In my current role I have a slightly wider scope than “just” SharePoint and Yammer. I am now troubleshooting and advising about the other Office 365 tools as well, so I need to expand my skills and knowledge rapidly to stay a few steps ahead of my audience 🙂 .
The other day one of my colleagues asked if there is an easier way to create the photo albums he needs to make as part of his role. The organization I work for occasionally rents out parts of their buildings or hires space from others. In those cases, my colleague takes pictures of the buildings to document their current state. The pictures are collated into an album which has to be signed off by both parties at the start of the rental agreement.
What is the current method?
Take pictures with smartphone
Send pictures to work email (in batches to avoid too large attachments)
File pictures from each email in OneDrive on laptop (Attachments folder)
Create project folder in OneDrive
Transfer pictures to project folder
Remove pictures from phone
Creating the album
Open a new PowerPoint presentation
Make cover slide
Insert pictures from OneDrive into PowerPoint
Arrange pictures on slides
Add end slide (usually, with the dates, names and signatures)
Save PowerPoint as PDF
Well, I thought that I (or rather, Office 365) could make things easier for him. I confirmed he had the OneDrive app on his phone, so I came up with…
The new method
Getting pictures with the OneDrive app
Create project folder in the OneDrive app
Open the folder
3. Take pictures with the + button top right or the diaphragm button at the bottom (make sure you set it to “Photo”) 4. Pictures will be saved in the folder
Creating the album in the OneDrive Client
Create a picture of the cover and end slides
Add to project folder of pictures, making sure that cover and end slide are the first and last items (generally, adding an A and a Z in front of the respective names will do the trick)
Select all images in the folder, click “Share” > “Print”
4. In the screen that pops up, select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer and determine a layout (generally 2 or 4 to a page)
You can only create the album in the OneDrive Client – the Online and App versions do not have this functionality. In fact, this is Windows functionality and not limited to OneDrive.
You can use a “blank image” just before the last image to make the number even and have a better print result.
You can change the orientation of the pictures/album by clicking “Options” in the pop up screen and then “Printer Properties”.
Unfortunately you can only use one display for the whole series. It would have been nice if you could decide to make theboth cover and end slides a full page in the series, and provide the pictures in e.g. 4 on a page. This is clearly a limitation of this way of working.
My colleague was especially happy with the camera options of the OneDrive app, which he was not aware of before. Just after taking a few pictures he realized that this will be a big time-saver. The second part, creating the album with the OneDrive Client instead of PowerPoint, felt like a bigger change in practice, but he was willing to try it.
As usual, this is nothing fancy. It is just trying to match a need with existing functionality. And it makes me happy when I succeed. 🙂
So I thought to share my story, triggered by the workshop that Steve Bynghall and Chris Tubb hosted at the recent edition of IntranetNow. They showed their newly developed “Intranet and Digital Workplace Skills Matrix” which can be used to help teams determine if all relevant skills are covered and if not, which gaps need to be filled. But…it can also be a useful and fun exercise for yourself. In the workshop, Steve and Chris asked us to mark those boxes where we have experience. It was interesting to see that I have worked in each of the 5 categories and I think I was the only one who could say that. I usually describe my work as “helping people with using SharePoint and Office365” but within that definition I appear to have had very different roles over the years. So, as an example of how to get insight in your own career, let me share my career path with you:
1. Knowledge Management
After 20 years in new (food) product development, I started a role in Knowledge Management in the same organization, which at that time focused on new product development. Part of the project meant I had to share the outcomes on the intranet. This ticked a number of boxes in the Content and Communication “arm” mainly.
2. Intranet adoption (awareness and training)
During my Knowledge Management project I met the intranet team and they asked me to help them create more awareness and use of the intranet. In this role I tried to make people aware of the intranet and how people could use it for themselves. I also did some basic troubleshooting, support and training. At that time (around 2003 or so) intranets were generally custom-built and options were limited – apart from a Frontpage website, a home-built “document cabinet” and a Forum tool there was not much else. Still, in an international organization even these limited tools helped to share information with colleagues in other locations and businesses, so a number of people were very active on the intranet. The boxes ticked made a shift to the right.
3. Intranet adoption (configuration)
Then we moved to a SharePoint (2003) intranet and found so many options to help employees, that we decided to act as internal consultants, identifying painful processes and configuring sites to facilitate the processes and make them more efficient. I have blogged about this earlier: That was a wonderful job which taught me a great deal about business processes AND about SharePoint!
4. SharePoint site collection manager
After being made redundant as result of a reorganization, I found another job at a multinational organization. My role was to act as the site collection administrator, making sure procedures around customizatons were adhered to, the site collection did not grow too large (yes dear reader, in that 2007 SharePoint each site collection was allowed 2 GB, which is not much in current standards), doing housekeeping on empty sites etc. I also configured sites, did troubleshooting and gave advice and trainings.
5. SharePoint, Yammer, Video support
When we had launched our new intranet on SharePoint Online, I was part of the support team, figuring out issues with permissions, document management, pages and web parts, Yammer and Video. I also curated and created help materials and was in charge of a successful Yammer group on Office365, where we answered questions and informed people about changes in functionality or issues, and where people shared tips and tricks.
6. Office 365 adoption
My last role at that organization was to help people use the various elements of their digital workplace. The focus was on Office 365 but other all-employee tools were in scope as well, such as Adobe Creative suite license changes and a new password reset system. I was helping with software launches and changes by figuring out how much and what type of adoption effort was needed, finding help materials (or creating them if they were not available) and providing communication and training to local support people.
7. Office 365 functional management
A few months ago I had the opportunity to change jobs..in a big way! After 35 years of working in multinational commercial manufacturing organizations, I now work in an all-Dutch mental health care organization. I am still providing second line support, I am an Office 365 portal administrator, I help people understand all tools within Office 365, I invent solutions for awkward processes, I create training materials if I can not find them in Dutch, co-decide which of the endless changes in functionality needs to be communicated, and everything else about Office 365. So, which boxes have I ticked? Check it out:
You can see some skills coming back in almost every role. Of course I have my personal interests that I try to incorporate into each role. But also my (then) existing skillset and earlier experience have influenced the boxes that I have selected. I always try to create a role with maximum interest and learning opportunities for myself. I can heartily recommend this to get an insight into your own career. Give it a try!
Collaboration Team sites home pages showed the security classification of the content, the audience and the site owner. (Useful! If applied correctly…)
We added another permissions level to avoid site owners creating subsites.
The document content types had 20 fields of hidden metadata in them, as per our term store. This was to improve the search experience – after all, in a 40.000 employee company with many locations, a few metadata would be most helpful to find the document from the correct business, function or location.
Dude, where’s my documentation?
So, when the intranet was ready to launch, and support was handed over to the regular support team, the Support team manager asked the developers for all the documentation. It was not there and they had not planned for it. Against the advice of Veronique Palmer, he accepted this as a fact and support was handed over to the support team. After all, one of the developers was in-house so we could always turn to him.
Or so we thought, as he left the organization shortly after launch of the intranet…
Support mostly went OK as the majority of issues had to do with permissions. But when the content types started to show issues we had no clue where to go for help, so we ended up installing the regular content types. Nobody wanted to complete 20 metadata fields for each document! And when the organization changed structure, the metadata changed as well and nobody knew where to make the changes in the content types.
What to document?
So, while I agree with everyone that too much documentation is a waste of time and effort, it DOES make sense to document:
Any custom functionality. What is the customization supposed to do? What are the specific settings? Is this set by tenant, site collection, or site? Where are the settings to install and implement it? What can go wrong? What NOT to do (for the admins and the users)? Where to go when support people or architects need to look, change or troubleshoot? Etc.
Anything that is on the roadmap to be improved after the MVP-state. What does it do now? Into which direction will improvements most likely go? Where and how to make those changes? What to look out for? What will break and will need to be fixed when you make those improvements?
Anything that can be expected to need adjustments with organizational change. And trust me, organizational change will happen! The company’s name, the company’s logo, the businesses, there may even be splits, mergers or acquisitions on the horizon. So, make clear where your intranet logo and images live, what effect changing terms in the term store will do to your customizations, and where you need to make the necessary changes to make sure the organizational changes are reflected correctly.
My OneNote conference workflow is now to have the same notebook open in phone and on PC, and to use the built-in OfficeLens tooling to capture slides on the phone while I take notes on the PC: images appear inline as they are taken.
I really liked that idea but I could not very well imagine how it worked exactly. And as this is another way I can make work easier for my colleagues, who generally do not have the time or the interest to find out these things, I decided to try it and write it all down. The Office 365 and SharePoint Connect conference in Haarlem was a good moment to test it all, using a tablet, but it works the same on a PC.
The day before the conference
Make sure you have the OneNote app installed on your tablet/PC and smartphone, and that you are logged in on both devices with the same account.
If you have never used the camera option of OneNote on your phone, make sure you know where to find it, and practice by photographing something, e.g. your PC screen, with the automatic edge detection and cropping.
Create a notebook for conferences.
Create a section for the next conference. From there you can create a page for each session.
Charge your devices and a power bank if you have one. It may be my iPad but it devoured battery. A charger may be useful as well, to use during breaks.
Clean the camera lens on your phone 🙂
Before each session
Make sure your devices are connected to the conference wifi
Create a page for the next session
Open tablet/PC and phone on the session’s page
During the session
Make notes on your tablet/PC
Whenever you want to capture a slide, take a picture with your phone while both phone and tablet/PC are on the session page with the cursor below the current notes. Take the picture when the purple lines are around the slide. The “Document” picture option appears to give the best results.
The picture captured in the purple lines will be added to the page at the place where your cursor is, on both devices.
After the conference
Process your notes like you are used to.
Remove the original pictures from your phone’s photo gallery to free up space. Your slide pictures will still stay in OneNote.
I really like this option. I love the fact that the cropped image automagically appears in your notes 🙂 . I also like the fact that you have the slides immediately; of course you can also wait until the organization makes the decks available, but by that time I generally no longer have the time and patience to cut and paste all this.
“ I can not open the embedded document” the user told me.
“Ah”, I thought, “I have once solved a case for that”.
“Please ask the site owner to make sure the library opens in the client application” I told the user. “Because embedded documents do not open in the online version“.
I thought that was the end of it, but some time later the site owner contacted me, telling me that the document library always opened in client so he did not understand what I meant.
To be honest, I did not understand it either anymore, so I needed to put on my sleuthing hat.
I checked the library and the settings. Yes, the library was set to open in the client.
I selected the document and opened it with Word. No problem.
I asked the user which version of Word he had. A recent client version.
Then I checked his permissions to the site. Somehow or other I always end up checking permissions. The user had Read permissions, as expected.
I looked at the items with different permissions and noticed that the document library had different permissions from the site. There I saw that the user had been added with View Only, which according to the description means: View pages, items, and documents. Any document that has a server-side file handler can be viewed in the browser but not downloaded. File types that do not have a server-side file handler (cannot be opened in the browser), such as video files, .pdf files, and .png files, can still be downloaded.
6. I gave my colleague the same permissions to the site and checked what happened. Indeed, she could only open documents in the online version with that role.
The site owner had inherited the site and did not know why this permissions set had been given. To be honest, I have never used it so I wonder what people use it for.
I explained the situation and told him that the determining factor was the need to see the embedded document.
If the user had no need for the embedded document, he could leave the permissions as they were.
If the user needed to see the embedded document, he still had two choices:
– Make the document available in the document library, instead of embedding it, and leave the permissions as they were
– Give the user Read permissions
Be aware that people with View Only can also not Copy or Move.
@Site Owners: stick to the standard roles as much as possible
@Site Owners: always ask your predecessor for the why if you see any strange things when the old site owner hands over the site to you. (Yes, I know this will not happen, but a support girl can dream 🙂 )
@Support people: You will have noticed by now that you should always check
– Client/Online opening behaviour
– Classic/Modern settings (they are not an issue here, but have been unexpected causes of issues in other cases)
– AND permissions
About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it. As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.
The team I mentioned in my blog “Using Yammer for a business process” had difficulty tracking all conversations and actions in their Yammer groups. Their groups knew heavy traffic, and conversations went up and down on the page, depending on latest posts. It was easy to miss a reported issue when it had been open for a few days.
So the team asked if it was possible to give them a report of the data, so they could better
track questions, issues and especially resolutions
keep track of the people who had joined the conversation (posting in the groups was an objective for all sales people)
I do not know if any of you will ever need this, but as I am also keeping this blog as a reminder to myself, let me share it – you never know 🙂
What is available?
As far as I know, there are four options for reporting:
You can find this on the right-hand column of the group. This gives you some data about the number of people, messages and views. However, this does not give any information about the content, so this was not of interest to them.
Power BI I am not an expert on PowerBI, but I have seen some reports for Yammer which look pretty good. It is also possible to show the content of each message. However, as we did not have this available for end users, (for reasons of licence costs + the preference for other BI tooling) it was not a suitable option for this purpose at that time.
Flow “When a message is posted in a group on Yammer” is a trigger on Flow. You can send data to a SharePoint list, although I do not know if you can sort or group on conversation. Flow could have been an option, but with their post volumes, they might have needed a premium plan and we did not want to risk that.
BTW, an interesting use of Flow and Yammer is this “Sentiment analysis of Yammer posts” by Chris Bortlik.
Exporting the network data
This option allows a Yammer Network Admin to make an extract of all conversations, dates, people and what not between two dates. This was a suitable answer to their question so we set about to make this happen.
It is not possible to export the conversations of one group only, so it took some figuring out if and how we could do this in a responsible way:
Data security concerns in general – as this option exports all conversations from all groups, the Network Admin could also see conversations from private groups. Of course any network admin is supposed to be a responsible and trustworthy person and has likely signed an NDA when joining the organization. Besides, they can give themselves access to private groups anyway, so after some discussion this was approved.
Privacy concerns for the members of the groups in scope – but everyone had agreed to this way of doing their business and was aware of and OK with the export and the data – in fact, the report was shared with all concerned.
Cleansing and presenting data – how could the substantial amount of data be processed quickly as this was going to be a weekly task for the Yammer Network Admin.
Following the instructions, you will get a zip file with several data sheets, of which you need the one called Messages.
Here’s some group conversations I made earlier 🙂. There are some updates, replies, replies to replies, and an announcement, in a random post order. I have numbered them to make it easier to see how things are displayed in the export.
When exporting the data and opening the “Messages” file I get a file looking like this:
I have created an Excel in which I go from the raw data to the final sorted data in several steps / tabs. You can view or download it here.
Cleansing the data
The raw file contains many columns which are not relevant for this purpose. The following ARE important:
group_name (if you have multiple groups to manage)
sender_name (and/or sender_email)
Please remove the other columns to make your file a bit more manageable.
The result is shown in tab “Correct columns” in the Excel sample.
As I said you will export all conversations in the network in the given time interval. You will now need to sort on “group_name” and then remove every line item that is not in one of the groups in scope.
There is little activity in my one-person Yammer tenant so there was only one group and one person in my export. I have removed those columns to make the file less cluttered. This is the “Work data” tab.
Interpreting the data
Now, let’s see how they belong together:
Every message gets a number, the “id”. A higher “id” means that the message has been posted later than a lower “id”.
The raw export sorts the messages by “id”, ascending (earliest message on top).
Every thread (conversation / series of messages) has a number, the “thread_id”. It is the “id” of the first message of the thread. For the first thread (Message 1) this is 1197762641. So, all messages that have 1197762641 under “thread_id” belong to Message 1. In the tab “Colour-coded work data” each number has its own colour, providing they are/have a reply or a thread_id.
Every reply has the “id” they replied to, in the “replied_to_id” column.
Every new thread has an empty box in “replied_to_id”
It looks like this:
Presenting the data
This team wanted to be able to quickly scan through all conversations, to see if they had been addressed. They were looking for messages in the “body” that said something like “This complaint has been registered in CRM with number 123” or “We have discussed this with management and added this to our wish list for 2020” or similar. These messages would typically be at the end of a conversation. Anything that showed that the message had been read, processed and entered into the appropriate system.
So, we sorted the messages on “thread_id” first and then on “id”. This gave them the info they needed. You can see that in the “Sorted data” tab.
Additionally, they sorted on “sender_email” to count the number of entries for each Sales person.
We all sometimes reply to the original and sometimes to a reply. You can sort that out in the data export if you want, but in this case all threads needed to end with a resolution. So in general, the last updates in time were the most relevant.
Please select your date range carefully or you will end up with an unworkably large file, not only in number of line items, but also in GB’s. And remember to turn off the attachment downloads!
The “title” field is useful only when you want to make a distinction between normal updates and Announcements. Every reply to an announcement is treated as a normal update.
Please make sure your users do not use paragraphs or hard returns in their messages as only text before the hard return is exported into the “body” field.
Have you ever used the data export option for Yammer? Please let me know!
Why not use Teams?
If they were to start this project now, I would probably advise Teams rather than Yammer. But I have not been able to find any way to export the data, nor is a new Teams post a trigger for Flow at this moment. So I am not sure if Teams would have met their reporting requirements.
Now it is time to gather the responses and see how they are displayed and what you can do with them. It is quite a long read but there are many screenshots as well!
What to look out for?
How you can distribute the link to the survey
What the survey looks like when you respond
How the results are being displayed by default and if you can export them
What else you can do with the data
All tools allow creating a link or sending an email with the link.
Forms has the additional option to add the form directly on a SharePoint page, which looks very inviting, especially if the survey contains only a few questions. Forms can also generate a QR code to take you to the survey.
The SharePoint survey and Custom List can be added as a web part on a SharePoint page, but they are not exactly inviting users to enter.
SurveyMonkey has many different ways to get responses.
Google Forms allows you to add the survey questions directly into an email, which is very convenient.
Of course the user experience is very important. If your survey has a tiny typeface, or takes forever to load, people are not likely to complete it.
You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Remember: you do not have to add any real data.
I am sharing some screenshots of remarkable things.
The Net Promotor Score looks special:
This is the SharePoint Survey, in case you had forgotten what it looks like 🙂
And this is how you enter data into a SharePoint custom list: in the information pane on the right-hand side of the page, which feels a bit strange.
Next to a rather large font size, SurveyMonkey has the option to create columns for answers, which I really like as they make good use of space:
Google Forms has nothing special, but it looks solid and modern.
Thank you everyone who has responded to one of the surveys! This allows me to show some of the results graphs. This is what the various response pages look like:
SharePoint Survey. I am sharing only part of the graphical summary as I guess you have seen it before and it is not very exciting. Now I remember how annoying that “multiple responses” question is – you need to re-score everything manually! 😦
The SharePoint custom list has no graphical summary. You just see the responses as line items in a list.
SurveyMonkey has a very long page of results. All responses are shown with a scroll bar (see the first screenshot) or with a graphical summary first and then the individual responses below. For each chart, you can change the chart type.
I will only show a few screens.
Google Forms results look like this:
I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. Look at the “Responses and Results” tab. Please use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.
Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
Orange: Available with a workaround
Red/No: Not available
Again, the classic SharePoint options are in a league of their own.
Microsoft Forms appears to have more in common with SurveyMonkey Free and Google Forms than with SharePoint. All three surveys are pleasant to complete and the graphical display of results is much better than with the SharePoint survey.
Forms is really the new way to conduct surveys in your organization and possibly with externals. It looks pleasant both on a SharePoint page and when completing it, it has a ton of good options, decent colourful graphs and it works with Flow.
Some people will really like that Net Promoter Score 🙂
I am sure that Forms will continue to develop, so I will try to keep this comparison up-to-date.
The SharePoint survey feels a tad outdated, although you can still conduct good surveys with it. The graphical summary is very inferior to what Forms has to offer. My suggestion would be to use this only when you need one of the more advanced Q & A options, such as selecting a name from someone in your organization. The whole permissions management is also more complicated than with Forms, as described in my “SharePoint Survey lifecycle” blog.
The SharePoint custom list may not be the option that comes to mind first when you talk about a survey, but especially the options to process the data after collection can be the reason to use it. You can group and filter the entries just like any View and edit entries (e.g. mark an item as “Completed” or add a certain category). With the additional column types and the connection with Flow this can be the tool of choice when collecting data from the organization is the starting point for a project or process.
There are no graphics by default, but PowerBI may be used if needed.
Many thanks to my former colleague Scott Lewis who pointed out the benefits of custom lists when combined with Forms and Flow.
SurveyMonkey is of course THE specialized tool for surveys. It has extensive help for your survey questions and many options. It is the only tool that can show columns of responses, which is nice to keep your survey compact. It allows you to change the chart type of the results if desired. However, the free version has a few annoying limitations and I personally find the “management” interface rather cluttered.
For large-scale complicated surveys where you need to analyze responses in-depth the paid version beats Microsoft Forms.
Google Forms is a solid modern tool. Apart from the “display form straight in an email” it does not have any remarkable features.
Hope this comparison is useful to you. Have I missed any that are important for you? Please let me know – also if it has helped to move your colleagues away from SurveyMonkey (free) or GoogleForms! 🙂