my world of work and user experiences

June 28, 2018

Rock shelters: use what is available and go from there

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — frederique @ 15:27

The Dordogne in France has been a choice place to live for 400.000 years: people lived here already in prehistoric times as well as in the middle ages. And modern people still live there today. This is the place to be, because of the shape of the cliffs: there are many rock shelters. Many people over the ages have used these rock shelters as a place to live, adding to it in different ways.

Rock shelters

The limestone rocks in the valley of the Vallée de la Vézère have been shaped by the river, but also by ‘gélifraction’: repeated freezing and thawing of water seeped into the rock has crushed the softer layers. The result is like a long, shallow cave with a smooth floor, a ceiling and a back wall. A practical place to live.

Prehistoric times

We casually talk about ‘cave men’, but our ancestors in paleolithic times did not actually live in caves. They used caves, like Lascaux, as sanctuaries maybe, for paintings and engravings. But the people who adorned the Lascaux caves, lived in a rock shelter nearby. Such a rock shelter does not protect your entirely from the weather, but at least you have daylight, fresh air and floor space, which can be difficult in a cave.

Paleolitic men did not alter the shape of the mountain to create shelter. They took the rock as it was, though they may have added screening made from perishable materials like wood and animal skins.

The original Abri de Cro-Magnon: the place that gave the Cro-Magnon man his name, when the first remains of his kind were discovered 150 years ago: the earliest human that was anatomically modern. With a reconstruction of what might have been a tent-like additional protection.

The original Abri de Cro-Magnon: the place that gave the Cro-Magnon man his name, when the first remains of his kind were discovered 150 years ago: the earliest human that was anatomically modern. With a reconstruction of what might have been a tent-like additional protection.

Middle ages

Many of the rock shelters were used again and again by different people, in different times. All of them found it useful.

For example, the Abri de la Madeleine has been used since paleolitic times (it gave its name to the period called Magdalenian, about 17.000 -12.000 years ago). But people kept living here. In medieval times, they built a village and a castle in a higher layer. The advantage of the location is that is not only already supplies a smooth floor, a wall and a ceiling, but also that it is perched halfway a rock face and easy to defend – an important point in those quarrelsome times.

In these times, they did not take the rock as it was, but they modified it: they dug deeper niches, and they built additional walls.

Medieval troglodyte house in La Madeleine

In the medieval part of the Abri of La Madeleine, they dug bedsteads and added walls to close the space and to provide an oven for example.

Example of how the wooden beams were fitted into the rock face. You see these holes everywhere, here at La Madeleine the have reconstructed to wood to show how it works.

Example of how the wooden beams were fitted into the rock face. You see these holes everywhere, here at La Madeleine the have reconstructed to wood to show how it works.


Nowadays, people still use the shelter provided by such abris. Why build an entire house, when you can use the existing rock shelter and only add a few walls and a partial roof? And why put up a roof to protect your car from the sun and the rain, when you can park it right under the abri?

This house built under the Abri Pataud is now the museum for this Abri.

This house built under the Abri Pataud is now the museum for this Abri.

The museum guard parks his car in the Abri, nice and sheltered.

The museum guard parks his car in the Abri, nice and sheltered.

This rings a bell…

Ok, this was on holiday and I was too busy sightseeing and enjoying myself to think about it. But now that I am back, this reminds me of the way we use Office 365 and SharePoint Online: we take the basics, which in our case are provided by Microsoft instead of Mother Nature. And we use them as a starting point. Sometimes this gives us enough shelter or functionality to get by. And sometimes we add to it, to make it more comfortable, secure or user-friendly.

May 31, 2018

Yammer does not work – Are you sure you should blame the tool?

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — Tags: , — frederique @ 23:52

Yammer has been around for a decade already, as an enterprise social networking service. It has been incorporated in the Office 365 toolkit. And it can be very effective. However, now I am hearing from my client that Yammer does not work for them and they want some other tool. Is Yammer really that bad, or is there I some other reason why they say Yammer does not meet their needs?

Currently I am working for a construction company. They want a platform to communicate about safety and to interact with the employees about that topic. This is a construction company, so safety is a big issue. For all of the employees.

How about Microsoft Teams?

They asked me for a demo of Microsoft Teams, because they thought that this would be a great tool to use for their safety communication and interaction. Microsoft Teams is newer, and that it why they think it is hotter I fear….

Don’t get me wrong, I Microsoft Teams is great. But not for this purpose.

  • The maximum number of members in a Team is 2.500 which is not nearly enough.
  • A Team does not have visitors, but only members and owners. That is great for conversations, but these members can also edit other information in the Team. And the client wants to offer “official” information as well. SharePoint is better for that purpose, though you can of course connect a SharePoint site to a Team.
  • A Team does look quite complex and ‘geeky’ with all those channels and tabs and everything. You don’t have a simple starting point like a homepage. A Communication site does that better.
  • Teams is for teams, that is why it is called Teams… As Microsoft puts it: Teams are for the inner loop, the inner circle with whom you are collaborating closely.

How about Yammer?

A Communication site is great for the “official stuff”: well thought-out pages about the topic, guidelines and instructions, overviews of contacts, events etc. But for interaction with the people, Yammer is more suited. We can bring the two together, by adding a Yammer app (web part, app part, whatever you call it) to the homepage of the site.

However, when I mentioned Yammer, they all pulled faces and grumbled that they had tried Yammer and that it did not work for them at all. Hmmmm…

I admit, Yammer is definitely not perfect:

  • The search is terrible… I find it difficult to find what I am looking for via the search box in Yammer.
  • The Yammer app (web part, app part, whatever you call it) you can add to a homepage of your Communication site is very, very basic: pictures are not displayed, you only see the last comment.
  • Links to SharePoint pages are not displayed nearly as nicely as links to internet pages.

But I like Yammer and use it a lot in our company:

  • An informal forum to ask questions, share lessons learned and post new tidbits
  • Clear structure via groups and threads, with an overview on the ‘start page’ and per group a view of the new conversations so that you know when you are up-to-date.
  • Rich conversations using tags (to help you find them and collect the conversations on a topic), mentions (to engage specific colleagues), attached images as slide shows, links to for example Stream videos and websites with a visual preview…

Why is Yammer working for us and maybe not for my client?

  • Many of my colleagues (including me…) often are working elsewhere. We only meet online.
    If everyone is in the same office most of the time, they can easy discuss questions and ideas in the coffee corner. Then they don’t really need Yammer, so they won’t use Yammer as much. So if the same organisation starts using Yammer to share with people who are not in the same office, it may be used more.
  • I use Yammer, instead of another tool, because that is where the action is: questions posed in Yammer are answered, ideas get commented upon, tidbits get liked etc.
    If Yammer is not being used in a community, it is not worth going there and posting something. But if nobody posts anything or nobody reacts, nobody will start use it. In our organisation the vicious circle was broken early, because we are an IT company with people who like this stuff, and because it meets our needs.
  • We know where to find Yammer. In the early days, we had a Yammer feed web part right in the middle of the homepage of our intranet (now Yammer is more prominent than that homepage…).
    In my client’s organisation, I Yammer is hardly connected to anything else. There is a link to Yammer on the homepage, but that is a static link buried among other links.
  • In our organisation, Yammer is the dominant tool for spreading news: management posts updates, HR uses Yammer to tell us about people who join or leave us, sales tells about new clients…
    In my client’s organisation, I get a lot of this information via email. The disadvantage of email for such communication, is that it does not allow you to start a conversation: ask questions, say hello / goodbye to the new / old colleagues, give kudos for achievements.
  • We grumbled a bit about unpractical features in Yammer but we could get passed them and now we can take advantage of the continuous improvements, like the ability to edit a post (not all that recent, but a huge relief when that became possible,,,) .
    I wonder if my client had their experience with Yammer a long time ago; they may not have noticed that some of their obstables have been removed.

So to adopt and take advantage of Yammer:

  • Determine to what problem it is the solution: conversations about special topics between people who are not sharing the same office.
  • Actively seed and drive the conversation when that does happen organically: have editors / moderators post tips and news, answers questions or redirect them to someone who can (using the mention-option). Make sure these posts are interesting to the users: relevant, useable and/or great fun :-)
  • Make sure it is easy to find Yammer: embed Yammer feeds in SharePoint sites, invite colleagues to join groups that are of special interest to them.
  • In help & training, tell users about Yammer and how it can be useful, show it to them in a moderated Yammer group sharing Office 365 expertise for instance. Share success stories (for example gathered as #YamWins)
  • Introduce Yammer to anyone who does organisation-wide or department-wide communication. If they welcome response, explain that Yammer is a better medium than email.
  • Check what are the blocking issues for this organisation and try again when they have been solved in the Office 365 evolution.

If a tool in the toolkit is not used, the question always is: is the tool inadequate or are there another reasons why the users did not adopt it? Like they don’t know about the tool or they don’t understand how to use the tool effectively. If the problem lies in the adoption, there is no guarantee that replacing the tool will be helpful at all. Then there will just be another tool that users don’t know about and don’t understand…




April 30, 2018

Do not forget to follow up

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 20:51

Recently, I encountered an example of the need to follow up on a series of webinars. It sounds obvious. But when people are busy, the follow-up ball gets dropped too often. You need to plan ahead, who should do what, where and how to follow up on the sessions, to make sure everyone gets what they need.

IT organized a series of webinars on Office 365. These webinars were quite well attended, by over a hundred participants, which was great. And even greater: many of these participants joined in seriously, rather than just listing half-heartedly. They were very active in the chat window, asking questions and adding comments.

Because there were so many questions and because some of the questions were so complex, the presenter and the moderator were unable to address of all them during the session. That was not a problem, because they promised to get back on these questions in the Yammer group they had created for ongoing knowledge sharing, before the webinar series started. Also, in every session, at least one of the participant asked if we would share the recording and the slides materials with them. No surprise there, I always get these questions in every training I give. And yes, they promised to share these materials afterwards.

And that is where it got difficult.

After the sessions, the promised follow-up did not appear, because the one IT-guy was out of office for two weeks, the other IT-guy was too busy, and the project manager had not planned for it. The webinars had been planned up to the point of the actual session, but nothing afterwards.

What you want to plan for, in addition to the webinars themselves:

  • Capture the questions and comments.
    Fortunately we did copy the chat conversation from each session and pasted it into our OneNote notebook. So at least we know what we have to get back on. Not just questions in need of answers, but also interesting ideas mentioned by the participants that we may will want to take up in our programme.
  • Quickly send a thank-you message with links
    Send the links to the recording and the slides immediately after the session. Then the participants can quickly check they are not sure about. And if you don’t send these links soon, people will start harassing you to hurry up…
  • Plan resources to answer the questions soon
    In the hours and days after the sessions, somebody knowledgeble should formulate answers to the questions that have not been answered yet. In our case, these answers were to be posted in the Yammer group, mentioning the person who asked the question to draw their attention to it. One caveat with respect to Yammer: in our case, some participants could not access our Yammer group, because they were stuck in an old Yammer network. They had told us in the chat of the webinar. So these people should also get their answers via another channel, like email.
  • Ask for feedback
    Immediately after each session or at the end of the whole series, ask the participants for their opinions. Not only on how they liked these webinars, but also in what they want or need to learn next: More details on the same subjects? Other perspective on the same tools, like how to use them in different situations? Introductions on other tools in Office 365? There are plenty of ways to ask for feedback, like a poll in the Yammer group, a Form, a survey in a SharePoint site…
  • Keep at it
    When people start using the new tools, they will have more questions and need more information. So after the sessions, keep sharing tips and answering subsequent questions. Actually, start a tip campaign before the series of webinars starts, so that you can give tips beforehand that help them make the most of the webinars. For example, how to check their audio, get a headphone, find the chat-pane.

So: organizing webinars is great, but do not forget to follow up on them

March 31, 2018

The user properties need to be correct in Office 365

Filed under: Adoption,Office365 — frederique @ 22:31

In Office 365, things like the job titles, departments and offices of our users are very visible. And we use those properties heavily in the search options. So we are in trouble if these properties are incorrect.

At the moment, we are rolling out Office 365 in a large company. Users are invited to join SharePoint Online sites and Yammer groups. They get Outlook Online. So they are looking around in Office 365 and noticing the properties that are displayed. A well-meaning IT guys pointed out the people search. But now the users are starting to notice that these properties are sorely out of date… And they are not happy about that…

  • “I’ve uploaded my photo in my profile, but that profile says that I am a secretary and I have changed jobs years ago. So how can I change that?”
  • “I’ve followed the wizard to set up Multi-Factor Authentication, like you told me, and I ended up on a page that displays as my office the location where I worked over 3 years ago. I have tried to get that changed time and time again, but it is still wrong”.
  • “This people search result that you pointing out does not make any sense. When I filter by my department, I get the wrong people.”
  • “That search result gives me several people who have left the company years ago.”

The functionality does not work properly, so we don’t get the benefits. And the users get annoyed, so we are actually worse off…

In her Office 365 profile, Megan can change her add her own mobile number and change her birthday. But she cannot edit her job title or department.

In her Office 365 profile, Megan can change her add her own mobile number and change her birthday. But she cannot edit her job title or department.


  • Try to clean up your Active Directory before you roll out Office 365. And implement a solid procedure to keep it up-to-date when people join, move or leave the company or change anything else.
  • If you cannot trust your Active Directory data, do not synchronise too many data into Office 365. Let the users enter their contact details manually. Not the optimal solution, but better than incorrect personal data.
  • And until you have arranged something appropriate, do not promote the functionality….



January 31, 2018

Office 365 rollout: 5 basics easier said than done

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 23:42

Currently I am involved in the roll-out of Office 365 at a large construction company. Several thousands of users move over to new tools and a lot of content is migrated. Of course we try to disrupt these users as little as possible, because their business is construction and not IT. But it is not that easy. These are 5 basics that should be taken care of, which sound obvious but turn out to be quite challenging real life.

1.Decide early on how you deal with the different brands in the organization

Not all organizations are homogeneous. In this organization, we have different companies, with different brands, within the same Group. And they are all part of the same Office 365 tenant, facilitated by the Group. Say, the Contoso Construction Group has operating companies and business units like ‘Contoso Buildings South’, but also a unit specializing in hospital support called ‘Helping Health’. So now what?

  • Should everyone get an SMTP address (for e-mail), SIP address (for Skype for Business) and UPN (to log on) that is unified on
  • Or is it important in their market that the people working for the separate brands keep their special e-mail addresses and Skype addresses so that their clients recognize them? So do they keep for these people, in addition to the that others have?
  • Or do they have an e-mail address that clients understand, while they log on with the Group UPN This can get confusing for these users, because instructions often say that you have to log on with your email address. Not in this case.

You can keep the separate addresses, but then you need to connect those to your tenant. And for that, you need to decide what you want to do. Preferably with plenty of time before the technical guys need to make it happen and the communication and adoption people need to explain everything.

2a.Make sure you have reliable information on your users

Many things in the Office 365 roll-out are about individual users. Yes, creating a SharePoint portal and templates for collaboration sites is about communities. But licenses, mailboxes and Office 2016 installations for example are about individuals. Which means that you need correct data on those individuals. This sounds obvious, but we have been tearing our hair out over incomplete and incorrect data for a while now…

  • Who is working in the organization? So who needs a license? Whose mailboxes need to be migrated? We have seen a lot of prehistoric mailboxes and accounts that have not been used since 2015. And on the other hand we are not sure we are not missing people.
  • What type of employee are they? Who has a full laptop and who only has a smartphone? Who works in an office and who works at a construction site? As an Information Worker or a construction worker? So what license do they need? What should they install and what kind of support will they need for that? And what would be helpful in their jobs, so what should we promote to them? We have users with special Toughbooks for which the installation process is different and we still don’t know exactly who has such a machine.
  • And who is part of which operating company, business unit, team when you migrate in batches? We try to address colleagues as a group, and to get managers to encourage their own people to take action of they have not done so yet. But there are always people on the wrong list.
  • Where are they based? For example, are they in or near the Amsterdam office or the Rotterdam office? This is particularly relevant if you offer support on location. Too often we have invited people for the wrong sessions.

So if there is a way to clean up your HR-system and Active Directory before you roll out Office 365, do it! Not only for the roll-out, but also to offer the users up-to-date and correct profile information. The people pane and Delve and such are quite prominent in Office 365 and these don’t make any sense if they tie into outdated data…

2b.Set up a watertight process for joiners, movers and leavers

As a corollary to the previous point, getting correct user information should not be a one-time effort, but a process that keeps everything up-to-date. When people join the organization, they need a license. When they move to other units or other roles, their information should be updated. When they leave the organization, their license should be revoked and their content archived or disposed according to the rules and regulations. Even while you arrange to migrate, for example, the users mailboxes, the list changes, so prepare for the moving target.

3.Think about the right order and logical batches first

You cannot do everything in one day, especially if you have a large organization, with a large group of users. And there are dependencies. So what do you have to do first? And what do you have to keep together?

In our organization, it was decided that we were not allowed to store active mail and department information in the cloud (in Exchange Online resp. SharePoint Online sites) without Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). And Multi-Factor Authentication does not work with Outlook 2010.

So first we have to move everyone from Office 2010 to Office 2016. Then we can enable MFA. And then we can migrate to Exchange Online and get started with department sites in SharePoint Online. Not the other way around.

For the installation of Office 2016, we aim to roll out in batches to groups of colleagues who work on the same location. Then we can offer support on that location – users like face-to-face support more than remote support. And the colleagues can encourage each other and get triggered when they have been left out (because the list turned out to be incomplete again).

For the migration of the mailboxes and calendars from Exchange on-premises to Exchange Online, we try keep colleagues who collaborate a lot in the same batch. Especially managers and their management assistants. If one colleague is still on-prem and the other is already in the cloud, they cannot work in the same shared mailbox (they can read but not send on behalf) and they cannot consult and work in each other’s Outlook agenda. So we organize the batches by business unit.

And because we know we cannot trust batches to include all people who collaborate closely, we try to make the Exchange migration as compact as possible, to lose as little time as possible if somebody is migrated with the wrong batch. This implies that we do all the Office 2016 installations first, so that we have a clean run of Exchange migrations afterwards.

4.Don’t forget the details and the exceptions

The basic plan can be quite simple, but the devil is in the details. For example, the users need to install Office 2016 before Multi-Factor Authentication is switched on. Otherwise they can no longer use their Outlook. Ok, but what do we do with:

  • People who are on leave? Let them deal with it when they come back? Tell their boss?
  • People who don’t have the time for these things? Ask their boss to give this higher priority and stimulate them do the installation anyway?
  • Computers that do not have enough disk space for the installation? Give them a new computer or do some magic to make space anyway? How and who?
  • People who are very busy all day long at a construction site that has a very feeble internet connection? Can we ask them to do everything at home in their spare time or not?
  • Legacy applications that don’t work well with Office 2016? Is there a workaround like a remote desktop?
  • Training laptops managed by one person who does not have enough licenses to install Office 2016 on all of them?
  • People who don’t have a laptop or tablet but only a smartphone? An Office 365 license may be useful, but they don’t have to install Office 2016?
  • People who don’t have a company phone for the Multi-Factor Authentication messages? Ask them to use a private phone?
  • Non-personal accounts, like
  • …?

Users often grumble that headquarters (and IT departments in particular) try to steamroller all over them, regardless of the complexities of their everyday work. And they are right. So pay attention to these real-life exceptions.

5.Involve all of the stakeholders

You always have to involve all of the stakeholders, and this is definitely no exception. It takes quite some time, to involve everyone and even to make sure everybody is informed. But it is indispensable.

  • We have the directors and high level managers of the group and the operating companies as decision makers. And where they don’t have to make a decision, they still need to be the first to be informed, before the innocent employees.
  • The IT, communication and information management teams guide and carry out the rollout.
  • We have champions all over the organization who help their colleagues with information, support and encouragement. And don’t forget the secretaries of the different business units, who help us with practical things like locations for the floorwalkers and checks on our user lists. They get updates and knowledge sharing from us before we communicate to the end-users.
  • We communicate with the users who have to take action and/or be aware of something that is changing. They get messages and have the opportunity to respond and ask questions via email, a feedback form, a phone number, whatsapp and sometimes a floorwalker on location.
  • And we have contact with the bosses of the end-users if the end users don’t take action before the deadline: if they don’t listen to us, they may listen to their own boss…

So is this rocket science? No. is is surprising that you have to take care of these basics? No. But is it then easy to do in real life? No! It takes time and effort and smarts. But we will get it done anyway!

December 31, 2017

Article in DIWUG eMagazine – Let us work in Teams

Filed under: Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 17:46

DIWUG eMagazine is a free magazine published by and for the Dutch community of Information Worker solutions specialists. It has an on school printed paper version as well as a downloadable electronic version.

My article in this edition is about Microsoft Teams. This tool allows teams to collaborate in a chat-based app. It is a hub for teamwork in Office, that ties into existing features combined with new functionality. In this article, we look into the why, what, who and where of Teams.

You can find it here: Download DIWUG SharePoint eMagazine #20


November 30, 2017

Where do I find my Teams?

Filed under: Digital Workplace,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 22:44

Ok, so Microsoft Teams is a helpful tool in the Office 365 toolkit for collaboration. But where can I find those Teams? Actually, in many places: in the Office 365 portal in the browser, in a desktop app and in a mobile app. You can structure your set of Teams to make your favorites more prominent, and ask for email notifications with shortcuts to recent activity.

In previous posts I discussed the questions what’s with Microsoft Teams and who is in my Team? Now let us dive into the question where you should look if you want to work in a Team.

On different devices, in the browser and apps

The best way to experience Microsoft Teams is in the desktop app.

The Microsoft Teams desktop app

The Microsoft Teams desktop app

But here is also a Teams app for iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone, so that you can find your Teams on the go.

A Microsoft Teams channel conversation in the Windows Phone App

A Microsoft Teams channel conversation in the Windows Phone App

In Office 365 in the web browser, there is an online version that offer almost all of the functionality included in the desktop app, except for calls with voice and video. Teams has its own tile in the App Launcher.

Teams has a tile in the App Launcher of Office 365.

Teams has a tile in the App Launcher of Office 365.

Structure your collection in the desktop app

Because you may soon be a member of many Teams, it is important to structure your Teams collection.

  • Collapse the Team headings when you don’t need to see the underlying channels, to get a better overview.
  • Select your favorite Teams and demote the rest: click on the ellipsis at the root of the Team and toggle to Favorite or Remove favorite.
  • Within the Favorites list, you can determine the sort order by dragging and dropping Teams up or down. Simple, but I like this a lot! In the overview of my Team Sites in SharePoint Online for example, I don’t have that level of control.
  • The Teams and channels marked in bold have something new.
  • Still can’t find a Team? Then use the search box.
You favorite Teams are displayed at the top of the list. Add a Team to your favorites via the ellipsis.

You favorite Teams are displayed at the top of the list. Add a Team to your favorites via the ellipsis.

The one thing to keep in mind when you organize your favorites, is that Teams in other tenants, where you are a guest (external member) are NOT listed in the same menu. You need to switch to see them.

Switch tenants

Megan works for Contoso and has some Teams there. She can switch to the Teams at Macaw where she is a Guest.

Email notifications to guide you in

It is helpful to receive an email notification when something happens in a Team, especially for people who do not live in Microsoft Teams all day.

You determine which notifications you want to receive and how often, via your Profile in the left bottom corner.

In the notification settings, you can ask for an e-mail, for example, when you are mentioned in a chat (Via Profile > Notifications)

In the notification settings, you can ask for an e-mail, for example, when you are mentioned in a chat (Via Profile > Notifications)

So yes, I find it quite easy to find my Teams.

October 28, 2017

Who is in my Microsoft Team?

Filed under: Digital Workplace,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 17:19

In the beginning, Microsoft Teams had a limited scope: a team was always private and limited to colleagues within the same organization. Now, your team can also include people outside your organization. And all team mates, including the external guests, can easily see who else is on the team.

I’ve discussed in a previous blog post on what’s with Teams: what does this chat-based collaboration app in Office 365 offer us and why we use it. It is a hub for teamwork. Now let us look closer who can be part of such a Team.

Inviting team mates

Colleagues as team members

A Team Owner can add new members from inside the organization via the famous ellipsis (dot dot dot…), selecting Add Members. You can only do this at the level of the Team, not at the level of a Channel: the permissions apply to the Team as a whole.

The Team Owner can add Members to the Team via the ellipsis.

The Team Owner can add Members to the Team via the ellipsis.

Once you have added a colleague as a Member, you can upgrade them to become a co-Owner.

Switch role to Owner

The Team Owner can upgrade Members to the Owner role.


Externals als team guests

The Team Owner can also invite guests from outside the organization. At the moment, you can only invite people who have a Azure Active Directory account, such as everyone who uses Office 365. Later on, you should be able to invite anyone with a Microsoft account, like in SharePoint Team Sites.

The Team Owners can invite guests via their email addresses

The Team Owners can invite guests via their email addresses

Note that when you participate in Teams in more than one organization and more than one tenant, you have to switch between them in the app.

Switch tenants

Megan works for Contoso and has some Teams there. She can switch to the Teams at Macaw where she is a Guest.

Joining a public Team?

When you create a Tean, you can select the option to make it a public team, that anyone in your organization can join.

Option for Public Team

The can select to create a Public team

However, in none of my tenants I have seen the opportunity to join such a Public Team. I suppose it will become available later…

Checking who is in my Microsoft Team

All Team participants, even the external Guests, can check who is part of that Team via the ellipsis (the dot dot dot…), selecting Manage Team. Yes, it is strange that this option is labeled Manage Team rather than View Team, because viewing is the only thing non-owners can do. Or you navigate to the root of the Team, where you will find the Members page. The Members page displays all participants: Members as well as Owners and Guests.

View Team

All team mates can view who is in the Team, via the option Manage Team. Even guests.

Want to know more about a team member? You can check their place in the organization. This only works for colleagues; external guest cannot see your org chart.

You can get there by hovering over the photo – or photo placeholder – of the colleague you are interested in. In the people pop-up that appears, select the View organization icon.

People pop-up View organization option

Hover over the photo or placeholder to get the people pop-up with the option to view their place in the organization.

When you are chatting with a colleague, you can also reach the org chart via the tab Organization.

People org chart

In the context of a chat with a team mate, view his or her place in the org chart.

So all in all, I am quite pleased with the options we have to collaborate with different team mates in our Teams and to see who is in the Team. Even if not every option is available yet, it works nicely. In particular, external guests have a better collaboration experience in Microsoft Teams than in Office Groups.

September 30, 2017

What’s with Microsoft Teams?

Filed under: Digital Workplace,Office365 — Tags: — frederique @ 19:55

Microsoft Teams is a hub for teamwork, allowing teams to collaborate in a chat-based app. It is part of Office 365 and ties into the existing features, supplemented with new functionality.

You can use a Microsoft Team as the one place where you collaborate with a particular team, with everything you need at your fingertips, anytime, anywhere. You take part in one or more Teams, in the web browser or the client version. Like with Office Groups, collaboration in Teams can be quite informal: anyone who can create a Group can also create a Team.

Why Teams?

Office 365 offers different collaboration tools, because not everybody works the same way. Microsoft Teams is ideal for people who prefer to collaborate in a chat-based environment.

The key novelty of Microsoft Teams is its persistent chat functionality. We already had persistent email conversations in Groups and conversations in Yammer. But the chat functionality we have in Skype for Business right now is more volatile. Yes, you see the conversation history, but only for the conversations you were personally involved in. And when you invite other people into your conversation, they do not see what was discussed before they joined the conversation.

In Microsoft Teams, you can see all chat conversations conducted in your Team, including what has been said in the past and what is said by team mates who have not invited you explicitly to join that conversation. And it is not just about talking: in Microsoft Teams you have serious collaboration functionality, for sharing documents for example.

What makes Teams powerful to me, is that it combines chat conversations with tools to collaborate on documents and share information, in an interface that connects it all up.

What do I get in a Team?

The functionality you get with Microsoft Teams is helps you to collaborate closely with your team mates: colleagues, but also guests from other organizations, who usually work in other Office 365 tenants.

Advanced team chat

The chat functionality at the heart of Teams is more advanced than the chat in Skype for Business.

  • As I just mentioned, it is persistent: it stays there when you close your Teams app, for everyone who is or who will be part of the Team. So it is very fortunate that you can edit your message…
  • The participants can start multiple conversation threads, which are kept together. In addition to messages sent by the participants, other activities are displayed among the conversation threads, such as new members added to the Team.
  • You can make a message pop out to somebody, by mentioning him or her. And make your posts and replies stand out visually, by including not only smileys but also animated gifs and stickers.
Teams chat

In the chat, you make your message stand out by mentioning people and by including visuals.

  • The main idea is to have a conversation with the entire team. But you can also have a private chat one specific person or a limited group of people: an ad hoc team. The difference with a Skype for Business chat is that this private chat in Teams remains available, just like the conversations with the entire team.
Teams private chat

Start a private chat with one or more people via the pencil icon next to the Search box.

Channels with tabs

Within the Team, the conversations are structured in channels. For example, in a Team about Office 365, the conversation about the different ingredients of the toolkit could take place in different channels. The same group of people can then follow all of these conversations, but it is easier to find something about a specific topic by using these channels.

For each channel, you not only have conversations, but also other information tabs. By default, you have a Files tab and a Wiki tab. You can add other tabs to your Team, like a specific PowerPoint presentation stored in the Files section. Or external sources, like YouTube or SurveyMoney.

Add a Tab to a Channel

Add a tab to a Teams channel, like a PowerPoint presentation or a YouTube video.

YouTube Tab in Team channel

Tab in a Teams channel displaying a YouTube video

Integration with other Office 365 tools

When you create a new Team, you also get a new Office 365 Group, its SharePoint site, plan in Planner and everything.  For example, the files displayed in the Team live in the SharePoint site, as does the OneNote notebook that you can add as a tab.

OneNote tab in Team

You can add a OneNote Notebook to a tab. This Notebook is stored in the SharePoint site associated to this Team, via its Group.

If you already have an older Office 365 Group and you want to add the new Teams functionality to it, you can do that, provided you are  the Owner of that Group. The dialog for creating a new Team has a section titled ‘Add Microsoft Teams to an existing Office 365 group?’; then select the existing Group that you want to connect to.

Add Team ot an eisting Group

Adding Teams functionality to an existing Office 365 Group

In your Team, for example, you can collaborate on a presentation in an integrated fashion. When you upload a draft into the Files section, you can start a conversation about it. You see the chat conversation right next to the presentation when you view it or edit it within the Team. By the way, I have not seen this nice integration when I add the file directly in a conversation. Not yet anyway.

Collaborate on presentation

Have a conversation about a presentation while you edit it inside the Team


For Team Meetings, we have integration with Outlook. When I schedule a meeting from Microsoft Teams, all team members also get an invitation in their Outlook agenda and they can open the meeting from that invitation. The meeting then takes place in Microsoft Teams, just like Skype meetings take place in Skype for Business.

Teams Meeting

The invitation to a Microsoft Teams meeting appears in Outlook and you can enter the meeting from that Outlook invitation

You can also start from Outlook 2016 using the ‘New Team Meeting’, to invite the team to a meeting. At the moment, that does not seem to work  as smoothly as starting from Teams. In Outlook, you have a button to schedule a New Teams Meeting (next to the button to schedule a New Skype Meeting), but then you cannot select the Team you want to invite. You can use the channel’s mail address to get the meeting into the channel, but the team members do not receive a personal invitation. Not yet anyway.

Teams Meeting invite from Outlook-ann

Scheduling a new Teams meeting from Outlook, by sending the invitation to the Team channel’s mail address.

How serious should we take Teams?

Very. At Ignite 2017, Microsoft Teams featured prominently. It was stated that Microsoft Teams is central, as communication is at the heart of team work, and Teams will evolve to be the core communication client. The Teams app will be the hero experience for voice and meetings and it will replace the Skype for Business client. And it is positioned as the tool par excellence for high-velocity projects. To hear it from their own lips, see the on-demand sessions.

There are dozens of Ignite sessions about Teams in particular and Teams as part of the Microsoft 365 landscape. These are Day 1 overviews where Teams are included as part of the toolkit:

August 31, 2017

DIWUG eMagazine article: How do we get users to adopt Office 365?

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: , — frederique @ 22:48

When the IT department rolls out Office 365, we cannot assume that all users in the organization automatically adopt it and keep adopting the new options that appear regularly. An ongoing user adoption program solves this problem. In an article in the DIWUG eMagazine, I dive into the question what the fuss is about and how to plan for ongoing adoption.

DIWUG is the Dutch Information Worker User Group. They organise community events in The Netherlands and publish a magazine that exists in a print version as well as a downloadable version; the magazine is in English. To read the article How do we get users to adopt Office 365? , you can Download DIWUG SharePoint eMagazine #19

In the article, I discuss

  • Phase 1: Envision what you need from the start, zooming in on champions
  • Phase 2: Get the users onboard, zooming in on help & training
  • Phase 3: Keeping driving value, zooming in on measurement


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