Office 365 – Desktop Update Best Practices

When it comes to cloud migrations, most customers dedicate efforts to the migration only to then realize there is more work to be done.  Enterprise customers have been accustomed to Microsoft version releases every couple of years.  However, subscription-based cloud services update often.  Large enterprises managing desktops and applications often dedicate teams to test and deploy updates.  Consumers who manage their own devices and smartphones are accustomed to seeing their system and apps update automatically and more often.

As an Office 365 subscriber, organizations should be aware of subscription channels and their update frequency.  Information Technology users should be on the First Release Deferred Channel with monthly feature updates.  The rest of the enterprise should run the Deferred Channel, which updates three times per year.  Consumers and Windows insiders are kept current with monthly builds.

Great news!  Starting this September, the updates will move to a semi-annual model.  Microsoft announced these changes in a blog and then shared the support article with this helpful chart:

Windows 10 will also follow the same model starting in September and then March as well.  While this change is confusing, it seems Microsoft is listening to customers who have been managing the update frenzy as they try to keep current and secure with the Microsoft cloud.  Having to deal with this twice a year for the desktop OS and Office apps sounds almost blissful.

 

Are you thinking of moving from a subscription based model for Microsoft applications such as Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel?  If you are interested in migrating, but concerned about the change, the team of experts at Xgility can help.  Want a free trial of Office 365?  Get your Office 365 E5 trial subscription here.  For a free 30 minute consultation, please contact us.

 

 

Author:  Chris Ertz

Editors:  Alex Finkel and Kurt Greening

Document Scanning Solutions for SharePoint Online

The ability to integrate a scanning solution with SharePoint is a requirement for organizations looking to move a large number of paper documents to SharePoint online.  These solutions provide a way of sending a document or a batch of documents directly to a SharePoint Online document library.  Several solutions exist including PSIGEN, Ephesoft, Xerox, and KnowledgeLake Capture.

KnowledgeLake has one of the most popular scanning solutions.  Our team recently used it to build a proof of concept for a company to scan lease documents into Office 365 (SharePoint Online).  Several other Xgility customers are using this software for large scale scanning projects.

KnowledgeLake Capture provides a scanning solution for adding documents to SharePoint Online.  Along with scanning, Capture provides options for image enhancement, barcode detection, and Optical Character Recognition (OCR), that create searchable PDF files of the scanned documents.

 The Capture software accesses SharePoint Online, using the Office 365 Sign-In credentials to connect Capture with the SharePoint Online tenant.

 

The Capture workstation provides the user with a multi-pane work area for scanning, reviewing, indexing, and releasing the documents to SharePoint Online.  Many types of scanners are supported by Knowledge Lake, including Multi-function Printers (MFPs), and Dedicated Scanning Devices connected to a workstation via USB.  For our purposes, we used a HP Officejet Pro 6830 e-All-in-One Printer/Scanner connected via USB to the workstation.

Please note, the figure below shows how the required metadata fields in SharePoint are selectable by the person performing the scanning.  For more about how metadata assists with search and sorting of documents in SharePoint, see this video that shows how to use SharePoint for contracts management.

 

The Capture OCR Engine Agent automatically creates a searchable PDF file after a document or batch of documents have been successfully scanned.

The user interacts with the scanned documents using the Batch Pane to select the document and the Scanned Document Pane to review the scanned documents.

The user updates the SharePoint Online document library information, for this example, the Document Title and the Contract Date, which is required.

Once the user clicks the Accept button in the Document Index Pane, the document is added to the Contract library.

In additional to the Capture solution for workstations, KnowledgeLake offers a server version for high volume scanning and indexing.  While this is not the only solution on the market, KnowledgeLake offers a trusted option to help your organization move paper files into SharePoint.

 

If you have questions about SharePoint, document scanning, or need custom training for your organization, please contact us.

 

 

Author:  John Humen

Editors:  Kurt Greening and Alex Finkel

Transforming Communications – Skype for Business Certified Devices

Did you know you can replace your voicemail, call routing systems, and conference dial-in service with Skype for Business?  Most Office 365 customers understand that if you have an Office 365 E3 subscription, you can use Skype for Business for conference calls and screen sharing over the internet.  The Office 365 E5 subscription offers exciting possibilities for small organizations and even for very large organizations to replace their PBX systems or upgrade their VOIP telephone services.

From our days as a startup, Xgility was a cloud only company; we have never owned a server.  Our customers tour our office and we show them our “server-less closet.”  Grasshopper was our virtual phone system in the cloud.  If you called the 1-800-XGILITY number, calls were routed to employee’s voice mailboxes.  Many of our consultants used their cell phone as their primary phone, but others wanted a desk phone.  In the past, we used Poloycom phones with Vonage service in some offices and conference rooms.   In addition, we have used a conferencing system from Intercall.  Intercall can bridge our Office 365 E3 plan to allow Skype for Business and dial-in users on the same conference line.

Moving to Skype for Business with Office 365 is part of the digital transformation that both our company and many of our customers are taking.  As part of that transformation, this article will give a sample of the devices your organization might want to consider as part of the transition.  The article is organized by collaboration scenarios and provides examples of certified devices.

 

  1. Conference Rooms

Xgility recently installed a Skype for Business room system at our Ashburn office with two microphones, a speakerphone, a touch screen panel, and a pan tilt zoom camera to provide a true-to-life experience with our conference attendees.

For our small conference room, we chose the Logitech ConferenceCam Connect Video Conferencing Camera as a fixed camera and speakerphone is ideal for this space.

Logitech ConferenceCam Connect (Model # V-R0004)

 

In our large conference room we chose the Logitech SmartDock lrg room kit for Skype for Business rooms systems – with the Surface Pro 4:

Our conference rooms are resources in the Global Exchange Address List and are invited to Outlook Calendar/Skype for Business meetings, just like adding a co-worker.

The SmartDock runs a touch version of the Skype for Business client.  Your meeting is listed on the Surface Pro’s screen and with one touch, you join your conference.  Participants share their screen and start their video to collaborate with others.  Our SmartDoc has two HDMI outputs, as Skype for Business Online will soon support one screen for content and a second dedicated for video.

 

  1. Desk Phones

We don’t use desk phones anymore.  Our Polycom phones can be reconfigured to use a PSTN calling plan with Skype for Business, but we have moved to headsets and a portable Jabra speaker phone for office.  See the next section for pictures of the speakerphones and headsets.

Polycom VVX 300 -before

  1. Headsets

All of our employees have Jabra headsets and the headsets work well with or without a PSTN calling plan.  Our sales people have a Skype for Business domestic calling plan because it makes it very easy to dial a phone number as a hyperlink from a spreadsheet, Outlook, or a CRM system.  Our lead consultants and sales people have a portable speaker phone from Jabra that works very well for up to 6 people.  Since this is portable, we use this in customer offices.

Jabra Portable Speakerphone (Model # Jabra Speak 510 UC)-after

Jabra Headset

 Jabra Motion Office (Model # WHB006)

 

  1. Mobile

Skype for Business Mobile works well on smartphones with an internet connection.  I have found this to be about 90% reliable while driving as compared to my Sprint voice network, which is 99% reliable while driving.

In summary, new voice and conferencing capabilities with Office 365 have improved communications while reducing expenses.  Skype for Business certified devices enable user-friendly and flexible teaming capabilities.  If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the possibilities of using Skype for Business for conferencing purposes, contact us.

 

 

Author:  Kurt Greening

Editors:  Alex Finkel and Chris Ertz