Things I don’t like about Office/Microsoft365

You know I am a total Microsoft fangirl. I can drive people crazy by asking why they are using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms instead of Forms, why they are using expensive dictation software when they have built-in dication in OneNote and Word Online, and I have tons of other irritating questions πŸ™‚

There are a few things however, that I do not like so much.

1. Lack of accurate timing on the Roadmap

We have a Roadmap-into-Planner setup, so every day I check what is new, what is relevant for IT and/or users, and if and how we will promote this.

While I can live with the sheer amount of change and the inconsistent content of the items (sometimes it is just a line, sometime it is a complete article, sometimes it has screenshots (yes, that is really helpful, more of those please!)) I do have a problem with the timings.

Sometimes we seem to have to wait forever. For instance, I have not yet seen the option to make every meeting a Teams meeting in the Outlook desktop at work, but I have seen it in Karuana’s demo’s and I have it in my home tenant. It should have been launched in March, but it is July and I still do not have it in our tenant. I, nor my team, have a clue when it will enter our tenant.

Right now the highlighted line is not in our work tenant for Outlook Desktop users.(Screenshot from my personal tenant). The functionality has been available for Outlook Web users for months. If anyone can tell me when I can expect this for my work tenant, or what we have to do to make it visible, please do!

Another example: my F3-licensed test account still does not have the text options in Forms (Bold, italics, underscore, lists) in Forms that I have had for months in my E3-work account. But nowhere it is mentioned if and when this will become available for F3-users.

On the other hand, sometimes my colleagues ask me questions about something that I have not even seen yet. And my E3-work account is on Targeted Release, so I should have had it before them!

So, please make that timing a little bit more accurate, so we know what to look for, and promote, when!

2. The hype around PowerApps

This is an onpopular opinion but I am not very impressed with Power Apps, with the exception of Power Automate, although it is getting more and more complex, after nicely starting out as “the Microsoft alternative to IFFFT”. (which is a very simple workflow tool).

In many cases I simply do not see why you would create a PowerApp when you can do it perfectly well on SharePoint. Yes, a Power App will generally look better, and may be easier to use on your phone, but is that worth the extra complexity, the extra licensing, the extra consultant costs?

Additionally, it is being marketed as a “low code/no code” product. Well, as someone who does know a bit of code and generally picks up things quickly, I must say that creating a PowerApp is quite a lot of work and definitely not “low code/no code”, especially not in my type of organization. Our Microsoft partner has installed a few PowerApps and they have been hell to set up, get to work, and maintain.

3. No delegation options in Teams

Yes, I am perfectly aware of the fact that every manager should be able to make their own appointments and view their own meeting documents, but in real life things may be different. You do not want to bother managers with organizing a meeting with people with full agendas. A secretary/personal assistant can do that. A secretary/p.a. can take a lot of work out of a manager’s hands so the manager can focus on the skills they were hired for. Call me oldfashioned, but I think the secretaryp.a. still plays a valid role in organizations.

While Outlook has a ton of options to share mailbox and calendar and what not between manager and secretary/p.a., Teams, especially private chat, is very much a personal tool. It does not allow delegation and it does not accomodate group mailboxes or group accounts. Yet, Teams is being promoted as “THE new place to do your work”. If we want Teams to be the only work tool you need, there should be delegation options for secretaries/p.a.’s, otherwise there is not much point for those people to move away from Outlook.

There’s a User Voice item out there: Delegate capability – Welcome to UserVoice!

4. Differences desktop/online

I told you before that the majority of our users has an F3-license and works exclusively with the web apps. (Except for Teams, where we have the desktop app installed for everyone).

While the web apps are very good and getting better quickly, they lack some functionalities of the desktop apps, and that can lead to questions and irritations. These often come from people who have worked at another organization where the desktop apps were the norm, and they sometimes have difficulty switching to the web apps.
We always try to come up with either the way to do it (some things are just in a different location, you need to check View > Reading View to see the final document) or with an alternative, such as the Watermark. We do not know every small package of functionality so we are often surprised by a question and then have to investigate the options. Sometimes we redirect people from Word or Excel to PowerPoint (e.g. when they use a lot of graphs or pictures), sometimes we replace a document with a Form or a SharePoint list, etc.

The ribbon in Word for the web. Fewer tabs, and in some tabs fewer options, especially for designs and layouts. That does not mean things can not be done, sometimes you can do it in a different way.
The ribbon in Word desktop. More options, especially for graphics and designs.

While this is often fun and challenging, it can be a nuisance when people really need the desktop app because they work with another software that only works with the desktop apps. Some people need to sync an Excel file from another system once a week, or once a month, and then they need the desktop since the web app does not do that. If we switch them to an E3-license for those 5 minutes a week, chances are that they will never learn to appreciate the web apps.

So, to Microsoft: the fewer differences there are between the two app versions, the better. And to Microsoft partners and developers of software and apps: please make your products compatible with the web apps, not with the desktop apps.

Are there any things you do not like about the 365 suite?

Please let me know!

Intranet promotion videos – part 9

Time for something else…time for some intranet videos!

1. Intranet for a global health care organization.

This intranet is called Together. The sound appears to be quite loud, so be aware when you press the Play-button.

There’s also a French version: Intranet Institut MΓ©rieux_REVEAL_FR on Vimeo

Uploaded June 2021

2. Teaser for a country-regional intranet (in French)

I thought by now we would not need to think of an intranet as “something from the future” anymore, but this teaser has the space theme all over it. The visuals are very nice, though. The intranet is called Y-Connect (“Connect” appears to be a very popular names for intranets these days). I am not sure what they mean to say exactly with the examples, but apparently YConnect is dynamic, intuitive and efficient.

Uploaded May 2021.

3. Two teasers for Kelloggs (breakfast cereals)

And guess what…this intranet is called K-Connect! πŸ™„
The first one contains a lot of puns, based on Kellogg’s products.

The second one gives a little more information, such as the reasons for change and what they aim to achieve. I think it is a nice idea to have speakers with various accents from across the world; it shows that this is a global intranet. Oh, and it is on SharePoint!

Uploaded May 2021.

4. Intranet explanation series for a solar panel installation business.

This is a series of videos, about 20 minutes in total, for the launch of the intranet at this USA organization. This intranet is called Freedom Forum.

The Opening video shows a nice journey metaphor, although I am no fan of those “real-time hand-drawn images” (for lack of a better description, I know it is an animation), as I find this very distracting. The “one stop shop” idea is still very much alive here. In the Closing video there’s a few calls to action. All in all, nicely done.
I am showing the Opening and Closing here, but these are the others:

Walkthrough – Logging In.mp4 on Vimeo

Chris Walkthrough – Tools and Resources.mp4 on Vimeo

Caileigh Walkthrough – News and Events.mp4 on Vimeo

Amanda Walkthrough – People Center.mp4 on Vimeo

Thomas Walkthrough – Company Information.mp4 on Vimeo

EJ Walkthrough – Company Forum.mp4 on Vimeo

Intranet Knowledge Base Video 1080p.mp4 on Vimeo

Uploaded June 2021.

That’s all for this time, folks!

Photo by Ethan Robertson on StockSnap

Organizing a Teams Webinar with an F3-license

The Teams webinar functionality has rolled out. Many things have already been said about it (Mike Tholfsen’s video says it all really) and basically it is a regular Teams Meeting with a registration form and very limiting meeting options, so it was both a relief to me (“oh good, it works like a Teams meeting”) and a disappointment (“oh, it works like a Teams meeting, what is all the fuss about?”) when I investigated it.

However, F3-licensed users do not have the option to create a Webinar, just as they can not create a Live Event. Our E3-licenses users have three options when they click the New Meeting option: Schedule meeting, Webinar, Live event. F3 users only have New Meeting option.
They can of course use a regular Teams meeting for any webinar, as described in my earlier post, but seriously, they can use the webinar option as well! Here goes:

Webinar creation for E3-users. F3 users only have the New Meeting button.

1. Create the event

  • In your Teams calendar, click New Meeting. The invitation screen will open.
  • On the top right, you will see an option “Require registration”. Select “people in my organization”. “(If you want to make this available for external attendees, you may need to create a Form for registration – remember to make this available for everyone)
Click the arrow and select “For people in your org” to create a registration form. F3-users can not create a registration form for everyone.
  • Leave the registration form for now, as that can be done later when you can give it your full attention.
  • Add all relevant event details, and invite the presenter(s) only.
Make sure you only invite the presenters.
  • Send the invitation to the presenter(s) and the event will be added to the agenda of yourself (the organizer) and the presenter(s), looking like this:
a Webinar looks like this in your calendar

2. Edit the registration form (attendees from your organization only)

  • Open and edit the event from your Teams calendar and click “Customize registration form”.
  • Op the top left, click “Edit”
  • Adjust the registration form – make sure date and time are correct (it does not always copy correctly!!!) and you can add a picture, add speakers, and (optional) ask a few extra questions.
The registration form – you can add all details and even a picture! Check if date and time have copied over correctly!
  • Click “Save” top left, and “View in browser” to see what it looks like. Adjust when necessary. Copy the registration link to distribute to your audience.

3. Adjust the meeting options

  • Open the event from your Teams calendar and click Meeting Options or Change Options
Two places to change the meeting options
  • Adjust the meeting options until they look like the screenshot below and click “Save”.
  • If you do not want to be bothered with adding people from the lobby, make sure you set Lobby to “everyone”.
These are the standard Meeting options for a webinar.

4. Advertise your webinar

Make sure that your audience knows about the webinar. Share the information and add the link to the registration form in and outside your organization. You can use the intranet, a SharePoint site, Yammer, email, social media, an external website, a printed flyer with a QR code, whatever is relevant.

5. Check registrations

The registrations will be added in a nice list in the Details tab of your event.

You can keep track of registrations from your calendar

6. Before the webinar

  • Download the Teams desktop app from the Microsoft Store. F3-licenses users use the web and mobile apps by definition, but the Teams desktop app is free and gives you a ton of extra control options for your event. Download, log in and familiarize yourself with it.
  • Plan your break-out rooms (desktop-app only) and add any Polls that you would like to use during the webinar.

7. During the webinar

  • A little before the start time, open the Teams desktop app and click “Join meeting” from one of the usual places
  • Proceed as in any other Teams meeting
  • You can add Polls, use breakout rooms, and what not, just like any regular meeting
  • If you want to allow live questions at the end of the webinar, open the Meeting options (… in the Meeting control bar) and allow microphones and cameras to be opened up (Teams desktop app only)
Options available for the organizer in the Teams desktop app

8. Attendance report

The attendance report will be on the Chat tab, as usual.

Good to know:

  1. That little lectern icon appears on events which require registration, only in the Teams calendar. Check out the second and third screenshots from the top to see the difference!
  2. When you have selected registration “for people in your organization” only, their names and emailadresses will be added automatically when your colleagues open the registration form.
  3. There has to be a presenter in the Meeting options, otherwise you can not save the Meeting options. When the organizer is the presenter, make sure you select “Only Me” as the presenter.

Conclusion:

Every F3-licensed user can create a Teams webinar, with one limitation and one manual action compared to an E3-user:

  • The F3 license has no option to create a registration form for externals – you will need to use Microsoft Forms to collect registrations.
  • They will need to adjust the Meeting Options manually.
  • Using the Teams desktop app (free from the Microsoft Store) gives you many more options to control the event.

Good luck!

Watermark in Word on the Web

As mentioned earlier, the majority of my colleagues have an Office365 F3 license. This means they work exclusively with the web and mobile apps.

That can be a surprise for new employees, who are used to the desktop variety of everything. The fact that you can not open documents from your desktop Explorer causes a lot of confusion, for instance. And the fact that documents look different in editing and reading view is another frequent complaint, although this can be solved by pointing people to the Reading View. The web apps have improved greatly over the past few years, but they do not have all functionality of the desktop version. So in some cases you really need to rethink your processes to mimic a desktop function in a web app.

Microsoft has an overview of differences. Differences between using a document in the browser and in Word – Word (microsoft.com)

One of the questions we received was adding a watermark to a Word document. This functionality is not available in the web app. When you look for “watermark” in the web app, you get a prompt to open the document in the desktop version.

This shows that the watermark is only available in the desktop app

How to add a watermark in Word desktop

The option is in the Design tab, which is missing from the web version. You can select one of the mentioned marks, or create a custom one.

Adding a watermark in Word desktop

How to add a watermark in Word for the web?

In this case, we needed “Confidential” in a diagonal style.

My colleague and I brainstormed a bit and we came up with three alternatives:

1. Add a blank Word document with the watermark as template in a SharePoint library

This works well when you and you colleagues have a SharePoint site and you regularly need to use the watermark.

  • Ask someone to create a Word document in the desktop version with the desired watermark
  • Add this as a template to a SharePoint document library (item 6 in that post)
  • Whenever you need a document with watermark, create a new instance using the template. You will not see the watermark when in editing mode, but if you click the tab View > Reading View you will see what the final document will look like.
The template is added to the document library, and when you click “New” you can select it to create a blank document with the watermark
While you won’t see the watermark while you edit, you will see it in the Reading View

2. Add an image with the watermark to the document

This works well when you do not use this very often or have no SharePoint site at your disposal.

  • Create an image with the correct words. You can do this in PowerPoint, with a text box, which allows you to rotate to the correct slant. Use soft grey letters. Save the image.
  • When you have finished writing your document, click the Insert tab and select Picture from this device. Then, under Wrap Text (will appear after insertion) select the option “Behind text”.
  • Make sure it looks good before you exit the picture editing, as it is hard to go back and re-edit location and size of image.
  • Repeat for the next page. It can be sensible to decide beforehand where in the document (height) the image sits best so you can create a consistent appearance.
  • It may be wise to save and share this as a PDF document as the image can easily be taken off.
When you select the image, you will get options to add it behind the text. You can also move the image and change size for a good fit.
The end result, viewed with the Reading View. Not bad, huh?

3. Use header and/or footer

A watermark is an established option to create a message about the status of your document, but it is not the only way. Headers and footers will be visible on every page of your document, too! So you can also use those.

  • In your document, click Insert > Header and Footer.
  • Add the text as a header and/or a footer. You can change the font size and colour; just click on the word and an edit menu will pop up.
  • You will not see the texts when you are in editing mode, but the words “header” and “footer” will be visible next to the top resp. bottom of your page to remind you that they are there.
  • Use the Reading View (under the View tab) to see what it looks like.
The header and footer can also be used for a message about the status of your document.
The end result, in Reading View.

Do you have any workarounds for desktop functionality in the web versions? Please share in the comments!

Leaving the organization gracefully

We all know that your personal mailbox, agenda and personal documents will be deleted some time after you leave the organization.

But recently we have seen that more and more team content is stored (and automagically shared) on personal OneDrives, which means that when someone leaves, that shared content will be deleted and lost.
Owners may not be aware that they are the owner of the video, file or Whiteboard, and that these resources live on their OneDrive.
Colleagues of leaving employees may be in for several unpleasant surprises.

I tried to compile a list of things to look for, so if you are the leaver, you can check these items and decide if they needed to be handed over. You will save your colleagues, your manager and your Microsoft365 admins a lot of hassle!

Yes, the manager will have control of your OneDrive for some time after you have left, but

  • do they know enough about the details of your work to know what to keep and what to let go?
  • do you really want to burden them with this?
  • do you want to leave your remaining colleagues in the dark about team stuff?

If you know that a colleague is leaving, you may want to help him/her with checking NOW which content you need after they have gone.

Step 1: Teams Meetings

Are you the organizer of a regular Teams meeting? The meetings will keep running, but nobody will be able to change dates or times, add or delete invitees, or manage the meeting details. At this moment it is not possible to transfer the ownership, but I think that is in the Roadmap.
It is therefore important to either

  • Stop or cancel the meeting, and ask a colleague to re-schedule it. This will mean that meeting links and resources will change. This is the best suggestion for smaller meetings.
  • For meetings with many attendees, a collague can duplicate the event by opening the meeting, clicking on the … and then “Duplicate event”. The meeting will the be copied with the same invitees. The new owner can then remove the old organizer and make sure times and recurrence is OK. This will send a message to all people in the meeting, but in any case you do not have to add them all again.
    This will also change link and resources.
  • Check meeting chats for important files or attendee reports or recordings that needs to be safe-guarded in SharePoint.

Step 2: Regular files – copy or move to Teams/SharePoint or delete

  • Documents
  • Attachments (from Outlook)
  • Notebooks
  • Pictures
  • Office Lens
  • Transcribed files

Step 3: Special files

I have based this list on the various OneDrive folders as described in my earlier post “Who created those folders in my OneDrive?

Microsoft Teams Chat Files : everything you have shared in private chats

Do you realize that all those screenshots, funny videos and other stuff, that you have ever shared in a private chat (which means: not shared in a Teams channel) live on your OneDrive and will therefore be lost when you leave? It will not be big issue for that silly gif that made your colleague smile when they were feeling down, but there may be relevant documents or screenshots that your colleagues want to keep.

So, you can either check the Microsoft Teams Chat Files folder in your OneDrive, or scroll through your private chats. Upload the files to a relevant Teams/SharePoint site or send them as attachment to your colleagues. (Usually not recommended, but they will need their own document)

Now you will understand why Matt Wade, in his Definitive Guide to Everyday Etiquette in Microsoft Teams, says: “Work should not be completed in private chat”. (Page 14) πŸ™‚

Microsoft Teams Data: Meeting notes from Teams meetings

This contains the Meeting Notes you have created in Teams meetings. I personally do not use this very often to take notes, as I think the functionality is rather limited, but it is helpful in emergencies. Additionally, it does not open easily from OneDrive, I had to select an app to open it (it is an .mht file).

Do you have Meeting Notes that you would want to keep? Copy the text into a Word or OneNote document in the relevant Teams/SharePoint site.

Recordings: Videos from Teams meetings

Another shared resource that is being stored in a personal location. Make sure you move the video(s) that need to be kept to Stream or Teams/SharePoint.

Whiteboards: Sketching sessions (can be from Teams meetings)

At this moment Whiteboards are still stored in Azure, but they will follow the Recording path and be stored in the OneDrive of the person who creates the Whiteboard. This is expected to happen in October 2021, according to the Microsoft Roadmap.

I expect you will be able to copy/move Whiteboards, and I will update this post when I know more.

Step 4: Applications

Forms – the Forms themselves

Please check out my earlier post on how to handle Forms when you leave.

Forms – files from “File Upload” questions will be in a folder called Apps

If the Form will still be running after you leave, please move ownership of the Form to a relevant Teams/SharePoint site as mentioned above.
If you still need these uploaded files, whether the Form is still running or not, please move them to the appropriate Teams/SharePoint site.

This question type will create a folder in your OneDrive to store the documents – please make sure they are preserved if they are still needed!

Workflows

Power Automate workflows are not stored in your OneDrive, but they are personal. Your Flow will keep running (if it is not something in your personal apps, of course) but if it needs an authentication, or needs an edit, it will need a new owner.

You can simply share the Flow with a colleague, so you co-own the Flow.

In your “My Flows” you can select the workflow and share it with your successor. Make sure they have permissions to the source info!

If you have not done that before you leave, your Administrator will be able to hand it over to your colleague. But hey, your Admin is usually busy enough and all those individual fixes take a lot of time! πŸ™‚

How to manage orphan flows when the owner leaves the organization (microsoft.com)

Stream

Do you have any instruction videos that may be useful later, or do you have any old meeting recordings that should be kept?
In Stream, go to “My content” and then “Videos” and see what needs to be transferred. Open the video in question, click the … and select “Update video details”. See screenshot.

More info: Permissions and privacy in Microsoft Stream – Office Support

Here’s how to start changing ownership of a video. Not the most obvious wording πŸ™‚

PowerApps

I do not have too much experience with PowerApps, so I have found a blog that explains how to transfer PowerApps: HOW TO: Change PowerApps Owner | Todd Baginski’s Blog

Lists

For lists in a SharePoint site, you do not necessarily have to change ownership, as generally all Owners will be owner of the List.

For personal lists, that live somewhere in your OneDrive, it may not be so easy. You will have to recreate the list in a SharePoint site. You can use the Excel file as a basis (see my earlier posts on the topic). I hope Microsoft will make moving a personal list to a SharePoint site easier in future!

SharePoint sites

Make sure you appoint another Owner if you are the only one (which is not a good idea, I always suggest to have at least 2 Owners for backup)

You may also want to check the permissions to content that is important for the team, and make sure it will still have an Owner after you have left. Appoint another Owner or, even better, make sure that the permissions of that content follows the permissions of the site.

Have I missed anything?

Or do you have any experiences or suggestions to share? Please let me know!

Update 7 June 2021:

Good addition from Loryan Strant, I do not have too much experience with the apps mentioned (except for OneNote, of course) but be aware if you are using them!

Transferring your Forms when you leave

Are you leaving the organization? In an upcoming post I will write about everything you will have to think of, but for now I would like to focus on what to do with your Forms.

Before you leave

As mentioned earlier, a Form is by default owned by the person who has created it. You can share it with someone, but that person will not be the owner. So if your account gets deleted, your Form and all its content will be deleted as well.
Please be a nice colleague and do the following before you leave. This will save your colleagues and manager, AND your Microsoft365 admin, a lot of hassle. πŸ™‚ Of course your exact actions will depend on the “status” of the Form.

1. Forms that are still actively in use

You can move these to a Group (Team site) which will transfer the ownership to the Group.

  • Make sure you have a Group or Team site with the people who will be responsible for the Form after you have left
  • Move the Form to the Group/Team
    • Open your Forms landing page
    • Click the … on the Form to be moved
    • You will get a popup with the groups you are a member of
    • Select the correct one and click Move
    • Your Form will now be owned by the Group/Team
  • You will see a message about the move, and your name will be replaced with the Group name
  • All people whom you have shared the Form with earlier, will keep their permissions and see the Form on their Forms page
  • A new folder “Apps” will be created in the Document library, with the subfolders, but pictures uploaded before the move, will still live in your OneDrive. Move them to the correct folder in the document library
  • You can use the Form in your Team site by adding it as a Tab
Moving a Form. Please note that this form is owned by me
After moving, there is a message, your name will be replaced with the name of the group and you will also be unable to move it again.

2. Forms that are not currently active, but may be re-used later

Do you have a recurring survey that may be re-used later?

a. You can share it as a Template. The new owner can then create a new Form from your template and it will be theirs. Check this post on how to do that.

b. You can move it to a Group or Teamsite, see above.

3. Forms that have expired

Forms that have served their purpose can be left as they are.
If those Forms have File Uploads that you want to keep, please move the files to a Team/SharePoint site.
You may want to export the Excel file and store that in a Team/SharePoint site, for future reference.

4. Uploaded files

Did your Form(s) have a “File Upload” question? The files live in your OneDrive in a dedicated folder called “Apps”. (See my earlier post on the folders that are created by Microsoft365).

Please check your OneDrive and move the images manually to the new site. Files uploaded after the move will be uploaded to the Team/SharePoint site. (Again, in a folder called “Apps”)

After moving the Form, any File Uploads will be stored in the dedicated folder in the SharePoint site.

After you have left

Until your account has been deleted, (in our organization 14 days after your official leaving date), nobody can do anything. I recently was in this situation, and it was very annoying that the Form could not be used until that time had passed.
When your account has been deleted, an admin has 30 days to dive into the system and move any Forms that your organization wants to keep, to a Group/Team site, following these instructions (under the heading: Form Ownership Transfer). Just make sure your admin account has a license and that there is an appropriate Group/Teamsite.

Your manager will have 30 days ( or longer, depending on system settings) to move your File Uploads to a shared location.

I think you will understand now why I asked to do it before you leave the organization, right? πŸ™‚ All the best in your new role!

Update May 29, 2021:

On LinkedIn, Deb Walthers suggested to use a service account for creating the Forms that need to stay. That is an excellent suggestion if you know beforehand that this will be a long-term Form. In real life, I find that not everyone knows the lifespan of their Form when they create it.
I like the fact that Forms are completely democratic and can be created and adjusted by everyone in the organization. Using a service account (which I assume are owned by IT, at least in my organization) would put ownership in the hands of IT. But it would definitely be a good option for long-term and organization-wide Forms.

Your very own SharePoint page

As we are currently working on a new intranet (SharePoint! At last!) we are thinking about “personal” information on the intranet. So I am looking into web parts that can be added to a page, which will present information especially for you.
Of course, you can add document library and list web parts with a default view of “Created by = [Me]” or “Assigned to = [Me]” etc. but that is generally for a specific site that you work in, rather than being applicable to anyone in the organization.

But there are a few web parts which can be used centrally, on an intranet page called “My Page” or similar, that shows information just for you.

1. My News

The News webpart allows you to show News from the site where the web part lives, or from selected sites. Quite a pleasant functionality, I must say. But you can also select “Recommended for current user” and that will show you YOUR News.

This looks as the same News that is shown on the SharePoint landing page, but it will bring it into the intranet, which saves switching apps.

Microsoft info: Use the News web part on a SharePoint page – Office Support (microsoft.com)

Select this News source to give everyone an overview of their personal News on the intranet

2. Saved for later

This web part will show you documents and News items that you have saved for later. It corresponds somewhat with the “Favourites” on the Microsoft365 landing page, but it will only take news posts and “real” documents, presumably from OneDrive and SharePoint.
And of course it shows the same content as the Saved for later web part on the SharePoint landing page.

There are a few display options to choose from while configuring.

Microsoft info: Use the Saved for later web part – SharePoint (microsoft.com)

The configuration

For comparison: above you will see the items shown in Saved for Later, below are My Favourites on the M365 landing page. You see that Forms, Lists and an attachment in my Outlook are not shown in Saved for later. That is a little inconsistent.

My Favourites on the M365 landing page. The highlighted items are shown in “Saved for later”.

3. Recent documents

This web part shows documents you opened or worked on recently. There’s not much to configure, just the number of documents. It corresponds to the “Recent” tab of the M365 landing page, but then if it would be filtered for Office documents.

Microsoft info: Use the Recent documents web part – SharePoint (microsoft.com)

Recent documents appear to show only Office documents, not recordings etc.

4. Sites

This web part can show your frequently visited sites. You can select the layout and the number of sites shown. It corresponds with your “Recent” list on the SharePoint landing page. In my experiment, it did not show a webpart title upon publishing, so I had to invent my own.

Microsoft info: Use the Sites web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)

The Compact view shows small icons, the Grid view is larger but takes up more space.

5. Conversations (Yammer)

This Yammer web part shows what’s on the Yammer feed. Use the option “Home Feed” to make it personal. My web part is empty, as I am the only person in my tenant and have written all messages, but I hope you will get the gist. πŸ™‚

Microsoft info: Use a Yammer web part in SharePoint Online – Office Support (microsoft.com)

The Yammer conversations web part can also be made personal

6. My Feed

This will show a variety of items, such as appointments and files that you have shared or updated. In my own tenant it does not show anything, so I have used another tenant, hence the blurred info. You will also see more of the Yammer conversations web part πŸ™‚

Microsoft info: Use the My feed web part – Office Support (microsoft.com)

My Feed and the options for configuration

7. Tasks?

I have heard rumours about a Tasks web part but I have not seen it yet, so I do not know if it can show your personal Tasks from Planner and ToDo.

“See all”

All web parts have a “See all” option to display more. This is all shown in the site where you are, and generally in a card format.
The only exception is the Conversations web part, where the option is called “View all” and takes you to Yammer.

What do I think?

In general, this is interesting functionality. Some of these web parts are already available in other places in Microsoft365, but it can give your colleagues a good overview of their stuff, and save time switching apps. It is not new – at an earlier employer we already had personal tasks web parts back in 2005, on SharePoint 2003. But that did not look as good and was not as easy to configure as this πŸ™‚

It can also help bring home the message that Microsoft365 is a fully integrated suite of tools.

The look-and-feel is quite pleasant, but be careful with the number of items you make available, and the layout, as it can easily become a very long page. Below a screenshot of what I ended up with, while finding out what was available.

Of course it will be interesting to see how people will respond to a page that has all their own information “on the intranet”. We need to inform people that the content will be different for everyone.

Are you using this in any way? Any thoughts and suggestions as for the perfect page layout? Please let me know – screenshots also welcome!

The end result, but I am sure this can be layed out a bit better.

Some intranet promotion videos – part 8

I have a few intranet videos lined up that I would like to share.

1. Mobile app for a German wind turbine service organization.

This teaser is quite nice as it shows the benefits of the new intranet app for a real-life person, in this case a service engineer. It is a little rehearsed, but it is good to see someone NOT in the office sitting in front of a PC.

It sounds as if the intranet is for corporate info but also plays a large part in keeping the organization connected.

There’s a QR code at the end, and yes, you will be able to download the app, but you can not log on, of course. The next video (no sound) shows what you can do when you have downloaded the app and have signed in. It also has some nice suggestions for your profile picture.

Uploaded April 2021.

2. Demo for a new school intranet

This demo is first of all nice because it is SharePoint, and quite recent as you can see the App bar. The content is what you would expect from a school intranet, with information about the curriculum and exams, a Staff Hub and a Student Hub and so forth. It is quite long with more than 7 minutes, but it is a good showcase of SharePoint site functionalities.

The intranet is for a scondary school in New Zealand.

Uploaded May 2021.

3. Teaser/demo for a revamp

A subtle, tongue-in-cheek teaser for the redesign of an old (SharePoint) intranet that was outdated and looked it, too! The new design does not look like SharePoint, but when you look at the tablet and phone display, you will see it is the SharePoint app. I assume they have some “shell” around it. This revamp was done in 2018, so around the time that the new SharePoint site designs were introduced. If only they had known! But I am guessing here.

This intranet is for a US state child support programme.

Uploaded May 2021.

4. Introduction/teaser for managers

This is a video for managers of a company that works in the construction & engineering, operations & maintenance, staffing, security and defense business in the USA. It informs management of the revamp of their intranet. It could have been a nice teaser, but instead it is a rather overloaded PowerPoint, both content-wise and visually.
I do not think that management will be interested in the name of the platform (it is not SharePoint, although they appear to use sites), for instance. They will be interested in what’s new and how it will help the organization communicate or engage or perform better.

I was quite shocked at the Must-Reads: information that employees will have to confirm they read it. Although I sometimes wish we had that at my organization, I think it is going too far – you will end up with a ton of mandatory reading as everyone will think that their info is essential.

Well, I will be curious what management thinks as the preview will be on May 25th and the launch is June 2nd!

Uploaded: April 2021.

That was all, folks! See you next time!

Image by Photo by Ingo Joseph from Pexels and a bit from myself. Person Recording A Video Β· Free Stock Photo (pexels.com)

List Alerts Rule

When the Microsoft Lists app was introduced I was a bit apprehensive, as I did not really know what all the fuss was about. But now that I have worked with Lists, I am starting to see the light! A few things that I like:

  • You can create personal Lists, which appear to live on OneDrive (as the URL for a list starts similarly, but I have no clue where to access them on OneDrive)
  • The options for colour and icons (trivial, but nice)
  • The ability to create a list from an Excel file, see my earlier post
  • The templates with content
  • Rules. You can create Rules to send yourself an email when something happens in your list.

But…you can also set an oldfashioned Alert. So, guess what I am going to do in this post? Ah, you know me by now. πŸ™‚

Setup:

I used an Issue Tracker list in a personal and a SharePoint version. (In SharePoint, you can use “Add an app” from the gear wheel menu, or “New > List” or “New > App” from the Site Contents page)

I have set one Alert (for new items) as I know how that works

I have also set all the Rules, as I am curious what I will see, two in the Personal version and two in SharePoint.

How does the Alert work?

  • You can do this from the Lists app and from SharePoint
  • You can do this on a personal list (πŸ‘) and on SharePoint
  • Microsoft information
  • In the top bar, click “Alert Me” or the … at the right of the other commands and select “Alert Me”
Setting an Alert in SharePoint. This can also be done from the Lists app and in personal Lists.
  • Adjust the popup to your purpose and click “Save”
  • You will receive an email confirmation
  • When the desired change happens in the list, you will get an email
  • The sender will be yourself if the Alert is from a personal list, or the site name if it is from a SharePoint list.
The familiar Alerts functionality
This is the email body from the Alert

How do Rules work?

  • You can do this from the Lists app and from SharePoint
  • You can do this on a personal list and on SharePoint
  • You can find the Rule option in the top bar under “Automate”
Creating a rule in SharePoint (this can also be done from the Lists app, and for personal Lists)

You have 4 options:

  • A column changes
  • A column value changes
  • A new item is created
  • An item is deleted
The available options for a rule

Creating the rule is pretty easy – click on the desired change and in most cases you just select the column and/or enter the email adress of the person(s) you want to send the change to (including a Me option).

The most complicated one is “a column value changes” as this will ask you the column, e.g. “Status”, the condition (“is” or “is not”) and the value, e.g. “Completed”, and then the email address.

Setting the Rule for when a column value changes
  • You do not get a confirmation email
  • The sender is SharePoint Online
  • When the conditions are met, you will get the following emails:
The notifications from Rules; for Personal Lists they are in Dutch
The email body from this Rule; please note that it uses the known document management icons
Another mail, deleted this time.

But wait, there’s more!

The Reminder, of course! That is a long-desired option that has always been missing in Alerts.

The long-awaited reminder function!

This reminder option will send a notification x days before a certain date. This date needs to be a Time and Date field and can not be a calculated field, so any calculated Due Dates can not be done.
In this case, a reminder before the Data reported is also quite silly, as this is an Issue tracker and the Date Reported is at best Today and sometimes even in the past.

The reminders are Power Automate, and you can find them under My Flows.

The reminders are based on Power Automate

I have set a reminder for 1 day before the Estimated Close date on May 4. So I expected the mail on May 3, but it only arrived on May 4, 01.00 hours. So you have to select the interval carefully.

The Reminders
And this is the reminder mail, the other one is similar. Note the time sent!

What do I think?

  • πŸ‘ You can set Alerts and Rules in personal Lists. It can be useful when you are sharing a List with someone.
  • πŸ‘ Rules are easy to set up – you can use “Me” to send an email to yourself
  • πŸ‘ Rules use a familiar look and feel for emails – it looks like sharing emails and uses the regular document management icons
  • πŸ‘‰ The Reminder option can be useful, but it only works on dates in the future that you pick yourself. An option to work on calculated dates would be nice!
  • πŸ‘‰ The Reminder option works, but you have to test whether your reminder arrives on the desired time. In this experiment, 1 day turned out to be “on the day itself”.
  • πŸ‘Ž Rules do not take a change of list name into account. I changed the personal list to “Issue tracker Personal” but the email from the Rule did not adjust. The email from the Alert did, so did the mail from the Reminder.
  • πŸ‘Ž I miss a Rule for: “any changes in the List”. Quite often more than one column is changed, so that would mean you will need to set more Rules in order to be informed properly. You can set 15 rules on any List.
  • πŸ‘Ž The information in the email from Rules is minimal – you have to go to the List to see what has changed. This makes Alerts more useful for any changes except Deletions
  • πŸ‘Ž The emails could benefit from more visual (typographic or otherwise) distinction between the actions and values, e.g. ” Ellen van Aken changed Assigned To to Ellen van Aken for SharePoint News does not show the latest items
  • πŸ‘Ž The sender of a Rule notification is always SharePoint Online – that gives less information than the sender of Alerts, which is yourself (for a personal list) or the SharePoint site name (for a SharePoint list). Especially when you have created many Rules, it may be hard to see what’s what.

Conclusion

I think this is very promising functionality, but I think it can be improved, especially on “information scent”. For the time being I prefer the good old fashioned Alert. It does not look as nice, but it gives you more information!

What are your thoughts/experiences?

3 ways to share a Form with colleagues

We are using Forms for almost everything these days. We have used it to sign up for webinars, to register who enters the building, to request research and that is outside the “formal” use as a way to get people’s opinion.

As Forms is a personal tool, all Forms you create are by default for your eyes only. You are the only one who can adjust your Form and can view the responses. Moreover, when you leave the organization, your Forms are deleted. And while your Form appears to be a sort of document (it appears in your All files on your Microsoft365 start page), it does not live in your OneDrive nor SharePoint so your manager can not save it when you leave.

Fortunately, there are a few options to share Forms with others (in or outside your organization).

1. Just the responses

If you would like your colleagues to view results, you can share the responses page with them.

  • Click on the Responses tab and then the … on the right
  • Click “Create a summary link” from the popup
  • Share the resulting link with the person(s) you would like to share with.
How to give your colleagues insight in the responses

The people you share the link with will only see the response page, and can not see anything more, such as all results or individual results. In case you have asked text- or date-questions, they will only see the 3 latest responses.

Colleagues will only see responses and nothing more.
This is what you see if you are the owner of the Form – you have many extra options.

So, this can be useful if you want to share preliminary results with your colleague or team. They can watch progress and get an idea of the responses. But they will only get the complete picture when you share the final results with them.

2. Share the Form to collaborate

My colleague and I organize webinars, and one of us creates the Form to sign up and then shares it with the other. We can both adjust the texts, questions and settings, which allows us to make modifications where needed, e.g. add a warning that a certain webinar is fully booked, share the link or close the Form when we are at the end of a series.
Additionally, we can both see all the results, and export them to Excel, so we can both see who we need to invite for each webinar.
This is useful when your Form is part of a team project, or when the Owner is busy or on a longer leave during the run.

The Form will still be deleted once the Owner leaves the organization and their account is deleted. If the Form needs to run after their departure, the new owner will have to make sure to download the Excel, make a copy or use the template (see option 3), and share the link to the copy before the original Form is removed.

How do you share to collaborate?

  • Click the Share button, and in the popup go to “Share to collaborate”
  • Click “Get a link to view and edit”
  • Select the option on the bottom: “Specific people in my organization can view and edit” (assuming you do not want the whole world to be able to edit your survey)
  • Start typing the name of the person(s) or Group you want to share the Form with, and click on the correct suggestion
  • If it is urgent, copy the link and share it with your colleague(s), but the Form will show up on their Forms page anyway under “Shared with me”.
This is the place to be when you want to share a Form to collaborate
Enter the name and click on the correct suggestion.

3. Share as a template

If you have created a nice Form, and someone else wants to use it for their own purposes, you can share your Form as a template. They will then create one or more stand-alone copies of your Form. I often use this when creating a “solution” for a specific question. In that case I create the Form and after testing and approval from the requester, I share it as a template. They are then free to do with the Form whatever they want.

  • Click the “Share” button, and in the popup go to “Share as a template”
  • Click “Get a link to duplicate”
  • Share the resulting link with the people you want to share it with – these can also be outside of your organization
How to share your Form as a template – this will create a stand-alone copy

The receiver clicks on the link and sees the Form with a text on top: “Duplicate this form to use as your own”. If they then click “Duplicate it” they will have a copy of the Form. The word “Copy” is added to title, but the new owner can remove that easily.

The new owner of the Form will get this message – easy-peasy!

Stop sharing

As far as I know, you can not stop sharing the response page or the template, but you can stop the sharing to collaborate.

  • Click the “Share” button
  • Click the arrow to the right of the people that have access
  • In the next pane, hover over the person or group to be removed and click the trash can symbol
You can easily see who has access, and manage access from here as well
Just click on the trash can symbol to remove access

What type of link did I receive?

You can see from the first part of the link what your colleague shared with you:

  1. The responses page: https://forms.office.com/Pages/AnalysisPage.aspx
  2. The link to collaborate: https://forms.office.com/Pages/DesignPage.aspx
  3. The template: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ShareFormPage.aspx

Thoughts?

Do you often share your Forms or do you mostly keep them to yourself? If you share, what do you use most often?