10 features of Microsoft 365 every dental practice should know about
As requested by our dearest customer Daz Singh at Ollie and Darsh dental practice in Liverpool, here is our list of the top ten features you need to know about Microsoft 365 that could really benefit your business. If you already have Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365), you probably have access to all of these features, and most of them are "free" with a standard account.
1. Security capabilities
Hosting your email with Microsoft 365 makes your email massively more secure; you can enable features such as MFA - multi factor authentication, DMARC and DKIM on your domain to help identify and block spoofing emails, and get an additional product called Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection, that specifically targets suspect links and attachments. If you are still using the basic email provided by your website designer, you may be very vulnerable.
Microsoft's cloud based file sharing platform. Some people are still using Dropbox or other services like this, and that's fine, but the advantage of using OneDrive is that the account details and login is the same as you use for your network login - so all your files and folders, images and documents are available across all your devices, wherever you are - and available to edit directly in Word or Excel. The system is highly secure, and for new users data is stored in the UK and encrypted in transit, so it's totally compliant.
3. Microsoft forms
If you use forms anywhere in your dental practice, either internally or for customers, it's worth looking at Microsoft Forms. These are a doddle to create and make live, and work far better than a paper form that has to be scanned in. At Dental IT, we use them for example when recruiting, so we can send each candidate a list of questions, and the answers for these end up nicely collated into separate lines in an excel spreadsheet for easy processing afterwards. The user can access the form from any device, anywhere in the world. You could also use them for internal forms such as a holiday request.
This app, as you'd expect, gives a manager the ability to setup recurring or ad hoc shift patterns for their staff, manage breaks and time off, handle holidays and sickness. Running inside Microsoft Teams, staff can access and view their shifts on desktop and mobile devices easily, and the hours worked are automatically calculated, A great app for any business running shifts and I am sure would be excellent for a dental practice.
5. Microsoft Teams
You will most certainly have come across this over the various lockdowns, but it is much more than a video conferencing tool. Teams allows for secure business chat and collaboration, file storage and editing, and as the name suggests, is a great way for the different teams within a business to keep in touch and work together effectively. If you find you are using WhatsApp amongst your staff, you really need to explore moving to Teams.
Dental practices rely on good record keeping, and a good place to store any kind of quick record is Microsoft OneNote. Rather than using post-in notes or slips of paper, make a quick note into OneNote and you will never lose it. Like all of Microsoft's apps, it works perfectly on desktop and mobile devices, and accepts any kind of content - from a quick note to a photo image, to a file. You can quickly put together ideas in OneNote that can then be made into more formal Word documents later, or by other staff.
Even a small business like a dental practice would benefit from a centralised store not only of files and documents, but a company "Intranet", that lists who is who, all your staff profiles and contact details, your policies and procedures, group calendars, events, news, and more. The latest versions of Sharepoint don't need a consultant to create them either - it's fairly straightforward to get a basic internal Intranet up and running in a matter of days.
8. Single sign on
So what this means is that, once your Microsoft 365 is syncing with your work network, it is the same account that logs you into your computer, that is also used for Microsoft 365. This means you only have to remember one set of credentials, and you can use the same username and password for all sorts of apps. It is also more secure for the company as a whole - when someone leaves, or there are problems with their account, there is only one account you need to remove or disable, and their access to all sorts of systems is revoked.
9. Todo, Planner and projects
Todo, Planner and Projects. These separate apps all help manage everything from single tasks to complex projects. You can assign tasks out to other people, track their progress, break them down into sub tasks, set dates and schedules. And as with most of these Microsoft apps, they come as default with a standard Microsoft 365 account.
10. Desktop office apps
Finally, if you sign up for a Microsoft 365 subscription of at least "standard" level, you get all the latest versions of the desktop office applications we have all been using for years: Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook. And because it's on subscription, you can always update to the latest version. As well as Windows, there are Mac versions of all these apps too, and even mobile versions that will work on Apple and Android based phones.
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© Liam McNaughton, Dental IT ltd June 2021