The official English saying appears to be “there is more than one way to skin a cat” but as I love cats and do not support their being skinned, I have translated the good old Dutch saying that “many roads lead to Rome”.
What I want to show is that you can start your Teams meeting in many places, to make it easy for you to join your meeting.
Let’s see if I know them all, and let me know if I have forgotten one! Or more!
1. Teams calendar
This is my regular way to access. The meeting is displayed on your calendar and when you click on it, a popup will show you the details and the link to join.
When the meeting is about to start, or in progress, the link will be shown on the calendar, saving you a click, so you can access immediately.
2. Invitation in Outlook
In this case, I have created the meeting myself so I can only show the “sent” mail, but every invitation email contains two links to the meeting. When you accept the invitation, the email is removed from your Inbox, so this is not the most frequently used option, I guess. Unless you make it a habit NOT to respond to invitations of course…but I hope you are not that kind of person 🙂
3. Outlook calendar
As your Teams calendar syncs with your Outlook calendar , your meeting will be displayed here too. If you “live” in Outlook, you will probably use this most often. Again, when you click the meeting, you will get a popup with the meeting details, including the link.
4. MyDay in Outlook/Microsoft365 landing page
If you click on MyDay, you will see your schedule for today and more, including your meeting. If you click on this message, you will get a link to the meeting. If your meeting is already running, you will see the Join link straight on the MyDay popup.
5. Outlook notification/reminder
Do you see the notification at the top right of Outlook 15 mins before start? Click on it and you will see the meeting link in the MyDay screen.
6. The Microsoft365 landing page
When your meeting is about to start, you will see it in the Recommended documents on top of the page. It disappears shortly after meeting start time. Does anyone ever use the MyDay button on the top of this page? It’s there too!
7. My Feed webpart on SharePoint
If you have a MyFeed webpart on SharePoint, the meeting will show up there, with a link to Join. The MyFeed shows your stuff, see my earlier post.
8. Desktop notification
When someone else starts the meeting, you will see a purple banner on the bottom right of your screen, when enabled. You can Join from here, too, or send a message that you will be a tad later. Again, this has been a life-saver when I forgot I had a meeting! 🙂
As I am the only person in my tenant, I can not share the usual screenshot (that your colleague has started the meeting) but this one from an external guest is almost the same.
9. From OneNote (if you have sent the invitation to OneNote)
You can send an email or invitation from Outlook to OneNote, which gives you a very nice page with all info in a nice structured way, and the link to the meeting is included as well.
Have I missed anything?
Please let me know in the comments! I know there’s probably a few extra places on mobile, but I do not use that very often now that I am mostly working from home.
We frequently get questions about external contacts that can not access SharePoint sites that they should have access to. Well, access and permissions are troublesome in all organizations, but access issues for external users can have additional causes and solutions, so here’s an overview to help Site Owners and support and admin people (such as myself) to identify and fix issues.
The site owner can check the first 4 items, and if that does not work, the support and admin folks may be able to help with 4, 5, 6 and 7. It always helps to ask for a screenshot of the error messages, because you can already learn a lot from those.
It is wise to advise external users to log in with their browser in private or incognito mode, especially if they are from an organization that also has Microsoft365. It will avoid account mixups. Thank you, former colleague Anita, for reminding me!
1. Does the user have access?
Let’s make sure that is not an issue, right? Check if the user is a Guest on Teams, or in case of a stand-alone SharePoint site, check if this person has permissions. Please be aware that external users only become visible in SharePoint permissions after they have been in the site once. So, if you can not find them in the Visitors or Members, it does not mean they have not been added. In the screenshot below, I have already added someone with a Gmail account, but that person has not yet accessed the site. You may want to check item 2 first.
2. Has the user seen the invitation?
Warn your user that the invitation may end up in the Spam, Junk email, Unwanted items or whatever their non-regular mailbox is called. My invitation to a Gmail account was considered Spam, and my invitation to a Hotmail account also ended up in Junk mail. Messages in Gmail Spam are deleted after 30 days (see below) and in Hotmail Junk in 10 days, so your external contact may never have seen their invitation!
3. Has the user’s invitation expired?
External users need to do their first log in within 90 days, or their invitation expires. In Classic team sites, the Site owner will see this in Site Settings > Access requests and invitations, under “Show History”. If it says “Expired” you may want to add the user again. In Communication sites, check Gear wheel > Site Information > View all site settings > Access requests and invitations. I could not find this option in other site types, and adding “/Access%20Requests/pendingreq.aspx?mbypass=1” to the root did not help either.
4. Does the user log in with the exact email address as per the invitation?
This is a frequent cause of problems. If you have added your externals with their Outlook or Hotmail account, they can generally access smoothly; if they have a Gmail, Yahoo or other free mail account you can warn them to expect issues, but if they have an email account for work, using their own domain name, you can not tell whether they can expect issues or not. Externals should access with a Microsoft account. So if you give someone access with their Gmail account, they are prompted to create or use a Microsoft account. This is not always clear, I have found.
Another issue can be if the user has multiple emailadresses, and they access with the wrong one. We recently had an issue where the person had two very similar addresses. It was not clear to both the external and the site owner that he was logging in with @organization.eu, while access was given to @organization.nl ! It was clear from the error message, but you know how people can panic over error messages 🙂
SharePoint admins may use the follwing Microsoft info when trying to help the Site Owner:
5. Is the site accessible for external users? (admin only)
Another reason for issues can be that the site is internal-only. In my organization sites are by default internal, but when external access is needed, we can open them up. When people request a new site and they specify that the audience contains external users, we make it accessible for externals from the start. Otherwise, it needs to be changed when the need is there, but site owners do not always know or remember that most sites are internal-only. An admin can check the sharing settings in the SharePoint admin center.
6. Is the external user listed as a Guest user in the Admin center? (admin only)
External users added to Teams will be visible straight away, but again, for stand-alone SharePoint site they need to have accessed the site first. If they are mentioned, they have access and have been able to access this or another site in your tenant. If they are not visible, it does not necessarily mean they have not been added.
7. Has guest access expired automatically? (admin only)
This is a relatively new feature in the SharePoint admin center. You can limit the time that a guest has access, counting from the moment the guest has been given access. After the time has expired, the site admin receives an email and can extend the period.
Personally I would welcome the option to set an expiry time after a certain period since the last log-in, but “from the moment you have been given access” does not make much sense to me. You can be in the middle of a project and then get kicked out because it has been 60 days since you were given access and the site admin has overlooked the email or forgotten to extend your access? Most annoying!
8. Has the other organization blocked access to external networks?
Sometimes the employer of your external guest does not allow access to external networks. You will not know, and it is up to the external guest to find out. There’s not much you can do about it, except giving the external person an account from your own organization.
Access to Teams
Although external users can have difficulty accessing a Team as well, access is much easier to check than in stand-alone SharePoint sites. Permissions to a Team are easier to check, and guest users to Teams are immediately visible in the Guest users in the admin portal, while SharePoint users only become visible when they have accessed the site once.
Did I miss anything?
Have you found a frequent issue with external users and how have you solved that? Would you know where to find the Access requests and invitations in modern non-communication sites? Or do you have another question or remark? Please add them to the comments!
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
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)
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.
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:
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.
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
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”.
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.
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)
8. Attendance report
The attendance report will be on the Chat tab, as usual.
Good to know:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Do you have any workarounds for desktop functionality in the web versions? Please share in the comments!
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
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)
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.
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.
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.
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! 🙂
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.
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!
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!
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. 🙂 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
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?
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 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? 🙂 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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!
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!
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)
In the top bar, click “Alert Me” or the … at the right of the other commands and select “Alert Me”
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.
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”
You have 4 options:
A column changes
A column value changes
A new item is created
An item is deleted
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.
You do not get a confirmation email
The sender is SharePoint Online
When the conditions are met, you will get the following emails:
But wait, there’s more!
The Reminder, of course! That is a long-desired option that has always been missing in Alerts.
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.
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.
What do I think?
👍 You can set Alerts and Rules in personal Lists. It can be useful when you are sharing a List with someone.
👍 Rules are easy to set up – you can use “Me” to send an email to yourself
👍 Rules use a familiar look and feel for emails – it looks like sharing emails and uses the regular document management icons
👉 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!
👉 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”.
👎 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.
👎 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.
👎 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
👎 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 ”
👎 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.
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!