In recent months, there have been many experience enhancing updates made across Microsoft’s most popular apps and services, as more companies rely on the technology to facilitate widespread remote working. In some cases, these updates have become new announcements and releases within their own right, as Microsoft continues to deploy solutions that will offer greater value to customers. One such example is the release of Microsoft Lists.

Microsoft Lists is an evolution of SharePoint Lists that businesses use to track issues, manage inventory, build out event agendas, report status, manage FAQs and other important functions.

Towards the end of last month, Microsoft Lists began roll out to Targeted Release (TR) customers in Microsoft 365, with the broader production roll out scheduled for the end of this month.

In this blog, we analyse the proposed vision of Microsoft Lists to see how our clients will benefit from the service once it has been made generally available.

How Microsoft Lists differs from other Microsoft software

Microsoft Lists is not another way of tracking tasks - you could use it for that purpose but there are dedicated apps like Microsoft Planner & Microsoft To Do (the evolution of Wunderlist) which are being integrated into many apps in Office 365.

Microsoft Lists builds on the functionality provided by SharePoint Lists to give organisations a simple but functional alternative to creating lists in Excel or notepad.

The release of this new Microsoft 365 app couldn’t come soon enough for businesses looking to become better organised, as it offers a simple, smart and flexible way for employees to keep track of their lists.

Microsoft Lists home and mobile app

The release of this new Microsoft 365 app couldn’t come soon enough for businesses looking to become better organised, as it offers a simple, smart and flexible way for employees to keep track of ongoing tasks.

To achieve this, businesses need access to one central dashboard where they can see and manage their various lists, whilst having the tools needed to create and build new documents if necessary.

After selecting the ‘lists’ icon within the Microsoft 365 app launcher, users will open ‘Lists Home’, where they can build lists from scratch using ready-made templates or by importing Excel table data into jumpstart.

Through Lists Home, users can also access favourited and recent lists, including those that have been shared by colleagues. The favourites feature allows you to move important documents to a separate section, providing easy access to the information that matters most.

Lists Home offers an efficient way for businesses to keep track of their lists, whether they’re accessing documents on the web or remotely via the mobile app.

Integrating Teams and Lists

As previously mentioned, a lot of Microsoft’s most popular services are being utilised by businesses looking to enhance productivity, especially as their employees are still working from home.

Therefore, Microsoft has combined the Teams and Lists experiences, allowing colleagues to collaborate on documents using flexible views like grids, cards and calendars.

Bringing content and conversation side-by-side in one integrated experience, users can add a new or existing list to a Teams channel and collaborate with colleagues efficiently.

After selecting the ‘+’ option, users can click the Lists app to begin the process. This app can be used to create new and embed existing lists, whilst working inside Teams.

Lists can then be refined by adding new columns, defining choices in a drop-down menu, creating views, editing share links or setting up rules, allowing users to configure the experience to meet their own unique requirements.

Ready-made templates

When it comes to list creation, some users may not want to spend hours manually compiling documents, instead preferring a streamlined alternative that makes the task more manageable.

For this reason, Microsoft has designed a range of templates that have been tailored to specific use cases like tracking issues, onboarding new hires, handling an event’s itinerary and managing assets.

These templates come with a base structure, formatting, forms, conditional formatting and other important features that ensure the finished list is user-friendly.

In addition to the ready-made templates, users can speed up the process through two other methods. These are creating a list from an existing document, which inherits the structure and formatting of the original, and creating a list from Microsoft Excel, which allows users to import Excel table data.

Once started, you will have access to the tools needed to create clear and insightful lists, allowing you to design documents with ease and get back to business promptly.

Keep colleagues in sync

One of the biggest benefits of Microsoft Lists is that you’re able to share real-time information with colleagues, using customisable views and smart rules to ensure employees are in sync.

There are four main views when configuring these documents, including list, grid, gallery and calendar, all of which can be adjusted so information appears as you want it to.

It’s possible to create custom views and organise items that are most important to your business, using filtering or sorting to achieve a more engaging style. You can also create personal views that are only visible to you and public views for everyone using it.

Meanwhile, rules can be built to ensure notifications are automatically sent out if a value or status changes, keeping colleagues updated if there are any important developments.

These features are yet another way Microsoft is enhancing collaboration for businesses, providing users with the tools needed to seamlessly share information.

Collaboration is key…

In the current climate, businesses should be doing all they can to enhance productivity, implementing systems that allow colleagues to collaborate with ease, despite being in different locations.

Integrating with other popular services like Teams, Microsoft Lists is yet another way for users to share information in real-time, ensuring everyone has access to the latest and most relevant data.

Rather than burdening businesses with a time-consuming creation process, Microsoft has taken steps to streamline the Lists experience, so users spend less time building and more time analysing.

If you’d like to unlock the power of Microsoft Lists for your business, then contact our in-house team ahead of its wider roll out later this month.