Managing ideas for new projects and updating current tasks can be a struggle for many employees and business owners amid handling day-to-day responsibilities. This difficulty can become more significant if your business has remote or hybrid employees who cannot collaborate with the rest of your team in person. Even if your entire team is in the office, there are many opportunities for your collaborative processes to improve beyond face-to-face communication.
Businesses using Microsoft 365 (M365) can utilize collaboration capabilities built into each application, but you and your team members still have to jump between these tools to coordinate. For example, productive conversations that take place within Outlook or Teams must be switched over to outlines and presentations in Word or PowerPoint. With these moving parts, it can be easy for documents, ideas, and requests to get lost in everyday work and processes. Luckily, Microsoft recognized this opportunity and began developing its newest program dedicated to collaboration.
What is Microsoft Loop?
Microsoft Loop is an app designed to enhance your collaboration abilities within itself and throughout other M365 applications. By introducing a three-part approach to collaboration, Loop enables users to work together across applications without jumping from one to the other.
"Loop is going to be a productivity tool that unifies some of the other Microsoft tools," says Brian Schlechter, MITS Technical Team Manager at Bit-Wizards. "Where Word and Excel are set environments for documents and spreadsheets, Loop is a free-form space for coordination and project management."
Loop's main bragging point comes from its three-part solution to maintain continuity while facilitating collaboration within itself and across different apps. Workspaces, pages, and components work inside and outside Loop to help you and your team collaborate simultaneously on projects through constant updates.
What is a Loop workspace?
Workspaces are the first layer of Loop that house everything related to your team's projects in a single space. Within a workspace, you and your team can organize and keep track of essential tasks, responsibilities, and other matters related to a specific project. These working areas help to keep the finer details and additional layers of Loop organized and coordinated, improving the ability for project managers and team members to stay on track. For reference, Loop workspaces are similar to notebooks in OneNote.
You can pull related Word documents, Excel sheets, PowerPoint presentations, and other files within your M365 organization when creating a workspace. Depending on what you title your workspace upon creation, Loop can suggest documents and files that match its subject. With various templates and sections available, workspaces can be fully customized to meet the needs of your team and projects.
What is a Loop page?
Pages are the second layer of Loop that serve as designated spaces within workspaces where you and your team can expand on specific subtasks and action items related to a single project. A Loop page can host a variety of components and information. For comparison, Loop pages are like sections in OneNote.
Some of the many elements that can live in pages include:
- Progress trackers
- Voting tables
Similar to workspaces, pages have templates containing various elements that fit your team's goals and objectives. Whether you need to create a project brief, make a team decision, or take meeting notes, there's a template that gives you a starting point. Once you select a template, you can customize it by adding or removing elements to meet your team's specific needs. If you want to customize your pages completely, you can start from scratch and add the elements you need.
What is a Loop component?
Components, the third layer of Loop, are where the app's real power comes into play. With Loop components, you and your team members can share specific elements within a Loop page across different M365 applications. Whether it's a checklist or a table, a component can be shared and interacted with through:
- Teams chat
- Outlook email
- Word web app
A Loop component will remain editable and updated wherever it is shared. Any edits made in compatible apps where a component is shared will sync automatically to the component on a page, providing a next-level platform for collaboration that avoids the need to jump between apps. Additionally, components track where they are shared, saving you and your team members the hassle of managing where they live and who has access.
When can I start using Loop?
Although Microsoft announced the development of Loop in November of 2021, the application is still undergoing testing before it becomes generally available.
"Microsoft has been hyping this app up for a long time, so my guess is they're working out a few bugs," Schlechter says. "They're going to make sure it's good to go before they release it."
Microsoft made the Loop app available for public preview on March 22, 2023, allowing interested users to explore, test, and give feedback on its features. Keep an eye on Microsoft's announcements to learn when Loop is available.
How will Loop help your business?
With its productive and comprehensive features, Microsoft is poised to provide a revolutionary platform that enhances organizations that use M365 apps. Whether your team can interact in person or remotely, Loop offers the opportunity to improve collaboration and coordination within your business significantly.
Finding time to collaborate on a project can be challenging in a modern workplace that includes remote employees, team members who travel to clients, and anyone in between. Teams with members in different time zones can struggle with scheduling meetings and collaborating at the same time. With Loop, employees can access a tool that facilitates real-time collaboration and declutters project management processes without having to be in the same place.
"If you ask someone to look over your shoulder and check what you're working on, there's no tool required to do that," says Schlechter. "If you're not in the same building or even the same state, you need something like Loop to facilitate that same level of convenience."
Within Loop workspaces and pages, you can view where each team member's cursor is located and check what they're updating. For teams split between the west and east coast of the U.S., collaborating in real-time expands past a Teams chat or email thread with Loop. Even if a team member 12 hours ahead of the rest of the company makes changes and responds within a Loop component, those updates will instantly sync and be ready for other teammates to review. With this ability, your teammates can genuinely feel like they're working together as they collaborate.
Collaboration is an excellent function until it becomes uncoordinated. Project management can be grueling, and it can be challenging to complete productive work if you fall behind in tracking your business' latest projects and efforts. By using Loop to collaborate on your projects, you and your team are already ahead in coordinating your projects and productively spending your time and efforts.
With Loop, everything related to a specific project is gathered in one place for your team to view. Add labels, progress trackers, and more to your workspaces to ensure every team member knows what that specific project entails for the group and for each member. Elements within a page can be reacted to and commented on, allowing every team member to communicate in the same place they collaborate. By using it as a hub for all things related to a project, Loop helps you keep actions in every project coordinated within itself and other M365 apps from start to finish.
Accessing Microsoft Loop with Bit-Wizards
If your business uses Microsoft 365, your team is one step closer to enhanced collaboration with Microsoft Loop. For companies not connected to M365, working with a Managed IT Services (MITS) provider like Bit-Wizards is the first step to getting started with Loop.
"Thorough communication and effective collaboration are essential for success," Schlechter says. "If you want your business to be more adaptable, efficient, and resilient, Bit-Wizards can help you get there with our expertise in Microsoft 365 migrations."
Whether you’re ready to connect your business to Microsoft 365 for the first time or start fully utilizing its capabilities, we’ve got you covered. Contact us today.