We’re BACK! M365 Twin Cities returns with an in-person event

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities is returning with a new name and a new in-person event! Join us for M365 Twin Cities on January 21, 2023, at Hennepin Technical College in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

It’s been a long 3 years, and we’re overjoyed to be hosting another free in-person event focused on Microsoft technologies. It’s not too late to get involved:

Check out these pictures from our previous events. We can’t wait to make new memories with you this January!

A busy November

I have a busy November coming up, with one in-person event and one virtual event. Read on for information on how to attend my upcoming sessions.

Heading to Canada!

I’ll be attending Microsoft 365 Ottawa in person on November 4, 2022. #M365Ottawa is a free in-person event with session tracks for Viva, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Security & Compliance, Power Platform, and Dynamics 365. The team that puts on this event always does a great job, and I’m thrilled to be traveling back to Ottawa for their first in-person since COVID began.

I’ll be presenting my session: Power employee engagement with Viva Connections, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint & Viva Engage at 1pm. For more details, check out the event schedule.

Not registered yet? Sign up now and meet me in Ottawa!

Minnesota M365 Virtual Admin Workshop Day

On November 18, 2022, the Minnesota M365 User Group will be hosting their Fall 2022 Virtual Workshop Day. I’ll be joining live from Minnesota, presenting the following sessions:

  • Building your organizational home site & hubs strategy
  • Power employee engagement with Viva Connections, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint & Viva Engage

The event is always well-run and has tracks for Governance/Security, Administration, Adoption, Automation, and Collaboration. Check out the full event schedule, the lineup of speakers, and register for this free virtual event.

The Best of Summer: A podcast catch-up

It was a beautiful Summer in Minnesota, with warm weather and time spent outside with family and friends. We’re back to school and back to work, so here’s my catch-up blog post on the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast episodes you may have missed over the Summer.

How do you use OneDrive?

A great discussion with Mike Maadarani, Antonio Maio, and I about how we organize our work and personal files with OneDrive and the OneDrive Sync Client. You’ll get tips on how we organize our files by projects or by years, how we archive and search for content, and how we manage files between multiple devices.

How do you use Microsoft Forms?

We use Microsoft Forms to obtain survey and event feedback, manage podcast questions, and handle event sign-ups/registrations. We also discuss how Forms can be used to gather data from clients and employees you work with on a regular basis.

Planning large-scale Microsoft 365 migrations

We touch on many types of migrations, from migrating on-prem to online or tenant to tenant. Mike outlines scaling of migration projects (by number of files, number of users, volume of term store items, and number of third-party tools). He discusses how long the planning and analysis phases of migration projects typically last, as well as the key activities that need to be covered during this stage. Listen in for great tips on how to scope and plan your migration timeline and strategy.

What is Microsoft Defender?

Antonio Maio does a great job outlining the key components of Microsoft Defender, including Defender for Office 365, Defender for Endpoint, Defender for Identity, Defender for Cloud Apps, Defender for Cloud, and Defender for IoT. Listen in for a 20-minute overview of all the products that live in the Microsoft Defender suite.

Why would an organization need more than one SharePoint Syntex Content Center?

Microsoft has made significant changes in the licensing models for SharePoint Syntex over the past 6 months. Users can now access and build document understanding models in SharePoint Syntex without needing a Syntex license. (The Syntex license is required to publish models or to upload files to a document library that has a model associated.) As we discuss, this licensing change could drive the creation of unique content center sites for different business lines. You may want to create a content center site for IT, another for HR, etc. so document understanding models can be organized by division.

If you’re interested in SharePoint Syntex or are trying to determine how to manage/govern your use of SharePoint Syntex, don’t miss this episode!

What is Microsoft Loop?

Need an introduction to Microsoft Loop and ideas for how it can be used? We discuss the use case for Microsoft Loop, provide an impromptu product demo, discuss opportunities and challenges for driving Loop adoption, and discuss Loop security & compliance implications.

How do I choose between a Microsoft Form, a Microsoft List, or a Power App?

This classic ‘what to use when’ episode highlights the similarities and differences between Microsoft’s form-based apps. We provide an overview of each app, highlight when we choose to use each, and how we approach end-user questions on which tool to use when.

Are citizen developers good for the health of your Microsoft 365 tenant?

I love this episode, but there are no easy answers to this question. We discuss the importance of letting your organizational risk tolerance and need for innovation drive your governance policies for citizen development. A helpful start is determining how your organization feels about self-service creation of Microsoft 365 groups. Do you allow all users in your organization to create Microsoft Teams, SharePoint sites, Yammer communities, and Planners on demand? The answer to this key self-service question can be a bellwether indicator of your risk tolerance and desire for self-service innovation.

How do you use Microsoft 365?

A couple of weeks ago, Antonio Maio, Mike Maadarani, and I recorded two live episodes of the M365 Voice while in Las Vegas for the Microsoft 365 Collaboration Conference. We brought in a series of friends and fellow speakers to guest-star, focusing each of the episodes on a single question.

Question 1: What is your opinion of Inbox Zero? Is it achievable or just a load of bunk?

Question 2: Which M365 app do you start your workday in?

Here’s how it worked
Antonio, Mike, and I tackled each question first. Then we brought in fellow speakers one at a time, asking them the question and getting their thoughts.

There are always “teams”

If you’ve watched some of our previous episodes, you know we love to team up and compete to see which podcaster wins. As you listen in on these episodes, let us know if you’re aligned with #TeamMike, #TeamSarah, or #TeamAntonio.

A big THANK YOU to our special guests

These episodes wouldn’t have been possible without David Drever, Heidi Jordan, Drew Madelung, Daniel Glenn, and Pete Simpkins. Thank you for taking the journey with us!

What it means to be a Microsoft MVP

This week Microsoft hosted the 2022 Microsoft MVP Summit. In honor of the event, our Microsoft 365 Voice team discussed our journey to become MVPs.

Unique MVP stories

Antonio Maio, Mike Maadarani, and I had different experiences on our paths to being recognized as MVPs. We share our journeys on this episode, including details on how we got started giving back to the Microsoft 365 community and why we wanted to be MVPs.

It’s all about service – and there are so many paths to take

Being an MVP is all about giving back. Whether your passion and talents lie in public speaking, coordinating events, or answering technical questions, there’s a way for you to engage and share what you know. We highlight many different ways we’ve seen MVPs share their time and talents with others:

  • Speaking at user groups/conferences
  • Blogging
  • Podcasting
  • Hosting virtual or in-person coffee chats
  • Hosting ‘clubhouse’ sessions to answer technical M365 questions
  • Answering questions on the Microsoft tech forums
  • Organizing virtual or local user groups
  • Organizing SharePoint Saturdays or other community-run events
  • Engaging with Microsoft product teams to provide feedback on strategy and features

Finding your path

If you’re interested in becoming a Microsoft MVP, listen in for our ideas on building relationships and tracking your community activities.

Real-world Planner use cases

Several months ago, Antonio Maio, Mike Maadarani and I took a look at Planner in Episode 59 of the Microsoft 365 Voice. Now we’re back in Episode 71 with a more detailed look at how we use Planner for small agile workstreams and projects.

Why we (still) love Planner

Planner works best as a lightweight planning and project management tool. You can use Planner individually to manage personal tasks related to a given project, but it’s ideal for groups of 4-8 people working together on a small project or as part of a working group. We love the Kanban-style view of tasks in Planner. Organizing tasks in buckets works well, particularly if you have 10 or fewer buckets and 100 or fewer open tasks.

You can leverage Planner in your web browser or via Microsoft Teams for easy viewing and task management.

Running daily or weekly project stand-up meetings with Planner

During this episode I highlight how I leverage Planner to facilitate daily or weekly project stand-ups. I share how I limit the number of Planner buckets per project, how I build my task list, and how I leverage the Schedule view in Planner to define task start and due dates. Watch Episode 71 to see the live demo!

Have a Microsoft 365 question? Submit it online! Your question may be featured in a future podcast episode.

Join my virtual session – “Building your organizational home site & hubs strategy”

On March 17, 2022 I’ll be presenting a free virtual session for the Tampa Bay Microsoft 365 User Group. I’ll be talking about how the landscape of SharePoint information architecture has changed over the past 5 years, from deep nested site collections to flat modern sites. I’ll also share ideas on how you can use mind-maps to design your information architecture.

We’ll take a detailed look at what home sites and hubs are (from concept to design & organizational planning). You’ll learn how your home site and hubs can work together, how to build and manage home site associations, and how to get started with deploying Viva Connections in your organization.

We’ll close out the session with a hub site governance discussion (how to set up a request/approval process, how to manage your volume of hubs, key governance questions to ask, etc.). If you’re looking for a detailed introduction to SharePoint home sites and hubs, you won’t want to miss it!

Register now

Managing certifications of your Microsoft 365 groups

Governing and securing your Microsoft 365 content can be difficult, particularly when it comes to maintaining and tracking ownership and permissions for your M365 groups, sites, teams, and communities. In Episode 68 of the Microsoft 365 Voice, Mike, Antonio, and I discuss methodologies we’ve seen for certifying M365 groups.

What are certifications?
Certifications are formal attestations (or evidence) that Microsoft 365 groups, SharePoint Online sites, Microsoft Teams, and Yammer communities have been reviewed. Organizations may require certifications for various reasons, including regulatory requirements, audit needs, security protocols, etc.

What do certifications cover?

Certification requirements vary based on an organization’s industry, security needs, and regulatory requirements. As we discuss in this episode, organizations may require M365 re-certifications at specific intervals (annually, semi-annually, etc.). The contents of certifications differ, but often include a review of M365 group permissions, a validation of who owns/manages the groups, etc.

What should organizations consider when implementing a certification process?

You should start with a review of your organization’s security requirements. Certifications can be expensive and time-consuming to conduct, so it’s important to understand why you need to complete certifications and what the outputs of the process should be. Key questions to consider:

  • What evidence should be gathered and stored as part of your certifications?
  • How often do you need to certify your groups?
  • What defines success? Do you need to have 100% of your groups certified during each cycle or will a lesser percentage (e.g. 95% of groups certified) meet the objective?
  • Who will oversee the certification process?
  • How will you facilitate and support the certification reviews?
  • What tool(s) will you use to gather evidence? Will you survey M365 group owners or have them fill out a PowerApps form to “sign off” on their certification?
  • How will you maintain certification records?
  • Will you retain a master list of M365 group owners?
  • Who is responsible for completing M365 group certifications? Will you require a high-level business officer to complete each review or will the person who grants access to your M365 groups be required to complete the certification?

We hope you find this episode helpful as you consider your M365 certification needs.

Have a Microsoft 365 question? Submit it online! Your question may be featured in a future podcast episode.

Where to share important corporate documents

In Episode 67 of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we discuss whether OneDrive, Teams, or SharePoint should be used to share key work documents.

This episode was inspired from a listener’s question: We’re just beginning to use Office 365 and have our important documents in OneDrive. We want to share these files with others. Should we jump to Teams or should we use SharePoint?

We approached this question from a variety of angles:

  • How do you manage corporate records? Do you require official records to be stored in SharePoint or Microsoft Teams? And what types of content do you recommend storing (or not storing) in OneDrive?
  • What granularity level do you want to use for sharing? If you share files from OneDrive, you’ll be sharing at the file or folder level. If you share documents via SharePoint or Microsoft Teams, you’ll have a broader set of sharing protocols in place (e.g. for a department or team).
  • How do you manage retention? You can apply multiple retention policies across SharePoint sites. This may present significant benefits in storing files in SharePoint versus OneDrive.
  • What’s the quickest way to share a file with one (or a few) people? We all appreciate how quick and easy it is to attach (aka share) a OneDrive file to a Teams chat.
  • What happens to OneDrive files when you leave an organization? OneDrive files are tied to a specific user. If that user leaves the organization, additional work will be required to maintain those files. And if the user had their OneDrive files shared broadly with other co-workers, that sharing will need to be set up again once the files are moved from the departed employee’s OneDrive.
  • Ensure you don’t lose document versions. If you change the locations where your documents are stored, you need to ensure you’re not losing access to previous document versions. If your employees download OneDrive files to their PC and re-upload the files to Teams or SharePoint, they will lose access to prior file versions.

Have a Microsoft 365 question? Submit it online! Your question may be featured in a future podcast episode.

Microsoft Ignite 2021 – Battling fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the workplace

I believe #SharingIsCaring. The more we share about ourselves (our perspective, our ideas, and our unique stories), the stronger we become. I’m thrilled to share my ideas on battling fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the workplace at a Microsoft Ignite Humans of IT session this November.

Why this topic? Workplace fears and feelings of uncertainty, doubt, and imposter syndrome are endemic in the IT industry. These doubts and fears hold us back, keep us on mute during critical meetings & discussions, and lead to negative self-dialogue. During this 30-minute Ignite session, I’ll share:

  • Why empathy is important
  • How we get stuck in a loop of uncertainty and doubt
  • Why so many of us experience imposter syndrome
  • What practical tools we can use to overcome our fears
  • How we can build a community of support

What is Humans of IT? Microsoft created the Humans of IT community to engage and empower technologists to find their tech superpowers through mentoring, shared stories of struggle and growth, and testimonials. If you’re not already a member of the community, I encourage you to learn more. And if you haven’t attended a Humans of IT session at Microsoft Ignite before, it’s time to jump in. The sessions provide an inspiring look at the people in our IT community and the real-life opportunities and challenges they have.

Join me. Microsoft Ignite is being held virtually November 2-4, 2021. Space for this session is limited, so reserve your seat now.