We used to have a joke at a company I once worked for: find the latest company PowerPoint template! Oh, how we’d laugh! Once we had finished laughing we’d probably accidentally overwrite the template with our own content. Oh, how Marketing would also laugh! It went back and forward like this a lot. It was a fun, nameless place to work.
Template management isn’t something that a lot of organisations get right. It’s not prioritised, it can get a bit fiddly (manually adding template links to SharePoint content types anybody?) and as such users tend to be left with a below par solution. Different departments and pockets of users will come up with their own ‘workarounds’ which normally go something like: “Ah forget it, I’ll just find a similar document and chop out the bits I don’t need and then work from there.” This approach makes a temporary fix but there’s no way to control your corporate brand or ensure that the information going out is correct and up to date.
The same goes for repeatable content, even if you’re a conscientious organised type, it takes a lot of overhead to maintain your snippets and most frequently used content. I used to have a OneNote with content that I used regularly and at first it was great. However, it grew and grew and then it wasn’t so great; I couldn’t find anything. Then I tried to maintain snippets in Outlook, but I would need them in Word and they weren’t there. Essentially, I wasted a lot of time trying to save myself time and streamline what I was doing.
When a customer asked us to use Officeatwork 365 on a recent project I spent some time getting to know the tool. Straight away, as an end user the value of Content Chooser was huge. I was able to get all my repeatable content, whether text, picture or table, organise it and make it easily searchable. You’re then able to insert this content into Word, PowerPoint, Excel or OneNote from the Officeatwork 365 panel. It’s easy to install and available at the office store. You can set up OneDrive as your repository, you can start using it immediately and because this is a store add in it works online, and even on a Mac (if you ever hear the call of the dark side).
Once you decide to purchase it’s also very reasonable, for a home user for personal use it’s free. For a business user for just the template and content choosers (which are the key basic tools end users will use) it’s only $2.48 (USD) a month.
It’s well worth it just as an end user. It’s very nice and easy to use, it takes minimal set up using your OneDrive and you can maintain your content in a way that’s searchable, repeatable and manageable. However, the toolset really starts to impress when you start thinking about how to implement it across an organisation. This is why we have partnered with Officeatwork 365. As a tool it integrates seamlessly with SharePoint Online; you’ll need admin rights to set it up but it’s a very simple process. It sets up its own site collection and document libraries with some demo content and you are free to use that same framework any way you choose. That means you can control the navigation, implement a publishing architecture and generally manage the way that templates are used using familiar SharePoint standards and practices.
This can make Information Architectures a lot easier, since you’re not tied to using SharePoint Content Types or a Group Policy to manage templates. You can even take it a step further and start using the Template Designer and Document Wizard to use dynamic data from your business systems in the documents themselves.
For example, sales quotes can be dynamically populated with the relevant company details based on simply selecting the company name from a drop-down list. The pricing does go up a fair bit for this sort of use but not enough to overshadow the business benefits.
All in all, this is a very nice simple solution to a pretty classic and ubiquitous problem. If you’d like to find out more information about how to implement Officeatwork 365 across your organisation or would like to book a free consultation click here: contact Intelogy.