Create a List based on Forms responses – 1

A colleague asked if we could make his process easier by collecting requests through Forms instead of completing a Word document and then emailing it.
After discussing his process it appeared that the regular Forms output (the graphs and the Excel file) was not sufficient for his ongoing process. So we decided on a different approach:

  • use Forms to collect the requests from colleagues across the organization.
  • use Power Automate to send the responses into a List in a (restricted) SharePoint site. We will not go into details about the workflow itself, but please be aware it is part of the process.
  • the team can process the requests from their SharePoint site.

This has advantages and some risks:

  • πŸ‘ Forms has nice interface for the requester
  • πŸ‘ Requests can be made from phone if desired
  • πŸ‘ Form can be accessed by QR code if needed
  • πŸ‘ Branching in Forms (skipping questions based on earlier answers) is possible, making the workload for the requester as small as possible
  • πŸ‘ As the workflow is user-based, there is no need to manage extra permissions to the SharePoint list (the requests can be entered by more people than currently have access to the SharePoint site)
  • πŸ‘ Many options to slice and dice the requests into reports: open and completed, most popular request types, how many requests in a year, etc.
  • πŸ‘Ž The workflow can break
  • πŸ‘Ž Workflow and list need to be adjusted when the Form changes

Using the Excel file to create the List

I wanted to see whether I could use the Excel file from the Form as the basis for the List, as I was curious if this would save time.

  1. I created a Form, using a sample of each question/response option in Choice, Text, Rating. (In my next post I will use the other response options)
  2. I completed one request to create the Excel
  3. I downloaded the Excel file to my PC – you can also save it to OneDrive
  4. I then went to the Lists homepage, clicked on “New List” and then “From Excel”
  5. I uploaded the Excel (or select from OneDrive)
  6. For each column I had the option to “Do not import” or check and adjust the column type
  7. As any List needs a Title field, the system proposed to use the “Start time” (which is unique, so although not very informative, I used it). I can imagine for a real life situation, you will need to think about this.
  8. When I was done adjusting column types, I clicked “Next” and then I could adjust the title, add a list description, select colour and icon, and determine whether it will “live” in my OneDrive (personal list) or in a SharePoint site.
  9. I then checked the result
The import screen. For each field you get a proposed column type that you can change. “Do not import” is also an option.
You scroll to the right to map each field to a column.

Findings:

πŸ‘‰ The columns proposed were moderately adequate. The Ratings were all Number columns (good), but the Multiple Lines of Text and the Choice columns were all proposed as Single Line of Text.

If you do not adjust column types, this is what you will get. The blue columns have not been set correctly.

πŸ‘Ž The “Start Time” and “Completion Time” are in a regular date/time format in the Excel, but if you do nothing they turn into a sort of strange calculated number during import. It is a Number column that you can not change after creating the list. I am sure it is extremely unique to the millisecond, but not usable for real humans, so I would suggest to “Do not import” this column unless absolutely necessary. In that case, make sure you turn it into a Date/Time column while importing your Excel file.

The title field, which is a single-line-of-text column with a weird start time notation. Completion time is a number column.

πŸ‘‰ Changing the Choice fields into Choice columns during import made the columns into default choice columns, with dropdown and no values.

Suggestions:

  • Collect requesters’ email addresses (and names) by default in the Form. Those will be captured in the Excel and can be pushed to the List, saving time in entering this info manually.
  • Try to think of a unique identifier in your Form that you can use to fill the Title field in the List.
  • When you enter your first item to create the Excel, use short dummy text to avoid scrolling when importing the Excel. (I entered a ton of text into the Multiple Line of Text field, but that was not a good idea πŸ₯΄)
  • Is the date of the request important, e.g. if you need to sort the requests in order of entry, or calculate a response time? Use the default “Created” date/time of the item in the List. The workflow may have a few seconds delay, but it is usually the date that is important, not the exact time. This allows you to skip the date columns from the Forms/Excel.
  • Make sure you select the Title column first when you create your List, or Lists will keep making suggestions until that field is mapped.
  • Select “Do not import” for the Excel columns “ID”, “Start Time” and “Completion Time” unless you really need those
  • If you have Choice fields in your Form, it makes sense to configure the corresponding columns in the List as Choice fields and add the values. This will allow you to make use of List column formatting, such as displaying each value as a “coloured choice pill” for easy recognition.
If you configure your Choice values as Choice columns and enter the values, you can give the options a different colour each, using Column formatting.

Conclusion

I am not so sure if using the Excel file as the basis for the list saves much time. You need to carefully select and adjust the column type during and after import. I am sure that practice will make perfect, and I will test that in my next experiment with the other Forms-options, but if you are a practiced List creator (and I am one) you may be faster when you create your list from scratch in your SharePoint site.
It was one of my first experiences with the Lists app, however, and I have seen a few things that I like! 😍

Recent updates of my posts

With all those rapid changes in the Microsoft 365 suite, some posts age quickly. I have recently updated a number of my most-read posts to keep up with the current situation.

Office Home

Did you know I keep screenshots of all the varieties of Office Homepage since 2016? It is great to see subtle and not so subtle changes. And since there is a new Homepage being rolled out right now, featuring some more filter options and with new Tabs for your files, I updated The New Microsoft365/Office365 Homepage.

Teams

Most changes occur within Teams at the moment, so I have updated the following articles:

The importance of being Organizer, with an Excel spreadsheet (download if you like) of what each role can do in a Teams meeting. I have updated this for breakout rooms and the option to turn off chat.

Take control of your Teams meeting, where I added the options to allow attendees to unmute and the option to control the chat. I also updated some screenshots.

Forms

I just found out that you can create a QR code from Microsoft Edge so I added that to Long live the QR Code or you can read this:

SharePoint

In my most recent post I noticed that the elusive “See all” info, that allows you to create a lovely SharePoint News Digest, does not always appear on your web part even if you have posted the required 5 items.
I wrote 10 things to know about the SharePoint News Digest in 2019 and I am shocked that it took me until 2021 to find the quirk to fill item #10! πŸ˜‰

Delve

With the new Office homepage, the tab “Discover” has gone and with it the option for F3-licensed users, who have no Delve icon, to see suggested documents. So I also had to update An alternative way to dive into Delve.

Long live the QR code

(Updated: 31 January 2021)

When I first learned that a Microsoft 365 Form can be shared by a QR-code, I thought “Nice, but who uses a QR code anyway?”. I am an op-art fan and love the black-and-white pattern, but I had read a lot of articles saying that “the QR code is dead”.

I do not know if COVID-19 has anything to do with it, but suddenly I see QR-codes everywhere. I get printed food-to-go flyers with QR codes in my (physical) mailbox, stickers with QR codes are in shop windows and on restaurant walls, I see them in paper magazines and they are on paper tickets for concerts and exhibitions.

It turns out that QR codes are still very much alive as they are a perfect bridge between paper (or plaster 😁) and the internet.
Even better, I found out I no longer have to use a QR-reader app, I can just use my smartphone’s camera! (For older smartphones a QR reader app may still be required though)

So I thought to share a Form with you. Feel free to scan the code or click here.

Update January 31, 2021:

I just learned that you can create a QR from any URL (< 256 characters) in Microsoft Edge!
Here’s how:

6 more lessons from Teams Live Events

After producing two Live Events for our “Convention bureau”, and sharing the lessons learned, I thought I knew it all!
So for another event, I handed over the producer role to the organization. One of our psychiatric nurses was eager to try it. I briefed him and his presenter colleagues, told them how it works, what to do and what to think of during presenting.

I told them that switching presenters was a bit of work, as you can not “line up” the next presentation properly and wait for the proper time to make it live. (Presenters overwrite each other, so changes of presenter are messier than I had expected)

But they already had a solution.

1. Switch less by making one big presentation

That was clever. They collected all research slides as well as the intro and break slides into one big PowerPoint, and shared that on one laptop. As the presenters were in one room, it meant that each presenter in turn walked up to the laptop, cleaned keyboard and mouse (COVID-19!) and gave their presentation. The producer only had to switch layouts to start and end each break.
This can certainly not be done in every situation, but it worked here and made the producer’s work much easier.

2. You can not organize a Live Event with a F3 license

After my run-through, the producer wanted to create the Live Event, but he did not have the option.
That was an unpleasant surprise, but it was later confirmed in the Microsoft information.

If you have an F3 license, you do not see the dropdown option to create a Live Event

As it turned out, you can produce and present with the F3 license, as long as you use the desktop app. Everyone in my organization has the desktop app, which makes things a lot easier.

3. Attendee’s devices may go to sleep during a long break

I have not seen this myself, but apparently, after a 30-min break, the “crew” got some messages that people had to go into the meeting again because their devices had gone to sleep.

4. The attendee report of public events does not show names

The first two events were scheduled as in-company events, where people had to log on. The attendee report then shows the log-in names of attendees.

However, our Convention Bureau really wanted public events as there are often externals who like to join, e.g. teachers or peer organizations. When they switched to a public event, they expected the same type of attendee report and they were disappointed to see only IP-addresses and no names. Which is a bit of a no-brainer as you just click the link to a public event, without having to specify your name, but they had not thought of that.

The attendee reports are needed to give our students “study points” so I suggested to use a Form to collect attendee names, with the following process:

  • employees only
  • record names
  • one question (e.g. satisfaction with the event until now, or any other question, as long as you get the name)
  • limited time to complete, using expiry date and time the same as, or earlier than, the event end time (to minimize the chance of foul play πŸ™‚ )
  • distributed via the Q&A in a break with an explanatory message
These could be the settings to collect attendance from employees

5. Externals with a Microsoft365 account can present

If you have any external presenters (we have them frequently, e.g. university professors) who have a Microsoft365 account from their employer: they can present, as long as that account has been invited and they use the desktop app. And I think they also need to be a guest in your tenant, but I will need to check that.
This same account (a guest) can also produce the event, but needs to be admitted by an internal presenter/producer, so you will always need at least one internal presenter.

6. Externals without a Microsoft365 account can not present

So it makes sense to check with any external presenters if they have a Microsoft365 account – an Outlook.com email address is not sufficient. In case this happens, they may need to present from someone else’s laptop.

Expect more lessons!

As we will have to live with the COVID-19 measures for some time, I expect we will use Live Events more and more. I also expect more lessons as we have a number of event types that need to be moved online.

About that Microsoft/Office365 homepage…

While I have been trying to adjust to the new vertical rail of apps (and I still do NOT like it) I came across something – which may be in the Roadmap but I have not seen it yet.

A line next to the app icon

Some apps get a vertical line next to them when you are on their landing page, to signify where you are. It is comparable to the line under open apps in your Task bar.
I have seen it on Excel, Forms, OneNote, PowerPoint, Word, the Homepage itself and the All apps page.

Homepage
Forms
Word

Nice detail: The All apps icon changes colour when clicked and the Homepage icon turns black at that time – and the other way around.

All Apps” changes colour when clicked

So, does this mean that this will be applied to all apps? Could that be the reason of the upcoming redesign of the SharePoint landing page – to make room for the app rail? The Lists app landing page appears ready for this, but Outlook, Planner and many more might be in for a redesign.

Other landing pages

I thought that the SharePoint landing page looked slightly different in the last few months, so I compared the image from my earlier SharePoint News posts with the current one, and it appears that the typeface has changed slightly – it is smaller, more condensed and bold. It looks very much like the letter used on the Forms landing page…so my guess is that this will be rolled out further until every app has a landing page like this.

SharePoint News looked like this in 2019
SharePoint News looks like this in 2020
And this is my Forms landing page in 2020

The “waffle” in Teams

But…there’s more!

When using the “Waffle” from the Teams web app, I noticed that the menu is different than other apps – there’s only limited apps, no documents and look what it says top right…

The Teams waffle menu – different from the others
This is the regular waffle menu

So…

It looks like more design changes are coming up!

Forms is fantastic!

I wrote about the Quick Poll (Email + Form combi) a few weeks ago, but there’s more to say about Forms!

Net Promotor Score (NPS)

The other day I showed the Net Promoter Score question during a Forms webinar, told my audience how it worked and that “I honestly do not know if it is very useful” (as I hate it when I get an NPS question myself and I think I am not alone).

Immediately three people jumped in to say that it was very useful for student and intern evaluations and based on scientific evidence and that it has great predictive value. They were very interested in the results and were impressed with the fact that the calculation is built-in in Forms so you get the score without having to do any work.

So, from now on I will treat the NPS question option with a little more respect! πŸ™‚

An example of an NPS score (and not a good one)

Closed form on a SharePoint page

By accident I recently opened an old SharePoint News item in which we advertised a (now expired) series of webinars. I had embedded the Form to make it easy for people to enroll.

To my delighted surprise I saw the “this poll is closed” message from the Form displayed on the page. Neat!

Pretty neat, so people do not submit their entry in vain.

That text comes from the message that you can enter when you uncheck the box “Accept responses”, in Settings.

Useful extra option for informing your audience. This message will also be displayed if people click the link to the Form.

A new Forms landing page!

I knew that the Forms top bar would be replaced by the Office365 bar, but there have been more changes. Let me show you:

The top part of the new Forms landing page

The following changes have been made:

  • There’s a new, smaller, button to create a new Form (1). If you click the arrow, you can also create a new Quiz.
  • New title font.
  • The cards are landscape now, and smaller.
  • You land on “Recent Forms” which includes Forms that have been shared with you. This is quite nice as those are now easier to reach and they display the number of answers on the card.
  • Clicking the … on the card does NOT allow you to copy or delete the Form, you can only Pin it or remove it from this page.
  • You can Pin forms you want to keep on top; they will show in the Pinned Tab.
    Interestingly, the empty Pinned page says: “No pinned Office documents”. I know a Form is a document but it is just strange. I still do not know why my Forms are not in my OneDrive, if they are documents!
  • You have the option to show Forms in Tiles (cards) or in a list.
  • At the bottom right, just behind that “Feedback/Need Help” buttons there’s a link to All My Forms (2), which shows all your Forms.
  • If you scroll down, you will see a list of Groups with the number of Forms, if you have any.
The bottom part of the new landing page

If you click on “All My Forms” you will get to a page where you can click the … (which is now next to the title, instead of top right on the card) where you can Open in Browser, Move, Copy or Delete your Form. Next to that you will see the Deleted Forms tab.

The “My Forms” page

The Forms themselves have not changed – you will see the green Forms bar when you open or create a Form, and Theme, Sharing or Settings are still what they were.

But the behaviour has changed – Forms no longer opens in a new window from your Office365 landing page. I do not like that, I prefer to have my Office365 landing page always available.

Other than that, I am quite happy with these changes, especially the integration with Shared Forms. I was grumbling when I saw it at work, though, as I had just renewed my Forms webinar deck the day before and now I have to do it again!!! 😭

It’s a Poll! It’s an email! It’s a Form!

Forms may not be as hip as Teams at the moment, but it sure is a cool tool, sometimes even cooler than I thought!

Something relatively new is the option to add a Poll in an email. It is a nice option to quickly add a Choice question to your message. There is some support information out there but let me show you the full picture.

1. Create and send

When you open a new email and click on the … on the bottom of the mail (in the toolbar) you will see an option called “Poll”.

Click on the bottom of the new mail for the option to insert a poll

Click that and you will get a sidepane with a Choice question.

Enter your question and answer

Enter question and response options and click “Insert Poll into email”.

The poll will be inserted in the mail; the title of your question will be the subject line of your email (you can change that) and in the email body and you are added in the cc. If you change the name of the poll before you send it updates in both places! πŸ’ͺ

This is the email; you will get title and the link to the poll, but you can add explanatory text.

You can now type the rest of your mail and send it to your audience.

TIP: If you want to have that poll option always available in your toolbar just click the gear wheel top right > View all Outlook settings > Email > Customise actions and then scroll down to Toolbar. Check the Poll box and Save.

How to make the Poll-icon always visible at the bottom of your mails

2. Receive

So what happens when you receive an email?
The question will be displayed on top of the mail, with the options visible. This makes it easy to respond, but if you have many options in your answer, you will need to scroll to see the rest of the email.

You can see all options and vote immediately

When you have cast your vote, you will immediately see the result. You do not have to reply as your vote has been saved.

You can see if you have picked a day that others selected as well

If you happen to click the “View/vote in browser” link you will be taken to the Form in its regular format.

3. View results in email

As an owner, you can view the results from that mail. That’s why you are in the CC!

4. View results in Forms

The sender of the email is the owner of the Form, and when they go to their Forms page, they will see the Form with a poll-icon to distinguish it from a regular Form.

You can see this is an in-email poll by the poll icon

If you open it, you will see a message that you can not edit the poll.

Apparently this is called a Quick Poll and it is read-only

Limitations

  • You can only add one question
  • You can only add a Choice-type question
  • You can not edit the Form on your Forms page
  • Everyone sees the results immediately – that may be good or bad, just be aware.
  • People may forget to scroll down to see the rest of the mail 😁
  • According to the support information, this should not work well with people outside your organization, but it worked perfectly well between my Microsoft365 and private Outlook or Gmail accounts.

I can imagine this could be a good option for a quick question, without having to go and create a complete Form with all the trimmings.

Most of all, I like the integration of Forms and Outlook. It is smooth, clever and elegant.

It is also available in the Outlook desktop app but I am no fan of that.

Have you used it yet? And have you encountered a scenario where it did not work with “externals”? Let me know!

Some intranet promotion videos – part 4

Intranetvideos4While List.ly is doing their best to get their Vimeo videos displayed properly, I thought I’d share a number of recent finds with you.
Where available, I have added related videos so you do not have 5, but 8 items to look at. In total, this should keep you busy for a little more than 30 minutes! πŸ™‚

Stay indoors and stay safe!

1. Intro to Delve

Quite a good introduction to the capabilities of Delve. It is not very specific to the organization (a University in Melbourne, Australia) so it is very reusable. They also have good videos for Managing permissions in Delve and Managing your Office profile.

The logos are outdated so I guess the video is older than the upload date of February 2020. But as far as I can check in my one-person Delve, the functionality is still correct.

2. Your new intranet (in Portuguese)

Teaser for the upcoming new intranet at Samsonite Brazil.Β 
Uploaded March 2020.Β 

 

3. CM3 SharePoint – your first walkthrough

Quite a long demo of this SharePoint intranet for a USA-based building services organization. This demo starts with the log-on process and it starts to get really interesting from 1.40 onwards, when the homepage is shown. I am fascinated by the colour scheme! It has a lot of useful content and other stuff. In their next video, they look a bit more at the homepage and the SharePoint functionalities and invite you to name the intranet (by completing a Form, of course!).
Uploaded March 2020.

4. Mobile app for real estate organization (builder) – in Dutch

Nice overview of the mobile (SharePoint-based) intranet-app for this Dutch real estate organization. They build houses but also own some DIY-shops in the Netherlands.

This mobile app has a ton of good stuff – News of course, colleague search, employee-stuff. It does not look like the native SharePoint app though.
Uploaded March 2020.

 

5. SmartSpace SharePoint intranet

Walkthrough of a SharePoint intranet for a software organization with offices in UK and USA. The look and feel is quite basic (just the company logo, not even their corporate colours) compared to the design of their proposal templates and website. They appear to do almost everything “corporate” in one site.
Having your Mission and Vision statement on the landing page must become boring after some time, but they may want to change that over time into News or something used frequently. I really like the fact they have a list of approved software (with details) as well as their project portfolio also in SharePoint lists.
Uploaded March 2020.

And even more about Forms

Forms appears to be top of my mind these days. It’s near the end of the year and lots of evaluations need to be done πŸ™‚ so I am searching the organization for opportunities to make the switch from other tools or processes to Forms.

GlurenbijdeburenAnother “win”

Every year my organization has a week where you can spend (half) a day with another department. This has mutual benefits as you can well imagine. This process involves:

  1. Making an inventory of which departments are open for receiving visitors that week
  2. Asking employees which one of the “open” departments they are interested to visit and when

When I joined the organization last year, I had seen the Google form for item 2. and I made a resolution to try and help the organizer move that to Microsoft Forms this year. So recently we sat together toΒ  create the Form and it turned out she had some doubts about the inventory. Last year she had sent out emails to various departments with some questions, and it was a lot of hassle to collect the data and get the overview. So I suggested she create a Form instead in order to

  • make sure that everyone replies to all questions
  • get everything collated into a tidy Excel sheet without having to copy it all manually

So, we created a Form and she sent an email with the request to complete the Form.Β  (Which is additional advertising and awareness for Forms, I hope!)

Then we set about to create the Form where employees can specify their interest and preferred date. As this had already been set up as an online form, this was rather simple. We could even shorten the form because we decided to collect people’s name and email address automatically.
When the inventory is completed, she just needs to add the dates and departments to the Form and the announcement can be posted on the intranet with a link to the Form.

So, unexpectedly we could move two processes to Forms! Yay! (Those little wins always put a big smile on my face)

Handing over ownership of a Form before it has been distributed

According to Microsoft, you need to add a Form to an Office365 Group if you want to hand over ownership. This will make sure that the data will be handed over as well.
If you do not have a Group for this purpose, and the Form has not been distributed yet, the original owner can Share the form with the new one, and the new Owner can then Copy it to make it his/her own.
This may come in useful when someone is leaving the organization (and whose account and content will be deleted) has created a Form that still needs to be introduced to the organization.

Share-ShareOne
Step 1: As the current owner, use “Share to Collaborate” if you want to share or handover Form ownership

Forms-Copy
Step 2. As the new owner, on the “Shared with Me” tab, click the 3 little dots top right of the Form to be copied, and click Copy

Top 3 differences between Forms and Forms Pro

In my earlier post I mentioned I did not quite get the benefits of Forms Pro, but then Doug Allen wrote a post that made things clearer to me. Especially the options for sharing of the survey, and the analysis and follow-up of survey results are much better than regular Forms. Those examples were quite an eye-opener for me.

Be a quiz-master!

I have done some experiments with the Quiz option but I was not overly impressed. It only works well for multiple-choice questions. I think it needs some more work, either from Microsoft or from myself πŸ™‚

However, Rebecca Jackson has dug a bit deeper and she says you can be quite a quizmaster, so I guess the “more work” is on MY ToDo list πŸ™‚

So, what have you found out regarding quizzes?

Photo by Gigi on Unsplash

More about Forms

New icon!

FormsHave you noticed that Forms has a new icon? I have been unable to get a good large file but here’s a screenshot from my tenant.
Planner and To Do have new icons as well.

Comparison of Forms and Forms Pro

Megan V. Walker has recently created an excellent comparison of Forms vs. Forms Pro.  Apart from more options in the typeface part, you have more options to integrate data from other Office365 applications.
However, the licensing cost for Forms Pro is quite high in my opinion, so I will try to guide people to the regular Forms as much as possible.
A few colleagues had the Forms Pro Free Trial and they experienced issues when their trial expired. Once I removed the Pro Free license from their accounts, all worked well again, except that your Forms created in Pro are no longer accessible. Any results you captured, are still available. Be aware!

Check out Megan’s blog as she has tons more info on Forms and Forms Pro.

I do not think anyone will ever create a SharePoint survey any more 😦 , but if you are still interested, or want to know how if Forms is a good replacement for SurveyMonkey or GoogleForms, here’s my earlier comparison of survey tools:

Forms or survey – that’s the question (on the question/answer types)

Forms or survey – what are the settings? (on the general settings)

Forms or survey – responses and results (on the way responses are shown and general opinion)

And a beauty contest!

Some months ago I shared an invitation to a farewell party in our Yammer group, as an example of Forms. It was to invite internal and external attendees and ask them for their attendance and dietary preferences. I had helped the organizer create it, and he got it immediately and included some lovely pictures.

This was the start of an informal “contest” in my organization on who can create the best-looking form. πŸ™‚
One of my colleagues no longer sends Outlook invitations for large meetings, but creates a nice-looking Form, which means she gets fewer emails and has all responses in a tidy Excel sheet.  I guess the receivers are pleasantly surprised by a nice-looking invite rather than a plain Outlook one.
Another colleague is carefully matching images and colours in her themes, and has even added a link to a hexcode website to her browser favourites!
I wonder if they are now thinking up new events just to be able to create a great-looking Form for it! πŸ™‚
I freqently get calls where people mention “this person has created a beautiful survey and now I want one as well – how do I do that”.
And if all goes well we may replace a third-party application with a simple Form in the next few months. Fingers crossed!

This all delights me as I am working in a health care organization and most colleagues have different priorities than sitting at a desk at a computer.

(Something similar is happening with the SharePoint modern pages by the way, which is another pleasant surprise. More about that later)

So, invitations for larger meetings appear to be THE Forms application in my organization. What’s your number one scenario for Forms?