Office 365 – Leveraging Sites and OneNote

If you have followed any of my bleating’s on this blog you will know that I am a great fan of OneNote.  I think it is an amazing piece of software and it has become the defacto tool in our office for pretty much all of our writing and data capture.  I think I heard Sean say something to the effect that he hasn’t used Word in over a year, he simply writes in OneNote.  But I digress …

OneNote is dynamite by itself but when you combine it with Office 365, specifically with a SharePoint site, you end up with a tool that is a steamroller … you won’t believe what you can do with it.  If you look at my blog post on the WebApps you can see how Microsoft has enabled Office applications to run in a browser session without the requirement for Office being installed on your device.  This same technology makes OneNote oh so seductive when embedded in an Office 365 SharePoint site.  OneNote, the place to capture all your “stuff” now becomes available to you wherever you are so long as you have an Internet connected device like a smartphone or tablet.  And what is really cool is that you can use OneNote in a browser or the native OneNote app on your device and still have everything point back to the central OneNote file that is stored in SharePoint in Office 365.

OK, let me break this down a bit …

OneNote can be stored locally on your device (and becomes something of a silo) or it can be stored and shared out of a SharePoint site where it becomes a powerful information sharing tool with your team.  My personal Office 365 tenant has a Team Site that looks like this (I just created it):


The “Notebook” is an embedded OneNote.  Clicking on it in the site opens OneNote Online and displays the following:



OK, it’s nothing fancy but it is also deceptive.  There are three sections – General, IT and HR and each section has multiple pages:



And, just like in OneNote on your PC there are all sorts of goodies built-in:


So you can do almost all of the same things in OneNote Online as you can in OneNote itself.  But wait, there’s more!  Because this is OneNote you can also open the file in OneNote on your PC:




Doing so gives me this:


Same file, same info, same fidelity.  And it gets better, I can do the same thing on my phone (a Galaxy S4) in the browser:




And I can also load the OneNote App on my phone and tablet and access the file with the app, as well.  The point I’m trying to make is that the power of OneNote to share info with your team becomes “mobile” as soon as you plug it into a Site (SharePoint) inside Office 365.

Leveraging OneNote in this fashion can be incredibly powerful.  As a case in point, we (itgroove) capture everything in a series of OneNote notebooks that are hosted in our on-prem SharePoint (same deal as Office 365 SharePoint online – WebApps and access from anywhere).  We use OneNote as a replacement for wikis and blogs and we capture everything to do with our customers (and pretty much all of our business processes) within OneNote.  The beauty and the power of this is that all of our documentation becomes “living” rather than “static” and all of us can contribute to our group knowledge on a daily basis via OneNote.  Moreover, all of the itgroove team can access this data from wherever we are (given an Internet connection) so none of us are ever “stuck” without access to critical information.  Combine this with all of the other goodness in SharePoint and you can begin to appreciate the power that Microsoft makes available via your Office 365 subscription.

Take a look at my colleague and fellow MVP Kelly Marshall’s blog for lots more tips and other goodness regarding OneNote.  Kelly is a OneNote MVP (there are only a few of those so she is special indeed) and a true evangelist for OneNote.  She shares lots of “good stuff”!