blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

May 31, 2019

3 prerequisites for Office 365 adoption

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 23:52

We want our users to adopt Office 365. To make it their own, so that they can reap its benefits. But they can only adopt it successfully, if some prerequisites are fulfilled. Let us discuss three of them, which I have recently been addressing in a project.

These are not new; they fit into the barriers to a successful adoption I already talked about in 2012. But they still need to be taken care of.

1. Office 365 needs to be easily accessible

Many components of Office 365 live online, in the browser. So:

  • All users should have a working Office 365 account
  • There should be a clear entry point.
    If you have a SharePoint intranet in the same Office 365 environment, you are all set. Just explain where they can access the different Office 365 apps, in particular the App Launcher (the “waffle”).
    At my client, we still have an old intranet, in an old version of SharePoint. So we need to add an obvious link leading the users to Office 365. Because now they don’t know how to get there…
The Office 365 App Launcher also known as "The Waffle": once you are in Office 365 in the browser, you can find every online Office 365 app via this App Launcher.

The Office 365 App Launcher also known as “The Waffle”: once you are in Office 365 in the browser, you can find every online Office 365 app via this App Launcher.

2. It has to work

Ok, this is really obvious and sounds trite. But unfortunately it is not as easily accomplished. We hit some snags in practice… Computer savvy users can handle it, but the innocent end-users need a seamless experience.

  • Every Office 365 component has to work properly before you introduce it to the audience at large.
    For example, we’ve had issues with the installation of Office 2016, that came as a part of Office 365, next to Office 2010. That causes weird issues, so we must get rid of Office 2010 on every laptop before we can wholeheartedly promote Office 365.
    And many Office 365 profiles are incorrect, because the information in Active Directory is outdated. So we need to clean up Active Directory and only then will the profiles and the people search make sense.
  • Every third party add-on that you promote has to work properly
    Part of our user group has harmon.ie to connect Outlook to SharePoint. However, there have been issues with it since we switched from Office 2010 to 2016. We need to fix them, before we can roll it out to the rest

3. We need to get our story straight, given the dependencies and developments

So what is the story at this time? What should the employees use and how, to get their jobs done?

  • Currently, we are still working on project site templates in SharePoint Online. So we have to align our adoption efforts for SharePoint with the development of the new site templates: either wait until we have the project template for the business unit or introduce the department sites and explain what will follow.
  • We have just migrated the project sites from SharePoint 2007 and 2013. After this summer the intranet will be migrated. And we are formulating a plan to migrate the “home drive” fileshares to OneDrive for Business. So we need to align our story with the migration projects.
  • Most users still have Windows 7 and the official browser still is Internet Explorer 11. So we still have the “old” OneDrive syncing mechanism that takes up space on your laptop. And Modern SharePoint does not run smoothly at all for the innocent users.
  • We are transitioning from Windows 7 to Windows 10. For Windows 10, Microsoft recommends the new OneNote for Windows 10 app instead of the client we are using in Windows 7.
  • We are still on Skype for Business. which will be replaced by Microsoft Teams. The tool is too useful for online consultation to wait until we have switched to Teams. So we will start with rolling out Skype for Business, explaining that the basics will the same in Teams later.
  • We will roll out Microsoft Teams as a hub for informal collaboration soon. But we need to get our story straight first: what will be used it for, what are the best practices, how do we set up proper governance.

April 30, 2019

No Office 365 adoption: Feedback from the workplace

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 23:53

When you roll out Office 365, you need to make sure that the users will adopt the toolkit. Otherwise, why bother rolling it out in the first place? However, in real life, we see that the users and their adoption of Office 365 do not always get the required attention. When you do get in touch with the users, you get some interesting feedback, leading to the obvious conclusion that you should have helped them in the first place…

Yes, recently I have been talking to quite a few innocent users and even more people who volunteered to be Office 365 champions. Plus, we have just done a survey (using Microsoft Forms) asking hundreds of users what they use, what they think and what they want pertaining to Office 365.

Here’s some of the feedback I received.

“You guys have switched it on, but nobody has explained anything ”

Most of the Office 365 tools have been rolled out, in the sense that they are available. An almost purely technical roll-out. But hardly anything has been done to help the users become aware of the new tools, let alone understand how they work and how to use them to make their lives easier. Yes, some savvy early adopters already know or pick things up by searching the internet. But many people need training and guidance. This is something I hear in every meeting with the business, on every visit, on every occasion… “You need to provide training”, “maybe you could give us some information”, “who is going to coach us?”, “why did you dump this on us without implementing it properly?”…

You can’t just switch on Office 365 and automatically have all users of a large, non-IT company embrace it. You need to help the users to adopt the toolkit, to make it their own.

“But how should I have known that?”

A management assistant contacted me about this SharePoint site she had for her board of directors. SharePoint was acting weird, she said. When she added a new folder with documents, the other could not see it. But then I saw that she was sharing files in her OneDrive for Business. “But that is the same as SharePoint isn’t it? ” No, it is not the same. “But how should I have known that?” Well, nobody had explained what’s what, how it works and what it is for. So basically my answer was: I am here now to help you and the board with this…

If is really tricky when you deploy functionality without explaining anything or helping the users adopt the tools properly. If they use the tools in the wrong way, you may end up with information loss, data leaks, or at the very least seriously frustrated users.

“I have a feeling we are not taking advantage of the possibilities”

Everybody is using Office 365, but that is because they are using Office to write documents in the same way as before, Exchange Online to send email in the same way, make meeting minutes in Word like they always did, store files in SharePoint in folders like they were used to on the P-drive. A few people have an inkling that maybe there is more, you have new ways to work more smartly. But what and how? In the few instruction sessions that were organized by IT, they explained which buttons to push to make the tool work. But that did not help the users to understand how to move to a new way of working.

You need to show how the users can take advantage of the new tools in their work. Demo realistic scenarios, so that they can see how it all fits together. They can open a meeting invitation in their Outlook calendar to participate in an online meeting in Skype for Business (ok, already old school) or Teams (the new tool). They can then take meeting notes in the OneNote notebook that is shared in their SharePoint team site, which they can access via their Outlook invite and the Team and the OneNote client. Et cetera, et cetera.

“My colleagues already hate SharePoint”

Some departments and project teams have SharePoint team sites. However, SharePoint has not been explained properly to these users. I heard from a hardy “champion“, who does think that SharePoint can help them collaborate more effectively, efficiently and smoothly. His colleagues however, do not understand how it works, so it does not work for them. They don’t have the time, savviness or optimism to find out how to make it work. And the poor champion does not have the means to help them out, because he is not sure about the best practices either.

We have to make sure users can learn how to use the new tools as soon as they have to start using them. Otherwise, the negative vibe will block successful adoption.

“Aha, but that is handy and quite easy too! ”

At a small scale, I have been explaining how Office 365 tools work and how to use them to make our lives easier. For example, the board was very happy to see that they could share information easily in their new SharePoint site. The management assistant could give access to new board members in seconds, which had been a terrible hassle on their network drive. And even the least savvy board member agreed that uploading a document was actually not difficult at all. Another colleague wanted to telephone to talk about a SharePoint site. I talked her into a Skype meeting, and she was very enthusiastic about the option to share her screen and just show me. That is something that can really make your life easier…

If you explain the low hanging fruit, you can already help people and make them happy.

“I am glad you are here! When are you coming back?”

Recently, I visited several other offices, elsewhere in the country. I told key contacts I would be there and that this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss their Office 365 questions and needs in person. And yes indeed, at each office, I hardly had time to grab a cup of coffee before I was swamped by users and their questions.

Even at this day and age, with the excellent tools offered by Office 365 for remote meetings, it is still important to visit other workplaces in person, for real-life interaction.

“Do you people at HQ really think we have time for this?”

Yes, quite a few people were willing to spend time finding out how Office 365 works and improve their way of working. But that does not mean that the IT department or HQ in general can just dump anything on the innocent users and make it their problem. For example, the roll-out of Office 2016 caused issues, especially on older laptops. So IT formed a taskforce to solve these issues. Nice. But then they told the end-users that they had to come to the head office for a whole day on a Monday, to work with the taskforce. What? As if these users, who are already terribly busy, would have time to spend a full day at headquarters. And when they politely said “you people at HQ”? I could hear them thinking “you total idiots at HQ” or even worse…

IT and the other staff departments at headquarters are there to facilitate the business, not the other way around…

“Teams and Planner don’t work for me”

In our tenant environment, self-service creation of Office 365 Groups is switched off. So users cannot create Microsoft Teams or Plans in Planner. This makes sense, because the basics have not been configured properly and we would end up with a complete mess. Unfortunately, the Create buttons are there, and nobody has told the community that only IT can do this. So this time it is the savvy early adopters who get frustrated.

If advanced options are visible to end users, the buttons have to work. Or it has to be very clear why they have not been enabled yet, what is the plan for these advanced options, and maybe how they can request a sneak preview or pilot.

“The champions programme? We thought that had died”

Almost two years ago, we actively recruited users to act as Office 365 champions . We promised them training and asked them become the first point of contact for their colleagues. And then the plans from IT changed, funding was lost and that training was postponed. A year ago, we gave them a couple webinars about some of the aspects of Office 365. And no follow-up. Now we are finally trying to start up the community and get serious about adoption. But by now, some of the prospective champions I talked to confessed that they thought we had all died or something. Or at least the programme had died. “You are going to train us? Yes please, about time!”

Actually, it is a miracle most of them still want to talk to me, respond to the survey and tell us they want to learn more. Even if they need to vent their frustration first. When you recruit people to become Office 365 champions, you have to train and involve them right away and keep at it.

“Why didn’t you tell us that the adoption programme was delayed?”

Ok, we had to postpone our adoption activities and that was bad. Especially the people who had signed up to become Office 365 champions were very unhappy about this. But what really exasperated them, was that we did not fess up to the prospective champions what was going on. Quite a few of them reproached us that we should have communicated properly about the delay and the reason for it.

And they were right… You need to tell people what’s the plan, what is going on and what has been canceled.

So yes, it really is important to take action right from the start of the roll-out of Office 365 to help people adopt it. You should NOT deploy Office 365 and then start thinking about user adoption as an afterthought.  Not just because I say so, but because the people at the workplace, our users, say so… Many things went wrong in this Office 365 roll-out, but one thing is clear: now that we are finally starting a project to promote the adoption Office 365, we are definitely fulfilling a need.

March 31, 2019

Saving overweight views in SharePoint

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — frederique @ 19:30

SharePoint Online cannot handle views involving more than 5 000 items, especially in Classic mode. Even if it does not have to display them all on the same screen. The view collapses under its own weight, unless you limit the number of items by filtering it down using indexed columns. And when the view does break, the end-users do not see any information and freak out. Ok, this is not new. But we still bump into this issue, so let me discuss it in this post.

I am not the first line of support for end-users, but I do speak to people in the business and they do know how to find me when they experience difficulties in Office 365. Recently, I spoke with a few people in the business, who thought that their document libraries had broken down irrevocably and who started to doubt the entire concept of their SharePoint site. Oh dear… The users got a message telling them that the view they were looking at exceeded the list view threshold of 5.000 items. And they interpreted this message as follows: our document library breaks when we put more than 5 000 items in it. But we have far more documents, so this is not working at all.. Help!!

Overweight view in the Classic experience

Overweight view in the Classic experience

Overweight view in the Modern experience

Overweight view in the Modern experience

These users have libraries with over 5 000 items, which are structured with document sets (so yes, they are still using the Classic experience). However, some of their most important views ignore the document sets. For example, one of the views displays the key documents from each set, which they need to list as input for some subcontractors. The key question for me was:
Do you want your view to display more than 5 000 items?
Or are you trying to distill a much shorter summary from a large library?

Fortunately, the desired view was much shorter than 5 000 items, so we only had to configure the view properly.

The following tricks helped us to slim down overweight views and get them to work for our end-users:

  • Use a filter to narrow down the number of items, instead of the item limit.
    Setting the item limit does not help. If you set the view to display, for example, 30 items at the time or display only 30 items, SharePoint still tries to get all of the items in one go, before displaying the first batch.
  • Filter by indexed columns.
    Filtering by columns that have not been indexed does not help either. You need an indexed column: List settings > Columns: Indexed columns. For example, if the column Created has been indexed, you can create a working ‘Recent’ view by not only sorting by Created but additionally filtering Created is larger than [Today] – 365 (or a smaller number, if too many items were created this year). See Add an index to a SharePoint column.

    Recent items, filtered to display only items created this year, with the newest items displayed at the top.

    Recent items, filtered to display only items created this year, with the newest items displayed at the top.

    • Use a simple index, by one column only. A compound index including a secondary column does not help.
    • You should set up the indexed columns while the list or library still has under 5 000 items.
      In the early days of SharePoint Online, you were stuck if you had not indexed your filter columns before the list grew beyond 5000 items. These days, SharePoint Online is smarter, although you will still experience less problems if you set up the indices beforehand.
    • SharePoint Online starts to index a column automatically when you create a view sorting or filtering by that column. For example, if you create a ‘Recent’ view sorted by Created date, that column gets indexed automatically.
      This only works if the list settings don’t block it. Stick to the default setting: List settings > Advanced settings > Allow automatic management of indices? = Yes.
      And this only works if the list still has less than 20 000 items. So again, it pays to be proactive about these large lists.
    • You can still index a column manually too, even after the list has become overweight. In my experience, it may take some time for that index to actually appear. Lists that are only slightly overweight can create an index within minutes, but it hasn’t always been that quick.

      Indexed columns: Created has been indexed automatically, The others have been indexed manually, after the list became larger than the threshold of 5 000 items

      Indexed columns: Created has been indexed automatically, The others have been indexed manually, after the list became larger than the threshold of 5 000 items

  • If you filter by one column AND another column, the first one should already bring the number of items down to under 5 000. You may think that an AND filter is symmetrical, but it is important to put the right filter in first. For example, if there are many final documents but not too many key documents, filter your view ‘Final key documents’ as Key documents = Yes AND Status = Final, and not the other way around.

    Filter by indexed columns: first by the one that restricts the number of items the most: Key document = Yes, And then refining it by Status= Final to achieve the desired view.

    Filter by indexed columns: first by the one that restricts the number of items the most: Key document = Yes.
    And then refining it by Status= Final to achieve the desired view.

  • Filtering by one column OR another column breaks the view. So don’t filter a view ‘My Documents’ as Modified by [Me]  OR Created by [Me], even if there are only a few documents created or modified by each user.
  • Is the view still broken? Try to make the view less complex (see Manage large lists and libraries in SharePoint)
    • Sort by only one column.
    • Don’t sort by  “difficult” columns (people, lookup or managed metadata).
    • Don’t group.
    • Don’t use totals (which currently don’t work in the Modern view anyway).
    • Don’t display more than 12 of those “difficult” columns.

Views in the Modern mode of SharePoint are more robust, but they still have their limitations. In the Modern experience, I have seen views with over 7 000 items that worked just fine. But the view with over 70 000 items still broke; 20 000 seems to be the new 5 000. And the Modern ‘All items’ view of my test list of just over 5 000 item is still broken too; maybe I have to wait a bit longer for the view to get its act together and start working…

All in all, large views still need attention, but we do have some tricks to help our end-users.

February 28, 2019

Office 365 security and compliance GDPR dashboard – Yes please

Filed under: Governance,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 23:57

These days, our project managers and site owners are aware that they have to be very careful to store no personal data, except data that are necessary to do the job, only accessible to the people who need to use it, only for the time they are needed, only for the purpose for which they were gathered. But are we sure that there were no personal data hidden somewhere in SharePoint 2007, dating from more than a decade ago, that we now risk exposing SharePoint Online after migration? Let us MAKE sure!

I am working on a project for a construction company that has been using SharePoint for ages. They have over 8.000 SharePoint sites for our Operating Company alone, most of them SharePoint 2007 sites. Currently, we are migrating these old sites to SharePoint Online, as “archive sites”, as part of our transition to Office 365. So we see a lot of old stuff passing by…

  • We want to make sure we keep all information that is still relevant for the company, such as construction details on the buildings they constructed, information needed for maintenance and guarantees.
  • But we also want to make sure that we do not have personal data that we are not allowed to have according to the privacy rules, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

I am not worried about the remains in SharePoint 2007; those servers will be decommissioned and emptied soon. What I want to know: are compliant in our Office 365 environment, including SharePoint Online, where we are migrating all of that old information. The advantage of asking that question, is that we can use the modern tooling offered by Office 365 itself to check!

Tools in Office 365: GDPR dashboard and toolbox

Recently, I made our privacy officer very happy by showing him the GDPR Dashboard in the Office 365 security & compliance center. It is part of the admin toolbox which we already have in our tenant. So let’s comfigure it and use it to our advantage.

Security & Compliance center: GDPR dashboard

Security & Compliance center: GDPR dashboard (in a demo tenant, nothing going on…)

It took me a moment to find it, because I was looking in the Microsoft 365 admin center. You need to go to a different url: https://protection.office.com/ (at least, in the admin center of my tenant I see no link at this time)

And this dashboard comes with a toolbox:

GDPR toolbox

GDPR toolbox

Discover
Identify what personal data in your org is related to GDPR.
• Import data: Bring data into Office 365 to help safeguard it for GDPR.
• Find personal data: Use content search to find and export personal data to help facilitate compliance in your org.

Govern
Manage how personal data is classified, used, and accessed.
• Auto-apply labels: Automatically classify content containing personal data to help ensure it’s retained as needed.
• Create a disposition label: Trigger disposition reviews so you can decide if personal data should be deleted when it reaches a certain age.
• Use Compliance Manager: Access your org’s compliance posture for GDPR and get recommended actions for improvement.

Protect
Establish security policies to prevent, detect, and respond to cyberthreats.
• Create a data loss prevention (DLP) policy: Detect content containing personal data to help ensure it’s protected.
• Apply cyberthreat policies: Protect your users from cyberattacks like phishing, malware, malicious links, and more.

Monitor & respond
Track label usage, stay on top of data breaches, and respond to data subject requests (DSRs) and legal investigations.
• Respond to DSRs: Create DSR cases to find and export Office 365 data related to a data subject request.
• Respond to legal investigations: Use eDiscovery cases to respond to legal investigations.
• Review and explore label usage: Get insights into how labels are being used and take action if needed.
• Set up alert policies: Track and get notified about user and admin activities related to GDPR.
• View reports: Drill down on activity related to policy matches, threat detections, and more.
• Visit Service Assurance: Learn how Microsoft helps meet the security, privacy, and compliance needs of your org.

Data Loss Prevention Policy for GDPR

One of the items in the GDRP toolkit is to create a DLP (Data Loss Prevention) Policy to detect content containing personal data. You can create one starting from the shortcut in the GDPR toolbox or from the DLP section of the security & compliance center.

Data Loss Prevention policy: GDPR

Data Loss Prevention policy: GDPR

This will detect personal information in our environment:

  • EU Debit Card Number
  • EU Driver’s License Number
  • EU National Identification Number
  • EU Passport Number
  • EU Social Security Number (SSN) or Equivalent ID
  • EU Tax Identification Number (TIN)

You can select where it should apply. I want it to protect all content in all locations Office 365, including Exchange email and OneDrive and SharePoint documents (Hey, not SharePoint lists? And how about Yammer Groups, Teams conversations? Maybe it is assumed that nobody would put, for instance, a passport number in there. I have seen scans of passports in SharePoint documents and in email attachments, before they were removed as soon as possible…).

GDPR Policy: select the locations it should protect

GDPR Policy: select the locations it should protect

But for a test it is more practical to limit its scope and choose specifc locations.

GDPR policy limited to one test site collecton

GDPR policy limited to one test site collecton

You can customize what it should detect, for example: content shared with outsiders or only insiders?

GDPR Policy: tweak the details of what it should detect

GDPR Policy: tweak the details of what it should detect

And then what action should it take if it detects personal data? For example, email a report to the person who set the policy, the global admin, some specific mail address.

GDPR Policy: what action should it take with what it has detected?

GDPR Policy: what action should it take with what it has detected?

As a result, you get reports like these, in a csv file:

GDPR policy: report from demo tenant, converted from csv to columns to make it more readable

GDPR policy: report from demo tenant, converted from csv to columns to make it more readable

 

Ok, to be honest, in our first test it did not seem to detect any of our own examples of personal information we added in a SharePoint testsite, while it found a lot of false positive. But still, it looks very useful, once we get it to work properly.

January 31, 2019

Where is our Office 365 data located?

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 20:23

I am involved in the roll-out of Office 365 at a company, where they still have a lot of data on file shares. We explain that we are moving into the cloud and that sometimes prompts the question where the data will actually live. Good question.

“In the cloud”… to some people it sounds rather out there. We are a down to earth company, we don’t have our head in the clouds, so what do you mean working in the cloud?? But of course the data “in the cloud” is stored solidly in Microsoft data centers.

So where are those data centers in which our data are stored then? For one thing, it is always data centers plural: Microsoft copies our data to at least two different locations, so that they will be safe even if something catastrophic happens at one of the datacenters. I’ve heard colleagues say that our data is stored in The Netherlands, but that is only a partial answer.

You can check where your data is stored via: https://products.office.com/where-is-your-data-located. But make sure you scroll beyond the picture, because some services in Office 365 may store data in other locations.

For this company, with headquarters based in The Netherlands, the bulk of the data resides the Euopean Union, mostly The Netherlands and Ireland. However, there are exceptions:

  • Sway lives in the United States.
    That does not bother us much, because Sway is hardly used in any of the organizations I’ve worked at.
  • Yammer lives in the United States too!
    That is cause for more concern, because Yammer is used more extensively. Fortunately, Yammer is not the most likely place for people to share sensitive, confidential information But it is still something to take into account in our Office 365 governance and its associated guidance.
Microsoft data centers for the European Union. But for some services, the data is stored in the US.

Microsoft data centers for the European Union. But for some services, the data is stored in the US.

December 31, 2018

Best wishes for 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — frederique @ 19:11

I wish you all the best for 2019. I am not just talking about SharePoint, obviously, but the new year as a whole.

Kerst2018-GlowEN

November 30, 2018

Getting our users on board in the migration to SharePoint Online – a checklist

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: — frederique @ 23:56

I am involved in a migration project, to move thousands of sites from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint Online. There is the technical aspect to it, but I am mostly concerned in how we can get our users on board. Give them the benefits of the upgrade to new tools that meet their needs better, whilst mitigating the hassle of the actual migration and change.

I have talked about the question what you should migrate, in what form and in which order in a previous post. Now here’s an annotated version of the 15 point checklist I use in the actual migrations.

1.Determine the migration scenario

Do you want to migrate the sites as they were, or only the content? To what template? With what mapping of the metadata? And what about the permissions? We have different scenarios for different situations. For example, archive sites, project sites and department sites for different business units, which have different source templates and different needs.

2.Test the results of the migration factory

Once you have the scenario, test it in a trial migration of a representative set of sites before you ask the business users to test anything. We have seen some unexpected results in early attempts, so we have learned to invest the time in these tests, to make sure the business users don’t trip over these problems. We keep track of all the sites and their migration status and the issues in SharePoint lists.

3.Involve the key users

Talk to the business about their needs, what do they think is still relevant from the old sites, what do they want with the new sites. And ask some key users to check the sites you migrated, after you have weeded out the errors.

4.Plan the final migration of live sites outside office hours

You need a content freeze for the migration. No problem for archive sites, because nobody is actively using them. But for active sites, you need to minimize the time users cannot work in these sites. Our solution is to migrate the bulk of the content while they work, and then do an incremental migration to update the content over a weekend. Plan the migration weekend with the business, to try and suit their calendars.

5.Communicate beforehand what will happen

Some people take any changes in their stride, but others really want know beforehand what will happen. So make sure all users are aware of the upcoming migration. Communicate, for example via the intranet and/or email:

  • Which sites will be migrated (for example, project sites or department sites) and to which environment they will be migrated. Hopefully they have already heard something about the new environment, like the rollout of Office 365 with SharePoint Online and you can refer to that.
  • What do they have to do. For example, stop using the old sites Friday before 18:00, park files locally if they have to work during the migration weekend, on Monday reconnect their Outlook plug-in to the new address, and check if all of their content was moved over correctly.
  • How are you going to help them. For example, provide them with a user manual, an email address and phone number they can contact, and in-house support on the day after the migration.
  • Who they can contact if they have questions now or later. If you send the message by email, send it from the mailbox they can contact.

Also, make sure you tell the key users, secretaries and other influencers what will happen, so that they can answer any questions their colleagues may ask them and prod them in the right direction.

6.Check which sites need special attention

We are migrating department sites at the end of the year. So the Finance people started to panic, because this is their busiest time and they do not want anything to interrupt their work. We reassured them that the old sites remain available in read-only mode; they can always still find the information there. And we take extra care when we migrate their sites. We also pay special attention to sites that have a lot of traffic, like sites that are included in the main navigation of the intranet.

  • Test if the content has been migrated properly. We cannot test every single site that is migrated, but we make sure to test these high priority sites.
  • Check the permissions: can they all still read and contribute the same as in the old site?
  • Are the start page, the site menu and the views in the lists and libraries correct and clear? We migrate from an on-premises environment that can handle view of over 5000 items to an online environment where such views may break.

7.Fix the glitches like overweight views

We migrate from an on-premises environment that can handle view of over 5000 items to an online environment where such views may break. So when we migrate large sites, we have some views that give an error instead of a list of items or documents, sometimes even default views, This would freak out the users, so we make sure we fix those views with filters based on indexed columns. Fortunately, we can do this before the migration weekend, once the bulk migration has been performed – because we already indexed the relevant columns via the site template.

8.Arrange for the update of links to the migrated sites

In this round, we are migrating some department sites that are connected to their intranet via static hyperlinks. In a previous round, we migrated project sites that were linked to CRM. These links need to be updated. We do not own that intranet or the CRM environment, but we do not want our users to hit dead links. So we asked around and found the managers of those systems who could update the links.

9.Provide an entry point to the new sites

The users have to know where they can find and access their new ‘digital homes’. We have done that in different ways.

  • When we had reliable list of owners for each site, and owners we could trust to inform their members, we sent the owners a mail with their URL (using a mail merge on our list of sites and owners). However, in most cases our governance failed in the past, and we don’t have a reliable site owner.
  • For the migration of a large number of project sites, we told the users to access their new sites from CRM, because that already was their preferred entry point and we could update the site links in CRM.
  • For another migration, we pointed the users to a site overview page with a search option where they could find their site. And we gave them the tip to Follow that site when they have found the new address.

10.Offer help materials

Our users need to take some actions after the migration, like reconnecting their Outlook plug-in to the migrated sites. You need to give them instructions on how to do that. Also, they have to learn how to use the new SharePoint Online environment. Most of it is intuitive enough, but not everything and now for everyone. So you need to give them a user manual and tips on that.

Offer them a single point of entry for all of these help materials. If you use a SharePoint site for this, you can update the information as you experience the migration and hear the questions that can come up. But be aware that some users will print put all of the materials as soon as you send them the link, so make that first version a serious one.

11.Send a message before the migration starts

If you have published a message on the intranet about the start of your migration, you cannot assume that everyone has seen it. So send an email Friday afternoon. Make it short and to the point, and put the key message in the Email subject: stop working in your department site before 18:00.

12.Run a script to compare the number of items in the old and the new sites

After the incremental migration to update the latest additions and changes in the migrated sites, the number of items in the source and the target should be the same. Unless the users have deleted files from the source file and the incremental migration cannot take that into account.

We had a script to compare the number of items automatically, and at the end of the migration weekend is the time to run it. In one round of migrations we forgot to run the script at that time and only ran it after the first day the migrated sites had gone live. But by then there were many discrepancies, especially when users got enthusiastic about the new options…

13.Make sure the old sites are locked after the migration

After the final migration to the new sites, users should not add or edit anything on the old sites anymore. Yes, this is obvious. But no, this does not always turn out well. We have had a glitch in the script, so that people were still able to work in the old sites. And of course these people had not paid attention to the communication.

So you need to double check that these sites are locked down in read-only mode, to allow the users to check the migration but force them to move to the migrated sites.

14.Send a message after it has finished

After you have finished the migration, make it perfectly clear to the users that they have to switch to their newly migrated site now, where they can find it, what they have to do now, and where they can find help. Put in on the intranet, send an email, tell all the key users and secretaries. This is not the time to be stingy with your communication.

15.Arrange for support on the day after the migration

There are always some issues or at least questions after a migration: where is my site, I’ve lost some documents, how do I connect the new site to my Outlook plug-in, … Try to be at their offices, to give them personal attention. Pay attention to the details when you arrange it, especially if “strangers” are to help out in this matter: who should be where and when, who is the host at that location and what are their contact details.

 

This weekend we are migrating the department sites of one of our more prolific business units. And yes, we use the checklist, specified for the migration at hand. In OneNote, with checkboxes to indicate what we have already completed. Check.

October 31, 2018

3 simple things that help user adoption

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 22:58

Setting up effective tools and processes to achieve user adoption often turns out to be difficult. No time, no money, no resources. You should still make that time, find the money, and locate the resources, because why roll out something like Office 365 if users do not adopt it? Nevertheless, let us take a look at some things you can start doing right now that require only a little attention.

Set an example

Office 365 is a great toolkit for communication, collaboration and sharing knowledge. So let’s use it to support the roll-out of Office 365. Eat your own dog food!

Use Office to collaborate in your IT / information management / roll-out team. That allows you to check if everything is working properly, and it offers an example of the practical application of the tools that you can show to others.

And use Office 365 to share with the stakeholders outside your team. For instance, when you organize something like workshops or training sessions:

  • Do not send any materials as e-mail attachments, but share them on a SharePoint site.
  • Offer a Skype meeting or Teams meeting to allow people to join you online if they cannot join in real life.
  • Take notes of these sessions in OneNote and share them.

Also, encourage managers and other influencers to use the new tools when they become available. For instance, post announcements on the SharePoint. And if they want to send a newsletter or other e-mail for higher visibility, only include summaries in the mail text, with links to the full story.

Offer help content to answer frequently asked questions

User will ask how things work. At least, I get quite a few emails and calls with such questions and I know many my colleagues get them as well. Instead of detailing the same answer to each user, put these answers in a central location and point to those instructions and explanations to help them out.

  • A basic user manual,
  • A help page,
  • A list with clear tips or frequently asked questions.
  • A demo site with the SharePoint site template you have found or developed. Add some content to show what you can do in such a site.
  • A Short video, if you have more time or if you find it easier to show something in a quick recording than writing it down.

Anything, as long as it explains what is what, how to use it and what’s in it for them.

Do you have an information portal or help center? Great, use it!
If you don’t have anything elaborate (yet), just put something in a public team site. Even if you cannot broadcast the information yet, at least the information is available. Just send a link to anyone who asks a question.

Inspire people who show an interest

It takes a lot of time and effort to get everyone onboard on the Office 365 train. But in every organization, there are at least some enthusiasts who like to experiment and get started with new tools. They may contact you to learn more.

Inspire them with tips and tricks of what is already possible and sneak peaks of what will become available soon. Then they can inspire their colleagues. But be honest about the limitations and the reasons why some things are not available yet – these early adopters may want to move faster than you call roll out Office 365 in a controlled manner.

Try to find out what they really need, in their situation. Standard Office 365 features can be amazing discoveries if you were unaware of them and they turn out to meet your needs. Examples of things that made some people quite happy recently:

  • For a colleague the idea of sharing notes in the team site notebook was an eye opener. After all, that is included in every SharePoint site but he was not aware of that, so he was taking notes in a notebook in his OneDrive. Quite a few people were awed by the functionality offered by OneNote, which they found a lot more practical than notes on paper or on Word.
  • For a team that is discussing a draft versions of deliverable documents, Microsoft Teams was just what they needed: persistent chat threads in the context of the document under discussion.
  • A colleague had heard about Teams and thought that they would help him. But after some brainstorming, it turned out he wanted to manage an overview of information that was perfectly suited to list in SharePoint with some fields for status, owner and hyperlinks to other sources.

 

These are some things you can do to take a few steps towards some user adoption. But don’t stop there. In most organizations, you need to do a lot more to achieve real user adoption. See for example these earlier blog posts: 5 lessons learned about user adoption programmes,  5 more lessons learned about User Adoption and the DIWUG eMagazine article: How do we get users to adopt Office 365?

September 30, 2018

New meeting tools in Microsoft Teams

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 23:36

Almost two years ago, I go my first glimpse of Microsoft Teams. For me, it was a big surprise, but it was not the hub for teamwork that it was supposed to be. At Ignite 2017, Teams got serious. And recently at Ignite 2018, Teams really took off.

Microsoft Teams is replacing Skype for Business as the preferred tool for online meetings. We knew that was going to happen, and now we heard the exhortations to move our users from Skype to Teams. And it’s not just a question of replacement: Teams now offer options that extend beyond what we ever had in Skype for Business…

This post summarizes the announcements: What’s new in Teams – Ignite Edition. And I’ve taken a quick look at the current Teams Meeting myself.

Scheduling a meeting starting from a compleet overview

I can schedule a Teams meeting from Outlook. And I can schedule one from within Teams, where I am already working. This is not brand new, but it is practical.

In the meeting section of Teams, I get an overview of my meetings today. Teams is integrated with Outlook: I also see the appointments created in Outlook that don’t have anything to do with Teams meetings. When scheduling a meeting, I can invite guest who are outside our organization.

Meetings in Teams, including an overview of my meetings today, including appointments set up only in Outlook. And the details of a Teams meeting.

Meetings in Teams, including an overview of my meetings today, including appointments set up only in Outlook. And the details of a Teams meeting.

Blurring the background in video calls

When I give an important presentation using video, I am always careful to sit in front of a neutral background. Now Teams has a new option to avoid distractions: background blurring. It does give me a weird aura, but it also reduces the mess in the background.

A video call without and with background blurring.

A video call without and with background blurring.

Sharing notes and other options

Personally, I don’t use the video option much. In presentations, I do a bit of video so that people know who I am, But then I start showing the real thing: presentation materials and demos. The options to do that look a bit different from the buttons in Skype.

Like in Skype we can have a chat-conversation. In addition, we can also take notes right in the context of the meeting.

Sharing and other options in my Teams Meeting.

Sharing and other options in my Teams Meeting.

You can have a meeting in Teams with a guest outside your own organization. But that guest does not have access to the notes.

The external guests can join the meeting, but they cannot see the notes.

The external guests can join the meeting, but they cannot see the notes.

Recording a session and viewing it in Stream

In Skype for Business, we had an option to record a session. We don’t record regular meetings, but we do record presentations, like knowledge sharing sessions. The option is available in Skype, but publishing a recording is a bit messy: you have to find the file on your computer and then upload it into Stream yourself.

In a Teams meeting, the recording is automatically uploaded into Stream. And a link to that video is posted in the chat conversation. You can open the recording from that conversation as well as from Stream itself.

The recording is posted to the chat conversation of the meeting,

The recording is posted to the chat conversation of the meeting,

Open the recording directly from the chat

Open the recording directly from the chat

It looks like it’s time to transform my recurring Skype mMetings into Team Meetings…

August 31, 2018

Some gotchas and glitches in Microsoft Stream

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: , — frederique @ 23:50

We are using Office 365 and investigating Stream as the video tool for a communication solution. Stream is interesting, but we hit some stumbling blocks. Let me share some of the lessons we learned setting up a channel, allowing the right people to upload videos into it and trying to achieve a smooth end-user experience.

We are working on a communication solution to share safety information with the entire organization. In addition to pages about safety rules et cetera, the team is making videos to explain safety measures and inviting vloggers to create videos about their safety experiences on the job. Because it is very important that the information follows the official safety rules, the content is curated assiduously.

In this organization we are rolling out Office 365, so we got started with a Communication Site in SharePoint Online and Stream for the videos. We were guided by Microsoft’s Overview of Groups and Channels, which was helpful but not enough to pull us through.

Set-up a channel where the right people can upload videos

Permissions are not set on Channels but on Groups

In the old Video portal in Office 365, you set permissions on the channel. In the new Stream, permissions are not managed on the channel, but directly on the video or on Groups. The channels are only meant to structure the collection of videos that the Group is publishing. In our situation, a small group of editors should upload the videos and everyone in the organization should be able to view them. So following Microsoft’s Group & channel examples, we set up:

  • A Public Group in Stream, where we Allow all members to contribute: everyone can see the content of this Group, but only the Group can contribute.

    Screenshot: Create a public group

    Create a Public Group, so that everyone can view the content and the users add to the group can contribute

  • In that Group, we created a Group channel. The Owners can change the settings of the Group and the channel, and the people they add as Members can upload and manage the videos in the channel.

    Screenshot: create group channel

    Create a group channel, so that the group can upload videos

In the Group and the Channel,

  • Owners can change the settings of the group the channel, add members and other owners, upload and manage videos
  • Members can also manage the group and channel settings like the title, and they can upload and manage videos. But they cannot add other members.
  • Everyone in the organization (because it is a public group) can view the content, but not contribute.
ScreenshotL add member

The Group Owners can add members and other owners, in the tab Membership of the Group.

Even Group owners cannot upload videos if video uploads are restricted centrally

Even the Owners of Stream Groups cannot upload videos, if video uploading is restricted in the central settings. We hit this problem. In our case, some owners could upload videos and others could not, and it took us a while to find out why. You will find this option in Stream itself (not in the central Office 365 Admin portal), in the menu under the gear icon: Admin settings.

Screenshot: link to Admin settings.

Link to the Admin settings in Stream.

The check the settings under Content Creation. You are fine if the option to Restrict video uploads = Off.

Screenshot: Restrict video uploads is Off.

Content creation settings in Stream: Restrict video uploads is Off.

If video uploads are restricted, you have to make sure that the people who are supposed to upload videos in your channel are added to the ‘whitelist’.

Screenshot: Restrict video uploads is On

Content creation settings in Stream: Restrict video uploads is On.

So if the editors cannot upload videos check this setting. And ask the governance board for your Office 365 environment if they can please relax this setting and stop the restriction on video uploads, because managing this ‘whitelist’ of unrestricted users will be a nightmare.

Finding the options

Keep titles short: Channels titles cannot be more than 30 characters

When you create a channel, This title only just fit in ‘’Test video companywide channel’, even though the title field looks much bigger. And even so, under 20 characters are displayed in the channel over view cards.

Partial screenshot: channels tab

In the Group, the tab Channels displays the channels of this group, but only short version of the channel titles

Editing the Group properties

Owners and (if members are allowed to contribute) can change the settings of the group and its channels. The entry point to the edit-options are somewhat hidden: follow the dot dot dots…you see in the group itself and in the overviews.

Screenshots: entry points to edit tgroup and channel settings

Click on the ellipsis next to the title in the group or channel, or in the overviews.

You cannot change the Group picture in Stream

You can edit the title, description and access options. But you cannot change the picture here.

Screenshot of the group edit options.

Editing the Group properties.

You have to go to the Group settings elsewhere in Office 365. After all, the Group we use in Stream is a regular Office 365 Group.

To change the picture, go to the settings in Office 3656 Group.

To change the picture, go to the settings in Office 3656 Group.

Stream on a SharePoint page does not work properly

Stream web part is in Preview and slows Internet Explorer 9 terribly

We have a Communication Site in SharePoint Online for the non-video content. In that Modern template, there is a web part (app part, whatever it’s called nowadays), to display a Stream video or channel on the page. But that is a Preview.

Putting the Stream preview on the page is a performance killer in Internet Explorer 9. This old Internet Explorer does not work well with the Modern interface.

Preview Stream webpart on a Communication Site

Preview Stream webpart on a Communication Site

Videos don’t play on iPhones

Because the Stream web part does not work properly on the laptops, we embedded key videos directly on the page. On the laptop that works.

However, in the SharePoint App on the iPhone, that does not work. On the iPhone, you get a message to log on. And that does not work…

On an iPhone, you do not get the video, but a log on message. Which does not work.

On an iPhone, you do not get the video, but a log on message. Which does not work.

Unfortunately, this is a show stopper for us: most users will probably use their iPhone to view the information, including the videos. Hm. So we have to keep looking…

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