For many years I repeated that if your company is thinking about Office365 subscription then you should choose Microsoft Teams instead of Slack.
No matter if you’re Windows fan , Mac fan or Linux fan (yes, yes, yes: https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/16911565-linux-client).
Especially if you already have Office365 subscription it’s the only reasonable choice. Reasonable from the perspective of:
financial costs. Teams are part of Office365. And Office365 is so many tools that constantly evolve, new features are deployed and they’re being integrated which covers more and more scenarios (old but cool features, fresh and tasty integration). Oh and the PowerPlatform…the only word that comes to my mind when I think about PowerPlatform is: OMG-IT’S-A-GAMECHANGER-AND-I-LOVE-IT. Low Code is becoming strong branch in IT.
environment integration. I’ll just repeat what I wrote above: integration between different tools are covering more and more scenarios (old but cool features, fresh and tasty integration). This helps yourself to switch from tools context to task context = you can focus on your task: conversation, attaching a file or assigning task right from the same application. Even if in fact there are many apps used in the back-end.
extension capabilities. API, bots, Power Apps, connectors, tabs to name a few.
Anyway I remember hundreds of discussions when I was trying to convince people to above perspective but they didn’t listen to me. They loved Slack, loved Linux, hate Microsoft…and payed for Office365 licenses for the whole company (sic!). And when I explained to them the Microsoft strategy they called me a blind MS fanboy. Meh…
My message is this: sometimes people are deaf for arguments you tell them. In such situation you have 2 options:
Fight as long as needed to crush the resistance. A drop drills a rock.
Do this ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and walk away to bring good somewhere else. Somewhere where people are more open for a discussion and listen your arguments. Look for a place when you can work less and do more good at the same time.
The latter is my secret strategy. To leave instead of to fight despite the costs. I see such approach not as a surrender but as a wise move. Because life is too short and your time too precious to not respect it. Thanks to that each year brings me to better place, better clients, better projects and deliveries. Persistently trying to change others against their will is not a grit (great book btw). It’s waste of time and energy.
P.S. I know I was not writing for a long time. You can’t imagined how much I was missing this. But there was always something more important, more urgent…baby, my company, community…Ah, forget it. Just cross your fingers for a come back 🙂
Implementation of the Office365 environment in an organization is a complex process. It is not enough to create a company account in Office365, buy subscriptions, add users and connect the organization’s domain. You also have to take care of the transfer of company resources, as well as transfer the solutions used in the organization (or take care of their integration) – that is, make the so-called migration. However, it does not guarantee the success of Office365 implementation. In order for the entire operation to be successful, it should bepersuaded to change people in the organization. In this article, I will present 5 steps that will increase your chance for effective adoption.
Disclaimer: The steps have been written as a retrospection of the cooperation with one of my clients. Each company is different and requires an individual approach. I encourage you to make an conscious decision which of following steps will be useful to you.
Step 1: Discover the product you bought
Office365 is much more than Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Even if we add OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Flow and PowerApps to this list, there are still many left! And using only platforms mentioned above, you can achieve a lot (examples can be found here). So what is the total number of platforms/applications in Office365? A very successful combination was made by the jump365.com team:
It is worth remembering that each of the products has a huge range of its own functionalities and various configurations that allow you to cover countless scenarios.
Finally, the maximum use of the built-in capabilities of Office365 seems to not have a limit – Microsoft constantly improves its products and adds new opportunities, so the answer to the question “to build yourself or to wait a while” is not obvious at all . I.e. recently appeared the possibility of integrating the Common Data Service with Outlook, which is another argument to use the CDS database as a data container instead of SQL or SharePoint.
Tip # 1: Make sure you have used the maximum of Office365 built-in features before you approach the development of custom solutions
Step 2: Keep it Simple and Straightforward
We, consultants, know that everything can be achieved in various ways. For example, sharing the file can be done from the level of SharePoint, OneDrive application, synchronized folder on the computer, Teams etc. For many people a lot of options are freedom of choice and high integration. But for many, it’s chaos (“so you mean…again…how many ways can I do it?”), lack of coherence (“why sometimes you share file using browser and sometimes directly from a folder on your computer?”) And this makes them want to return to “the safe places “: the old habits and methods they used to use so far – those that were simple, transparent and consistent.
Choose the best and the only right way to proceed. At least at the beginning of implementation. For example, to share a file with people outside the organization, you must first synchronize the OneDrive folder on your computer. Period.
Create instructions for the most key scenarios. For us, these were:
Document scanning (using the mobile application)
Synchronize all team files on your computer
Providing a file to a person outside the organization
Submitting the attachments from the email to the channel in the team
Planning a meeting with the Teams conference
The statement can not be based on an action that has not been described. For example, if you need to synchronize a folder on your computer at some point, remember to create an instruction to set up such a synchronization
Tip # 2: Choose the best and only right course of action. Clearly communicate it in the organization.
Step 3: Segmentation of users
The language of the needs is important (see the next paragraph), but if the organization is of medium size (more than 50 people) or more, it is impossible to talk to each employee. So one should approach the topic methodically.
group employees according to the areas they deal with, for example: finance, processes, IT
identify “key people”, ie people who have a high impact on others and / or decision-making and have resistance to implementing new solutions
identify “influencers” or people who will be promoters of change. They will help others adapt the change not only out of a sense of duty, but they will also realistically see the benefits of the upcoming changes. Important: try as hard as possible to not force people to take this role! They should be natural, not controlled and managed.
Step 4: Learn the language of needs
Users themselves will not start using ready-made tools. Even if the company thinks otherwise, for some employees, “excel on the local computer is enough”. The reason is simple – tools are just tools. They are there to meet needs. So in order to implement tools effectively:
Understand the needs of users: get to know the context of their work. See what difficulties are currently. Understand why new solutions would not help them (if they say so)
Express your needs: explain to users the needs for which change is being implemented (see scenario 1)
Speak the language of the users’ needs: show them what benefits they will get thanks to the change. How this change will affect their work (see scenario 1)
think out-of-the-box: declaring the user that something can not be done is not testimony. Because what the user actually says is “it can not be done differently for the adopted assumptions, limitations and understanding of the whole process”. He built a wall around his process. Your task is to move every brick of this wall and remove one after another until the wall collapses. It is important that it involves the process itself (that is, the business would continue its goal). (see scenario 2)
Scenario 1 (real life example)
[User] “Using OneDrive is pointless, I already have all the files on my disk and when I need it, I send them to other people by email. Why should we move all the files to another place?”
[Consultant] “We want to limit the e-mails we send in the organization, and we also want to archive all documents and maintain version history.”
[User] “Nothing is lost in emails, but I understand. I will send messages less frequently”
[Consultant] “Hm, and remember how much time it takes you to find the last version of the document in email messages. And imagine that you work on the document for 3 days and it was supposed to be sent in an email, but suddenly the computer broke down and you are not able to recover your 3-day job … “
[User] “Eh … I understand … maybe it’s actually better. But I have all the shortcuts on the desktop, how do we transfer the files, where are they going to be?” [here was the real reason for the resistance]
[Consultant] “Do not worry, we’ll do all the files will be available from your computer and all desktop shortcuts will work. Only the place where these files will be stored will change.”
Scenario 2 (real life example)
[Accountant] “We can not digitize the invoice circulation, because every invoice requires a president’s stamp, unless it is possible to attach a picture of such a stamp … but this is only an additional step in the whole process.
[Consultant] “Why is this stuff?”
[Accountant] “For the accounting department to know that the president read and accepted the invoice”
[Consultant] “And the invoice with the stamp stays later inside the company only?”
[Consultant] “And if the president came and said:” I read and accept it”, that would be enough?
[Consultant] “So you use stamps, because it’s faster than personal confirmation and also faster than writing an email. If it was just as simple as: The president gets a notification on the phone and only clicks “accepts” or “reject” and all further communication takes place automatically?
[Accountant] “Hm …. well … all in all it could be so …”
Tip # 3: Challenge “because we work like this”. Inquire. Be inquisitive. 5x Why.
Tip # 4: To learn about the needs of users, conduct a training / workshop with them. At the beginning for the groups of users and later on carry out ad hoc consultations 1 : 1.
Step 5: Make small step at a time
When you enter a lot of new tools, some users may be scared of the number of changes. They will feel lost and will return to the old known processes in which they felt comfortable. Therefore, add new tools and improvements slowly, one by one. If possible, do not multiply new applications. Integrate everything in one place. A good idea is, for example, to start with communication through Teams and define teams there. Then incrementally build a daily work process around Teams. Then talk to the identified employees / employee segments and slowly move the subsequent processes.
Tip # 5: Keep yourself updated – Office365 is constantly evolving.
In this article I’ll put short glimpse of what has been announced on SharePoint Virtual Summit 2019. Be aware that some of following features may be still in preview but are going to appear later this year. I skipped features that has been announced on Microsoft Build 2019
Microsoft Teams will gets enriched metadata experience
This feature was requested for a long time. And now here it is: you can select multiple items/document and take an action for all of them: update properties, download, delete, approve, move etc.
New Flow actions
There are scenarios in which you need to check-in/check-out documents, get version information, grant access or create folders as a part of larger business process in Flow. Until now you could do that only by calling SharePoint HTTP REST API. But from now on you can do all of above simply by using Flow actions!
This is a bomb! You will be able to request files from other users directly from the place where you store your files! The recipients will get email with link. Once they click on it they will see consistent UI with built-in files upload.
It’s a communication site with some extra superpowers. It searches for data tenant wide, mark site news as organizational news, enables special SP mobile app. For me it completes perfectly org-wide Teams team. Just add tenant Home site as a tab in an Ord-wide Teams team
New page designs
New webparts – i.e. Yammer!
Sync Microsoft Teams files to you PC or Mac
Teams apps in SharePoint sites
Enhanced SharePoint list experience embedded in Teams
Enhanced co-authoring acroos mobile, web and desktop versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel (only for Office 365 and files in the cloud)
The same search experience will be shared across any Microsoft platform. Top, middle, search. Oh and there will be available to add custom verticals, custom refiners and custom display templates! What is more you will be able to search for conversations from Yammer and Microsoft Teams in any search endpoint!
Search in Office
Discover your network of apps, files, folders, people, organization charts, SharePoint sites, site pages, lists and list items
Search in SharePoint
Catch up on news and announcements. Find the sites that are relevant to you without scrolling through endless bookmarks. Pick up on that shared document you were working on
Search in OneDrive
Discover relevant information to help you get work done where you’re working through intelligent results and sophisticated refinement
Search in Windows
Search right from your Windows desktop. This way you can search not only inside your local files but also in Office365, person in organization with smart suggestions based on the people you work with the most
Administer your Microsoft Search
Control organization search using provided powerful admin center and manage all of Microsoft Search endpoints!
Office Lens (which I’m addicted to btw) functionalities like scanning will be part of OneDrive app!
B-E-A-UTIFUL! Shows not only designs but also Information Architectures
As you can see SharePoint is not stopping in getting new capabilities. But what may not see and I have to tell you – many of above changes came from UserVoice. UserVoice is a forum where everyone can submit a bug, an idea or new feature request and Microsoft will implement it if only the post gets enough amount of community support (represented by likes). Changes presented on SharePoint Virtual Summit 2019 are the best prove that Microsoft is listening to its users!
This is going to be a big thing for PowerApps. From now on PowerApps apps can have embedded custom controls that have been built using code. Currently only model-driven apps are supported but canvas apps are on the roadmap!
Ok, this is nothing new int terms of platform capabilities but it’s great to know Microsoft is continuously investing in CDS Solutions user experience.
When it comes to the CDS Solutions it’s worth to mention that a great tooling comes along with it – a PowerApps checker which that analyse a CDS Solution and identifies potential performence and stability risks across all the assets in the solution.
Import Azure Function / Logic Apps as Custom Connector
Until now this was possible but requires some work on Azure platform and then on Flow studio. Because of such context inconsistency in the result for some of the users and devs the whole process of publishing azure function as a custom connector and using it in a Flow or PowerApps wasn’t clear enough. And this has been improved!
Improved Application Lifecycle Management for flows using CDS
Flows that are part of the CDS Solutions can now be automatically activated on solution import to a new environment!
One of my favorite things in Microsoft Teams is how it’s greatly integrated with other SaaS. I was already very satisfied but Microsoft Teams does not stop in surprising me – this time with context actions so from withing a conversation you can click on a message and create a task based on it!
Whenever someone paste a link to a chat message it will be previewed as an image. Simple and useful. Keep in mind that you can also integrate it with your app.
Low code teams app templates
If you read my blog you should already know I’m a big fun of Low Code solutions. I think they will fill a great gap between end-users and IT world with developers on the lead. My favorites LCDP from Microsoft are of course PowerApps and Flow but Microsoft Teams is few steps behind them
A new feature that is going to revolutionize the way how people collaboratively work on the same document with each other. Long story short: Digital workplace besides being an advocate of working wherever you are it also states a very important rule – consistent context of all tools you use in your office. In Microsoft such tool that allows you to integrate with anything but keeping the same context is Microsoft Teams. Fluid Framework bring this idea to a higher level so i.e. you could work on the same document directly from a chat seeing only a part of the document that is the most related to your conversation.
Bing + AI + Microsoft Graph = Microsoft Search. The new search from Microsoft not only takes the best from the above but also is everywhere! It’s integrated with Office, Outlook, SharePoint, OneDrive, Bing, Windows etc. One Search to Find Them All. It will serve you best then ever.
Breaking news: I will be a speaker on the first O365 User Group PL Warszawa meeting. Woohoo!
I will tell about how to build smart app that enthused MVPs and Microsoft employees around the world (also known as “the story of 1 tweet” 😉). But I’m just a shadow of the others: hosts Michał Słowikowski and Kamil Bączyk and another speaker: Microsoft Teams Product Group representative: Jace Moreno !