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

April 30, 2020

10 Practical tips for conversations in Microsoft Teams

Filed under: New world of work,Office365 — Tags: , — frederique @ 23:56

Do you want to ask a colleague a quick question or give them a heads-up? Even though you are far apart and unable to just bump into them at the coffee machine? Then use Microsoft Teams to connect and have a quick conversation. Always handy, but indispensable now that we have to keep our distance and work from home during the Corona crisis.

Microsoft Teams offers us two functions for conversations:

  • 1-on-1 chat like we have (or some people by now: had) in Skype for Business. Anyone who has Microsoft Teams at their disposal can use this chat for ad hoc conversations with one or more people.
  • A ‘team conversation’ within a separate Teams environment: our digital office that you can create or request (depending on your organization’s policies) for collaboration with your team.

Let’s take a look at ten tips for such conversations in Microsoft Teams (with some associated “sub-tips”).

Tip 1: Use the chat for 1-on-1 conversations

If you really want to have a 1-on-1 conversation, open the chat section in Teams. Yes, in a Team conversation you can specifically address a particular colleague (by @-mentioning her or him -see below). However, all the other team members can see your message as well, if they happen to take a look in the Team. And yes, I have talked to enough people who were confused by this.

Tip 1a: Add a colleague if 1-on-1 is not enough

You can have more people in an ad hoc chat conversation. If the two of you can’t solve you problem, ask another colleague to join the chat via the ‘Add people’ icon at the top right of your chat.

Ad hoc conversations in the chat: 1-on-1 and you can add people

Ad hoc conversations in the chat section of Microsoft Teams: 1-on-1 and you can add people

Tip 2: Add audio and video to your chat

When you are tired of typing to and fro with your colleague, turn your chat into an audio call or a video call using the phone button respectively the camera button at the top right of the chat.

Add audio or video to the chat to talk directly.

Add audio or video to the chat to talk directly.

Tip 3: Ask your colleague if audio is convenient right now

DO NOT just click on the phone or video button when you feel like it, but ask your colleague if she thinks it is a good idea to have a call right now.

Maybe your colleague is at a very noise location or at a location where no sound is tolerated, so she has to move first. Or maybe she wants to grab a headset or a coffee first. Or she may already be in another call. And yes, I have been at the receiving end of such unannounced calls and they annoy me as much as a phone , that always interrupt at a bad time…

Tip 4: Conduct conversations relevant for the team in the Team

Do you have a question about the project for which you have a Team? Or about work for the department that collaborates in a Team? Conduct that conversation in the ‘Posts’ tab of that Team, so that the other – current or future – Team members can also see what is going on. Also, documents attached to this conversation are stored in the right place: in the Team where you collaborate.

Tip 5: @-mention your contact in a Team message

Do you want specific colleagues to see your message, because they may have the answer to your question or may need to know what you explain? Then make sure you @-mention them: type @, start typing their name and select the right person.

If the entire team should see your message, @-mention the Team name. Or @-mention the channel, if it is relevant for everyone who is interested in the channel.

@-mention the person or group (e.g. the channel) who should see the message and respond.

@-mention the person or group (e.g. the channel) who should see the message and respond.

Tip 6: Do not assume your Team message has been seen without an @-mention

Too often I see messages addressed to me like “Hey Frédérique, can you help me with this?”. Usually I see those at least a week late, when I visit the Team to help somebody who did address me properly with @Frederique…

If you do not @-mention a person or a group, then you cannot assume that anyone has seen your message. Especially if these persons do not frequently visit the Team because they are not used to the new tool (like the people I have bene training recently), or because they have way too many Teams to keep an eye on all of them (like me…)

Tip 7: Answer in the reply field, not as a new conversation

In the 1-on-1 chat you don’t have separate fields for responding or for starting a new conversation. But in a Team post, you should answer via the Reply field, so that the conversation remains in one piece. If you respond via the field that says “Start a new conversation”, your answer may get separated from the question, when the conversation continues.

Reply in the reply-field, not in the field for starting a new conversation

Reply in the reply-field, not in the field for starting a new conversation

Tip 8: Made a mistake? Edit or remove your message.

Don’t post an additional version of your message. Just fix the original one, if you made a mistake. Or delete it and start again, to keep the conversation clear and compact. Click the … ellipsis (next to ‘Like’) to get these options. Please note: you can only edit or delete your own message, not somebody else’s.

Click the .. ellipsis to get the option to Edit or Delete your message.

Click the .. ellipsis to get the option to Edit or Delete your message.

Tip 8a: Can’t edit your messages? Change the Team-settings

The option to edit or delete your own messages is governed by a setting at the level of the Team. They should be enabled. If they are not, get a Team Owner to change the settings via Manage Team > Settings > Member permissions > Give members the option to delete/edit their messages.

The Team Owner should configure the settings to allow members to edit and delete theor own messages.

The Team Owner should configure the settings to allow members to edit and delete theor own messages.

Tip 9: Format important messages to make them easy to read

A message in Teams is not meant to be a fancy news article. But if the message is a longer, structure it with for example a bulleted list and key terms highlighted in bold.

Click the Format icon (the ‘A’) below the message field to get the edit options. Otherwise your message gets posted as soon as you hit Enter.

Tip 9a: Give important conversations a title

A title helps users to see easily what the message and then the threaded conversion is about, so they can assess quickly if it is important for them. The title field is also conjured up by clicking the ‘A’ icon.

Click the 'A' icon below the message field to format the text and provide a title.

Click the ‘A’ icon below the message field to format the text and provide a title.

Tip 10: Post a link to the document that you talk about

If you ask for feedback on a document or encourage your colleagues to check out your great presentation, attach the file to your message via the paperclip > Browse teams and channels. This way, people don’t have to search for the file that you are talking about.

Tip 10a: Upload the document before you post your message.

There is an option to upload the document while you are writing the message. But then the document gets stored directly in the channel folder, while you may want to store it in a subfolder within the channel. So if the core of my message is about a file, I make sure I store the file in its proper place first, before I start talking about it.

It does seem like the link from the message to the attached document survives if you move the document into a subfolder, for example. But I am not sure if it always works. In the earlier days, the link used to break if you moved or renamed the file, In those days I learned to think about where I put the file first…

Teams-Post-DocumentLinl]k-ann

Link to the file you discuss via the paperclip, so that your colleagues can open it directly.

If you follow these guidelines, Microsoft Teams is a great tool for remote conversations. If you want to have a real meeting, instead of a chat, please check out the 12 Practical tips for online meetings using Microsoft Teams.

March 31, 2020

12 Practical tips for online meetings using Microsoft Teams

Filed under: New world of work,Office365 — Tags: , — frederique @ 22:40

Now that many of us work from home, to avoid spreading the coronavirus and catching Covid-19, we are fortunate to have options to conduct out meetings online. We can talk with each other with the audio functionality, see each other with the video functionality and see our work with the screen sharing functionality of Microsoft Teams. Let us take a look at 12 tips based on our recent experiences, with some associated bonus tips. They are geared towards Teams-meetings, but most of them also apply to Skype-meetings or other online meetings.

1.Use Teams-meetings to meet online

In the organization where I work, we have both Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams at our disposal. Skype-meetings are more familiar to many users, but we stimulate the use of Teams-meetings. The main reason right now is that Teams-meetings are more robust and stable, especially in these times of overloaded networks and systems. Microsoft Teams does sometimes “wobble” at bit: video gets stuck, presentations don’t load properly. But Teams still works better than in Skype. Some people are using free internet tools like Zoom, but those are banned within the company, because you pay for these “free” tools with your data…

2.Use a headset or other audio device to talk

To get good audio experience, you should use a headset instead of shouting at the standard microphone incorporated in your computer. You can hear better what the speaker says, but most of all: the other participants can hear you better when you contribute. Without a headset, you also tend to get strange echoes. Many of my colleagues use the ear plugs that came with their mobile phones, so try those if you don’t have an “official” headset.

Back in the day when I could be in a meeting room with some colleagues, I often used a speakerphone to have a conference call with the rest of the team; that device picks up the other speakers as well. Right now, I am working at home by myself, so no other speakers to pick up. Nevertheless, I sometimes switch to this device, when my ears get tired of the headset: it has a smart microphone that focuses on my voice.

2a. Check your device seetings if your audio is troublesome

Did you plug in a headset but it doesn’t give you sound? Check the device settings and switch if necessary.

Check your device settings and select the correct audio device and camera.

Check your device settings and select the correct audio device and camera.

3.Mute your microphone

Make sure to mute your microphone when you are not talking, if you are in a noisy environment or if you don’t use a headset. This is particularly important if you are in a large meeting with many participants. The meeting will get very messy, when you hear the washing machines, children, neighbours with power drills or even just coughing from ten participants…

3a.Don’t forget to unmute when you want to talk!

It is easy to forget that you have muted your microphone or to “mis-click”. I am not the only one who has made some very intelligent remarks (well…) only to myself, because I had not unmuted my microphone properly. So unmute and check that you have unmuted before you tell your story.

4.Help each other

We’re in this together, so let’s help each other. Especially now that many people are forced by the coronavirus to conduct online meetings and use tools that they are unfamiliar with. For example, if you think colleagues may be talking to themselves because their microphone is still on mute, please remind them to unmute.

You can check whose microphone is muted in the Teams-meeting via the Participants button: the mute icon is displayed for participants with muted phone.

Mute and unmute your own microphone. And help your colleagues, if you suspect they are accidentally muted: check their microphone status via the Participants button.

5.Use the chat in the meeting

If you cannot talk, use the chat within the Teams-meeting to ask your questions or place your comments. The chat is the way to go, for example, if your microphone does not work, if the ambient noise is bad or if you are in a large meeting where things would get chaotic if everyone just spoke up via audio.

Microsoft Teams meeting chat

Microsoft Teams meeting chat

 

6.Don’t talk at the same time

The larger the meeting, the more you have to pay attention to “speaker management”. In a real life meeting, it is impolite and tricky to talk at the same time instead of waiting for the other participant to finish his or her sentence. In an online meeting, it is worse: the meeting becomes incomprehensible.

Use the chat to ask questions and give short comments. If the meeting is large and important, you should arrange for someone to moderate: keep an eye on the chat and pinpoint the items that need to be addressed via the audio, by the presenter or by the participant. The moderator can then give the floor (i.e. permission to unmute the microphone) to the right person.

6a.Mute all

Weird noises in your meeting from unmuted microphones? You can mute them all from the People pane. This option only appears if there are enough microphones open and there is something to be muted. Please note: everybody in the meeting who has the presenter role (the default for colleagues in your organisation) can use this ‘Mute all’ option.

Teams-Vergadering-Personen-Allen dempen-crop

7.Use video to support non-verbal communication

It is helpful if you can see each other, when you are talking. Especially if you are stuck by yourself, quarantined in your home, you don’t see anybody in real life and you are getting lonely. Switch on the video-option in the Teams-meeting and make sure your webcam is uncovered.

Please note: at the moment a Teams-meeting displays at most four video feeds: the person who is talking and the people who talked most recently. Microsoft is working on showing us more participants (see Uservoice). If you don’t want to see the current and recent speakers, you can also pin specific video image to your canvas, as a participant – this selection is only visible for you.

Update May 2020: Now we see up to nine video feeds, instead of four, in the main screen. You will some more as small thumbnails at the bottom of the screen.

7a.Check your video image

You will see your video image at the bottom of the Teams-meeting, on the right. So you can tweak things like the angle of the camera, your hair and the lighting: avoid sitting with your back to the window or other light source, or you will only show up as a silhouette. And of course this video image will make it clear if you have forgotten to slide back the privacy cover your webcam.

7b.Switch off your video for discretion

Turn off the video, before you do something embarrassing (pick your nose extensively, put your underwear on the clothesline or in extreme cases go to the bathroom bringing your laptop with you… no, I refuse to link to the YouTube video of the conference where that happened…). Just click on the video button again and check that your video image is no longer visible at the bottom of the screen.

8.Blur your background – update: or use a background picture

In a Teams-meeting you have the option to blur your video background (this option is not available in Skype-meetings). This minimizes the distraction for the meeting participants, and it hides the mess you in your room or the sensitive pictures on your wall that you don’t want to show your colleagues. You will find this option under the … menu > ‘Blur my background’. If you want to show something, you unblur it again with another click.

Teams-Vergadering-Videocall -Achtergrond vervaagd-a

Switch your video on and off with the video button. Blur your background for focus; only unblur it if you want to show something.

Update: Since April 14th, Now I also get the option to use a background picture instead of blurring my own home office. Microsoft offers a set of photos and paintings, so I can choose a nice and tidy office or a beach or the galaxy for example. At the moment, there is no button to upload my own images. But you can do that if you navigate to this folder on your computer: C:\Users\[you]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads (please note, most people don’t see the Appdata folder, so go there by entering %AppData% in the address bar). And I have cropped and resized my photos to fit the 1920 x 1080 px that the standard images had, because on my first test the horizon ended up in a strange place.

Blur the background of my home office or choose a picture as my background

Blur the background of my home office or choose a picture as my background

Update June: And now we also have a button to add new images to our backgrounds.

Upload your own image to your backgrounds gallery

Upload your own image to your backgrounds gallery

 

9. Share your screen

If you want to talk people through a presentation, report or demo: share your screen so everyone in the meeting can see what you are talking about. In a standard Teams-meeting or Skype, all colleagues from your organisation have the role of ‘presenter’ and the option to share their screens, but external participants can’t. Just click on the screen icon in the meeting toolbar and select the screen you want to share.

In informal meetings, I prefer to share my desktop as a whole, because then I can switch between applications and the participants can see everything I show.

9a.Share only a specific screen if you work with sensitive information

If you work with sensitive information, be careful of the screen you share. Especially if you share with a large group and/or external participants. In this case, it is not safe to share your entire desktop, because you may inadvertently show a confidential document or a sensitive email message may land in your mailbox in full view. So share a selected screen, like your PowerPoint presentation or your report.

Share your entire desktop or a specific window or presentation

Share your entire desktop or a specific window or presentation

10.For larger meetings, separate presenters from attendees

In a regular meeting, everyone can take over screen sharing and everyone can mute all. If your organise a meeting with many and/or unruly colleagues, invite them as attendees with only selected presenters. See the overview of the roles in a Teams meeting. You will find the options for these settings via the link ‘Meeting options’ in the body. Then you can determine who can present: everyone, only you or specific people. You can only select colleagues from your organisation, you have already added to the invitation.

Please note: at the moment, these options are different from the Skype-meeting options that you will find in the ribbon of a Skype- invitation. In Teams you cannot switch off the microphones and video cameras of all attendees beforehand. I you need to keep your attendees more in check, you should set up a Live Event.

Select the presenters via the link 'Meeting options' in the invitation

Select the presenters via the link ‘Meeting options’ in the invitation

11.Lighten the load for your computer and network

Especially video in online meetings does ask a lot from your system. Even more so in Skype than in Teams. So connect carefully, especially when you have to present something in an important meeting: restart your computer if you haven’t done that in a while, connect the network cable (instead of wifi – and negotiate with your house mates that they don’t overload the network just now) and close all windows and activities that you don’t need in your meeting. If the meeting still falters, switch off the video, especially if you are sharing your screen and your face is therefore less important at that time.

12.Look business-like in video conferences

Some of us don’t make as much of an effort to look nice when we work from home. However, if you use the video, you should try to look presentable. Comb your hair, put on a somewhat business-like top (nobody will see your pyjama bottoms…). And be understanding if things turn out a bit less business-like for a colleague, like in this BBC News interview.

Update: Troubleshooting tip to unfreeze Teams

Update April 28th: Teams froze on me a few times recently. But full disclosure: I was using my webcam with a background … on a Windows 7 laptop. Is Teams frozen solid in your meeting and you can’t get any response? Then quit the application from your taskbar: right-click the icon and then select ‘Quit’. Don’t just close the window, because then Teams will still be frozen when you restart it.

Quit Teams from the taskbar in Windows 7 (Dutch version) and Windows 10, to unfreeze the application

Quit Teams from the taskbar in Windows 7 (Dutch version) and Windows 10, to unfreeze the application

If you follow these guidelines, Microsoft Teams is a great tool for online meetings. If you want to just have a chat, instead of a real meeting, please check out the 10 Practical tips for conversations in Microsoft Teams.

February 29, 2020

Online meetings organized in a Microsoft Teams channel: 7 gotchas

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 19:48

For the knowledge sharing sessions I help organise, we are using Microsoft Teams to allow colleagues to join online. These series are set up as Teams-meetings from Microsoft Teams itself, in a channel of the relevant Team. In this article, let us look at 7 things that struck me when we started with this approach.

1.Meeting series? Meet in a separate channel

In our Microsoft Teams where we host the knowledge sessions, we also share other information. To avoid a messy tangle between the knowledge sessions and the rest, we created a channel called ‘Webinars’ to host the online meetings and to store the associated chat.

We schedule the Teams-meeting from the Teams agenda as a series of recurring events, and select the channel where we want to meet.

Scheduling a new teams-meeting from the agenda in Teams: invite the Webinars channel of my Team.

Scheduling a new teams-meeting from the agenda in Teams: invite the Webinars channel of my Team.

2.Lost the meeting title and channel selection? Scroll up!

When I was setting up an invitation with a long description of the webinar agenda, I thought I had lost the meeting title and the option to select the channel where I wanted to host the meeting. As it turned out, I had scrolled down to reach the end of the description. And scrolling down, I had lost the top of meeting meeting form. Unfortunately, that was not very clear: you only see the scroll bar when you put your cursor on the right hand side of the window. So if you have lost some detail fields in your meeting form, check if you have to scroll up!

You may need to scroll up to see the fields displayed at the top of the meeting form

You may need to scroll up to see the fields displayed at the top of the meeting form

 

3.All Team members are automatically invited. But other can participate too

Everybody who is in the Team is automatically welcome in the Teams-meeting hosted in that Team. So we don’t have to worry that we forget to include someone in the invitations.

But people who are not a member of the Team can attend the meeting as well, if they get the link to participate. So if a team member forwards the invitation to someone else or if you publish the link on Yammer for instance, others can participate as well. I had not expected that: I thought a meeting organised inside a Team would only be accessible to people in that Team. But so far the link is working for non-Team members as well.

4.The meeting chat becomes a conversion thread: ongoing for recurring meetings

In our knowledge sessions, the chat in the Teams-meeting plays an important role, because not all participants can talk via their microphone. These chat messages can be consulted afterwards in the Team-channel: they are displayed as reactions in the conversion thread of the meeting.

For a recurring meeting, you have one ongoing conversion thread. The latest 15 posts are displayed, the rest is collapsed and need to be expanded (in batches).

5.The invitation does not always appear in everyone’s agenda. But there is a button

Unfortunately, we see that the invitation set up in Teams does not always become visible in Outlook for all members invited: some people do not get the invitation in their email and it does not show up in their Outlook agenda either, Not nice, because most people work from their Outlook calendars.

We have seen this happen for new Team members, who have joined the Team after the invitation has been sent. But recently we also saw this for colleagues who had been added to the Team beforehand. Or rather: they did not see anything appear in their Outlook.

Fortunately, if you do not see the invitation in your Outlook, you can add it to your agenda yourself. Open the invitation in Teams, from the channel itself. If the meeting is not in our Outlook calendar yet, you see a button Add to your calendar. If the event is already included in your Outlook calendar, this button is not visible.

Add the meeting to your calendar in Outlook

Add the meeting to your calendar in Outlook

6.You can specify who has to wait in the lobby and who can present

At least, up to a point. Once you have scheduled the meeting, you can edit it to tweak the meeting options. Note: I have not found a button for the meeting options in the form where you enter the details of the new meeting, so save it first and then edit to set the meeting options.

In a scheduled Teams-meeting, you can edit the meeting options.

In a scheduled Teams-meeting, you can edit the meeting options.

In the meeting options, you can determine who can bypass the lobby. By default people in my organisation can join the meeting directly, without waiting in the lobby. If often people from outside your organisation join and you are tired of admitting them from the lobby, you can set this option to ‘People from my organisation and trusted organisations’ or even ‘Everyone’.

You can also determine who can present, as opposed to attending only without permission to present a desktop for example. The standard option is that everyone can present, including people outside your organisation. You can limit this to only people inside your organisation or only yourself.

You cannot make specific people, other than yourself, presenters yet. At least, not directly. If you invite individual colleagues, you can specify who is a presenter and who is only an attendee. However, that does not work if you invite everybody implicitly, as a member of the Team. So if you want selected presenters, you need to invite these people as individuals. See also the Roles in  a Teams meeting.

The meeting options of a Teams-meeting

The meeting options of a Teams-meeting

7.Room invitations may get lost when you edit the meeting series

So now everything was arranged nicely for the online participants of our sessions, but we hit a snag in our arrangements for the on-site participants. We had booked a meeting room at headquarters, by inviting it in Outlook and verifying that the request had been accepted. But when we modified the first occurrence in the ‘save the date’ meeting series, to specify the topic of that meeting, we found that we had lost the meeting room after we updated it. Because we caught this issue in time, we could re-invite the meeting room fortunately, but it is still annoying. I am not sure where this is coming from, but I am sure that I will doublecheck the room bookings for these Teams channel meetings!

January 31, 2020

3 things that work well in Office 365 training sessions

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 22:15

Currently, I am involved in an adoption programme to help our users make Office 365 their own, so that they can take advantage of the toolkit and make their work more effective, more efficient and easier. We offer class room training sessions, in addition to things like information pages and webinars. Let us look at three aspects of this training that work well in our organization.

1.Training based on user scenarios

We don’t just teach our users to push the buttons in the Office 365 applications, what options there are and how they work. Our approach is to teach our users how they can perform their jobs better using Office 365. For example: to collaborate safely in construction projects, discuss plans, manage their team tasks, meet online to save traveling time, share their notes

And yes, this implies that we teach them how to use tools like SharePoint, Teams, Planner, OneNote and Yammer. But this way, the user can see what’s in it for them, and apply what they learn to improve their actual work.

2.Practical exercises in playgrounds

In these sessions, we have small theoretical part explaining about our business challenges and the cloud. We show in a demo how you can perform the user scenarios. But the main part of the sessions consists of practical exercises guiding the participants through the scenarios.

To facilitate these scenarios, we create for each session a playground Site / Team / Plan et cetera with sample content. Here, the training participants can do the exercises and explore, without risk. The playgrounds remain at their disposal.

3.Sessions per business unit

We are trying to improve the collaboration within the organization, so we want colleagues to learn together and to discuss how they can improve their particular processes. After all, our business units have different specialties and they have different challenges. And the people in that business unit know better than the IT guys from head quarters what is important for them.

We not only organize our training sessions per business unit, but we also tailor our sessions to the needs of those units. The basics of many scenarios may be similar, but the priorities are different as are the specifics.

July 31, 2019

Microsoft Teams first steps and lessons learned in real life

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 23:56

We have not rolled out Microsoft Teams yet, but we have started some pilots. In these first steps, we have learned a few lessons about how the tool lands in the organization in real life. Let us take a look at five of them.

1.Word of mouth from the early adopters works

Some of our users are quite savvy. They had found out about Teams, wanted to try it out and were very enthusiastic about it. And they talked about it to others. The result was that those others also started clamouring for Teams.

So: start with a small group of eager early adopters. Make sure they know it is a pilot, if you haven’t set up the configuration and the support system properly yet.

2.Innocent users don’t want yet another communication channel to check

When I introduce Teams to users who were not already interested in the new tool, the first reaction is usually something along the lines of: “I already have my phone messages and Outlook and Skype and SharePoint and Yammer. Are you telling me I have to keep an eye on yet another tool to stay up-to-date?”

So: explain that they can get a notification when something relevant happens in Teams. And teach everyone to @-mention the person who should answer the question or give them feedback. Keep reminding the users of this; ask the Team Owners to do so as well . And explain that Teams will replace Skype for Business.

3.The terminology confuses people

We have Microsoft Teams with a capital T for teams with a small t. And people when ask for a ‘team site’ for their team, we need to check if they are talking about a SharePoint team site or a Teams environment. Messy…

So: make sure you are talking about the same thing. And don’t call regular SharePoint sites ‘team sites’…

4.Links to files are often broken in conversations

You can start a conversation about a file stored in your Team. This will display the conversation directly in the context of that document. But I have seen quite a few cases where the link to the file was broken from the conversation. At this moment, there is no way to preserve the link if the file is renamed or moved the to another folder

So: explain how this works and that you need to post an updated link.

Conversation in the context of a document

Conversation in the context of a document

5.The wiki in Teams is not practical for taking meeting notes

In one of our Teams, we tried to handle our meeting notes in the wiki that is a standard part of the Team. And we also started to write business scenarios in that wiki. It drove me crazy immediately, because I wanted to move around content in the first draft and it did not work the way I wanted… The wiki is quite rigid: the structure is fixed and you can’t just drag & drop sentences.

So: Use the wiki to “publish” info (About his team, finished use cases…). Do not use the wiki for taking notes or brainstorming.

The wiki in Teams

The wiki in Teams

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.

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.

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…

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