How to integrate SharePoint Online and Outlook
A handy tool lets you navigate SharePoint Online from within Outlook.
Many information workers tend to live within Microsoft Outlook and the Office suite as well as possibly one or two other line of business systems.
So when organisations move to SharePoint Online and migrate their files into a new structure of sites and libraries, it is not uncommon for users to get frustrated with the amount of clicking needed to navigate to relevant content.
In my previous article about working offline with SharePoint Online I spoke about how I use SharePoint Workspace 2010 as a shortcut to commonly used libraries (which I often want to access offline). This product can also be used for lists as well as libraries. However, there are two limitations: not everyone has SharePoint Workspace depending on their Office licence, and it doesn’t integrate with the Outlook interface.
Something I’ve been using for quite some time is a tool called harmon.ie which comes in both free and enterprise versions.
At a basic level harmon.ie will create a collapsible sidebar in Outlook which allows the user to navigate SharePoint while still within the Outlook application. This is fantastic for when you want to attach documents to emails as you can simply browse to the local of the file and copy and paste into the email.
Internally for an organisation it’s even better as you can just drag and drop the item into the email which will create a clickable link within the message.
The functionality doesn’t stop there. You can actually modify SharePoint content and metadata from within the sidebar, approve documents, check in or check out files as well as other document-related functions. One of the features I really like is the ability to save email messages directly to SharePoint – similar to the Public Folder functionality to which many users grew accustomed under older versions of Exchange.
The key goal of harmon.ie is to increase the use of SharePoint within organisations and it does it quite well. The free version even brings in a social aspect by including Lync presence functionality as well as context-based SharePoint user profiles.
The enterprise version unlocks quite a plethora of social functionality by drawing on SharePoint information as well as a lot more IT management capabilities and customisations.
I find the simple function of being able to add favourites within the harmon.ie sidebar quite empowering as I am now able to quickly access the content I need while staying within the Outlook interface.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.