How did I get here?

Decorative picture of a diverging path

We have recently seen some blogs about how most of us rolled into this work. (e.g. Mark Jones, Gregory Zelfond, Veronique Palmer, Simon Terry and Simon Allison )

So I thought to share my story, triggered by the workshop that Steve Bynghall and Chris Tubb hosted at the recent edition of IntranetNow. They showed their newly developed “Intranet and Digital Workplace Skills Matrix” which can be used to help teams determine if all relevant skills are covered and if not, which gaps need to be filled.
But…it can also be a useful and fun exercise for yourself. In the workshop, Steve and Chris asked us to mark those boxes where we have experience. It was interesting to see that I have worked in each of the 5 categories and I think I was the only one who could say that. I usually describe my work as “helping people with using SharePoint and Office365” but within that definition I appear to have had very different roles over the years.
So, as an example of how to get insight in your own career, let me share my career path with you:

1. Knowledge Management

After 20 years in new (food) product development, I started a role in Knowledge Management in the same organization, which at that time focused on new product development. Part of the project meant I had to share the outcomes on the intranet. This ticked a number of boxes in the Content and Communication “arm” mainly.

Skills for this role: Writing and editing, Content management, Content publishing, Content design and some Information architecture.
The skills I needed in my Knowledge Management role

2. Intranet adoption (awareness and training)

During my Knowledge Management project I met the intranet team and they asked me to help them create more awareness and use of the intranet. In this role I tried to make people aware of the intranet and how people could use it for themselves. I also did some basic troubleshooting, support and training. At that time (around 2003 or so) intranets were generally custom-built and options were limited – apart from a Frontpage website, a home-built “document cabinet” and a Forum tool there was not much else. Still, in an international organization even these limited tools helped to share information with colleagues in other locations and businesses, so a number of people were very active on the intranet.
The boxes ticked made a shift to the right.

Skills in this role: Faciliating training and support, Operational governance, Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, Incident and problem management, Information architecture.
Skillset moving to the right in my second role.

3. Intranet adoption (configuration)

Then we moved to a SharePoint (2003) intranet and found so many options to help employees, that we decided to act as internal consultants, identifying painful processes and configuring sites to facilitate the processes and make them more efficient. I have blogged about this earlier:
That was a wonderful job which taught me a great deal about business processes AND about SharePoint!

In this role I used the following skills: Tacit knowledge management, Facilitator training and support. Operational governance,Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, Incident and problem management, IT change management, Business analysis and requirement specification, Information architecture, Visual design, User testing, Accessibility
Business Analysis and requirements specification was a large part of my third role.

4. SharePoint site collection manager

After being made redundant as result of a reorganization, I found another job at a multinational organization. My role was to act as the site collection administrator, making sure procedures around customizatons were adhered to, the site collection did not grow too large (yes dear reader, in that 2007 SharePoint each site collection was allowed 2 GB, which is not much in current standards), doing housekeeping on empty sites etc. I also configured sites, did troubleshooting and gave advice and trainings.

The skills I needed in this role: Writing and editing, Content publishing, Content design, Facilitating training and support, Operational governance, measurement an improvement, stakeholder management, Incident and problem management, Business analysis and requirements specification, Information architecture, Visual Design and Accessibility.
I was quite a Jack-of-all-trades in this role 🙂

5. SharePoint, Yammer, Video support

When we had launched our new intranet on SharePoint Online, I was part of the support team, figuring out issues with permissions, document management, pages and web parts, Yammer and Video. I also curated and created help materials and was in charge of a successful Yammer group on Office365, where we answered questions and informed people about changes in functionality or issues, and where people shared tips and tricks.

For this role I needed the following skills: Content publishing, Curation and tagging, Facilitating training and support, Community development, Operational governance, Incident and problem management, Information architecture and Accessibility.
Curation and community development were new skills I needed in this role

6. Office 365 adoption

My last role at that organization was to help people use the various elements of their digital workplace. The focus was on Office 365 but other all-employee tools were in scope as well, such as Adobe Creative suite license changes and a new password reset system. I was helping with software launches and changes by figuring out how much and what type of adoption effort was needed, finding help materials (or creating them if they were not available) and providing communication and training to local support people.

For this role I needed Curation and tagging, Facilitator training and support, Community Development, Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, IT change management, IT strategy, User testing.
My Office 365 adoption role skills

7. Office 365 functional management

A few months ago I had the opportunity to change jobs..in a big way! After 35 years of working in multinational commercial manufacturing organizations, I now work in an all-Dutch mental health care organization.
I am still providing second line support, I am an Office 365 portal administrator, I help people understand all tools within Office 365, I invent solutions for awkward processes, I create training materials if I can not find them in Dutch, co-decide which of the endless changes in functionality needs to be communicated, and everything else about Office 365.
So, which boxes have I ticked? Check it out:

For this role I need Publisher coordination and coaching, Curation and tagging, Collaboration strategy, Facilitator training and support, Community development, Operational governance, Measurement and improvement, Stakeholder management, Incident an problem management, IT change management, Platform management, Business analysis and requirement specification, System development.configuration, IT strategy, Information architecture and Accessibility.
Currently needed skills – quite a wide range, which is great!

Conclusion

You can see some skills coming back in almost every role. Of course I have my personal interests that I try to incorporate into each role. But also my (then) existing skillset and earlier experience have influenced the boxes that I have selected. I always try to create a role with maximum interest and learning opportunities for myself.
I can heartily recommend this to get an insight into your own career. Give it a try!

Image courtesy of James Wheeler on Pexels.com

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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

Using OneNote during a conference

It all started out with a tweet by Simon Bisson:

I really liked that idea but I could not very well imagine how it worked exactly. And as this is another way I can make work easier for my colleagues, who generally do not have the time or the interest to find out these things, I decided to try it and write it all down. The Office 365 and SharePoint Connect conference in Haarlem was a good moment to test it all, using a tablet, but it works the same on a PC.

The day before the conference

  • Make sure you have the OneNote app installed on your tablet/PC and smartphone, and that you are logged in on both devices with the same account.
  • If you have never used the camera option of OneNote on your phone, make sure you know where to find it, and practice by photographing something, e.g. your PC screen, with the automatic edge detection and cropping.
  • Create a notebook for conferences.
  • Create a section for the next conference. From there you can create a page for each session.

    OneNote-booksetup
    I have created a Section for the Connect conference, and have one page per session.
  • Charge your devices and a power bank if you have one. It may be my iPad but it devoured battery. A charger may be useful as well, to use during breaks.
  • Clean the camera lens on your phone 🙂

Before each session

  • Make sure your devices are connected to the conference wifi
  • Create a page for the next session
  • Open tablet/PC and phone on the session’s page

During the session

  • Make notes on your tablet/PC
  • Whenever you want to capture a slide, take a picture with your phone while both phone and tablet/PC are on the session page with the cursor below the current notes. Take the picture when the purple lines are around the slide. The “Document” picture option appears to give the best results.
  • The picture captured in the purple lines will be added to the page at the place where your cursor is, on both devices.

    OneNoteinpage
    I took the picture, focusing on the slide, and this was added to the page. See below for the original photo.

After the conference

  • Process your notes like you are used to.
  • Remove the original pictures from your phone’s photo gallery to free up space. Your slide pictures will still stay in OneNote.

    OneNote-original image
    This is the original picture which stays on your phone and takes up space.

Conclusion

I really like this option. I love the fact that the cropped image automagically appears in your notes 🙂 . I also like the fact that you have the slides immediately; of course you can also wait until the organization makes the decks available, but by that time I generally no longer have the time and patience to cut and paste all this.

Using Yammer data export to manage conversations

YammerExportBlogImageThe team I mentioned in my blog “Using Yammer for a business process” had difficulty tracking all conversations and actions in their Yammer groups. Their groups knew heavy traffic, and conversations went up and down on the page, depending on latest posts. It was easy to miss a reported issue when it had been open for a few days.

So the team asked if it was possible to give them a report of the data, so they could better

  • track questions, issues and especially resolutions
  • keep track of the people who had joined the conversation (posting in the groups was an objective for all sales people)

I do not know if any of you will ever need this, but as I am also keeping this blog as a reminder to myself, let me share it – you never know 🙂

What is available?

As far as I know, there are four options for reporting:

Group Insights
You can find this on the right-hand column of the group. This gives you some data about the number of people, messages and views. However, this does not give any information about the content, so this was not of interest to them.

Yammerconvexpgroupinsights
You can find the “Group Insights” on the right-hand side of the group.

Yammer-groupinisghts
This is what you see in “View Group Insights”: the numbers of messages and people.

Power BI
I am not an expert on PowerBI, but I have seen some reports for Yammer which look pretty good. It is also possible to show the content of each message. However, as we did not have this available for end users, (for reasons of licence costs + the preference for other BI tooling) it was not a suitable option for this purpose at that time.

Flow
“When a message is posted in a group on Yammer” is a trigger on Flow. You can send data to a SharePoint list, although I do not know if you can sort or group on conversation. Flow could have been an option, but  with their post volumes, they might have needed a premium plan and we did not want to risk that.
BTW, an interesting use of Flow and Yammer is this “Sentiment analysis of Yammer posts” by Chris Bortlik.

Exporting the network data
This option allows a Yammer Network Admin to make an extract of all conversations, dates, people and what not between two dates. This was a suitable answer to their question so we set about to make this happen.
It is not possible to export the conversations of one group only, so it took some figuring out if and how we could do this in a responsible way:

  • Data security concerns in general – as this option exports all conversations from all groups, the Network Admin could also see conversations from private groups. Of course any network admin is supposed to be a responsible and trustworthy person and has likely signed an NDA when joining the organization. Besides, they can give themselves access to private groups anyway, so after some discussion this was approved.
  • Privacy concerns for the members of the groups in scope – but everyone had agreed to this way of doing their business and was aware of and OK with the export and the data – in fact, the report was shared with all concerned.
  • Cleansing and presenting data – how could the substantial amount of data be processed quickly as this was going to be a weekly task for the Yammer Network Admin.

So, let me share how to work with the data.

How to export the data

A Yammer network Admin can make an export of data, as described here.

Following the instructions, you will get a zip file with several data sheets, of which you need the one called Messages.

Yammerexportzipfile
This is the zip file. Open “Messages” to view the raw data export.

Example, please!

Here’s some group conversations I made earlier 🙂. There are some updates, replies, replies to replies, and an announcement, in a random post order. I have numbered them to make it easier to see how things are displayed in the export.

Yammerconv1

Yammerconv2
These are all conversations in this Group

When exporting the data and opening the “Messages” file I get a file looking like this:

YammerconvExportRaw
The raw data export

I have created an Excel in which I go from the raw data to the final sorted data in several steps / tabs. You can view or download it here

Cleansing the data

The raw file contains many columns which are not relevant for this purpose. The following ARE important:

  • id
  • replied_to_id
  • thread_id
  • group_name (if you have multiple groups to manage)
  • sender_name (and/or sender_email)
  • title
  • body
  • created_at

Please remove the other columns to make your file a bit more manageable.
The result is shown in tab “Correct columns” in the Excel sample.

As I said you will export all conversations in the network in the given time interval. You will now need to sort on “group_name” and then remove every line item that is not in one of the groups in scope.
There is little activity in my one-person Yammer tenant so there was only one group and one person in my export. I have removed those columns to make the file less cluttered. This is the “Work data” tab.

Interpreting the data

Now, let’s see how they belong together:

  1. Every message gets a number, the “id”. A higher “id” means that the message has been posted later than a lower “id”.
  2. The raw export sorts the messages by “id”, ascending (earliest message on top).
  3. Every thread (conversation / series of messages) has a number, the “thread_id”.  It is the “id” of the first message of the thread.  For the first thread (Message 1) this is 1197762641. So, all messages that have 1197762641 under “thread_id”  belong to Message 1. In the tab “Colour-coded work data” each number has its own colour, providing they are/have a reply or a thread_id.
  4. Every reply has the “id” they replied to, in the “replied_to_id” column.
  5. Every new thread has an empty box in “replied_to_id”
    It looks like this:

    Yammerconvexportnewmessage
    Every new thread is NOT a reply to another message, so the “replied_to_id” is empty.

Presenting the data

This team wanted to be able to quickly scan through all conversations, to see if they had been addressed. They were looking for messages in the “body” that said something like “This complaint has been registered in CRM with number 123” or “We have discussed this with management and added this to our wish list for 2020” or similar. These messages would typically be at the end of a conversation. Anything that showed that the message had been read, processed and entered into the appropriate system.

So, we sorted the messages on “thread_id” first and then on “id”. This gave them the info they needed. You can see that in the “Sorted data” tab.

Yammerconvexpsorteddata
The “sorted data” that the team could work with. Please note the colouring is only for demonstration purposes!

Additionally, they sorted on “sender_email” to count the number of entries for each Sales person.

Additional suggestions

  • We all sometimes reply to the original and sometimes to a reply. You can sort that out in the data export if you want, but in this case all threads needed to end with a resolution. So in general, the last updates in time were the most relevant.
  • Please select your date range carefully or you will end up with an unworkably large file, not only in number of line items, but also in GB’s. And remember to turn off the attachment downloads!
  • The “title” field is useful only when you want to make a distinction between normal updates and Announcements. Every reply to an announcement is treated as a normal update.
  • Please make sure your users do not use paragraphs or hard returns in their messages as only text before the hard return is exported into the “body” field.

    Yammerhardreturnmessage
    This message has hard returns in the text. See below for the export.

    Yammer-hardreturnexport
    The export breaks after the first hard return. How annoying!

Have you ever used the data export option for Yammer? Please let me know!

Why not use Teams?

If they were to start this project now, I would probably advise Teams rather than Yammer. But I have not been able to find any way to export the data, nor is a new Teams post a trigger for Flow at this moment. So I am not sure if Teams would have met their reporting requirements.

Forms or Survey – responses and results

Survey-responsesconclusionIn two earlier blogs I compared the Question and Answer types and the General survey settings for 5 different survey tools:

  • Microsoft Forms
  • SharePoint survey
  • SharePoint custom list
  • SurveyMonkey free version
  • Google Forms

Now it is time to gather the responses and see how they are displayed and what you can do with them. It is quite a long read but there are many screenshots as well!

What to look out for?

  • How you can distribute the link to the survey
  • What the survey looks like when you respond
  • How the results are being displayed by default and if you can export them
  • What else you can do with the data

Distribution

All tools allow creating a link or sending an email with the link.

Forms has the additional option to add the form directly on a SharePoint page, which looks very inviting, especially if the survey contains only a few questions. Forms can also generate a QR code to take you to the survey.

Forms-distribution
Sharing options in Forms at the bottom, from left to right: Link, QR code, Embed, Email

The SharePoint survey and Custom List can be added as a web part on a SharePoint page, but they are not exactly inviting users to enter.

SurveyMonkey has many different ways to get responses.

Surveymonkey distribution
Next to link and email, SurveyMonkey offers more options to get responses.

Google Forms allows you to add the survey questions directly into an email, which is very convenient.

Google-distribute
In Google Forms, you can add the complete survey to the email body. That is very easy for the audience!

User Experience

Of course the user experience is very important. If your survey has a tiny typeface, or takes forever to load, people are not likely to complete it.

You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Remember: you do not have to add any real data.

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses – limitation of the free version)

Google Forms

I am sharing some screenshots of remarkable things.

The Net Promotor Score looks special:

Forms-NPS
The Net Promotor Score column. The image I added made the look-and-feel of the survey different, see David Lozzi’s blog: https://davidlozzi.com/2018/11/13/squeezing-a-little-more-formatting-out-of-microsoft-forms/

This is the SharePoint Survey, in case you had forgotten what it looks like 🙂

Forms-Surveyinput
The good old SharePoint survey.

And this is how you enter data into a SharePoint custom list: in the information pane on the right-hand side of the page, which feels a bit strange.

SurveyList-input
This is the regular input screen in any list for metadata etc.

Next to a rather large font size, SurveyMonkey has the option to create columns for answers, which I really like as they make good use of space:

SurveyMonkey-columns
Those columns are very good when you have many options to choose from.

SurveyMonkey-slider and reorder
I also like SurveyMonkey’s slider and the reordering options.

Google Forms has nothing special, but it looks solid and modern.

Responses

Thank you everyone who has responded to one of the surveys! This allows me to show some of the results graphs. This is what the various response pages look like:

Microsoft Forms:

Forms-response1
Survey information on top, as well as an option to export everything to Excel. “More details” opens up all responses for a particular question.

Forms-response2
Colourful graphical summary of the responses.

Forms-reponse3
The last part of the survey. Aha, the Net Promotor Score IS quite a special thing!

SharePoint Survey. I am sharing only part of the graphical summary as I guess you have seen it before and it is not very exciting. Now I remember how annoying that “multiple responses” question is – you need to re-score everything manually! 😦

SharePointSurveyResults
Graphical summary of the SharePoint survey. Limited options and that “multiple responses” summary is just not useful.

The SharePoint custom list has no graphical summary. You just see the responses as line items in a list.

SurveyMonkey has a very long page of results. All responses are shown with a scroll bar (see the first screenshot) or with a graphical summary first and then the individual responses below. For each chart, you can change the chart type.
I will only show a few screens.

surveymonkeyresults1
You can see how many people answered and skipped the question. Most recent responses are shown on top; a scroll bar shows all responses.

Surveymonkeyresults3
A question where a pie chart would have been more appropriate in my opinion. But…clicking the “customize” button top right will open a pane to change the chart type.

SurveyMonkeyresults2
The multiple-answer question. Looks good.

Surveymonkeyresults4
This is the question which allows you to move answers around.

Google Forms results look like this:

Googleformsresults1
Top of the results page. The green button top right allows an export to spreadsheet.

Googleformsresults2

Googleformsresults3
Useful graph of the multiple-choice-question.

Googleformsresults4

Googleformsresults5
Bottom of the results. The “Net Promotor Score” is displayed as any other result.

 Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel.  Look at the “Responses and Results” tab. Please use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available

Formsorsurvey-ResultSettingswithheader
Comparison of the response and results options for the various tools.

Conclusion

Again, the classic SharePoint options are in a league of their own.

Microsoft Forms appears to have more in common with SurveyMonkey Free and Google Forms than with SharePoint. All three surveys are pleasant to complete and the graphical display of results is much better than with the SharePoint survey.

Overall conclusion

Forms is really the new way to conduct surveys in your organization and possibly with externals. It looks pleasant both on a SharePoint page and when completing it, it has a ton of good options, decent colourful graphs and it works with Flow.
Some people will really like that Net Promoter Score 🙂
I am sure that Forms will continue to develop, so I will try to keep this comparison up-to-date.

The SharePoint survey feels a tad outdated, although you can still conduct good surveys with it. The graphical summary is very inferior to what Forms has to offer. My suggestion would be to use this only when you need one of the more advanced Q & A options, such as selecting a name from someone in your organization. The whole permissions management is also more complicated than with Forms, as described in my “SharePoint Survey lifecycle” blog.

The SharePoint custom list may not be the option that comes to mind first when you talk about a survey, but especially the options to process the data after collection can be the reason to use it. You can group and filter the entries just like any View and edit entries (e.g. mark an item as “Completed” or add a certain category). With the additional  column types and the connection with Flow this can be the tool of choice when collecting data from the organization is the starting point for a project or process.
There are no graphics by default, but PowerBI may be used if needed.
Many thanks to my former colleague Scott Lewis who pointed out the benefits of custom lists when combined with Forms and Flow.

SurveyMonkey is of course THE specialized tool for surveys. It has extensive help for your survey questions and many options. It is the only tool that can show columns of responses, which is nice to keep your survey compact. It allows you to change the chart type of the results if desired. However, the free version has a few annoying limitations and I personally find the “management” interface rather cluttered.
For large-scale complicated surveys where you need to analyze responses in-depth the paid version beats Microsoft Forms.

Google Forms is a solid modern tool. Apart from the “display form straight in an email” it does not have any remarkable features.

Hope this comparison is useful to you. Have I missed any that are important for you? Please let me know – also if it has helped to move your colleagues away from SurveyMonkey (free) or GoogleForms! 🙂

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay

Forms or Survey – what are the settings?

Survey-SettingsIn my most recent blog I discussed the options for Questions and Answers in the various survey tools.

This time, I would like to take a look at the settings – what can you decide about your survey as a whole?

Which settings can you apply to your survey?

  • Permissions to create and manage a survey – can anyone do it or do you need special permissions? Can you hand a survey over to someone else?
  • Look and feel – can you use colours and add branding to the survey?
  • Who can respond and details about the responses.
  • How to start and stop collecting responses.
  • Custom thank-you message.
  • Whether you can easily copy your survey.

Where can you find the settings?

The settings in Forms can be found in the top right. The palette is for the theme, the … will lead you to the other settings.

Forms-wheresettings
The settings in Forms which will allow you to determine how your survey looks and works.

For the SharePoint survey/list you have some options in the Advanced Settings:

Forms-SPSurveyAdvanced
This is how to determine view-and-edit permissions for SharePoint Survey and List.

Forms-SPSurvey-GeneralSettings
This option is only available in the SharePoint Survey Settings under  “List name, description and navigation”.

For SurveyMonkey, you can find most of the settings in the “Design Survey” phase, with different options in the buttons on the left:

Forms-surveyMonkeywhere
In SurveyMonkey, the Design Survey link shows you the options available.

For Google Forms you look at the top right, where the palette will allow you to determine the look-and-feel and the gear wheel will show other settings to select:

Forms-gogglewhere
Where to find the settings in Google Forms.

Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. I have added this info as a separate tab in the same document as in my earlier post. You can use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available

Formsorsurvey-ResultSettingswithheader
The comparison for the various settings available.

Conclusion

Again, all surveys have different options but the differences are relatively small between Microsoft Forms, Google Forms and SurveyMonkey.
SurveyMonkey has some interesting options, such as a limit on the number of responses, suggestions for questions, and the SurveyMonkey Genius which gives an estimated time to complete and suggestions for the setup of the survey. (Under “Preview and Score”)
The SharePoint options appear to be a different animal altogether. They have their uses though, as mentioned in my earlier post.

Special Thanks!

During the writing of this post some more info about Forms was made available:

Thanks to David Lozzi for blogging about changing the colour scheme of a Form, which I have done by accident without realizing its effect. 🙂
Thanks to Noah Sparks for sharing the info about a recently introduced option:  transferring ownership of a Form. 

Experience the surveys yourself! (and help me)

You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Please do not use real data, as I will use the inputs only for demonstrating how results will be displayed:

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses – limitation of the free version)

Google Forms

In my next post I will focus on collecting the responses and how results are being displayed.

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.

Forms or Survey – that’s the question

feedbackA few years ago I wrote a post “What SharePoint can learn from SurveyMonkey” and it is now time to revisit.

With the introduction of Forms in Office365 I was curious how the various survey tools compare. As a SharePoint List can also be used to collect information, I have added that as well. It has some special characteristics that could make it a good choice in some scenarios.
I have some personal experience with Google Forms, and Forms is rumoured to be based on that, so I have added that to the mix as well.

So these are the 5 options compared:

  • Office365 Forms
  • SharePoint Survey
  • SharePoint List
  • SurveyMonkey (free version)
  • Google Forms

What did I do?

I have created a 10-question survey based on the 8 basic Q&A options of Forms.
Then I recreated the same survey in the other tools. In cases where there was not a straightforward solution, I tried to find a workaround.
I have not applied branching logic, as I already have a lot of information to share.

In a next post I will look at the general settings per survey. Can you change the colour scheme, can you add a logo, how do you start or stop a survey, etc.

Finally, and this will also be another post, I will compare the ways you can see and manage results. How are results displayed, can you export them to a spreadsheet, is there any way you can filter results or have different options to display them?

Questions and Answers

Forms has 8 Q and A types, but some of them can be used in different ways – e.g. a Choice question can be a one choice only (radio button) or a multiple choice (check boxes), and the Text can be a short text, a long text, and a number.

The Net Promoter Score has recently been added but I personally think it is superfluous (it can be replaced with a Rating scale) and also annoying to receive. However, there is something special about it which I will share later. 😉

Experience them yourself! (and help me)

Please check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Please do not use real data, as I will use the inputs only for demonstrating how results will be displayed:

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses – limitation of the free version)

Google Forms

Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. You can use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available

SurveyComparison-QandA
The results of the comparison of Question and Answers.

Conclusion

No two Survey tools are alike. Duh!

In general, the SharePoint options appear to be most different and the most limited, but they can be useful, especially when used within an organization, for which they have been developed:

  • They have more Q and A types (e.g. currency, People and Groups lookup, a lookup from an existing list, Managed Metadata) which may be needed now and then. The List also has Calculations and Site Columns to select from.
  • They can detect unique values, which is essential in case you are collecting unique numbers, such as machine, procedure or invoice numbers.

SurveyMonkey has a few annoying limitations in the free version, such as max. 10 questions, the lack of a “number” option or the absence of a description field for each question. But it also has some very nice things:

  • Add answer options in bulk to Choice questions – nice when you have many answer options
  • Display a large number of answer options in columns rather than a long list
  • Ask to “tick at least x options” in a multiple-choice question

There are some differences between Forms, SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. But in general, you can create decent survey questions with all of them.

What are your thoughts? Or do you prefer to wait until I have completed the comparison?

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.