19 Ways your Competitors are using Outlook Add-ins

The Microsoft Office Store currently includes around 250 Outlook add-ins. If you are not familiar with Office add-ins, they are Microsoft’s latest feature to let third party applications integrate with Office – or in our case specifically integrate with Microsoft Outlook. They run in traditional desktop Outlook as well as Outlook for Mac, Outlook Web Access, and Outlook mobile, so they have some significant benefits over traditional plugins – which only work in Windows Desktop versions of Outlook.

Having built a few add-ins ourselves, we thought we would take a look at just what they are being used for. And if you look carefully, you may just see a competitor of yours who is already starting to explore the possibilities.

We analysed and categorised 244 add-ins. Some add-ins defy categorisation, while others cover several categories, but we put each add-in in just one category which we (subjectively) thought was the best fit. We may not have got every one right, but we think the overall result is still worth reviewing.

A summary of each of the categories is shown below.

CRM

Easily the most popular category was Outlook integration with CRMs. The flexibility to access and work directly in your CRM from Outlook is a great way to save time. Many of the add-ins are provided by the CRM provider and support contact management, creating tickets, opportunities and projects and calendar appointments. Outlook add-ins definitely enhance the user experience of CRMs and as add-in functionality develops, they will become a more useful addition to Outlook.

Examples:

Act!, Insightly, LawVu, Pipedrive, Rocket Matter, Salesforce, Yoxel, Zoho CRM.

Document Management, Filing and Storage

Document management covers a range of services; the most popular being the ability to upload emails and attachments directly to your cloud storage. It’s a great way to unclutter your inbox and be certain files are securely stored in the location you choose. Of course, the reverse is true and documents can easily be retrieved and inserted in to correspondence from the cloud.

Other ways to manage your documents through add-ins include inserting a link to large documents stored in the cloud, printing from any device and attaching files in DropBox. All ways to streamline your document management and improve workflow.

Several add-ins work specifically with Sharepoint – allowing users to conveniently upload emails, attachments and snippets directly to Sharepoint, show Sharepoint notifications in Outlook.

Examples:

Attachment Manager, DocSend for Outlook, Dropbox to Outlook Import, harmon.ie: SharePoint Online Client (Mac), MediaValet Library for Outlook, MessageFiler, Moxtra – Team Collaboration and Communication, OnePlaceMail,  Progressly – Live SharePoint process notification, ShareFile, SharePoint Connect.

Information Enhancement

This category predominantly covers add-ins that give extra information based on email content or the sender. For example, FEDEX trackers take the information from an email telling you if something has been dispatched and adds the delivery date to your calendar. Other services provided are telephone number retrieval, flight tracking, restaurant reviews and shopping recommendations.

For business there are add-ins that sync information with your CRM and instantly display information on a contact, such as Cirrus Insight which syncs with Salesforce.

Examples:

App in the Air – Track your itinerary, CloseFox, Cirrus Insight for Office 365 and Salesforce, CVR Lookup, Fiind Signals – Tune-in to your customer signals, Motifworks – Real-time Trials Insights, Package Tracker, SalesForce Inbox – Sales Intelligence for Email.

Productivity

For lots of people their work day starts in Outlook, so it makes sense that add-ins will focus on work that can be done directly from your inbox or calendar! We found a lot of add-ins that didn’t have a particular category they belonged to, but were aimed at increased productivity.

Functions they perform include:

Translation, syncing tasks to Sharepoint, multichannel messenger – send messages via SMS, email, voicemail through Outlook, email scheduling and reminders, convert emails to Word, manage email signatures for multiple business and more.

Examples:

Boomerang, Brainshark, Evernote, MailNotes, Maps for Outlook, Messageware Utility Belt, TimeZone Finder, Workday for Outlook

Calendar

There are many add-ins which interact with Outlook’s Calendar. These can be categorised as Conference calling apps, Roombooking apps, Meeting Agenda apps, and others.

General Calendar apps

Applications include: time management, calculating travel time between appointments, signing in buildings for meetings, room finders, and checking the availability of people outside of an organisation. These are all useful tools that support time management and facilitate the smooth running of meetings.

Examples:

FreeBusy Scheduling Assistant, FedEx Tracking at the top of your hand, FindTime, GreenJobInterview Schedule Live, LawToolBox Deadlines, Times – Event Time Picker, Uber Ride Reminders

Calendar – Conference Calling

Conference calls have been central to changing the way businesses work, making meetings possible from anywhere in the world with only the need to agree a time, internet access and your chosen conference call software. Add-ins for this software facilitate conference call arrangements from Outlook, and normally across any platform. They insert details of the meeting and dial in numbers directly into the meeting invite, and many have the ability to securely add agendas and other documentation. A good example of this is GreenJobInterview that has an add-ins that allows users to schedule video interviews or live interviews if required.

Examples:

ConferenceCall.co.uk, Free Conference Calling, join.me meetings for Office 365.

Calendar – Meetings / Agenda

Meeting and Agenda add-ins focus on ensuring people are available before sending out invites; and building agendas from within Outlook. Other meeting materials can often be accessed from the cloud and added to the meeting invite.

Examples:

Agenda Builder for MeetingSquared, Agenda Manager, Meeteor – Meetings wth Impact, On Board – Board Meeting Tool, RunYourMeeting agenda builder.

Calendar – Room Booking

Many of the add-ins for room bookings make checking the availability of rooms and equipment an easy job, and confirmation is done with just one click. Accessing this information from your smart phone or tablet only adds to the convenience. Often it is not only the room you can book, but also equipment, order refreshments and check participant availability!

Bookings are confirmed and synced to your own calendar, even providing reminders. These really are time saving, avoiding contacting different departments for things and storing the information in your appointment.

Examples:

Approved Contact Schedule Open Times, Robin – Room Scheduling, Smartway2

Task Management

Task management includes two distinct categories. ‘To do’ lists such as Wunderlist, and full on task management for Projects and Project Management.

Typical ToDo tasks enable sharing with others, setting reminders, and access from any platform.

Project Management tasks typically include the ability to add or update project tasks directly from Outlook, and enables task tracking and easy updates when out of the office. In addition, notifications or changes received by email can be added directly to task.

Examples:

InLoox now! Tasks, Dovico Timesheet, Kanban for Outlook, Trello, Wunderlist for Outlook

Email

Email apps included two specific but distinct types – ‘Insert info’ which added information specific to a time, person or event, and Templates which provided template responses.

Email – Insert info

These add-ins insert a range of information into Outlook emails and meetings. Most allow the user to access documents and photos that are stored in the cloud without leaving Outlook.

Other add-ins insert information about a business, meeting locations, photos and reviews. It is a handy way of confirming everyone included in your email has the correct information of where to meet, the type of venue and ratings.

Examples:

Kwilt – Your Photos for Email, Kstudio – Outlook Script Editor, GIPHY, Yelp

Email – templates

Email template add-ins enable the user to select and use a template -either the entire email or a snippet.

Examples:

DeviantArt, Parrot365 Email Templates, SMART Template (outlook), WittyParrot Email Templates (Mac), Qorteq90 Easy Intelligent Autoreplies

Specialist

This group are add-ins which don’t fit any other categories. These include an email header analyser, an email mood analyser, API tutorials, a flower ordering service, the option to send accolades in recognition of work and an add-in to increase reading speed.

Examples:

Book your train tickets with Voyages-sncf.com, Email Recovery, Emma: E-Mail-Mood-Analyzer, Paypal for Outlook, RedCritter Accolades

Security

Several add-ins provide security through encryption. Some require active accounts with a specialist data protection services.

Examples:

Bait – Phishing Analyzer, CudaSign (formerlySignNow) for Outlook, Egress Switch – Secure Email, IXD Secure Mail

Contact Management

Add-ins that identify the person you are emailing or who emailed, bringing up their contact details, company details or website, directly in Outlook is a great way easily add information recall information and respond appropriately.

Many add-ins categorized as Contact Management connect directly to a paid service that shares this information across your company. This is a great way for recruiters to maintain records, or sales teams to ensure they have a current business contact.

Examples:

Contact Plus, Corporate Address Book, People+, TextMiner – Email Signatiure Extractor

Accounting / Invoicing

Accounting and invoicing encompasses a broad range of services, but what has stood out in this category is expense reconciliation. Add-ins that assist with expense reconciliation enable the user to submit electronic receipts from Outlook to the associated accounting software, meaning expenses incurred while, for example, on a business trip can be captured as soon as they arrive in your Outlook inbox.

Other areas covered are payroll and invoice management through access to accounting software such as Quickbooks.

Examples:

Billy Invoice, Companyexpense, Fyle – One Click Expense Management, Nmbrs.hr, Process It Approval

Workflow

One area to reap significant benefits from Outlook is workflow. This is relevant for a lot of middle management where signatures are required and for a variety of functions. The ability to access and authorise leave, purchases, contracts and timesheets from your inbox and on any platform keeps the workflow moving and working away from the office does not hinder the process. Other features include the ability to check if a document has been signed and to set reminders, so there is no reason for there to be a delay in the workflow. Other add-ins let you set reminders and schedule tasks from your inbox.

Examples:

Appogee Leave for Office, Aras Workflow Approval, Employee Approvals for Office 365, Docusign for Outlook, smartQ Workflow Management.

Helpdesk

Creating tickets directly from emails and attachments is an excellent way to improve productivity and ensure all help requests are captured and turned into work tickets. Some add-ins also allow actions or tasks to be added to an existing ticket.

Examples:

Kayako Ticket Creator, TeamViewer servicecamp – Your Service Desk, Zendesk

Click Tracking

The ability to see who has opened a document, when and how long it was viewed for is a distinct benefit for sales people, helping to analyse which prospects to follow-up with a phone call or email. However, a lot of these add-ins don’t stop there. Some can show which links were clicked and pages visited. A valuable tool for those in sales.

Examples:

Attach – Document Tracking and Control, Tilkee – Track your proposals and boos your sales, Yesware Email Tracking,

Video

Although Video comes at the end of our list, we predict this area to grow. The concept of videos directed at a specific person to follow up leads is proving a successful way to convert opportunities into sales. Sectors using videos as a sales tool include, Real Estate, Mortgage and Automotive. The add-ins being provided by video sales allow users to browse their videos in the side panel and simply drop the video into an Outlook message.

Examples:

BombBomb, Canned.me – Your video communication platform, GoAnimate – Video Player,VBOT – send secure and private videos.