Greenhouse Growers: Partnering with Microsoft 365 Solutions to Drive Efficiency

Greenhouse growers can better collaborate and boost productivity with Microsoft 365, to outsmart the competition with tools you already own.

Sara Silver

Director of Horticulture Solutions, Velosio

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Table of Content

    When working with greenhouse growers, I often find that they are making their jobs much harder than necessary by operating in siloed environments. I’ve said this before, but do you find yourself pulling off “daily acts of heroism” to gather the information needed to make business decisions? It doesn’t have to be so hard.

    More than likely, you have implemented and leveraged Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) tools, so greater efficiency is already at your fingertips in the form of Teams, Excel, Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive and more. Microsoft 365 is getting smarter all the time, adding new cloud-enhanced features that can save you time and produce better results for your team.

    Here is how you outsmart the competition with tools you may already own:

    Eliminate Siloes with the Cloud

    Many growers and their leadership teams understand the value of data and are taking steps to implement a modern data strategy, which includes the cloud. Increasingly, organizations are finding the cloud serves as the best environment for integrating, storing, managing, and analyzing large volumes of disparate data types. Data inconsistencies or lost data can set you back weeks if not months, and seriously damage your competitive edge.

    Enabling the Modern Worker with the Microsoft PlatformEnabling the Modern Worker with the Microsoft Platform

    If you upload your data to OneDrive or SharePoint in the cloud, it can be stored safely instead of residing only on a personal computer or laptop. Microsoft 365 allows you to access files and information in an easy-to-use, shared pool. It makes emailing and working with others easy. Cloud storage protects you against ransomware or other security risk, and ensures your data is backed up to the minute.

    Microsoft Teams for the Win

    Microsoft Teams is unique in that it brings together meetings, chat, calls, collaboration, and business process automation in a single app. Since COVID-19 spurred office workers around the world to work from home, Microsoft has been innovating in Teams to do things like create more natural and engaging meeting experiences—enable people to connect seamlessly with those inside and outside of their organizations and provide ways to make remote presentations richer and more impactful. And as we emerge into this new hybrid work reality, Microsoft is focused on building experiences in Teams that are designed to ensure all voices are heard including the people not in the room—empowering everyone to connect and engage even if they are out in the field.

    Thanks to the tight integration with Microsoft 365, it’s not necessary to switch apps when you need to collaborate on a document. You can create the Word, Excel, or PowerPoint document in Teams, and immediately share it with your coworkers and then co-author. No more sending out different versions through email and the resulting version confusion.

    Collaborate on That Huge Excel File

    Collaborating on Excel can be challenging, but there are several ways to make it easier. One way is to use Sheet View in Excel. This feature allows you to create a temporary view just for you, so your custom changes won’t impact other users.

    Another way is to use co-authoring, which lets you and your colleagues open and work on the same Excel workbook simultaneously. You can see each other’s changes quickly and even see other people’s selections in different colors. If you’re using a version of Excel that supports co-authoring, you can select Share in the upper-right corner, type email addresses, and then choose a cloud location. Microsoft Teams also offers Excel Live, which lets people collaborate on workbooks in real-time during Teams meetings. With Excel Live, everyone has access to edit the workbook in real time – right within the meeting itself.

    Use Outlook’s Built-in Efficiency Tools

    Microsoft Outlook is a powerful email client that can be used to collaborate with your colleagues. Here are some tips and add-ins that can help you enhance your collaboration experience:

    • Boomerang: This add-in allows you to schedule meetings with your co-workers without a lot of back and forth over who’s free when. Using the add-in, you can highlight times when you’re available to meet on a calendar that is embedded in an email that you send to others. When they open it, they can select the times that they are available to meet from the calendar. After a day and time is confirmed among everyone, the Boomerang servers automatically email an invite to all attendees as a reminder of this upcoming event.
    • DocuSign for Outlook: This add-in provides an easy way to send documents for others to digitally sign. As you’re composing an email, click the DocuSign button on the bottom toolbar to open the DocuSign sidebar. This sidebar takes you through the steps of uploading the document you need signed and then launches a web app over your main Outlook page that shows a preview of your document and provides tools for you to mark where you need the recipient to digitally sign it.
    • Templates and Folders: If you find yourself composing the same kind of message every day, save one of them as a template so that you can quickly reference it in the future.

    Take Microsoft Tools a Step Further with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central

    Microsoft 365 tools are extended with the power of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central (BC).

    Business Leaders Guide to the New Digital AgeBusiness Leaders Guide to the New Digital Age
    • OneDrive Integration: Selecting “Open in OneDrive” in BC allows you to access Excel, Word, and PowerPoint documents directly in their respective online platforms: Excel Online, Word Online, and PowerPoint Online. Utilize these online tools to edit, note-take, and work collaboratively, within your browser. For other common file formats like PDFs, text documents, and images, OneDrive offers viewing tools with functionalities such as printing and sharing.
    • Teams Integration: With BC, you can effortlessly share any document or entry, be it a sales order, journal record, or production order, directly to Teams with just a click. Gone are the days of printing spreadsheets, marking them, and waiting for days for a response from the production manager. If your competition can respond in minutes, your org needs remain equally as fast to maintain a competitive advantage.
    • Excel Integration: Leveraging BC in tandem with SilverLeaf, Velosio’s comprehensive horticulture solution, streamlines your greenhouse business operations. Within BC, simply click on the “export to Excel” option to export reports. This allows you to dissect and analyze data, and then seamlessly reupload it back to BC. The Excel integration empowers you to handle multiple orders simultaneously. For example, if one of your plants is afflicted, and you need to replace it in several orders with a similar variety, you can swiftly update all relevant orders with the new plant type and sync those changes back to BC.
    • Outlook Integration: With BC, you can directly email details that include a dynamic link to the order number, enabling data manipulation right from Outlook. This is especially convenient for your mobile team members. Additionally, you can effortlessly add a new customer, prospect, or supplier contact in BC directly from Outlook. Consider the potential lost relationships when a sales representative departs and takes their contacts? With BC, any modifications made in one location are reflected system-wide, simplifying competitive pricing and streamlining production planning.

    Costs to produce plants are going up. There’s no getting around it, but you can make better business decisions and keep your competitive edge if you collaborate with the tools that you already own. I hope that these tips to better collaboration are helpful to you. Check out part one of our blog series highlighting ways greenhouse growers can leverage Microsoft tools for production planning and execution.

    Any questions? Contact us and we will be happy to discuss.


    Growers Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365Growers Guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365

    Sara Silver

    Director of Horticulture Solutions, Velosio

    Follow Me: