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Unlock the full potential of the Microsoft Office suite with Copilot

Written by Bryn Morgan

Monday, 29 April, 2024

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It is safe to say, users often do not utilise the full capabilities of the Microsoft Office suite. While using all these features in any given application isn’t necessary for completing most daily tasks, there are some additional features that could improve someone’s experience and efficiency. Therefore, unlocking them could be transformational for individuals and their companies, particularly in financial services organisations.

Historically, if we track back to earlier iterations of software products such as word processors, it was possible to document their capabilities and put all the functions into one book. The assumption was that this could be read cover to cover by the user, and they would learn all the functions of the application.

Fast forward to today, and we have a new breed of software that we use in our day-to-day life. For many of us (on desktops at least), this is centred around the Microsoft Office suite of apps. This has grown over recent years and for many of us, includes different mixes of the broad base of applications that make up Office and periphery applications. It is safe to say that full documentation of all these apps, even just one of them, would take up several books.

Using the right tool for the right job

To fundamentally understand where we may be underutilising applications in the Office suite, we need to first ensure we are using the right application for the right job and Excel is a prime example. “Excel is not a database” is a common phrase I have heard throughout my career, usually based on some mission-critical implementation within an organisation. So be sure you are picking the right tool for the right job.

Simple functions that can make a big difference

There are many simple features in Outlook, Word, and Excel that are often overlooked by users. For example, in Outlook, users can use the ‘Quick Steps’ feature to automate repetitive tasks, such as moving emails to a specific folder or forwarding them to a group of people. In Word, the ‘Format Painter’ can quickly copy formatting from one section of text to another. In Excel, the ‘Flash Fill’ feature automatically fills in values in a column by recognising patterns in the data.

In addition, there are several other features in the Microsoft Office suite that can help users work more productively and efficiently. For example, in PowerPoint, users can use the ‘Morph’ transition to create smooth animations between slides. In Word, the ‘Smart Lookup’ feature can quickly research a selected word or phrase without leaving the document. In Excel, the ‘PivotTable’ feature summarises and analyses large datasets.

Useful features for financial services firms

There are additional features in the Microsoft Office suite that can be particularly useful for financial services firms. For example:

  • In Excel, the ‘Data Analysis ToolPak’ add-in provides advanced statistical analysis tools, such as regression analysis and Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), which can be useful for financial modelling and forecasting.
  • In PowerPoint, the ‘SmartArt’ feature can be used to create professional-looking diagrams and charts to visually represent financial data and trends.
  • In Word, the ‘Mail Merge’ feature can be used to generate personalised letters and emails to clients, streamlining communication and improving customer relations.
  • In Outlook, the ‘Rules’ feature can be used to automatically sort and categorise emails, helping to manage large volumes of communication and ensuring that important messages are not missed.

Features and benefits hidden from the users

Another important factor are the features present in different versions of Microsoft Office 365 which are key to keeping Financial Services firms secure.

Lanware recommends its clients utilise Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise 5 (E5) licencing for their organisation, not only due to the user benefits (integrated Teams calling for example) but also for the security benefits. Functionality such as Data Loss Prevention and Microsoft Defender for Office 365 are all included and when configured and managed properly, can add huge value to financial services organisations.

The following link goes in to great detail of what is included in each version of Microsoft Office – Feature Matrix | M365 Maps

Underutilised Office applications

In addition to the commonly used applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, the Microsoft Office suite includes several other applications that are often underutilised. These include OneNote, a notetaking and organisation tool; Publisher, a desktop publishing application; and Access, a database management program. These applications can be incredibly useful for specific tasks, but many users may not be aware of their capabilities. There are also applications like Power BI, which when coupled with data sources such as Excel, MS SQL or other databases, can transform the way data is consumed.

How Microsoft Copilot can help with underutilised areas of Office

Microsoft Copilot, as an AI-powered assistant, can help users unlock the full potential of the Microsoft Office suite by providing suggestions and guidance on how to use underutilised features and applications. Copilot can analyse a user’s workflow and suggest ways to improve efficiency by using features that may have been overlooked. Additionally, Copilot can provide tutorials and step-by-step instructions on how to use specific features or applications. As Copilot continues to develop, it could become even more adept at identifying areas where users could benefit from using underutilised features and providing personalised recommendations.

Want to find out more about the Microsoft Office suite, Microsoft Copilot and useful features specifically relevant for financial services Firms?

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