In my current role I have a slightly wider scope than “just” SharePoint and Yammer. I am now troubleshooting and advising about the other Office 365 tools as well, so I need to expand my skills and knowledge rapidly to stay a few steps ahead of my audience 🙂 .
The other day one of my colleagues asked if there is an easier way to create the photo albums he needs to make as part of his role. The organization I work for occasionally rents out parts of their buildings or hires space from others. In those cases, my colleague takes pictures of the buildings to document their current state. The pictures are collated into an album which has to be signed off by both parties at the start of the rental agreement.
What is the current method?
Take pictures with smartphone
Send pictures to work email (in batches to avoid too large attachments)
File pictures from each email in OneDrive on laptop (Attachments folder)
Create project folder in OneDrive
Transfer pictures to project folder
Remove pictures from phone
Creating the album
Open a new PowerPoint presentation
Make cover slide
Insert pictures from OneDrive into PowerPoint
Arrange pictures on slides
Add end slide (usually, with the dates, names and signatures)
Save PowerPoint as PDF
Well, I thought that I (or rather, Office 365) could make things easier for him. I confirmed he had the OneDrive app on his phone, so I came up with…
The new method
Getting pictures with the OneDrive app
Create project folder in the OneDrive app
Open the folder
3. Take pictures with the + button top right or the diaphragm button at the bottom (make sure you set it to “Photo”) 4. Pictures will be saved in the folder
Creating the album in the OneDrive Client
Create a picture of the cover and end slides
Add to project folder of pictures, making sure that cover and end slide are the first and last items (generally, adding an A and a Z in front of the respective names will do the trick)
Select all images in the folder, click “Share” > “Print”
4. In the screen that pops up, select “Microsoft Print to PDF” as the printer and determine a layout (generally 2 or 4 to a page)
You can only create the album in the OneDrive Client – the Online and App versions do not have this functionality. In fact, this is Windows functionality and not limited to OneDrive.
You can use a “blank image” just before the last image to make the number even and have a better print result.
You can change the orientation of the pictures/album by clicking “Options” in the pop up screen and then “Printer Properties”.
Unfortunately you can only use one display for the whole series. It would have been nice if you could decide to make theboth cover and end slides a full page in the series, and provide the pictures in e.g. 4 on a page. This is clearly a limitation of this way of working.
My colleague was especially happy with the camera options of the OneDrive app, which he was not aware of before. Just after taking a few pictures he realized that this will be a big time-saver. The second part, creating the album with the OneDrive Client instead of PowerPoint, felt like a bigger change in practice, but he was willing to try it.
As usual, this is nothing fancy. It is just trying to match a need with existing functionality. And it makes me happy when I succeed. 🙂
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.
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! 🙂
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.
For the SharePoint survey/list you have some options in the Advanced Settings:
For SurveyMonkey, you can find most of the settings in the “Design Survey” phase, with different options in the buttons on the left:
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:
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.
Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
Orange: Available with a workaround
Red/No: Not available
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.
During the writing of this post some more info about Forms was made available:
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:
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:
SurveyMonkey (free version)
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:
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.
Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
Orange: Available with a workaround
Red/No: Not available
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?
Recently we introduced a new intranet (Publishing and team sites) to the organization.
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.
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:
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:
People were confused, did not know where to find their content, how to manage their sites, how to navigate, etc.
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:
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:
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
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!