With 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?
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
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!
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
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 yourself 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.
I am working on the counter-spells but until now I have not been very successful…
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
In my previous organization I often received complaints about what was shown in Delve. Exactly like the results you see in Search, what you see is what you have access to, and for many people this was hard to understand. Every time the Search or Delve results got questioned (“Search is broken!”) I could prove that this person saw this search result or this document card on Delve because they had access to it, whether that was desired or not. I loved this demonstration of the importance of proper permissions management 🙂
In Search, any mismanagement of permissions only becomes apparent when you are actively searching, but in Delve “content finds YOU” so it is ruthlessly in-your-face.
In my current organization we have not promoted it very much yet, so when we recently changed a number of licenses from E1 to F1, we did not consider the fact that the Delve app would no longer be visible for the F1-users, a big risk.
However, we received a question from someone who uses the people-part for looking up managers and direct reports, so I found three alternative options.
1. Via “My Office Profile”
After all, the Delve “Me” page is your profile page, so that should be available for every user. Just click on your picture top right and select “My Office profile”.
2. Via the URL
Delve is available for users if they are logged in to Office365 and use the following URL: https://<datacenterlocation>.delve.office.com.
For our organization and my own tenant this is https://eur.delve.office.com and for a tenant in the UK this would be https://gbr.delve.office.com
I do not have access to any other tenants so I can not give you the “code” for other data centers but please take a look at your Delve to see what it is. It may come in useful one day.
3. Via Outlook (people data only)
Like Delve, Outlook also uses Active Directory so all people data is also in Outlook.
Users with an F1-license use the Outlook On The Web experience and they can see people’s managers and direct reports in the people card.
When you hover over a person’s name (searched or from an email) you will first see the small card, which expands into a larger card. When you click “Show more” you will see a ton of info, including the “Organisation” which will allow you to see a person’s manager and direct reports. In my case the tab is greyed-out because I am the only one in my tenant and have not set up AD.
4. “Discover” on the Office 365 start page (documents only)
The Home page in Delve shows a mix of documents that are popular or have been edited recently by people you work with.
The Office365 homepage has a tab called “Discover” which shows you a mix of recent documents from others.
When I compared the two I found these were very similar except for
Content: the “Discover” tab on the Office365 homepage only shows documents from OneDrive and SharePoint, while the Delve page shows documents from OneDrive, SharePoint and Outlook
Display: Delve shows cards, the “Discover” tab can show tiles or list items
Sadly I can not share any comparative screenshots as I can only see this in my work tenant. I am the only user in my tenant so there is nothing to share from others.
But trust me, the Discover tab is an alternative, albeit not a full one, for the Delve Home page.
What’s next for Delve?
My colleague was happy with the alternatives provided.
But when I found this all out I wondered if Delve may be going away as a separate workload as the functionality is now embedded in other, more frequently used, tools. It also has not been included in the recent icon redesign, which may be a clue as well. Would anyone know?
Just as I was writing this post, I found this post from John Liu (in response to a Tweet about Delve from Joanne Klein) who is also wondering about the future of Delve – he has a good idea for its development.
So let’s wait and see if Delve keeps being a separate app, but with added functionality, or will be absorbed into relevant other workloads in Office365…
So I thought to share my story, triggered by the workshop that Steve Bynghall and Chris Tubb hosted at the recent edition of IntranetNow. They showed their newly developed “Intranet and Digital Workplace Skills Matrix” which can be used to help teams determine if all relevant skills are covered and if not, which gaps need to be filled. But…it can also be a useful and fun exercise for yourself. In the workshop, Steve and Chris asked us to mark those boxes where we have experience. It was interesting to see that I have worked in each of the 5 categories and I think I was the only one who could say that. I usually describe my work as “helping people with using SharePoint and Office365” but within that definition I appear to have had very different roles over the years. So, as an example of how to get insight in your own career, let me share my career path with you:
1. Knowledge Management
After 20 years in new (food) product development, I started a role in Knowledge Management in the same organization, which at that time focused on new product development. Part of the project meant I had to share the outcomes on the intranet. This ticked a number of boxes in the Content and Communication “arm” mainly.
2. Intranet adoption (awareness and training)
During my Knowledge Management project I met the intranet team and they asked me to help them create more awareness and use of the intranet. In this role I tried to make people aware of the intranet and how people could use it for themselves. I also did some basic troubleshooting, support and training. At that time (around 2003 or so) intranets were generally custom-built and options were limited – apart from a Frontpage website, a home-built “document cabinet” and a Forum tool there was not much else. Still, in an international organization even these limited tools helped to share information with colleagues in other locations and businesses, so a number of people were very active on the intranet. The boxes ticked made a shift to the right.
3. Intranet adoption (configuration)
Then we moved to a SharePoint (2003) intranet and found so many options to help employees, that we decided to act as internal consultants, identifying painful processes and configuring sites to facilitate the processes and make them more efficient. I have blogged about this earlier: That was a wonderful job which taught me a great deal about business processes AND about SharePoint!
4. SharePoint site collection manager
After being made redundant as result of a reorganization, I found another job at a multinational organization. My role was to act as the site collection administrator, making sure procedures around customizatons were adhered to, the site collection did not grow too large (yes dear reader, in that 2007 SharePoint each site collection was allowed 2 GB, which is not much in current standards), doing housekeeping on empty sites etc. I also configured sites, did troubleshooting and gave advice and trainings.
5. SharePoint, Yammer, Video support
When we had launched our new intranet on SharePoint Online, I was part of the support team, figuring out issues with permissions, document management, pages and web parts, Yammer and Video. I also curated and created help materials and was in charge of a successful Yammer group on Office365, where we answered questions and informed people about changes in functionality or issues, and where people shared tips and tricks.
6. Office 365 adoption
My last role at that organization was to help people use the various elements of their digital workplace. The focus was on Office 365 but other all-employee tools were in scope as well, such as Adobe Creative suite license changes and a new password reset system. I was helping with software launches and changes by figuring out how much and what type of adoption effort was needed, finding help materials (or creating them if they were not available) and providing communication and training to local support people.
7. Office 365 functional management
A few months ago I had the opportunity to change jobs..in a big way! After 35 years of working in multinational commercial manufacturing organizations, I now work in an all-Dutch mental health care organization. I am still providing second line support, I am an Office 365 portal administrator, I help people understand all tools within Office 365, I invent solutions for awkward processes, I create training materials if I can not find them in Dutch, co-decide which of the endless changes in functionality needs to be communicated, and everything else about Office 365. So, which boxes have I ticked? Check it out:
You can see some skills coming back in almost every role. Of course I have my personal interests that I try to incorporate into each role. But also my (then) existing skillset and earlier experience have influenced the boxes that I have selected. I always try to create a role with maximum interest and learning opportunities for myself. I can heartily recommend this to get an insight into your own career. Give it a try!
Collaboration Team sites home pages showed the security classification of the content, the audience and the site owner. (Useful! If applied correctly…)
We added another permissions level to avoid site owners creating subsites.
The document content types had 20 fields of hidden metadata in them, as per our term store. This was to improve the search experience – after all, in a 40.000 employee company with many locations, a few metadata would be most helpful to find the document from the correct business, function or location.
Dude, where’s my documentation?
So, when the intranet was ready to launch, and support was handed over to the regular support team, the Support team manager asked the developers for all the documentation. It was not there and they had not planned for it. Against the advice of Veronique Palmer, he accepted this as a fact and support was handed over to the support team. After all, one of the developers was in-house so we could always turn to him.
Or so we thought, as he left the organization shortly after launch of the intranet…
Support mostly went OK as the majority of issues had to do with permissions. But when the content types started to show issues we had no clue where to go for help, so we ended up installing the regular content types. Nobody wanted to complete 20 metadata fields for each document! And when the organization changed structure, the metadata changed as well and nobody knew where to make the changes in the content types.
What to document?
So, while I agree with everyone that too much documentation is a waste of time and effort, it DOES make sense to document:
Any custom functionality. What is the customization supposed to do? What are the specific settings? Is this set by tenant, site collection, or site? Where are the settings to install and implement it? What can go wrong? What NOT to do (for the admins and the users)? Where to go when support people or architects need to look, change or troubleshoot? Etc.
Anything that is on the roadmap to be improved after the MVP-state. What does it do now? Into which direction will improvements most likely go? Where and how to make those changes? What to look out for? What will break and will need to be fixed when you make those improvements?
Anything that can be expected to need adjustments with organizational change. And trust me, organizational change will happen! The company’s name, the company’s logo, the businesses, there may even be splits, mergers or acquisitions on the horizon. So, make clear where your intranet logo and images live, what effect changing terms in the term store will do to your customizations, and where you need to make the necessary changes to make sure the organizational changes are reflected correctly.
My OneNote conference workflow is now to have the same notebook open in phone and on PC, and to use the built-in OfficeLens tooling to capture slides on the phone while I take notes on the PC: images appear inline as they are taken.
I really liked that idea but I could not very well imagine how it worked exactly. And as this is another way I can make work easier for my colleagues, who generally do not have the time or the interest to find out these things, I decided to try it and write it all down. The Office 365 and SharePoint Connect conference in Haarlem was a good moment to test it all, using a tablet, but it works the same on a PC.
The day before the conference
Make sure you have the OneNote app installed on your tablet/PC and smartphone, and that you are logged in on both devices with the same account.
If you have never used the camera option of OneNote on your phone, make sure you know where to find it, and practice by photographing something, e.g. your PC screen, with the automatic edge detection and cropping.
Create a notebook for conferences.
Create a section for the next conference. From there you can create a page for each session.
Charge your devices and a power bank if you have one. It may be my iPad but it devoured battery. A charger may be useful as well, to use during breaks.
Clean the camera lens on your phone 🙂
Before each session
Make sure your devices are connected to the conference wifi
Create a page for the next session
Open tablet/PC and phone on the session’s page
During the session
Make notes on your tablet/PC
Whenever you want to capture a slide, take a picture with your phone while both phone and tablet/PC are on the session page with the cursor below the current notes. Take the picture when the purple lines are around the slide. The “Document” picture option appears to give the best results.
The picture captured in the purple lines will be added to the page at the place where your cursor is, on both devices.
After the conference
Process your notes like you are used to.
Remove the original pictures from your phone’s photo gallery to free up space. Your slide pictures will still stay in OneNote.
I really like this option. I love the fact that the cropped image automagically appears in your notes 🙂 . I also like the fact that you have the slides immediately; of course you can also wait until the organization makes the decks available, but by that time I generally no longer have the time and patience to cut and paste all this.
The team I mentioned in my blog “Using Yammer for a business process” had difficulty tracking all conversations and actions in their Yammer groups. Their groups knew heavy traffic, and conversations went up and down on the page, depending on latest posts. It was easy to miss a reported issue when it had been open for a few days.
So the team asked if it was possible to give them a report of the data, so they could better
track questions, issues and especially resolutions
keep track of the people who had joined the conversation (posting in the groups was an objective for all sales people)
I do not know if any of you will ever need this, but as I am also keeping this blog as a reminder to myself, let me share it – you never know 🙂
What is available?
As far as I know, there are four options for reporting:
You can find this on the right-hand column of the group. This gives you some data about the number of people, messages and views. However, this does not give any information about the content, so this was not of interest to them.
Power BI I am not an expert on PowerBI, but I have seen some reports for Yammer which look pretty good. It is also possible to show the content of each message. However, as we did not have this available for end users, (for reasons of licence costs + the preference for other BI tooling) it was not a suitable option for this purpose at that time.
Flow “When a message is posted in a group on Yammer” is a trigger on Flow. You can send data to a SharePoint list, although I do not know if you can sort or group on conversation. Flow could have been an option, but with their post volumes, they might have needed a premium plan and we did not want to risk that.
BTW, an interesting use of Flow and Yammer is this “Sentiment analysis of Yammer posts” by Chris Bortlik.
Exporting the network data
This option allows a Yammer Network Admin to make an extract of all conversations, dates, people and what not between two dates. This was a suitable answer to their question so we set about to make this happen.
It is not possible to export the conversations of one group only, so it took some figuring out if and how we could do this in a responsible way:
Data security concerns in general – as this option exports all conversations from all groups, the Network Admin could also see conversations from private groups. Of course any network admin is supposed to be a responsible and trustworthy person and has likely signed an NDA when joining the organization. Besides, they can give themselves access to private groups anyway, so after some discussion this was approved.
Privacy concerns for the members of the groups in scope – but everyone had agreed to this way of doing their business and was aware of and OK with the export and the data – in fact, the report was shared with all concerned.
Cleansing and presenting data – how could the substantial amount of data be processed quickly as this was going to be a weekly task for the Yammer Network Admin.
Following the instructions, you will get a zip file with several data sheets, of which you need the one called Messages.
Here’s some group conversations I made earlier 🙂. There are some updates, replies, replies to replies, and an announcement, in a random post order. I have numbered them to make it easier to see how things are displayed in the export.
When exporting the data and opening the “Messages” file I get a file looking like this:
I have created an Excel in which I go from the raw data to the final sorted data in several steps / tabs. You can view or download it here.
Cleansing the data
The raw file contains many columns which are not relevant for this purpose. The following ARE important:
group_name (if you have multiple groups to manage)
sender_name (and/or sender_email)
Please remove the other columns to make your file a bit more manageable.
The result is shown in tab “Correct columns” in the Excel sample.
As I said you will export all conversations in the network in the given time interval. You will now need to sort on “group_name” and then remove every line item that is not in one of the groups in scope.
There is little activity in my one-person Yammer tenant so there was only one group and one person in my export. I have removed those columns to make the file less cluttered. This is the “Work data” tab.
Interpreting the data
Now, let’s see how they belong together:
Every message gets a number, the “id”. A higher “id” means that the message has been posted later than a lower “id”.
The raw export sorts the messages by “id”, ascending (earliest message on top).
Every thread (conversation / series of messages) has a number, the “thread_id”. It is the “id” of the first message of the thread. For the first thread (Message 1) this is 1197762641. So, all messages that have 1197762641 under “thread_id” belong to Message 1. In the tab “Colour-coded work data” each number has its own colour, providing they are/have a reply or a thread_id.
Every reply has the “id” they replied to, in the “replied_to_id” column.
Every new thread has an empty box in “replied_to_id”
It looks like this:
Presenting the data
This team wanted to be able to quickly scan through all conversations, to see if they had been addressed. They were looking for messages in the “body” that said something like “This complaint has been registered in CRM with number 123” or “We have discussed this with management and added this to our wish list for 2020” or similar. These messages would typically be at the end of a conversation. Anything that showed that the message had been read, processed and entered into the appropriate system.
So, we sorted the messages on “thread_id” first and then on “id”. This gave them the info they needed. You can see that in the “Sorted data” tab.
Additionally, they sorted on “sender_email” to count the number of entries for each Sales person.
We all sometimes reply to the original and sometimes to a reply. You can sort that out in the data export if you want, but in this case all threads needed to end with a resolution. So in general, the last updates in time were the most relevant.
Please select your date range carefully or you will end up with an unworkably large file, not only in number of line items, but also in GB’s. And remember to turn off the attachment downloads!
The “title” field is useful only when you want to make a distinction between normal updates and Announcements. Every reply to an announcement is treated as a normal update.
Please make sure your users do not use paragraphs or hard returns in their messages as only text before the hard return is exported into the “body” field.
Have you ever used the data export option for Yammer? Please let me know!
Why not use Teams?
If they were to start this project now, I would probably advise Teams rather than Yammer. But I have not been able to find any way to export the data, nor is a new Teams post a trigger for Flow at this moment. So I am not sure if Teams would have met their reporting requirements.
Now it is time to gather the responses and see how they are displayed and what you can do with them. It is quite a long read but there are many screenshots as well!
What to look out for?
How you can distribute the link to the survey
What the survey looks like when you respond
How the results are being displayed by default and if you can export them
What else you can do with the data
All tools allow creating a link or sending an email with the link.
Forms has the additional option to add the form directly on a SharePoint page, which looks very inviting, especially if the survey contains only a few questions. Forms can also generate a QR code to take you to the survey.
The SharePoint survey and Custom List can be added as a web part on a SharePoint page, but they are not exactly inviting users to enter.
SurveyMonkey has many different ways to get responses.
Google Forms allows you to add the survey questions directly into an email, which is very convenient.
Of course the user experience is very important. If your survey has a tiny typeface, or takes forever to load, people are not likely to complete it.
You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Remember: you do not have to add any real data.
I am sharing some screenshots of remarkable things.
The Net Promotor Score looks special:
This is the SharePoint Survey, in case you had forgotten what it looks like 🙂
And this is how you enter data into a SharePoint custom list: in the information pane on the right-hand side of the page, which feels a bit strange.
Next to a rather large font size, SurveyMonkey has the option to create columns for answers, which I really like as they make good use of space:
Google Forms has nothing special, but it looks solid and modern.
Thank you everyone who has responded to one of the surveys! This allows me to show some of the results graphs. This is what the various response pages look like:
SharePoint Survey. I am sharing only part of the graphical summary as I guess you have seen it before and it is not very exciting. Now I remember how annoying that “multiple responses” question is – you need to re-score everything manually! 😦
The SharePoint custom list has no graphical summary. You just see the responses as line items in a list.
SurveyMonkey has a very long page of results. All responses are shown with a scroll bar (see the first screenshot) or with a graphical summary first and then the individual responses below. For each chart, you can change the chart type.
I will only show a few screens.
Google Forms results look like this:
I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. Look at the “Responses and Results” tab. Please use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.
Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
Orange: Available with a workaround
Red/No: Not available
Again, the classic SharePoint options are in a league of their own.
Microsoft Forms appears to have more in common with SurveyMonkey Free and Google Forms than with SharePoint. All three surveys are pleasant to complete and the graphical display of results is much better than with the SharePoint survey.
Forms is really the new way to conduct surveys in your organization and possibly with externals. It looks pleasant both on a SharePoint page and when completing it, it has a ton of good options, decent colourful graphs and it works with Flow.
Some people will really like that Net Promoter Score 🙂
I am sure that Forms will continue to develop, so I will try to keep this comparison up-to-date.
The SharePoint survey feels a tad outdated, although you can still conduct good surveys with it. The graphical summary is very inferior to what Forms has to offer. My suggestion would be to use this only when you need one of the more advanced Q & A options, such as selecting a name from someone in your organization. The whole permissions management is also more complicated than with Forms, as described in my “SharePoint Survey lifecycle” blog.
The SharePoint custom list may not be the option that comes to mind first when you talk about a survey, but especially the options to process the data after collection can be the reason to use it. You can group and filter the entries just like any View and edit entries (e.g. mark an item as “Completed” or add a certain category). With the additional column types and the connection with Flow this can be the tool of choice when collecting data from the organization is the starting point for a project or process.
There are no graphics by default, but PowerBI may be used if needed.
Many thanks to my former colleague Scott Lewis who pointed out the benefits of custom lists when combined with Forms and Flow.
SurveyMonkey is of course THE specialized tool for surveys. It has extensive help for your survey questions and many options. It is the only tool that can show columns of responses, which is nice to keep your survey compact. It allows you to change the chart type of the results if desired. However, the free version has a few annoying limitations and I personally find the “management” interface rather cluttered.
For large-scale complicated surveys where you need to analyze responses in-depth the paid version beats Microsoft Forms.
Google Forms is a solid modern tool. Apart from the “display form straight in an email” it does not have any remarkable features.
Hope this comparison is useful to you. Have I missed any that are important for you? Please let me know – also if it has helped to move your colleagues away from SurveyMonkey (free) or GoogleForms! 🙂