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

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…

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…

 

 

Microsoft-InnerOuterLoop

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

DIWUGPaperVersion

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:

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