Lessons from producing my first Teams Live Event

Recently I “produced” my first Live Event in Teams: a symposium with the project presentations of three of our students.
The organisation expected around 100 attendees, so I tried to push them towards the regular Teams Meeting with some extra control measures (see my earlier post). But they really liked the moderated Q&A, so a Live Event it had to be.
As I need to learn to work with this anyway, I suggested to be the producer, so I could create procedures and scripts so they know how to do this themselves afterwards.

How a Live Event works

Scheduling a Live Event is easy, however I find being a producer quite some work. Tracy’s video makes it all appear fairly simple, but to be honest, I have been struggling a bit with this tool and needed a number of tests to get to grips with it. Perhaps it was our complex setup, perhaps I need more practice.

What have I learned?

1. Give your event a good title

When your audience is entering the event, and the event has not started, all they see is the title of the meeting. Make it a clear one.

2. The producer should just produce

Although you can be producer AND presenter, I would advise against mixing these roles unless you are an experienced one-person-show. If there is a welcome or break slide to be shared, leave it to someone else.
When you (producer) share content or your desktop you do not see your dashboard, which makes it hard to do your work as a producer. And when you go back forgetting to stop sharing you will end up with a very annoying caleidoscope effect. If you do stop sharing there will be an annoying message that the Event will continue soon. You can not win.

I am sure an experienced producer/presenter can avoid this but I still do not know how – I can share a presentation but sooner or later this shows.

3. Keep the # of presenters to a minimum

When I did my first Live Event, a number of people were interested to see how it worked so I added them as a presenter. That provided some challenges as I could not see them all on my 13″ laptop screen, hence I could not select their video to show.
Additionally, during one of the breaks one of the “curious extra’s” decided to move to another room, accidentally sharing her screen. đŸ˜± She did not have her earbuds in, nor was she looking at the chat, so we could not warn her that her living room was visible for all to see. 😉

The presenters are shown bottom right and on a smaller screen, you can not see them all, and therefore you can not select their video!

4. Schedule a separate Live Event as a test run

As this was new to everyone we decided to do a test-run a few days before the meeting. You need to create a new Event for that, as you can only “use” a Live Event once.

5. Have as few transitions as possible

Transitions are a bit of a logistical nightmare. I had expected that when the next presenter shares their screen, that would pop up in the Queue, so I could add the speaker’s video and set it all Live at the right moment.
But it does not happen that way – presenters generally override their predecessor’s screen during the event, causing a need for the producer to frantically switch to the correct presenter. Or, they stopped presenting and then their face filled the screen.
So try to limit the number of transitions to keep your producer’s sanity 😉

6. Test starts, stops and transitions

We really needed this as presenters had no clue as to what to expect. So we went through the programme of welcome talk, first speaker, etc. People could practice how to share their screen, when to stop, how transitions worked, what they had to look out for, what not to do, etc.

7. Invite an attendee to ask questions

It helps to have an attendee in the test run to ask a few questions, so new presenters can learn how to handle the Q&A’s.

8. Use “desktop” rather than “content” for sharing (depending on setup)

We found that the following combination resulted in “flickering tabs” which is a major distraction:

  • Using Google Chrome as a browser
  • Using PowerPoint Online for your presentation
  • Selecting “content” rather than “desktop” for sharing

So: ask people to present with PowerPoint desktop app (if they have that) or ask them to share their desktop.
Or use Microsoft Edge, of course. 😁

9. Create a script

It may be good to have a timetable with who does what when and the timing of the breaks. It was good for the presenters but also for the producer, as I could then check when I needed focus and when I could relax a bit.

10. The “crew” needs the Teams Desktop App

One of the presenters logged into the test meeting via the web app and she entered the meeting as an attendee. Fortunately all our employees now have the Teams desktop app so all of us can produce or present Live Events (despite the fact that 90% of my colleagues have an F3 license, which is web + mobile apps only).

11. Make sure the producer has a large screen or monitor

As mentioned in item 3, I needed a larger screen to see all presenters, but also to see the Live result better. If your screen is too small, you will get prompts to expand your screen. Fortunately, I have an extra 23″ monitor.

Suggestion to change my screen.

12. Teach presenters how to unmute

EVERY presenter forgot to unmute themselves, so I had to jump in and ask them to unmute. 🙁 It was nerves, I get that, but I did not like having to intervene. However, I later heard people actually appreciated me jumping in, as it showed that someone was noticing, saving a lot of questions in the Q&A.

13. Avoid having an audience in the same room as the presenters

Our students really wanted to have some family in the room, so they would not have to talk into a void, but it posed extra issues:

  • Due to the delay that a Live Event has (about 1 minute) in image and sounds it was impossible to project the Live Event in the room with the presenters.
  • Therefore we needed an extra person to click through the presentations from a separate laptop in the room. We could perhaps have duplicated the laptop screen but it would have to be changed between speakers and I know that some situations/laptops do not support duplication.
  • I was producing from home, and I did not exactly know what tech was available in the convention room, which made it difficult to explain to the presenters what to do in the room (which was not my responsibility anyway – that was producing this Live Event)
  • Presenters got easily distracted by the audience so the MC’s had to make sure everyone was back at their laptops in time for the next presentation – while this will also happen in a physical-only situation it is less annoying there as everyone can clearly see what is going on. People online do not see that.
  • Your laptop’s microphone is not good enough in this situation – it usually sounds rather tinny and will pick up sounds from the surroundings and that can cause an annoying reverb – so your producer must mute you. Presenters, use a headset and keep it plugged into your computer at all times!
  • The presenters also had to find a good position in the room with a good background, which needed time during set-up.
  • Questions from the room could not be heard and needed repeating by the MC, which they sometimes forgot. Which led to Q&A’s.

14. Learn basic sign language

This may seem silly, but as everything the presenters and producers say when you are Live is audible for everyone online, you can not really talk about things, and not everyone was watching chat all the time. So sometimes I wished I know sign language to tell people “get ready to present the break slide” or “unmute”.

15. Producer, mute yourself when going live

Do not say “Here goes” or something similar when you Go Live, because it will be recorded in the video. Guess how I know this? 😂

16. Download the attendance report during or immediately after closing the event

When someone from the “crew” enters the Event after it has closed, it will overwrite the attendance report. By the way, the official word is “Attendee engagement report”.

17. The “crew” can only view the recording from the web app, even when they use the Attendee link

If they click the Attendee link and select the desktop app, they go into the “back end” of the meeting, overwriting the attendance report. See item 15.

18. The video lives in Azure, not in Stream

Do not look for the video in Stream – it is not there. You can download it from the meeting information and upload to Stream if you want to make it available for longer term. (It is available on Azure for 180 days)

19. You can produce and present with the F3 license, but not organize.

OK, this is not exactly a lesson from my event, but I just found this out and I thought I’d warn you.

There’s some good Microsoft info about post-event actions.

And if you know of a way to make transitions smoother, please let me know! If you have any other “gotcha’s” to share, they are welcome too!

8 steps to retrieve a lost SharePoint document

SPdocgone-header2We frequently get calls from colleagues whose documents have “disappeared” from their SharePoint site. Over time, we have come up with a few steps to investigate and (often) find them.

They are comparable with the steps taken when you misplace a OneDrive document, but finding lost documents in SharePoint is a bit more complicated than finding them in OneDrive:

  • Other people can edit or delete documents
  • You only have 1 OneDrive (which is one document library), but you probably work in multiple document libraries in multiple SharePoint sites
  • Permissions can vary within and across sites

On the plus side, there is a Site Owner and a SharePoint admin who may be able to help you out!

What could have happened?

These are the most frequent “disappearing acts” of documents:

  • Deleted (deleting a synced folder without disconnecting it first also deletes the documents from SharePoint!)
  • Renamed
  • Moved to another folder in the same document library
  • Moved to another library in the site
  • Moved to another site. This means the original document has been deleted.
  • Moved to your OneDrive
  • Permissions have changed and you no longer have access
  • Metadata have changed so it appears in a different view than usual

Which tools are available?

  • Search
  • Recycle bin
  • The document details pane
  • The site owner or your SharePoint admin

Where to start?

Just like my post about the disappeared web parts and lost documents on OneDrive, I have thought about the best possible order to use the available tools. It may appear to be fastest if you go to the Recycle Bin first, but that may be quite a chore if your site is active, your document has been deleted some time ago and/or document name, the author or the suspected deleter starts with M or N. Sadly you can only Sort, and not Search, in the Recycle bin.

My suggestion would be to first try and find the document in the original library. But please, feel free to disagree! It also depends…:)

1. Search in the Document Library where it used to live

Found it? Open it to see whether this is the document you are looking for. It has most likely been moved from one folder to another, or metadata has changed so it appears in a different view. Take step 2 to find the location if you do not see it straight away and/or confirm with step 7 to see what exactly has happened if you are curious.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary
There are two documents in this library. You can click to open them from there or click “Show more results”

No luck? Move on!

2. Search in the SharePoint site

You can easily do this by clicking “Expand search to all items in this site” on the bottom of the Search results page from step 1.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary2
You do not get any more results in this case, nor the exact location of your documents, but this view allows you to expand search and that will give you more info.

SPdocgone-searchlibrary3
So there is another result if you search in the site. If you get too many results, you may want to use the Files tab and/or the Filters to narrow down. And…this view will show you the path of the document!

Found it? Note down the path and navigate to it to confirm this is the correct document. The document has been moved to another library. Confirm with step 7 if you feel the need.

No luck? Move on!

After this, you can do what is most easy for you.

3. Search from the SharePoint landing page

Found it? Well you are lucky! Unless your document has a very unique name, it will be hard to find between all the other documents in your organization. (Of course, using the Files tab and the Filters should help a little). So, it has been moved to another site. Note down the path and confirm it is the correct document. Confirm with step 7.

SPdocgone-spsearch
Results from SharePoint search. In this case you get results from all of SharePoint, so it will be necessary to narrow down the results by using the Files tab and the Filters. You see there is also a result from OneDrive.

Results from OneDrive are also shown in SharePoint search, so if you have accidentally moved the document to OneDrive, you will find it there as well. Unless you want to know WHEN you did this, there’s no need to confirm with step 7 as you are the only one who could have done this. 🙂

No luck? It has probably been deleted, renamed or had its permissions changed (with or without moving). Take any of the next steps to find out.

4. Search in Office365

Frankly, chances are slim that you will find it here but you can try! If it is not in OneDrive and not in SharePoint (including Teams) it may be in Outlook or Yammer but would you not remember if you have done that? But, just to be on the safe side, give it a try.

Found it? Congratulations! Now move it back to where it belongs!

No luck? Well, you really did not expect to find it after all your other trials, right? Time to look in the Recycle bin.

5. Check the Recycle bin

Found it? Restore it.

No luck? Move on!

6. Ask the site owner if they know, or to search in Library or Site

Found it? It has probably moved to a place to where you do not have access, or you have actively been removed from the access group. Discuss with the site owner to give you access again, if possible.

No luck? Move on.

7. Check the Document Library’s details pane

In some cases you may want to do this earlier, but especially in a busy SharePoint site you need to scroll a lot! If someone knows a good way to export the data into a nice Excel file or something, please let me know.

The details pane is context-sensitive and will display different details depending whether you are on the document library landing page or in a folder.

DisappearedDocs-infopane
Nice icons, clear descriptions and clickable links for documents that are still in this folder or library. Deleted documents are not clickable.

Found it? Confirm it is the correct document and note down the path and/or new name.

No luck? There is one last option…to be done when all else fails.

8. Ask your SharePoint administrator

Your SharePoint admin will likely have permissions to everything so if they can not find the document in Office365 search, it will not exist in its original shape anymore.
Additionally, they can also check the 2nd stage Recycle bin to see if it has been deleted.

Found it in Office365 Search? Confirm it is the document, note down the path and ask the site owner to give you permissions again.
Found it in the 2nd Stage Recycle bin? Ask your SharePoint admin to restore it.
Confirm what has happened with step 7 and give your SharePoint admin a compliment on Yammer or Teams for everyone to see! 🙂

No luck? Sorry….

Any other thoughts?

Did I miss something? Do you think there is a better order? Any other tricks to share? Please let me know!

Image courtesy of ronnieb on Morguefile.com

Curses for intranet and digital workplace peeps

Curses-headerWith Halloween upon us, here are a couple of  fright-inducing wishes for people that manage or support your Office365-based intranet or digitalworkplace. Courtesy of your “Wicked Witch of the Dutch” 🙂

This post has been inspired by Comms Curses by Helen Reynolds.

So, be aware if someone throws one of these spells on you.

Computer and network curses

  • May your bandwidth be forever restricted
  • My your wifi drop when you are presenting your new intranet to your Board of Management
  • May your migrations be throttled due to too much content being migrated at the same time
  • May your computer need a mandatory reboot in the middle of a global webinar that you are hosting
    This happened to me once. Thanks to whoever threw that spell on me! 

Office 365 Functionality curses

Office 365 has tons of good, well-designed functionalities that you take for granted. So what if someone curses you with sudden changes?Curses-MayAllVideos

  • May all your embedded videos start autoplaying at the highest volume when you open the page
  • May Search and Delve forget their security trimming
    As if their normal behaviour is not puzzling enough! 
  • May all pictures on your SharePoint modern pages be deleted
  • May all your Flows stop working without warning
  • May all SharePoint document and list item permissions be unique

Organizational curses

An organizational change can have an enormous impact on your digital workplace. Trust me, I have been there. So you can create a lot of panic and work when you throw an organizational curse someone’s way:

  • May your intranet need to merge with that of the organization that has just bought your organization
    Are you already looking forward to the discussions about who has got the best one?
  • May part of your organization be divested, making it necessary to move that part of your Office365 content to another tenant
    This happened at my earlier employer, and I tried to write about the project, but it was so much and so complicated that I stopped
  • May your CEO suddenly come up with the suggestion to replace Office365 with the platform of this nice small vendor that (s)he just met at this event
    Good luck with talking him or her out of that brilliant idea! CurseofCustomization
  • May your intranet owner insist on home page customizations
    I wrote The Curse of Customization about this
  • May all your SharePoint site owners leave at the same time without providing successors
    Divestitures or large reorganizations can do that
  • May your organization decide to cut your MVP-improvement budget, forcing you to stay at an imperfect and slowly declining level for the next few years
  • May your Office365 support and/or tenant administration be outsourced
    I wrote Ouch-Sourcing about this – and I may write more
  • May your introduction video, meant for employees only, go viral after being uploaded without hiding or security and being included in my Video Collection
    🙂

Microsoft curses

The havoc that Microsoft brings upon us now and then is reality rather than imagined 😉 but just in case you want to scare your enemy, let’s go:

  • May Microsoft introduce new standard functionality that you have just custom-developed yourselfspnewsreader-header
    My previous organization had just spend a lot of time and money on a custom-built News solution, when Microsoft announced
News!
  • May the latest update turn your MVP into a NVP
  • May Microsoft roll out unwanted changes without warning or without the option to undo them. 
  • May all your employees suddenly be able to buy their own licenses. Oh wait
 🙂
    You can still vote on UserVoice to block this! 

What to do when you have been hit by a curse?

I am working on the counter-spells but until now I have not been very successful…

Whoohahahahahahahahahahaha!

Curses-witch2

Pixel witch image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Noise image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Voodoo doll image courtesy of Kheat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
News image courtesy of rawpixel.com on pexels.com
Witch with pumkin image courtesty of Lekkyjustdoit on FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Document your deviations

Documentation-Dude

When we were designing the new SharePoint intranet, some things needed (?) to be customized. And you know I am a big fan of custom functionality. (NOT)

  • Formal Publishing sites needed to resemble our internet site (I have always wondered why people think that is a good idea)
  • 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

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.

This post was created after reading Gregory Zelfond’s recent post about implementing SharePoint in large organizations, which made me chuckle with recognition 🙂
Then Veronique Palmer commented with things you should document, so I thought I would give a real-life example.

Any other experiences or suggestions for documentation?

Developer image courtesy of lemonade at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reaching beyond the usual suspects

IntranetNowBlogheaderOn October 5 I participated in IntranetNow in London. I presented there, and thought it would be nice to create a write-up in my blog, with some images from my presentation. If you prefer the PowerPoint variety, please check out my presentation on the IntranetNow SlideShare.

What brought this on?

Recently we introduced a new intranet (Publishing and team sites) to the organization.

Blog-changes
A overview of the old (left) and the new situation (right). Lots of changes!

We went from a SharePoint 2007 environment on-prem, to SharePoint Online in the cloud. That alone was a big change.

Our old platform was created 10 years before, when the organization was still very decentralized, and people could do on the platform whatever they wanted (which they did) as long as they did not break it (which they did…sometimes 🙂 ).
The new intranet is strictly governed, as there is now a strong central Security and Compliance team, strong Enterprise Architecture, many Governance Boards and Steering Committees and of course our new landlord Microsoft, and they all tell us what people can do and what not.

Additionally, we went from being one large company to two companies and we reorganized as well.

Challenges

We knew we were going to make a big change, so we secured the help of our “usual suspects”, a small group of people active on Yammer, and a small group of active content owners. They kindly agreed to be our Champions, helping us launch the new intranet to their circles of influence.

However, many of them left the organization during the project, or moved to another job, due to the reorganizations. So we were left with an even smaller group of “usual suspects”.

We tried to make up for it by increasing the communications:

  • Yammer messages and YamJams
  • News articles and Newsletters
  • Webinars with demos and question time
  • Local sessions to inform people
  • Emails to site owners
  • Creating training

But well, you know how it goes:

  • People do not always read or act upon communications
  • People only learn when they have a need, so many people left the learning until they had their new intranet and their new site(s).

So despite our efforts, this is more or less how people reacted when they saw their new tools for the first time:

Chaos wallpaper2.png
Sadly I do not know the creator of this wonderful image, but I have used it anyway since it is the best I could find to depict the response of the audience…

People were confused, did not know where to find their content, how to manage their sites, how to navigate, etc.

Action needed!

Well, if you want to implement a new effective digital workplace, this may not be the best response. So we introduced a new role into the organization: the Adoption Consultant. It is their role to make sure that employees

  • know what the DW is,
  • can use it to their advantage
  • and like it, so they will promote it and help others use it

Within this organization, the DW consists of the Office 365 suite plus a few other tools available for all employees.

So we are currently embedding this process into the organization:

Blog-cycle
The Process

  • There is a UX manager who runs a survey with 1/12 of employees every month, asking for user feedback about all IT tools and services.
    There are other sources for feedback (Yammer, support tickets, etc.) but the survey is the most formal one.
  • He turns the responses into usable data and insights.
  • If something relates to the Digital Workplace, he asks the Adoption Consultants to help with it. They determine which remediation actions need to be taken.
    New functionality will also be handled by the Adoption Consultants, as some projects have the objective to “get the software installed on people’s machines” without thinking beyond that point…
    So they think about whether extensive communication and training sessions are needed, or if a link to the help materials of the vendor is sufficient, or anything in between.
  • By implementing those actions it is expected that the complaints and remarks about this topic will be reduced.

Yeah, interesting picture, but what does that mean in practice?

Users: “I can not find anything on the intranet”

UX Manager: “We have found that “I can not find anything on the intranet” is in the Top 3 of complaints for the past months. Adoption Consultants, would you please look into this”?

Adoption Consultants:  “What does it mean exactly, “I can not find information on the intranet”? Do people not know how to search? Are they looking for information that is not there? Do they not know how to navigate?”
* arrange interviews with a selection of complainers*

Adoption Consultant: After some discussions I think

  • We will need to create a campaign to inform people about the options available in Search.
  • We need to suggest to this department that they properly archive their outdated procedures and provide more meaningful and descriptive titles and tagging for their current content.
  • We need to discuss federating SharePoint Search, as some people appear to be looking for content which lives in our IT service system.

What else have we done so far?

  • We have given “Digital Workplace roadshows” in various locations across the world, explaining what the Digital Workplace is and how people can best use it. These have been received really well.
  • We have started a campaign about the different options of Search, update your profile, etc.
  • We manage a “Digital Workplace” group on Yammer as THE place for discussion. This is really well-used and popular.
  • We have created procedures to communicate consistently about projects that bring new functionality to the organization, using consistent channels (such as that Yammer group).
  • We are working with local focal points as they know more about their specific situation.

What are the results?

As we have only started this role last July, we have not accomplished a reduction in unfavourable feedback from the employee survey. But we have achieved a few things:

  1. Through the roadshows, we have met a number of new enthusiastic content owners, willing to help their circle of influence with the new Digital Workplace
  2. Interviews with colleagues who responded in the survey have revealed unexpected and useful feedback.

And that survey…we will do our best to improve the results over time!

Using Yammer for a business process

YammerWe tend to think of Yammer as an optional communication and collaboration channel, where you can discuss topics and share information with and ask questions to all your colleagues, independent of where they are in the organization or on the globe.

But Yammer can also be used as part of a business process.

I recently talked to a Retail Sales organization that has been using Yammer for several years for a number of business processes.

1. Sharing information about customers.

A Yammer group has been created for each major customer.

Sales people visit shops, shop managers and customer head offices.
If they see empty shelves where their product should have been, incorrectly priced products, packaging with peeling labels, a nice display idea from a competitor, or anything else they find remarkable, they take a picture and upload that to the Yammer group with their comments.
This way they share it immediately with colleagues and the back-office, and the back-office can take instant action if necessary.
(For long-time readers, this is very similar to the process we had to facilitate with a Team Site as Yammer was at that time not an approved tool within that company)

YammerBus-Nicedisplay
Example of something interesting at the customer.

2. Flagging opportunities for improvement.

A dedicated Yammer group facilitates this process.
Whenever something could be done better, this is mentioned in this group, such as:
“I notice that the company flag at the Customer Center looks a bit worse for wear – can we have a new one?” or  “Can we please agree on a standard update interval for prices as I now have to find the latest prices in my own files rather than in the system?”
The Sales Managers discuss these suggestions and take the necessary action.

YammerBus-ImprovementsPost
Example of a potential improvement: reduce postage costs for samples

 

3.  Sharing winning strategies and achievements.

Another group has been created to share wins and winning strategies, as well as losses. Of course the Sales people are eager to share their wins, or show how they have added value or made a customer happy! Losses can also be a source for learning of course.
That information helps colleagues in two ways: they know what is happening with that customer, and they may learn different tactics to increase their negotiation repertoire.

YammerBus-Winexample
Example of win and interesting developments.

 

Not perfect

Is this perfect as a business system?
No. Yammer is not a CRM or Task Management system and conversations are easily lost without a process in place to capture and follow-up on them. Management and back office need to capture all posts manually and turn them into action lists and reports.
Posts are sometimes shared in the AllCompany group instead of in the group. (But you know you can move Yammer posts to different groups, right?)

YammerBus-Move conversation
In case you did not know – you can move conversations to a(nother) group!

 

But it works for them – the mobile Yammer app saves time for the Sales people, who are the face of the organization. They are on the road a lot and taking a picture with their phone and explaining in a few words at which branch of which customer they are and what they see, is quick, easy and useful.

As the Sales force does not often meet at the office, general improvements or the sharing of sales tactics might be forgotten without the Yammer group – but with the app they can share details immediately from any location.

Examples work!

The scenarios above may not work for you. But I have found that sharing examples help people to imagine what they can do with Yammer.

The other day I showed a rather skeptical audience these, and some other examples, of using Yammer. I also explained that, contrary to email chains, Yammer conversations are visible for people who get added to the group, e.g. new employees in the team.
All of a sudden one person said: “Aha! I am a Subject Matter Expert and I get a lot of emails from different people, asking me the same questions over and over again. If we use a Yammer group, we can share the questions and answers with everyone. That will save us all time. ”
We created that group there and then – it was also a good demo for the audience 🙂

Can you share some examples of how you have used Yammer for business processes?

An unpleasant inheritance

inherit-picInheriting something is a mixed pleasure.
You can become the proud owner of your uncle’s lovely old-timer, or be able to wear your grandmother’s diamond necklace and matching earrings at grand events, but you generally receive those treasures only after a dear one has passed away.
But you can also inherit debts, a house with an expensive mortgage, a nephew or other “things” that you have never wanted.

Inheriting permissions in SharePoint can also be a curse rather than a blessing.
“I have suddenly lost access” has been the title of many recent incidents. No need to blame this on Microsoft, SharePoint or the support team, because in 99% of cases this is a human error:

  • The Site Owner accidentally removed their own permissions while cleaning up a document library’s  or site’s permissions. The support team can easily fix this.
  • The Site Owner accidentally inherits the permissions from the parent site. That is pretty serious and has happened alarmingly often!

inherit-removeuniquepermissions
A dangerous button that will inherit permissions from the parent – this can be wanted in documents, folders and libraries but can wreak havoc in sites.

I have already mentioned in many of our instruction materials: “if you see “this web site has unique permissions” in the yellow bar, DO NOT CLICK “Delete unique permissions” as you will

  • Inherit the permissions from the parent site
  • Lock yourself out of your site if you have insufficient permissions on the parent site
  • Remove all unique permissions in your site (and there is no “undo” or “restore” option)

inherit-thiswebsitehasnqiuepermissions
If you see this text, you are at the site level!

The warning message appears not to be informative enough to keep people from proceeding.

inherit-warning
The warning message before you inherit the permissions from the parent site.

Recently I have guided a few people through “permissions stuff” via screenshare and I notice that they always want to click ‘Delete unique permissions” when they want to remove users. In several cases these users were individuals who were not in a group and therefore were seen as having unique permissions.
On those occasions I have been just in time to guide their mouse pointers to the right button: “Remove User Permissions”.

inherit-removeuserpermissions
Use this when you want to remove  groups or individuals from your site

This has now happened so often, with such serious consequences, that I have added a suggestion to Microsoft SharePoint Uservoice to rename “Delete Unique Permissions” into “Inherit permissions from parent” as this is probably easier to understand for the user than the current wording. If you agree, please support my request. (Happy to return the favour, of course)

You know, like in SharePoint 2007:

Inheritpermissions2007
What it looks like in SharePoint 2007 – much more intuitive! (Pic taken with Phone)

And if you have taken any measures that successfully prevent this accidental inheritance, please share!

Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Beware the SharePoint MVP!

 

No, I am not going to bash the SharePoint Most Valuable Professionals! I have received help, feedback and support from many MVP’s including Veronique Palmer, Jasper Oosterveld and Gregory Zelfond, and I have read and used the posts and presentations of many others.

But I am glad this title caught your attention 🙂

The Minimum Viable Product

This blog will be about another MVP – the Minimum Viable Product, a common word in Agile development, meaning you will launch a product that meets the basic requirements (as defined at the start of the project) and will be improved incrementally over time.

I think I have been woking somewhat agile  when I was configuring solutions, and met with my business counterparts on a very regular basis to discuss the proof of concept/prototype and checked if this met their expectations.
I only created a very small list of requirements, as I knew that many business partners only had a vague idea of what they were really looking for, and when confronted with my interpretation of their requirements all kinds of unexpected, or in any case, unspoken, things came up.

  • Is there an option to leave this field blank?
    Yes, but that means that we either leave this non-mandatory (which may lead to more blanks than you want) or we add a dummy value such as “please select”. What do you think is best?
  • Can we have a multiple choice for this field?
    Ofcourse, but that means you will be unable to group on this in the views, so we will have to resort to a connection for filtering. Oh and then it is better to make this field a look-up field instead of a choice field. Let me rework that.
  • What if someone forgets to act on the email?
    We may want to create a view that allows the business process owner to see quickly which items are awaiting action.

And more of those things. I generally met with my business partner once every fortnight, if not more often.

So I am all in favour of especially the short development cycles of Agile.

“Users” does not mean “end users”, exclusively!

I also think that “user stories” are much more realistic and human than “requirements”, although they sometimes look a little artificial.
By the way, I would recommend any team to think not only of “end user stories” but also of “tenant owner” stories or “support user stories” as other people involved have their own needs or requirements.

Rapid improvements

I also like the idea of launching a Minimum Viable Product and doing small, rapid improvements on that, based on feedback and experiences, because

  • You can show users that you are listening to them
  • You can show that you are not neglecting your intranet after launch
  • It gives you something new to communicate on a regular basis

MVP-DevelopmenttoLaunch
During development, you work towards the Minimum Viable Product

So, when we were launching our intranet I was quite interested to be part of the project and to work towards an MVP.

When we finally launched our MVP we also published the roadmap with intended improvements, and shared the process of adding items to the roadmap.  That way users could see that we had plans to improve and that we would be able to spend time and attention on meeting the needs of the business.

Vulnerabilities

When launching an MVP with a promise to make ongoing improvements you are more vulnerable than when you do a Big Bang Launch & Leave introduction. What about the following events?

  • Cuts in the improvement budget.
    Those can be a blessing or a curse, but they may happen.
  • People who leave before they have documented what they have created.
    I have never liked the extensive Requirements Documents and Product Descriptions that go with traditional development, but if you are handing over your product to the Support organization, you really need documentation of what you are handing over. End users can have the weirdest questions and issues! 🙂
  • Reorganizations which turn your product team or even your company upside down.
  • Microsoft changes that mess up your customizations. We have a webpart that shows your Followed Sites – it suddenly and without warning changed from displaying the first 5 sites you had followed to the last 5 sites. Most annoying!

So before you know it, you end up with a below-minimum viable product. â˜č

MVP-Developmentfromlaunch
While in a normal development cycle you would slowly and steadily improve upon the MVP, unexpected events can leave you with something less than MVP.

What can be done?

So before you start singing the praises of Agile development and put on your rose-tinted glasses

  1. Make sure you have a safe development budget that can not be taken away from you.
  2. Ensure you have an alternative no-cost optimization plan, such as webinars, Q&A sessions, surveys, configuration support, content changes etc. to make the most of the launch of your MVP and to get feedback for improvements for when better times arrive.
  3. Insist that everyone documents their configurations, codes, processes, work instructions etc. as quickly as possible. It is not sexy but will save you a lot of hassle in case your team changes.
    If you are in need of extracting knowledge from leaving experts, here are some tips for handing over to a successor, and some tips for when there is no successor in place yet.
  4. Be prepared for changes in processes, data or organization. You do not have to have a ready-made plan, but it is wise to think about possible implications for your product or process if the Comms team is being reorganized, someone wants to rename all business units, or you need to accomodate an acquired company in your setup.
  5. Keep customizations to a minimum. Use existing templates and simple configurations.
    Personally I would be totally content without a customized homepage. The SharePoint landing page or, even better, the Office365 landing page as the start page to my day would work perfectly well for me, but I have learned not many people share that feeling.

Any experiences to share?

Have you had similar experiences? Have you found a good way to handle budget cuts, a way to develop budget-neutrally, how to deal with people changes or another way to deal with unexpected events that endanger your MVP? I am sure there are many people (including myself) who would like to learn from your stories!

Images are from Simon Koay’s totally gorgeous Superbet. Look at that B!
M=Mystique, V=Venom, P=Poison Ivy

Knowledge Management from support tickets

KMTickets-headerNow that we have launched our intranet we constantly receive questions and support tickets from our users. That is not exactly a surprise, as we know that our current intranet is vastly different from our old one. We have SharePoint Online versus SharePoint 2007 and a completely new governance.
We learn a great deal about our users and our environment from these tickets and the discussions in our dedicated Yammer group.

Of course my team knows that I am into KM, so I am currently in a small “Virtual Expert” group on knowledge sharing. Our goals is to “translate experiences into knowledge”.

That sounds pretty formal, but it is quite simple really. And you know, I like simple, especially when it is about KM.

How it works

KMTickets-process

Whenever we receive an incident, we assign it according to the type of incident. This allows every one of our team to learn about a specific topic or process, and to improve the process or generate knowledge about this topic.
For instance, for a time all incidents dealing with permissions were assigned to me.
When I had gained sufficient knowledge of common permission issues, either by searching online or by doing experiments, I wrote work instructions for the rest of the team. Permissions issues (provided we recognize them when the tickets come in 🙂 ) can now also be assigned to others as we have a common procedure.
Yammer questions that can not be answered by the community receive similar treatment: we do online search and experiments where needed. (Although we ask people to submit a ticket when it looks like something in their site is broken)

We have a regular call to discuss any new and interesting issues.

When we run into a problem that we can not solve by searching online or doing an experiment,  we ask our very knowledgeable tenant admins. They show or tell us when they know the answer. My colleague and myself then turn this knowledge into documentation – be it a work instruction for the support team, a manual or a tip for end users, or sometimes a suggestion for extra communication or even a change to the system settings.

Most materials are stored on SharePoint: in our own team site or in the site we have created for end users.

Love all around!

KMTickets-LoveI love this structured approach. Our manager, who is very much into service delivery, formal processes and stuff like ITIL, appreciates the process we are going through.
Our tenant admins like to share their knowledge, knowing this will free them up to do tenant admin stuff.
My colleague and I have great pleasure in capturing knowledge and turning it into something tangible that helps us do our work faster.
The rest of the team is happy to have good work instructions.

SharePoint Holmes

It may be a small process, but it works for us and we enjoy the benefits.  And you
you see the SharePoint Holmes cases! 🙂

Header image courtesy of Kimberley Farmer on Unsplash.com

SharePoint Holmes and the disappearing Datasheet View

SPHolmes1Part 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 first case is about a Datasheet View.

The case

One of the users of a site did not see the items in a list. Having access to the data was a requirement for his role and he had always been able to see this content before it was migrated to SharePoint Online.

So, I put on my SharePoint Holmes cap and rolled up my sleeves.

The investigation

  1. I logged in with my Admin account and went into the site.
  2. I saw the items perfectly well. Just items in a Datasheet view.
  3. Permissions check – the user had Read permissions to the site.
  4. Items with unique permissions check – the list had unique permissions but the user had Read access.
  5. Item-level permissions check – in the Advanced List Settings it showed that all items were visible to all users of the site.
  6. Workflow check – no workflow reducing permissions after going through a process.

Right, that was an interesting one.

  1. It was time to look through the eyes of the user, so I added myself to the same user group and checked. An empty list stared back at me.
  2. I went through the other views and found a standard one. I could see the items in there, and so could my user.
  3. One of my colleagues mentioned that issues with the latest IE update had been reported, which might have influenced the Datasheet view.  We tried different browsers. That made no difference, but there was always that difference between user and admin.

Hmmm….

The solution

Search engine to the rescue! One of the results surprised me, and I had to test that.

I created a datasheet view in my own tenant. It looked like this:

SPHolmes-Datasheet-Owner
What the Admin sees

Then I logged in with Contribute permissions. It looked like this:

SPHolmes-Datasheet-Contributor
What a Contributor sees

Then I logged in with Read permissions. It looked like this:

SPHolmes-Datasheet-Reader
What a Reader sees

You need at least Contribute permissions before you can see items in a Datasheet view.

The Datasheet view is meant for editing, so only people with edit permissions can see items in it. It makes sense and I have always told people to use the Datasheet view very sparingly as it is only too easy to change something. The many Excel-addicts in my user base however loved it and have also used it for display purposes in our SharePoint 2007 intranet.
Now they either have to elevate permissions or recreate their views.

Interestingly enough this was a permissions issue, but different from what I have ever seen before!

Image courtesy of Geerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net