On October 5 I participated in IntranetNow, and a wonderful conference it was!
There were plenty of interesting and enjoyable presentations but below are the ones that resonated most with me:
1. An excellent Yammer use case
Baxter Willis of WM Reply shared a great Yammer use case from one of his clients, drinks business Diageo.
Apparently they have an archive of all bottle types, advertising materials, recipes etc. Nobody was really aware of that department, until recently. They are digitizing their content and the archivist posts something interesting on Yammer every day, e.g.
“Did you know that Pimm’s has been associated with Wimbledon from the 1930’s?” accompanying a picture of a nice old newspaper ad proving her point.
This lady is now the toast of the company and her Yammer group is very popular.
I like this because it is another easy way to share knowledge, which would otherwise be hidden in the archive. Posting it on Yammer costs nothing more than 5 or 10 mins a day. It helps the Marketing and Social Media people in their current work by giving them new insights to the company and its history.
The new Smirnoff label is now based on earlier labels throughout time, and this is also caused by this work!
What I liked about this is that they used a simple but effective approach of lunch sessions, and shared their learnings.
The “let them rant” or “whine and dine” idea resonated with me, as I have also found that sometimes people just want to vent, sometimes not about the intranet itself, but about related things.
In my situation I have heard from several annoyed people who had been handed over a team site due to reorganizations – either because they had a new role and the team site came with it, or because the previous owner had moved on. Someone else’s team site can be quite hard to handle as the setup and especially the permissions are not always documented or intuitive.
I have learned that the best way to help them is to go through their site together, trying to make sense of it (looking at site contents, checking permissions), rather than trying to defend something or taking it personally. 🙂
We 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)
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.
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.
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?)
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.
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?
“I am officially the owner of the site, but I can not manage the site”, the user had written in the description field of the incident.
I asked her what exactly she was trying to do that was impossible, and she said she had wanted to make changes to the homepage of the site.
“But the menu in the gear wheel does not look like the training materials”, she said. “Please see attached screenshot”.
Now that was an interesting screenshot!
I could have asked her if she was able to go to the homepage from the Site Pages or Pages library and if she would have been able to conjure up the Page tab and do it from there, but I was so intrigued by the screenshot that I decided to do some investigation. After all, the “Edit page” option needs to be there and I could better fix that once and for all than waste her time with workarounds. Her problem was not so urgent that she needed the workaround.
And to be frank, I hoped it would turn out to be another SharePoint Holmes topic 🙂
Of course, I checked the permissions first. They looked OK. (You know the Dutch words by now, right? 🙂 )
Yes, she was in the Owners group with Full Control.
I checked the items with unique permissions. The Site Pages library was one of them.
Aha, the Site Pages library had very limited permissions – only Visitors had Read access and that was it. As the Visitors group contained a company-wide AD group, I knew she had access – but only with Read permissions.
I checked the Homepage permissions to be on the safe side, and that inherited permissions from the library. So she could see the homepage but not edit it.
I added the Owners group back to the Site Pages library with the proper permissions. I informed the Site Owner that she had removed the permissions of everyone except the Visitors.
She informed me that “Edit Page” was now in her Gear Wheel menu and she could edit the page again. Problem solved!
I suggested to think about what she wanted to do with this library – keep it like it was with only Owner and Visitor groups (to avoid unwanted edits) or to inherit the permissions from the site.
I wish I had something more deep and interesting to conclude than: “SharePoint permissions are difficult to understand and manage”. 😦
But if you ever come across a screenshot like that, you know what to do!
About SharePoint Holmes:
Part 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.
Many thanks for enclosing the complete email chain with all your colleagues. Apart from a good permissions puzzle, there is nothing I like more than going through a 40-message email chain, and find the hidden clues between the “FYI” and “Can you help” forwards. I am really pleased that you have tried to get help from so many people before logging a call in our incident system, and it is heartwarming to see your colleagues’ empathy and desire to help.
From this wonderful meandering narrative I understand that “editing the Monthly Forecast in the Marketing site does not work”. That narrows down the possibilities, because only 938 of our approximately 15.000 sites have Marketing in the title, so it will save me going through 14.062 sites which are definitely not called Marketing.
Now of course I assume the Marketing site has “Marketing” in its title 🙂
From the company address book I see that you work in the Dairy division, which has 297 Marketing sites, so I can increase the odds even further.
Then it is only a matter of finding a Monthly Forecast document in one of these sites and checking which one does not work. That should not be too difficult: I did a Search and found 6274 hits on Monthly Forecast – it is matter of checking URL’s against the Marketing sites to see which are eligible.
I assume you wanted to edit a recent document so will start from the most recent.
In conclusion, I will check the cross of Dairy Marketing sites and Monthly Forecast docs from the last 2 months, and see which one of them “does not work”. Now of course there are many ways of “does not work”, but do not worry, I will check them all, from permissions to document library opening behavior, checkout, and workflows to corrupted documents.
I have planned about two weeks to go through this and I am quite looking forward to this challenging quest!
However, should you be in a sort of hurry, or have a deadline, please let me know. After all it is the 21st already and I can imagine you will need to update this document before the end of the month. Sending me the URL of the site, the name of the document and the document library/folder it lives in, as well as a description of what you were trying to do and what happened, possibly even with a screenshot of the error message, will reduce the quest to an hour or so. Of course this will rob me of the fun of exploring this all by myself, but I know that this is business-critical content so I can not be selfish.
Looking forward to your information,
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When we launched our new intranet at the beginning of 2017, we also set up a Treasure Hunt to make people familiar with the new look and feel and setup. After all, moving to SharePoint Online has been quite a large step from our old SharePoint 2007 environment.
Many intranet folks have talked about doing treasure hunts, but as far as I know nobody has ever explained what they have done in detail, so let me share our recipe.
The ingredients and preparation
A News article to introduce the Treasure Hunt
A News article with clues and a direction to the next place of the hunt
More News articles or intranet pages with clues and directions – as many as you need
Emailaccount of our Founding Father
Autoreply message from Founding Father
A page where people are instructed how to enter their solution
A survey to collect the solutions
The solution: in our case a sentence that people had to create with the clue words
A thank-you page with information about the next steps
A few days after launch, a News article (1) appeared on the new intranet homepage. It explained the treasure hunt and the mechanics. You were to look for clues to the next place and for words that were written in a certain way, e.g. <word>. The words you would find during your search would form a sentence.
The first clue was to find the oldest News post on the intranet. As we had not migrated older News articles that was not so hard to find. The oldest post (2) turned out to be a post written by our Founding Father. It was full of hope for the future and predicted with remarkable accuracy some inventions we would do later 🙂
Of course there was another <word> in his post. At the end he asked to send him an email asking for guidance. As his contact details were on the page (as is the case for all News items) (3) it could be done with the click of a button.
When you sent him the email you received an autoreply (5). He sent you to the “modern watering hole Yammer”, where we were to look for a post from one of our senior management about a certain topic.
On Yammer, it was easy to look for that certain person (once you knew how to search) and the message (6) in question. Once again, it contained a <word> or two and a link to the next clue.
After sending you to a few other important new sites (with <words>) and asking you to follow those pages, the last link led to a page (7) which welcomed you to the Treasure hunt and asked you to
Set your News preferences
Make sure you had uploaded your profile picture
Click on a link
The link led to a survey (8) with two questions:
Create a sentence (9) with the <words> you have found. The sentence was one of the company values, so not too hard to compose once you had the words.
Describe why you should get the prize. (That was an easy one for me: I said this treasure hunt would not have been possible without me – as I created the pages & survey).
After clicking Finish you would go to a thank-you page (10) with more information about the publication of the winners.
All in all, by doing the treasure hunt people have been exposed to:
Setting their News preferences
Going to Yammer and finding a person’s conversations
A number of new sites with important company-wide information
Adding a picture to your profile
This was a very simple setup, but of course you can extend it as you like.
(Disclaimer: I have replicated this on my own tenant in a schematic way. Our real Treasure Hunt looked much better and the texts were created by communication professionals)
BTW, Sadly I did not win any prize as I was part of the organizing committee 😦
The <words> in my screenshots form a sentence as well…please add it to the comments if you have found it! (again, exclude <word>)
More and more intranets are promoting a section for video content, so I guess this is a new trend.
Otherwise, “simplification” and “user feedback” still play an important role in every relaunch, and so they should 🙂 .
Also, more and more intranets (but not all!) are social, and “usable on all devices” is starting to be the norm, rather than the exception.
Of course my collection is meant for your information and amusement, but I occasionally hear that people are using it as a serious starting point for their own video. In general, I can suggest the following steps:
1. Check what related organizations have done
Use the filter and see what your industry peers are doing, and what their intranets look like, if the video shows that. Most selections contains a variety of styles (talking heads, animations, demo’s, stories, serious, funny, etc. ) that may give you ideas about the sort of video you would like to create.
2. Determine your boundaries
Watch my list of rather extreme videos. Do you also want to create a full movie, a very silly video, have a hysterical voice-over, or would you rather stay on safer ground?
3. Watch metaphors for solving common business issues
If you are looking for metaphors of solving common business problems such as too many emails, or not knowing where the expertise is in your company, this selection may help you on your way.
4. When in doubt, create a demo
A well-made demo is always worth the investment, so if you have no other needs or wishes, a demo may be the best way moving forward.
you can show employees how to work with the intranet, reducing the need for extensive classroom or webinar training
you can show employees how they are supposed to work, if a new way of working is among your goals for the new intranet. In a demo video it can be done subtly and matter-of-fact.
it can be used for onboarding new employees for a long time after the launch
And finally, to celebrate, I have a very special video: the one that was made to celebrate the launch of the new intranet of my former employer Sara Lee, in 2005. It has not been added to my collection yet – you saw it here first! It is “vintage”, so please ignore the bad quality 🙂
In my latest post I showed you how you could limit the options to share the content in your site. I hope that you have made some decisions, so now it is time to clean up the mess.
Let me remind you why too many options to share can turn into a problem:
Sharing a document or list item, or using the “Get a Link” option, creates unique permissions, and that means that the permissions of a document or list item no longer follow the permissions of the site. So if you add a new group (recommended) or a new person (not recommended) to the site, this group or person will not automatically get access to those items.
This will lead to unexpected access denied messages and therefore Access requests.
Approving Access requests may lead to more unique permissions AND they give people Contribute permissions by default, which may be too much.
Unlimited sharing (especially with external users) can lead to your documents falling into the wrong hands.
So, how to take back control of your site after you have changed some of the settings?
Have a note-taking system ready – paper, OneNote, Notepad, document – whatever is your thing. You will need to make some notes.
1. Process pending Access requests
Go to Site Settings > Access Requests and Invitations and see who has requested access.
Click the … next to each name and add people to site groups as much as possible. If you do not see the site group mentioned, note down their names with the group that you want to add them to.
2. Remediate content with unique permissions
a. Go to Site settings > Site permissions and click on this link:
b. You will get a pop-up with all lists and libraries that have different permissions.
c. The items marked as “manage permissions” are usually lists and libraries that have different permissions by design. Skip these.
d. Click on “view exceptions” for the first list or libraries that has this mentioned. You will see all documents (including pages and images) or list items that have unique permissions.
e. Using Rightclick > Open in new tab, click “manage permissions” for the topmost item. (If you just click “manage permissions”, you will have to start at a. again for the next document or list item)
f. Check if there are any people mentioned that you may want to add to one of the site groups, and note down their names + intended site group.
g. Click “Delete Unique permissions” to re-inherit the permissions from the list or library.
h. Repeat steps e, f and g for the next document or list item.
a. Go to Site settings > Site permissions and click on this link:
b. Check if there are any people mentioned that you may want to add to one of the site groups, and note down their names + intended site group.
c. Remove any individual users so you are left with only the site groups.
4. Add the new users
Add the users that you noted down during steps 1, 2 and 3 to their respective groups.
5. Review the Members group
During the time that you had no restrictions, Members may have added other Members. Review your list of Members and change their roles or remove them where needed.
6. Replace any “breaking links” on your pages
Hover over every link on every page in your site and look at the link in the bottom-left of your screen. Links of the “Can View” or “Can Edit” type will generally have “guestaccess” in their link and they will cause unique permissions.
When I did not know all this yet, I had created some Promoted Links with the “Get a Link – Can View” link to a page. As soon as I created the link, the permission inheritance for the page was broken and everyone who clicked on the link was added as individuals to the page.
Replace every one of those links with the “Restricted Link” equivalent.
Review on a regular basis if the restrictions and the cleanup work make you feel more in control of your site. Depending on your choice of measures, you may need to do more approvals from Visitors or Contributors who want to share content.
How have you dealt with the “Unholy trinity of creating unique permissions” 🙂 ? Would you like to share your frustrations or have you found a good way to deal with this that other readers can benefit from?
Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net