Software

Fit productivity apps to the individual with Microsoft Office 365 Centralized Deployment

Sure, office add-ins enhance default features, but they should be deployed with a plan. Centralized deployment is now a reality--and admins should use it regularly.

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Image: Microsoft News

Despite all the media buzz surrounding concepts like machine learning and cloud computing, for most enterprise employees, the technology where the real work gets done is in the office productivity suite. In the Microsoft ecosystem that means Office 365, namely Word, Excel, Outlook, and the other supporting applications from the suite.

But for some enterprises, or departments and teams within an enterprise, the standard version of those productivity suite applications require some enhancements in the form of Office add-ins. There are hundreds of add-ins, ranging from document management to templates to Wikipedia definition finders. All of these add-ins are available from the Office Store and many of them are free.

Of course, if you are the administrator charged with maintaining an enterprise-wide deployment of Office 365, a multitude of Office add-ins installed haphazardly across the network is a recipe for annoyance, if not outright chaos. This is why Microsoft has made the Office 365 Centralized Deployment service generally available to all Office 365 admins as of June 2017.

SEE: Microsoft Office 365: The smart person's guide

Centralized deployment

Office add-ins can help individuals, teams, departments, and even entire organizations function more efficiently and more productively. Add-ins complement and supplement the default capabilities of Office 365 applications.

Some enterprises even take the initiative to develop add-ins that perform tasks specific to their particular needs, saving time and resources. Properly deployed Office add-ins can give enterprises an advantage that may not otherwise be achievable.

With Office 365 Centralized Deployment, enterprises can tailor deployment to those individuals or teams that specifically need the add-in, while not subjecting other individuals and teams with non-meaningful add-ins that clutter their already busy Office Ribbons. Administrators can deploy Office add-ins through the Office 365 Admin Center or through PowerShell scripts, depending on their preference.

Office 365 Centralized Deployment requires a recent and updated version of Office and an OAuth enabled version of Exchange. To check whether a particular enterprise Office deployment is compatible with centralized deployment, admins can review the requirements website.

SEE: 12 tips to get more out of Windows 10 (TechRepublic PDF)

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Bottom line

Even though it may not get much media attention these days, Office, and other productivity application suites like it, are where the real work of the enterprise takes place. No matter how much of the work ends up in the cloud or processed by an AI, sending messages, writing reports, and analyzing numbers are the vital everyday functions that form the foundation of any business.

This is why it is so important for enterprises to deploy the best version of a productivity suite. In some cases, deploying productivity applications supplemented with add-ins tailored to the an individual, team, or department could be the catalyst that propels an enterprise forward.

Now that Centralized Deployment is generally available to everyone, Office 365 administrators from enterprises of nearly any size should look into its benefits. Office 365 admins could help increase overall enterprise productivity, while at the same time saving themselves from future deployment headaches.

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Your thoughts

Do you have Office add-ins installed? How does your enterprise handle deployment of add-ins? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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