNetworking a call and we’ll get you up and running within the day.

Will SharePoint Make you a HERO?

SharePoint isn’t known for it visually stimulating designs lets be honest. However that is changing as Microsoft recently announced a whole host of upgrades to the platform that are aimed at dragging the look and feel of the software into the 21st century.

Described by Microsoft as “modern” experience (the old look is are now called classic!) SharePoint sites are being revamped with a new more web and mobile friendly look, that makes them look much more user friendly and appealing to there audience.

One of the new enhancements is the addition of a “Hero” web part – yes it really is called “Hero”!

This web part simply adds a layout to a SharePoint site where you can easily add visual images, text and links in a very attractive way. For the WordPress users out there you may be thing this isn’t a big deal but for those that have struggled over the years to get “classic” SharePoint to look anything more than a basic web page from the 1990s, this simple web part is huge.

The layout comes with a number of built in options that can easily be changed to allow you to get the look you require.

Hovering over the image makes the tile changes its focal point slightly to make the overall feel of the page much more dynamic.

Implementing these and other improvements to SharePoint Online will have a dramatic impact on the look and feel of your Intranet and will certainly improve user adoption of the platform. You never know it might even make you a Hero!

The team at PureNetworking have created hundreds of SharePoint sites for our customers. Contact Us to discuss how we can improve your experience of the platform.

Get More Out of Your Office365 Subscription

Have you migrated to 365 yet? A lot of companies have, Microsoft are now saying they have they have a least 18 million Office 365 subscribers.

However how many are using Office365 for more than just email? In our experience not many.

Microsoft are selling Office365 as a way to improve communication, collaboration and bring business efficiencies. But most companies haven’t embraced this and are still plodding along using email for communication and spreadsheets to track different areas of their business.

Every week we will be contacted by new customers asking us if we can help streamline there business processes. They want to remove their reliance on spreadsheets, move outdated forms online and get some reporting put in place around this.

They expect they will need to purchase some new software solution to achieve this, but quite simply Sharepoint can help simplify processes within business. It has been doing this for nearly 15 years for larger enterprises, who had teams of developers help create workflow and automation using the product.

Office 365 brings the power of this to business of all size and Purenenworking’s highly skilled team can help translate your forms and streamline business process within days.

Is Your Office365 Partner Supporting You? Lawyer Solicitors Experience

We were recently contacted by Lawyer and Solicitors Redman’s, a large law firm based in London regarding there Office365 setup. They had been migrated to Office 365 by one of the so called large Microsoft Partners. However once Redmans email were up and running through Office 365 they were having a lot of difficulty getting any support.

Redmans notice that we provided FREE Office 365 advice and after spending a lot of money with there initial partner didn’t want to waste any more money without understanding what we could do and also how they could use Office365 to help support there business.

After our FREE Assessment we were shocked at the state Office365 was left in. DNS entries were missing, licenses were being used on accounts that should have been setup as “shared mailboxes”. Redmans hadn’t been told what they could use SharePoint for and they didn’t even know they had access to Lync. A old email domain hadn’t even been migrated to Office365 because the partner had told the client that two domains were supported.

The worst thing about the Redmans story is that this isn’t the first time we have discovered such a bad Office365. Many so called Partners are just interested in the initial migration and then either don’t want to provide any additional help or don’t have knowledge or skills to implement the other Office365 services. Our experience shows this is generally because many partners are come from “Email” support backgrounds so while they are comfortable with the initial email migration, they simply don’t understand what SharePoint really does or have any idea how to setup the system for maximum benefit.

This is one are Purenetworking are different, we not only have Email experts but also SharePoint developers, Access database gurus and Lync Telephony skills. We are one of the few Microsoft partners that focus purely on Office 365 and this means that if you work with us, you know you are good hands.

If you feel you need advice on how you can get the most our of your Office 365 setup then let us know.

Migrate your MS Access Database to Office 365

Hosting your email in the cloud is now the norm, and as people become more and more used to moving there files offsite the only real remaining items that are left sitting on users PCs and servers are old databases.

Access databases have been with us for 20 years now, and business have become dependant on them for running key tasks. However at the same time they are starting to hold organisation’s back as they want to become more flexible and have the ability to access there data anytime and from anywhere.

The solution to this is to migrate the old MS Access database to the Office 365 platform. Most people don’t realise that the latest version of Access now has deep and tight integration with SharePoint and 365. The new Access Web Apps allow you to publish databases into 365 and have access to them from a standard web browser.

The same ease of use that people have come to expect from Access is still there, but now is even more powerful as the backend system are using enterprise class SQL databases.

If your interested in knowing how you can migrate or create your Access Web App in Office 365 then please do let us know.

Should I Host My WebSite on Office 365?

Did you know that you can host your website with Office 365?

If not you won’t be the first person not to realise that web hosting is available on the 365 platform.

Microsoft call the feature “Public Website” and it allows anyone with a valid Small Business, Medium or Enterprise Office 365 subscription to create a website and point there domain to it for the world to see.

It comes with all the features you would expect to see from a web hosting provider, a selection of template designs, SEO functionality and an online editor allowing you to create new pages, change CSS, add videos, images, forms, blogs etc…  There is even an App store where people have uploaded extra functionality that you can add to your site if you require.

Sounds good doesn’t it!

So why isn’t everyone using 365 to host there website?

Compared to many website hosting providers the functionality in Microsoft 365 public website are basic, and if you don’t want to use the built in templates then it can be very difficult to get site to look and feel how you would like.

We are always amazed at the number of customers we look after that have tried to setup there Public Website on 365 and just given up. Many people just don’t have the time or patience to learn the intricacies of the platform.

However for those that need a basic site that looks nice, gives their customers an overview of their company, has a few pages explaining the services they provide and has a contact form / links to social media sites, then using your Office 365 subscription can be an excellent choice.

Using Office 365 to host your website will remove the need to pay for external hosting and reduce yet another monthly outgoing something all business are looking to.

If you want look into using Office 365 to host your website, why not contact us to discuss your needs…

We Love Outlook !

Did you know that Microsoft Outlook is over 15 years old! Over this time its become the defacto mail client and even in a world were everyone is moving online, people are finding it difficult to let go of Outlook.

Over the past few months we’ve had so many clients contact us who are using Google Mail and just hate the interface and the way it arranges email conversations. Other customers thought they would be ok using the free POP3 accounts provided by there webhosting company, but are finding them unreliable and full of spam.

These reason’s didn’t really come as that big a surprise to us. Exchange and Outlook has over the years provided by far the best user interface experience. Its easy to use folder system / calendaring, task and notes functions make the software one of Microsoft’s most productive products.

However a number of clients have asked not just to use Outlook as a mail client but to integrate even more products into it. They want to see all there documents in Outlook, have all that project data or customer records available from there desktop client. We get people saying, we like the web but we want to access everything from Outlook on the desktop.

The good news is that with Office 365 you can have all this, and it just out of the box! You can create your Sharepoint projects and sites and then sync all this back into Outlook. You can then update this and then Sync back the data to Sharepoint for your work colleagues to see.

This means that for all you lovers of Outlook you never need to leave it again!

If you want some Outlook love then give us a call.

What Can I Do With SharePoint and Office 365

One of the most of common questions we get here at Purenetworking is “What can I actually do with SharePoint and Office 365?”. Its quite a strange question really because a lot of our customers have already purchased the product and many have been using it for many years.

What we find is that most people are happily running there email system through Office 365 but not really sure what they can do with SharePoint.

I searched through the internet to see if there was a top 5 things to do with SharePoint and was quite surprised how vague many of the answers were to this question. Commonly you get blogs by consultancy firms, who are obviously trying to sell their services, saying “SharePoint can be used to do anything” or “Streamline your business processes using SharePoint”. This type of answer is one of the reasons for the confusion over practically what you can do with the product.

So this is what we are finding our customer are using or want to use SharePoint to do for them:

1) Internal Document Storage
By far the most common request is for an area to be setup were users/departments can centrally store there files and folders that can be accessed both online and offline (Onedrive Pro)

2) External Document Sharing
A very close second to internal document storage is having the facility to share either a document folder or dedicate website with a supplier

3) Intranet Site
Customer that are say 100 users+ and have a number of departments want to use SharePoint as there Intranet. Each department will have its own page and have on there any policies/procedures they have, a list of people in there department and a overview of what that department does. Some departments say HR will have a form on there for say a new starter or leaver.

4) Workflow Approval
Once people get used to sharing documents and having basic forms on SharePoint, the next thing they want is some kind of approval system setting up. Typically the three areas were workflow is looked at are:

  • Purchase Orders were a PO will be raised and then it goes to someone who can approve the order
  • Expenses – Again expense claim raised and then goes for approval
  • Holiday Approval – You request a holiday and it goes to your manager to say yes/no

5) Case Management/CRM
Finally we would say that customers then want to use SharePoint to store all correspondence with a certain customer, be that emails, documents, pictures, contacts, notes, tasks etc…

It is true that SharePoint if developed can do almost any task you want it to do but to get the most out of the product we recommend doing it one step at time. Get used to using SharePoint by doing basic document handling then build on this.

If you want help in getting the most out of SharePoint on Office 365 why not contact us for a friendly chat