What do YOU call Home(page)?

HomepagesweethomepageThe first page I see when I open a browser on my work laptop is the intranet. That was the case in my previous job and in my current one. When I see peers open a browser window, I rarely see another page, like a search engine page; it is generally an intranet homepage that opens first.

When discussing our new digital workplace the other day, we wondered which page should open when you open your browser. With Office 365 you have a number of options.

  • One person wanted the intranet homepage to be the first page shown, like it is today.
  • Another suggested the Delve page, although he realized that will not be the best page for launch since it needs to fill up with relevant content before people will see the benefits. I personally like the Delve-page, but not as a browser home page. To me it feels too much like a “filter bubble”.
  • A third colleague thought that the SharePoint homepage would be the best option, since it would have all your sites in one place.
  • I preferred the Office 365 landing page since I think that is the best representation of the Digital Workplace. It has all the tools I need on a regular basis: Email, Yammer, Office, SharePoint. With the recent improvements, however small, I think there is a great potential to turn that page into a very useful dashboard to start your working day.

We clearly did not agree so I decided to ask the question in the Office 365 network on Yammer.

The results surprised me!

  • Most organizations have “a specific SharePoint page” as their browser homepage. I assume that is the “intranet homepage”, because the people who voted “Other”, mentioned their intranet homepage as well, but those were not (yet) on Office 365.
  • A surprisingly high number of organizations (19%!) leave the decision to the user. This is totally unthinkable in my corporate world so perhaps these answers were given by smaller consultancies.
  • A disappointing 14% had the Office 365 landing page as their browser opening😦.

Poll

I have given my feedback about the new Office 365 landing page to Microsoft. I hope they will develop this quickly so I will get my way one day after all🙂

BTW, since then we decided that the new intranet homepage will be the chosen page.

If you are on, or planning to move to Office 365, what have you selected as your browser homepage?

Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Executive blogging? Hmm…

NoBloggingBlogging by senior management appears to be an ongoing struggle. I wrote about it earlier and remarked that it is not for everyone.
In my opinion, key success factors are:

  • You need to like doing it. It will cost a lot of time and effort, and if you do not like to spend that on writing, you’d better use your time in another way.
  • You need to add something new to the mix, something your employees have not already heard several times through your official channels.

Last week, I came across two other articles about executive blogging.

Do not blog if you do not know where you are going

Erika Parker posted “Executive Blogs: 7 Signs You Should Just Say No “

She also mentions that executives have to feel a need to blog. There should be something driving them, whether that is their personal opinions, a need to interact with employees or a need to change behaviours. If they feel they do it because they have to, they better find another channel or another way altogether.
And while it is not necessarily wrong to hire a ghostwriter, an executive has to feed that person with the direction, the tone-of-voice,  personality and topics. They can not leave it all to the writer. But remember: they should always post their blog themselves!

Do not blog about knowledge management

And if this all does not show enough that blogging by executives is not necessarily a simple thing that you “just do”, Nick Milton posted: “Why you should not ask your senior managers to blog“.

That sounds more forbidding than it really is. Nick warns that senior management should not blog about knowledge management, at least not about anything other than stating its importance.
In general, a senior manager’s blog will be too formal (an official communication), too hierarchical and too conceptual to be of practical use. It is not a good example to start informal company-wide knowledge sharing between peers.

Nick gives a few better options for using blogging as a method of sharing knowledge among employees.
I strongly support that opinion, just like I support blogging instead of publishing monthly newsletters.

I am almost starting to feel sorry for all executives.
If they have the drive and enthusiasm (which appears not to happen too often), then they are forbidden to blog about a certain topic. If wonder if any executive still has any motivation left after all this.🙂

Perhaps you know of a good example?

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Organizational change and your SharePoint sites

OrgChangePawnsSharePoint” or “the intranet” is generally not the first thing people think of when an organization changes. But there will always be a moment when people are looking to align their teamsites to the new organization structure.

If you are supporting SharePoint users in your organization, this may be a good “toolkit” to support site owners who are confronted with a major change.
I wrote the following posts earlier, but I have now ordered them t
from overview to detail, which suits the process better.

1. Handover

TeamSiteinheritanceFirst, the new owner should know what (s)he is the owner of.
Which site(s) are in scope, how are they related, what do they contain and who can access what?
Of course this should ideally be done by the former owner, but in real life this is not always feasible, since the former owner has generally left their position by the time the new owner arrives. I have to step in quite often.

In “Congratulations, you have inherited a teamsite!” you can find the first steps toward new ownership. 

2. Review and adjust

OrgchangeWhen the new site owner knows what (s)he has inherited, it is time to review the content. Is all content still relevant, do subsites or documents have to be moved to another place, can stuff be archived, does content have to be updated or new content have to be created?

In “12 things to do in your team sites after organizational change” I have listed a number of items to review regarding Content, People and Pages.

3. Change

While the new owner will probably make the first adjustments during review , there are some more detailed changes that need careful investigation and planning beforehand. When changes in metadata are required, for instance, you have to understand how your list or library has been set up, and how a change is going to affect your content. There is a big difference in behaviour of a library that picks metadata from a Choice field compared to a Lookup List.

Change-PictureIn “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes part 1” you will find info on changing

  • Site name/URL

  • List or library name/URL
  • View name/URL

Changes-image2And in “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes part 2” I have listed how to change

  • Columns

  • Folders

  • Documents and List items

Do you have other suggestions to help new site owners on their way?

Top Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The new Office365 Homepage

Yesterday I logged in to my Office365 and I immediately thought : “Wow, that looks nice”. It is not often that I am struck by a beautiful page, so I decided to write about it.

This is it:

NewOffice365Homepage-NewMine
The new Office365 Homepage

 

NewOffice365Homepage-Bottom
And this is the bottom of the page. You can decide to show more documents.

 

First good impressions:

  1. The small top bar is much larger now and that really looks good. It must be my Raspberry theme, although it also looks cool with Cats  :-)
  2. The welcome message is nice, although I know it is calculated from my timezone and my account. Still, it looks vibrant and cheerful.
  3. Your most recent documents are displayed underneath.
  4. You immediately see you can install software. On iPad, you can download Office apps.
NewOffice365HP-iPad
This is the new Office365 Homepage on iPad

 

What would I like to see as improvements?

  1. It would be nice if you could also search for other things than documents. I am trying to wean myself (and my colleagues) of documents where possible, and this does not help.
  2. That also goes for the recent documents underneath the apps. I would like to see my unread email, or my unread Yammer messages, or the Tasks due today, as well as documents. If Office365 is going to be my Digital Workplace, it should display more than just documents.
  3. A little badge on each app to show the number of unread messages, or new tasks, or something like that,  would also be nice!
  4. The coloured bar overlaps the profile picture a little, so that needs some tweaking.

And this is the page as it used to look (on a different tenant) or still looks, if you are not on First Release.

NewOffice365page-old
The “old” Homepage 

 

All in all, I quite like this change and I think it can be made even better!

The new “Site Contents” layout

Just when I had recovered from the (pleasant) shock of “the new document library experience” I found out that “Site Contents” has had a design overhaul.

I have not seen many blogs on this new feature yet so let me show you more.

What did the Site Contents page look like?

OldSiteContents
The “old” look and feel of Site Contents

 

My concerns have been:

  • I personally do not like the grid layout with tiles, I can read a list better. Call me old-fashioned🙂
  • Although the tiles occupy plenty of real estate, they do not provide as much info as they could, as I described earlier in “SharePoint tiles I’d like to see”.
  • I always forget if I have to click the tile (yes) or the … (no) to open up the list/library.

So, will my concerns be gone after the design change?

This is the new design

NewSiteContents1
The new design – top of page

 

  1. Eyecatcher: 3 new content blocks
  • Number of Site Visits
  • Trending content
  • Tips

I am not very active in my Office 365 environment, so the numbers displayed in the screenshot are not exactly informative, but you will get the gist. I am curious to see if the trending content itself will be displayed eventually, apart from the number.
I think this will create welcome transparency.

2. A new way to create new items

Instead of the “Add an app” tile you now select “New” and you can pre-select the desired item you want to add.
It appears that lists and libraries are no longer called “apps” – this calls for a happy dance!

NewSiteContents3
Creating a new item

 

If you click “Library”, you will go immediately to the new document library creation page.
If you click “apps” you will go to the known grid of app tiles.
I have not tested the Lists and Subsites yet.

3. The actual content

Underneath, your site’s real content is displayed.

NewSiteContents2
The actual Site Contents. Please note the site top bar and header stay where they are when you scroll down.

These are no longer displayed as tiles, but as a list. The list is sorted on list type, and then alphabetically on name, displaying icon, name, type, number of items and last modified date.

The subsites are displayed on a separate tab:

NewSiteContentsSubsites
The list of subsites, with #Views, and Created and Modified Dates.

 

What do I think?

I like this new design.

  • I especially like the list of apps with their smaller icons, because the smaller icons show more variety than the big blue tiles, and are therefore easier to distinguish.
  • The modified date is a granted wish. I am totally fine with “one hour ago” or “two days ago” but when it is more than a month ago,  I prefer to see the exact date.
  • Sorting the list on List type is helpful.
  • The Created and Modified Dates for the subsites are also very helpful.
  • I still have to see what extra value the 3 new blocks on top will have, but I can imagine these will be useful.
  • Also, it looks like older versions of SharePoint. While this may be a disappointment to some, at this moment it is very welcome to me. The company I work for is moving to Office 365 and I am concerned that our users will be totally lost in their new environment.

What do I miss?

  • The description of the list or library.

And…

  • The link to go back to the new look-and-feel!!!

When I noticed the new design, I found it had been changed across all my sites. That annoyed me because I did not have a screenshot of “before”.
Then I noticed a link, bottom left, saying: “Return to Classic SharePoint”. I created some screenshots of the new situation “just in case” and clicked that link…

All my sites turned back to the Classic look, with no link to the new design😦

I can only hope that this change will be rolled out irreversibly in a few months. But if you know how to reset it, please let me know!

[Update June 13, 2016: Fortunately Andrew Gilleran knew the solution: Log out and log in again. A new session will restore the new look-and-feel! Thanks, Andrew!]

Why this executive liked online meetings

AshtrayDuring one of the workshops at Intranet Reloaded in Berlin  we talked about how to motivate people to use their digital workplace. What really triggers them to change their working habits?

I remembered an example from when we were rolling out Microsoft Live Meeting (yes, this definitely was some time ago🙂 ).
Our senior managers were flying across the globe all the time for face-to-face meeting, and we wanted to save the business time and money by providing an online alternative.

One of our vice-presidents had a “monthly results” meeting every month with about 25 country managers. They all had to turn up at Head Office for few hours each month, to discuss their financial and market results.
I talked to him and his assistant about the options and if they were interested to give it a try. Of course our team could help them with the first meetings, so they did not have to test this alone. Both he and his assistant liked the idea so we ran a few tests to make them more comfortable.

On the “first monthly meeting new style” I sat with him during the first few sessions to make sure everything was running smoothly, also on the other side of the line.
After the first two meetings had gone successfully he lit up a cigarette.
He leaned back with a big smile on his face and said: “I love this. Finally I can have a smoke during these meetings”.

You see, we had just banned smoking in the workplace. (Did I mention this was some time ago:-)? ). The only room where he was still allowed to smoke was his personal office. Nobody dared to forbid it there.

There’s all kinds of motivation to change behaviour. This was an unexpected one and if I had not been there, I would still think that saving time and money would have been his only incentives…

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

10 things you want to know about Yammer external networks

YammerSome weeks ago I offered a project team to create a Yammer group. It was a team with a lot of externals, so it had to be an external group. Or so I thought.

However, it turned out I had to create a new “child” network off my company network, because external groups were not available at that time. They are now, but your administrator can turn this off, so a child network may still be the only option available to you.

This has been a great learning experience since a child network has some peculiarities: it is different from a group (obviously), and also different from the company network.

So of course I am logging all the interesting things that I find as the project develops; for myself, my colleagues and for anyone else who is involved with external Yammer networks.

For the administrator:

  1. The URL of your new network will be https://www.yammer.com/name  so you are competing with all the world. Your desired name may already been taken, so have a few alternatives ready.
  2. The person who creates the child network is automatically added as the (child) network administrator, with all the trimmings. If you do not like the idea that everyone in your organization can become a network administrator, you may want to limit the options to create child networks, and can decide to make this option available for the parent Yammer administrators only. (If you are a Yammer admin, go to Network Administration > External Networks)
  3. You need to invite everyone with their email address; you can not use the existing network to select from.
  4. Some companies do not allow their employees to join any external Yammer network, but need approval from their Yammer admin. This is a setting that lives in the same place as nr. 2.
  5. This is a separate network, not a group, so people can create groups under this network. You can not turn this off.
  6. The parent network has more administration settings and options than the child network. For instance, the “External Networks”, Ïnvite Guests” and “Account Activity”  options are not available in the child network.
ExternalNetworksAdmin
Part of the  parent network admin settings.

 

For the users of your network:

You may want to inform them about this in a quick user guide. I have logged them in a Yammer Note on the All Company network.

Network Note
Yammer notes are a good way to capture information for the group/network.

 

  1. The new network will not be visible under My Groups; instead you have to navigate networks via the gear wheel next to your profile pic (bottom left at the moment of writing).
  2. Since this is a separate network, you will have to refollow those people you want to follow.
  3. You will also have to re-set your email notifications for this network
  4. Make sure that you are on the correct page – you enter the default homepage but this is not the same as the All Company stream. (Which does not feel logical to me, but that can be me)

I recently found this teaser for an external Yammer network.
The fact that they ask you send an email to request access, rather than tell you to join with your company email address, gives it away.

Have you found any other “gotcha’s” for Yammer external networks? Or have I got it wrong on some things? Please share!