Simple Office 365 Setup Tips for an SMB

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Blog post: 2 minute read.

[Update: April 14, 2017 – Social Media added]

I’m a small business owner with a mighty staff of one. 🙂 I’m also an O365 consultant with an Office 365 Business Essentials tenant. This gives me the opportunity to eat some of my own cooking when it comes to O365 adoption and setting up my tenant to work effectively for me and my business. In this post I’ll share some simple tips for SMBs when setting up their own O365 tenants to help streamline some typical processes.

I’ll cover these things:

  • Provision those Office 365 Groups!
  • Stay on task with Planner Hub
  • Staying organized for speaking and travel
  • Keeping track of receipts
  • Social media [New]

Have an idea for your own tenant that would work for an SMB? Let me know! I’d love to hear your ideas…

Provision Office 365 Groups

  • To be clear, each company should provision O365 Groups in a way that makes sense for them. For my consulting company I chose to provision an O365 Outlook Group for each of my clients. This provides me a full SharePoint team site and conversation space for each client. Note: depending on whether you want to invite the client into the collaboration and which tool you want to use for that, an O365 Group could be any of an Outlook group, Yammer group or Microsoft Teams’ group. All are effective ways to keep documents, tasks, calendars, and a OneNote notebook separate and organized for each client.
  • You need to ensure you configure each O365 Outlook group to accept external email and provide the email address to the client to organize all conversations for the client in that group.
  • I also created a main O365 Group for my company called “Company Hub”.  This is the Group provisioned to hold everything NOT specific to a client (example: incorporation papers, banking information, tax stuff, etc.)


Staying on task with Planner Hub

  • To make sure I stay on top of all of my work I like to use the Planner included in every O365 Group I create. As work is assigned to me for each client, I add task(s) to the associated Planner board.
  • I can then look at the Planner Hub for a view of all of my tasks across all of my clients.


Staying organized for Speaking & Travel

  • Create an O365 group to organize speaking events and related content in one place. This is a great way to summarize your speaking events at the end of the year.
    • On the SharePoint site, I create an ‘Events’ SharePoint list and I add each event I speak at as an item to the list with location, dates, etc. so I can refer back later.
    • Tag all content added into the site with the event(s) it is applicable to
  • Create an O365 group to organize work travel and related content in one place.
    • Connect your travel app to the O365 Travel Group email address to ensure all receipts and notifications are tracked thru your O365 travel group.
    • Scan travel-related receipts into the group’s file (see below)

Keeping track of Receipts

  • For electronic receipts you receive, ensure you provide the email address to the O365 group you’ve created to keep track of your receipts.
  • For paper receipts you receive, immediately scan it into the O365 Group site files. I do this by launching the OneDrive app, pointing to the O365 Group site where I want to store the receipt, scan it and update the name to reflect what the receipt is for. (image below)
  • If the receipt is for an event, make sure you tag it from the “Events” list created above.
  • Alternatively, you could also store the receipts in a OneNote.
  • The scan feature in OneDrive (Office Lens app) cleans up the peripheral noise around the receipt so you’re only left with the receipt image.
Scanning receipts into an O365 Group’s files

 Social Media

Microsoft Flow templateAlthough there are many tools out there for a business to manage their social media content, I wanted to use what I already had so I looked to what was available in O365 to accomplish this. What I found was by using a Microsoft Flow and a simple SharePoint list, you can schedule your social media posts in advance! Check out this link  to view all social media templates for Microsoft Flow. Depending on which social media channels your company has, there is likely one already configured for you.

I’m starting with posting to Twitter so I used the template “Post a Tweet at specific time”.

  1. Create a SharePoint list with columns for tweet text and tweet scheduled time. (I also added a Yes/No ‘Has been tweeted’ column to update from Flow once the tweet has been successfully posted)
  2. Create a Microsoft Flow pointing to the list and your company Twitter account.
  3. Plug in the SharePoint columns into the Flow template.
  4. That’s all there is to it! All that’s left now is to add an item to your SharePoint list with the tweet text and scheduled time and wait for the Flow magic to happen!
  5. The addition of the ‘Yes/No’ column allows you to browse to your SharePoint list to quickly see which Tweets have been posted. (rather than having to go to Microsoft Flow or your Twitter account to verify this)

As your requirements expand you can build upon this by using either an existing template or one you’ve created!

These are just some ideas to help a typical small business get organized in their own O365 tenant. The key ingredient is to understand the options available and decide what makes sense for you.

As I state in my O365 Adoption presentation, you cannot rely on others to provide you the answer for which tool to use when. Do what makes sense for you and your own organization and how you want to collaborate and work. This blogpost is my answer for “what to use when” and it’s right for me.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Hi, just came across your great post. I’m also a one person small business and always looking to optimize what I do. Have been using OneNote to store notes and thought about scanning business receipts into until I saw your post. Are the receipts fully searchable? I need that function for inventory purposes. Also, what is the cost of the Office365 method you use (I’m not up to speed on Office365 these days).

    1. Hi Cal,
      Please refer to this recent announcement from Microsoft that relates to your exact question:

      This sounds like what you’re looking for where text within your receipts can be searched within your OneDrive or SharePoint sites. It is just rolling out now to Office 365 tenants. As far as cost… as long as you have an Office 365 license that includes SharePoint or OneDrive for Business (all business licenses would), you will be able to leverage this feature at no additional cost. License costs for Office 365 are well documented here (

      I know that images have been searchable within OneNote as well and that functionality has been available for quite some time. If you’re currently using that functionality, that will continue to work. I think if you have a lot of receipts, storing them as separate files in either SharePoint or ODFB would be a better option though (just my opinion).

      Hope that helps,
      Joanne K

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