Microsoft recently announced the general release of the Office 365 Centralized Deployment Service. The service, which was released in preview late last year, allows admins the ability to deploy Office add-ins right across their Office 365 environments. This is great news for both admins and users alike. Previously, deploying add-ins for multiple users (depending on the size of your organisation) across a business was a tedious and time-consuming task.
Office add-ins allow users of the platform to customise and personalise their experience, accessing their data and content in a way that’s specific to how they work. Office add-ins can do anything from helping a user report their expenses to booking a holiday. And the Centralized Deployment service in Office 365 makes it much easier for administrators to deploy Office add-ins via the Office 365 admin centre or by using PowerShell scripts, for individual users, teams of users, or entire organisations.
Office 365 is a brilliant solution but a lot of the time we don’t make full use of its capabilities. This is because, very often, users simply don’t realise that there is more to the platform than Outlook and the Office productivity suite.
And this is where add-ins come in. The right Office add-ins can enable your entire organisation to benefit by making the tools you use every day work even more efficiently in ways you may not have considered. And by deploying them from a centralised location, you ensure that your users see the new add-ins and will actually be more likely to start using them.
Centralised deployment is the recommended way for admins to deploy add-ins, providing the most efficient and feature-rich way of setting up add-ins across your organisation. Your admins can the Centralized Deployment service to:
- Assign an add-in to a user, a group of users or to everyone using a specific application
- Automatically download the add-in to the application
- Remove the add-in
Extend and succeed with Office add-ins
Using Office add-ins to extend Office 365’s abilities can have a beneficial impact on your business processes. For example, by deploying a phone book add-in for SharePoint Online your users can save a lot of time searching in multiple places for contact information, so that they can find colleagues, partners, and customers when they need them. This makes the process of finding and communicating with important stakeholders a much more efficient process.
The beauty of centralised deployment is that the changes made by your Office 365 admins can be easily distributed to the applications and users that need them, across all platforms, in just a few clicks from a central location. Users simply open their applications—Word, Excel, SharePoint etc.—and can immediately see the add-ins installed on their ribbon. That goes for deployment across a global user base in a process that is transparent to users.
You can learn more about deploying add-ins in Office 365 here.
So, how would it actually work?
Below are some more specifics about the requirements and use cases which Office 365 Centralized Deployment can be implemented and used in your organisation.
The Centralized Deployment centre supports users in top-level groups, Office 365 Groups, distribution lists and security groups that are top-level groups supported by Azure Active Directory.
Are you supported?
Centralized Deployment requires a recent version of Office and an OAuth-enabled version of Exchange. You should check to ensure compatibility and the right configuration before you get started. You can find requirements here.
Although currently unavailable, data about deployments and usage reports will be soon available in the Office 365 admin centre; as well as the ability to see what add-ins have been deployed in their developer portal dashboard.
On and off switch
Until now, the ability to deploy add-ins as well as turn them off was solely the responsibility of your Office 365 admin. However, Microsoft will soon support the individual user’s ability to turn off add-ins that are deployed to them, so they no longer appear in an application’s ribbon if they aren’t actually useful or relevant to that user. Power to the user!
Make the most of your Office add-ins
At Lightning Tools, we think one of the best features of the new Central Deployment centre is the ability to leverage third party add-ins in the same way as you would with tools from the Office Store or Microsoft AppSource. Our add-ins—that range from content rollup, permissions management and social media management—are designed to seamlessly fit in with your organisation’s process. The Office 365 Central Deployment service just makes deploying our add-ins even easier.
If you’d like to find out more about our add-ins and how we can help you make the most of your Microsoft investment, get in contact today.