How I keep up to date with Office 365
Office 365 offers a wide variety of business productivity tools and is constantly releasing new features and tools. Just in the last few months we’ve seen Teams, Flow, PowerApps, and StaffHub, all launched for general availability. This isn’t even counting the constant updates released for existing O365 tools.
With all of these releases, you might feel that it’s too hard to keep up-to-date. I’ll share a few ways I use to keep up with new Office 365 features and tools. This can be applied to other industries and topics of interest, so feel free to pick and choose what works best for you.
Follow Microsoft’s official blogs
Microsoft provides a wealth of knowledge in their Office Blogs, covering topics from updates, customer success stories and feature updates, to education and adoption pieces. Did you know they recently released printable Office training roadmaps? That can help save some time in creating a training plan for your team.
If you don’t want to see everything, you can filter the posts based on what tools you use, which industry you’re in, or the kinds of topics you’re interested in knowing more about.
Follow non-Microsoft blogs
While Microsoft’s blogs are a useful way to hear the official message, it’s just as important to hear from industry professionals giving insights into how they use these tools in real life scenarios. Marc D Anderson writes insightful posts on SharePoint and Office 365, with posts targeted towards end-user scenarios, best practice advice, and developer tips.
We’ll also be sharing our expertise on O365 best practice and adoption tips, so why not subscribe to our feed while you’re at it!
How to get notified about new updates (RSS feeds are your best friend)
It’s great to have a lot of blogs to follow, but I don’t like having to periodically check for new posts; I want to be able to see them all in one view. RSS feeds have been around for a while and it’s still my go-to method for staying up-to-date with topics I care about.
If you aren’t familiar with RSS feeds, you might recognise the orange wireless signal icon sites on the edges of their site. It’s a universal standard that can be used in a number of sites and apps to create a feed of the latest published news from a site.
You can group these together using different aggregators (I’m a big fan of Feedly) to make it easy to see what’s new across many sites. It’s nice just to take out my phone while I’m in line or on the bus and quickly catch-up on a few new posts.
What about your team? What about your investment in Office 365? RSS loves Office 365 as well.
You can create a Flow that posts new updates from an RSS feed to a Yammer Group. This has been an easy way for our team to engage (slipped it in perfectly) in discussions on new updates.
Do you use Teams? You can also use the RSS connector in Microsoft Teams to send updates to your Team’s conversation feed.
Create a Twitter list
A Twitter list is a handy way to follow specific accounts in a single feed. I’ve added a couple of accounts I’m interested in such as Office 365, Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint, and while there is some overlap with the posts from the Office blogs, there’s enough unique content and retweets featured to make it useful.
I’ve even embedded the list to our intranet’s home page so everyone can see new tweets. Just as a side-note: to embed the list you’ll need to make it public so you should either use a company twitter account to do this or feel ok with your colleagues seeing your account.
Turn on first-release for O365 tenant
Reading about new features and updates can only take you so far – sometimes you just need to start using new features to see how they’ll best work. You can turn on First Release for your O365 tenant to receive updates early. This has helped me identify use-cases for tools/features that I might not have thought about until I’ve spent some time with it.
This is great if your organisation likes to be early adopters of new tools and features. If you like to wait until the full release, however, you can always designate individuals to receive the updates first, such as an IT team or pilot group, to make sure the new features are working as expected and provide feedback to Microsoft.
Check out the Office 365 roadmap
While most of my updates come from the methods above, I do look at the Office 365 Roadmap from time-to-time to see an overall view of planned and rolling out features. It’s also a good way to find out what happened to features that didn’t make it to general availability.
Get involved in the community
The Microsoft Tech Community connects O365 enthusiasts and professional around the world to discuss current challenges and ideas with O365 tools.
Staff from Microsoft are on the site quite often and it’s an easy way to connect with them to clarify existing/planned functionality. They also sometimes post about new features before the accompanying full blog post is created so you can get a sneak peek.
There’s a lot of ways you can find out what’s new in Office 365 and at times it can get hard to keep up with everything – the important part is to pick and choose which works best for you. Even if you fall behind, at the very least it’s good to check out the Office blogs monthly features post to see the biggest highlights.