Disruption vs. Value: Keeping your Office 365 Initiative Afloat

As Office 365 practitioners, we need to consider the speed with which we roll out app capabilities to our organizations. Yes, some of our advanced users can make use of a wide array of Office 365 apps quickly and with relatively little discomfort. But most of our users are disrupted by the rollout and onboarding process for new technologies. The delicate balance of success hinges on generating enough disruption to change user behavior without alienating the very users we’re trying to engage.

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Disruptions are not always a bad thing. Disruptive ideas and events are often credited with bringing about periods of great change and innovation. Office 365 provides an opportunity for your users to rethink the way they work and drive massive gains in their personal productivity. The intelligent form capabilities of PowerApps, the workflow automation of Microsoft Flow, the connected teams communication vehicles in Microsoft Teams, and the mobile capabilities of OneDrive and OneNote can be leveraged to drive a stronger digital workplace.

But how much disruption is too much? And how do you balance the executive “value” question with the impact of disrupting your users? This blog post examines this delicate balance of value versus disruption.

Note: Before you can evaluate how to roll out Office 365, you need to validate WHY Office 365 is right for your business. After all, technology is secondary. Our business drivers and employee needs come first. For more information, check out my blog post It’s not about the technology. It’s about the use case.

Determining your path
Every organization is unique. While there is a plethora of guidance on how to approach your Office 365 rollout, you should not blindly implement a “one-size-fits-most” strategy. Your approach needs to reflect the culture of your organization. If you work for an innovative think tank that prides itself on offering cutting-edge technology, a slow-and-steady Office 365 rollout is ill-advised. On the opposite end of the spectrum, organizations with a high degree of technical debt and a user base that is averse to change should carefully plan and communicate their Office 365 deployment.

I recommend creating formal personas for each of the key user groups that will leverage Office 365 in your organization. Ideally, these personas should be granular enough to account for each of the different Office 365 applications you roll out. You may have a business user persona, for example, that leverages Microsoft Flow to drive departmental process improvements. You may also have a customer service technician persona that leverages Yammer to respond to user questions and drive reductions in support desk calls.

Each user persona should identify:

  • High-level work objectives
  • Technology pain points the user faces
  • The user’s appetite for adapting to change
  • The speed with which the user adopts new technologies
  • Technology learning preferences
  • Preferred training and communication mediums (e.g. brown bags, video-based learning, self-service knowledge base, etc.)

These user personas should inform your Office 365 rollout strategy and form the basis for your user adoption campaign. The personas can also be used to build adoption targets for each of your Office 365 applications. Adoption targets estimate the rate at which users will leverage your new Office 365 capability. If you have 1,000 Office 365 users, for example, you may target having 10% of your users adopt Microsoft Flow within the first 12 months. Your Microsoft Flow rollout plan should account for driving this user growth, and monthly checks should be performed to measure your adoption efforts against your defined goals.

You must also determine what criteria your executive leadership team will use in determining the success or failure of your Office 365 implementation. Start by assessing the key business drivers for your organization and industry. Are your executives driven by financial metrics like margin, lower operating expenses, and total cost of ownership? Or are they swayed by productivity optimization (e.g. shortened business processes, workforce innovations, etc.)? The goal is to clearly articulate the value Office 365 is providing to your organization. Substantiating these value claims with appropriate supporting evidence (e.g. usage statistics, Office 365 success stories, user testimonials, etc.) is important. Executives are discerning, especially when it comes to business value claims. Your success depends on your ability to thoroughly back up your Office 365 value assessment.

An interesting debate
At Microsoft Ignite 2018, a set of REgarding 365 experts debated whether organizations should turn on all the Office 365 apps at once or take a slower rollout approach. The debate commentary brilliantly summarizes the disruption challenges organizations face. Take a look at these quotes from the debate:

“Not everybody needs everything…think about what you’re doing, what business challenges you’re trying to address” – Loryan Strant

“Experimentation is the lifeblood for innovation…I have to have all the availability of the things I want to use to be able to create solutions. I don’t want to be halfway down a path of a solution and then fall into some type of a trap that I can’t complete the solution based on the fact that I don’t have access to a certain tool” – Liz Sundet

“Are you operational-ready? Are you able to support all of the requests that are going to come at you all at once when you turn everything on?” – Daniel Glenn

“Office 365 is a suite. It’s not really individual products…so you’ve really got to go for it and turn everything on” – Steve Collier

“The company does not have (an) appetite for that which it does not understand” – session attendee

“We were challenged by our boss to get it (Office 365) out in 90 days. So we basically turned everything on, got it all out there, and then realized we have no governance whatsoever in place. And it was a disaster. We have group names, we have 5,000 SharePoint sites that nobody ever uses. And it’s just out of control. That’s one of the problems with turning it on without having the governance. Once you get the governance and all your framework in place, turn it on. Let people innovate. But make sure you’re there before you turn it on” – session attendee

You can watch this session in its entirety at Turn it all on in Office 365 – RE365 Debate (BRK1092).

The bottom line
Office 365 implementations are disruptive, and that’s OK. Success isn’t about avoiding disruption. Success hinges on driving business outcomes that outweigh and outlast user disruption. How much time you have to drive those business outcomes and how much allowance you have for causing disruption is going to be unique to your situation. The key is determining what business value looks like at your organization and building user personas that can help you limit the disruptive force of your rollout.

You also need to ensure your executives understand your approach and expected adoption of Office 365. If you have aligned your Office 365 rollout strategy with your business goals and clearly understand the value your executives want to see from your implementation, you’re on a solid path to success. Misalignment of expectations will fracture and limit the efficacy of your results.

As you roll out Office 365, keep your executives apprised of unexpected delays or changes in your forecasted adoption rates. Any gaps between your executive’s expectations and your project’s realities should be identified and communicated quickly.

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities: Fall 2018 Edition

SPSTC_logo_smallSharePoint Saturday Twin Cities is coming up fast! Our Fall 2018 event will be held November 17, 2018 at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota. We’ll have 40 sessions from an impressive set of nationally-recognized Office 365 and SharePoint speakers. Sessions will be focused on several tracks, including:

  • Office 365
  • PowerApps & Microsoft Flow
  • Microsoft Office
  • Information Workers
  • Developers
  • IT Pros/Admins

We have 600+ attendees registered so far, but there’s still time (and space) to sign up! Register now. Or check out our website for information on the day’s schedule, sessions, and speakers.

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It’s not about the technology. It’s about the use case

This week, I participated in a REgarding 365 debate about use of org-wide Microsoft Teams. Not surprisingly, the Microsoft Teams versus Yammer question was raised multiple times. Here’s the thing–there are uses for Microsoft Teams (including org-wide teams) and there are uses for Yammer. In the end, it’s not about which tool myself or the other REgarding 365 panelists prefer. The valid questions are:

  • What are your organizational use cases and content needs?
  • What is your company culture?
  • Which technologies best fit your use cases and culture?

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Use cases are practical business needs (aka requirements) that need to be met. Examples of use cases include:

  • Sharing organization-wide HR policy changes
  • Sharing strategy and content updates from the company’s CEO
  • Providing newly-onboarded employees with a resource center for frequently asked questions
  • Enabling employees to instant message, chat, and screen share with their peers
  • Enabling employees to quickly engage with other employees and members of IT on technology support questions

As collaboration strategists, our first job is identifying and documenting the unique use cases for our organization. Next, we need to assess our organizational culture, including: company values and norms; technology adeptness (aka how well our users adopt new technologies); and readiness for change (e.g. do our users welcome change or do they fear it?).

When we view our use cases alongside our company culture, we’ll be able to determine which technologies are best-suited to meet our needs. There is no one-size-fits-all model or one Microsoft 365 capability that wins the day. Let’s look at our organizational use cases and culture and determine what tool works best for our specific needs.

REgarding 365 debate #4: Org-wide Microsoft teams

Microsoft Teams will now support creation of organization-wide teams for small-to-medium sized companies. Org-wide teams can be created by Office 365 global administrators, but are limited to organizations with no more than 1,000 users. The org-wide public team will automatically incorporate all company users, pulling Active Directory information for everyone who joins or leaves the organization.

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This new capability is generating some interesting discussions about how to best facilitate org-wide dialogue. Is Microsoft Teams best suited to host this type of open communication? And how would this new feature impact use of the All Company group in Yammer? The REgarding 365 team has assembled some thoughts on these questions. Check out our latest video:

We’ll be taking this discussion to the next level as we debate the merits of org-wide Microsoft teams. Tune in on October 25, 2018 at 4pm Central time to hear the debate live

The importance of Community Managers

I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in the SharePoint and Office 365 community for many years. The relationships I’ve formed have helped me grow my career, expand my technical knowledge, and build lifelong friendships. This community is special because of the people in it–people who are willing to support one another and share what they know. This selflessness is the distinguishing characteristic of strong community managers.

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Community managers give their time and talent to support the growth and development of others. Community managers come in a variety of forms. They can be internal Office 365 administrators, user group leaders, Microsoft MVPs, Yammer evangelists, or people who engage in regular Twitter conversations about SharePoint/Office 365. The community manager role can be formally acknowledged (e.g. leader of a formal user group or online community) or informally earned (e.g. an Office 365 user that drives engagement by regularly liking and commenting on Yammer posts). The hallmarks of the community manager are what they give to others–support, encouragement, and a continued positive focus.

I had the good fortune to spend time with several great community managers at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando a couple of weeks ago. Folks like Darrell Webster, Phil Worrell, Liz Sundet, Heather Newman, and Tracy van der Schyff encourage others to come forward and share what they know. They support a diversity of opinions, give others a chance to shine, and applaud people publicly for their contributions.

This concept of community management was also woven through several of the #MSIgnite sessions I attended. In her session on how Kimberly-Clark powers employee engagement with Yammer, Karen Prather outlined key ways community managers drive engagement:

  • Promote the creation of new community content
  • Drive ongoing dialogue by liking and commenting on posts frequently
  • Jump-start conversations by posting questions and user polls
  • Share popular posts from other communities/groups to drive cross-engagement
  • Continually invite others to post and share content
  • Attach pictures and videos to posts to drive higher click-thru rates
  • Keep a pulse on the community (understand what drives it forward, what inspires community members, etc.)

I also had the opportunity to participate in the #MSIgnite meetup “Learning through sharing: The new way to build your community.” Darrell Webster, Daniel Glenn, Loryan Strant, and Alistair Pugin led a facilitated discussion on fostering in-person and virtual Office 365 conversations/user groups. There was no one-size-fits-all approach that worked across geographies and types of groups, but community managers that knew their audience and tailored their approach to match the unique needs of their users were the most successful.

If your SharePoint or Office 365 journey has been positively impacted by a community manager, take a few minutes to say thank you. And perhaps it’s time to consider whether you have the time and talent to lift up others in your community. We’re always looking for strong community managers to spark new conversations!

Creating a custom Microsoft Flow template gallery for your organization (part 2)

This flow internal template gallery was designed and built in partnership with Daniel Glenn, Office Apps & Services MVP. For more information about the template gallery solution we developed, check out Daniel’s blog post and his Microsoft Ignite 2018 session.

In my earlier post, I laid out a business case for creating an internal Microsoft Flow template gallery for your organization. The internal template gallery enables you to build and share custom Microsoft Flows within your Office 365 tenant. The gallery ensures company data and internal data connections in your flow templates are secure, while safely enabling your users to pool their collective knowledge and avoid re-work in building flows. You can also create a formal approval process for internal flow templates. The process ensures that flow templates are reviewed for accuracy and are appropriate for internal sharing.

But we don’t have to stop there. We can take this template gallery idea several steps farther by creating a Microsoft Flow Resource Community. The resource community can serve as a self-service gathering place for Microsoft Flow users in your organization, complete with links to training resources, Yammer discussion groups, your internal template gallery, etc. The resource community will:

  • Promote the use of Microsoft Flow by providing “getting started” materials for new users and a place for advanced users to share what they know
  • Support open dialogue and troubleshooting of flow issues
  • Prevent users from having to “recreate the wheel” by enabling easy re-use of flow templates
  • Provide a browsable interface for reviewing and downloading flow templates
  • Enable the submission and approval of flow templates for internal sharing
  • Drive engagement and adoption by providing a “community space” for Microsoft Flow

We recommend building your Microsoft Flow Resource Community on a SharePoint Online Communications site. You’ll want to customize the contents of your resource community, but here’s a list of suggestions to get you started:

  • Links to internal and external Microsoft Flow resources (e.g. 100-level introduction to flow, Microsoft’s flow guided learning site, the official Microsoft Flow team blog, and the Microsoft Flow Community).
  • Events calendar that highlights flow and other Office 365 learning opportunities
  • Microsoft Flow internal template gallery
  • Instructions on how to download flow templates from the gallery and leverage them to deploy new flows
  • Live display of Yammer conversations related to Microsoft Flow
  • Links to your Microsoft Flow governance policies
  • Information on where people can go to get advanced flow help

Most important–make the site relevant, engaging, and full of great flow content!

Now that we know what a Microsoft Flow Resource Community is, let’s take a look at a sample site.

The home page
We wanted a graphic, engaging home page for our Microsoft Flow Resource Community. The hero web part at the top of the page contains links to various flow learning resources. The remainder of the page includes our flow template catalog, a display of our Microsoft Flow Yammer group, and a list of upcoming Office 365 events. (Note: We elected to use the classic Yammer web part on our site because it enables full engagement. Users can like and comment on Yammer posts directly from the resource community without having to open Yammer in a new browser tab. For more information on the available Yammer web parts and the differencees between them, see my Yammer web part blog post.)

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Our flow template catalog is built using a series of News pages–one page for each flow template. News pages are stored in the Site Pages library, and the catalog is displayed on the site home page via the News web part. To help users quickly see which app(s) are included in the flow template, we added an app graphic to each template news page.

Let’s take a look at one of our template news pages in more detail. The banner across the top of the page displays the name of the flow template and the related app(s) the flow uses. Screen shots of the flow are displayed on the left, along with a clickable link to download the flow ZIP file template. A detailed description of the flow is provided on the right. The description pages for all flow templates include the same standard information–a description of how the flow works, a list of the required Office 365 or external application connections that the flow requires (e.g. a valid OneDrive account, a valid Box account, etc.), and a link to instructions on how to use the flow template ZIP file. A comments box at the bottom of the page enables users to comment on each of the templates.

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If you want to enable all Microsoft Flow users in your organization to submit workflow templates to your gallery, you may want to consider building out a review and approval process. Consider your must-have safety controls and review requirements as you build out this gatekeeping process. While governance is important, all governance policies and procedures should drive innate value.

We hope this Microsoft Flow Resource Community sparks your creativity. Best of luck in creating a site of your own!

Driving adoption of Microsoft Flow

Depositphotos_70209473_originalIn the land of Office 365, Microsoft Flow users are unique. While most of your users may use Outlook for email, OneDrive for file storage, and Microsoft Teams for intra-team collaboration, not all your users will create and leverage flows. Your approach to Microsoft Flow user adoption needs to account for this uniqueness. While you can launch broad Office 365 awareness campaigns, you will need to create a targeted adoption model just for Microsoft Flow.

Your user adoption campaign should focus on 4 key goals:

  1. Make flow relevant. Show your users how Microsoft Flow can help them meet their business goals. Making flow relevant to their daily work lives will drive home the why.
  2. Make flow achievable. Some innovators may start using Microsoft Flow based on word-of-mouth discussions or native curiosity about what the app can do. But the vast majority of your users will need help breaking through the conceptual barriers to using flow. They need an easy way to learn the basics, easy wins that can boost their confidence, and a method for getting peer or expert IT support as they start building more advanced workflows.
  3. Give your users a running start. Teach your users how to leverage Microsoft’s existing flow template gallery. And to drive stronger adoption and greater ROI, consider building out a series of company-specific flow templates that can be re-used internally.
  4. Make them shine. Provide your users with the educational materials and coaching they need to build flows that will make a difference and drive business value. Turning new flow users into flow superheroes will ensure continued adoption.

Planning for your flow user adoption campaign
To get started, you will need to clearly identify your target audience. I recommend creating formal personas for each of the key user groups you believe will leverage Microsoft Flow. You may have a business user, for example, that creates flows to help drive departmental process improvements. You may have a developer that creates flows as part of an agile engineering team. Identifying key types of flow users, documenting the reasons why they would leverage flow, and identifying their technology learning preferences will lay the groundwork for your custom user adoption campaign.

Once you identify your user personas, start building a target estimate for flow user volume. The estimate should project the rate at which users will start leveraging flow. If you have 1,000 Office 365 users, for example, you may target having 10% of your users adopt Microsoft Flow within the first 12 months. Your flow user adoption plans should account for driving this user growth, and monthly checks should be performed to measure your adoption efforts against your defined goals.

Now that you’ve identified your target adoption rate, it’s time to start building your flow user adoption campaign. It’s vital that you design your campaign to reflect and complement your organization’s culture. Look at programs that have succeeded or failed in your organization and unpack the key lessons learned. Determine what types of education and communication initiatives work well in your organization. If employees at your company don’t engage with or read news stories published on your company intranet, then publishing mass-market intranet articles about flow will not yield much success. If brown bags are popular, consider hosting targeted lunch and learns for each of your core Microsoft Flow user personas.

You also need to determine how to invest your valuable time and user adoption efforts. As I explain in Change by color: The secret of green dots, yellow dots and red dots, some of your users will readily accept change and be driven to adopt new technologies based on an intrinsic desire to learn and grow. Invest in these change adopters, but don’t overcommit your time. Target your efforts on the users that are slower to adapt but are still willing to change and learn new technologies.

Once you’ve defined your user personas and built specific user adoption campaign ideas that fit your corporate culture, you’re ready! Identify business needs and existing work processes that can be improved using Microsoft Flow. Leverage these opportunities as “starter projects” that will show of flow’s capabilities. Ensure you’re working alongside key influencers and innovators on your business teams for these starter projects. You want to engage with users that embrace technology and are quick to adopt. They’ll be willing to hear new ideas and, if they’re successful, will be able to evangelize flow’s capabilities. If you have resources that are already knowledgeable about Microsoft Flow (e.g. pilot testers or members of IT), introduce them to key business users and foster peer mentorship opportunities.

Most importantly, remember that flow user adoption isn’t a one-time project. In order for flow user adoption to become a reality, you need to treat it as an ongoing service. And yes, you’ll need to build, evolve, and drive your adoption program from now until the day you stop leveraging Microsoft Flow. Even the most successful adoption programs will die without dedicated attention and fresh ideas.

 

 

Choosing between the classic and modern Yammer web part

UPDATE: Just announced at Ignite–Microsoft is planning a Q1 2019 launch of the new Yammer Conversations web part. Yammer Conversations will embed a modern view of your Yammer group in SharePoint Online. Users will be able to like and comment on Yammer posts directly within the SharePoint web part (no more having to open Yammer in another browser window), or using the SharePoint mobile app. This new Yammer Conversations web part will not replace the current “modern” Yammer web part. The existing modern web part will be remain in place as the “Yammer conversations highlight.” The highlight web part renders Yammer data within SharePoint Online in a read-only view.

If you’re using Office 365 and want to integrate a Yammer web part into your modern SharePoint site, you have a choice to make. You can use the classic Yammer web part that leverages embed functionality with an older look and feel or use the updated modern Yammer web part. Microsoft doesn’t make this an easy choice, as both web parts have some big advantages and drawbacks. This post breaks down the pros and cons of each web part and provides guidance on how to choose the best Yammer web part for your needs.

To help us get started, let’s take a look at the modern and classic Yammer web parts side-by-side. The screen shot below shows the modern Yammer web part on the left and the classic Yammer web part on the right. The web parts are displaying data from the same Yammer group, but the look and feel is entirely different.

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The modern web part displays each Yammer post as a card (or tile). The visual view clearly demarcates each post, but the boxy display makes it harder to scan the content. The classic web part displays all posts in chronological order using a vertical scroll bar. While the chronological display makes the content easier to scan, the vertical scroll bar makes the web part look antiquated.

Usability
The usability of the modern and classic Yammer web parts are very different. The modern web part only includes a visual indicator for likes and comments. If you want to see details or comment on a post, you’ll need to click on the Yammer “tile.” Office 365 will launch Yammer in a new browser tab, enabling you to add likes and comments. The experience of spawning a new tab to interact with each Yammer post is jarring at best.

The classic Yammer web part offers a full-fidelity experience. Yammer likes and comments are displayed in a traditional threaded view, and users are able to like posts, add comments, and create new Yammer posts directly in SharePoint (no additional browser windows required).

Display options
The configurable display options for the classic and modern Yammer web parts are also different. The modern web part provides 3 choices for content display:

  • Top conversations: Displays the most popular posts in your Yammer group
  • Latest conversations: Displays the Yammer group’s newest or most recently liked/commented on conversations
  • Only conversations you choose: Displays the specific Yammer posts you specify. (You will need to copy and paste the Yammer conversation URL for each post you want to display)

Unfortunately, no options are provided to alter or customize the tiled display for the modern Yammer web part.

The classic Yammer web part displays all posts in a single vertical scroll list. The sort order is strictly chronological, and is based on the Yammer post creation date/time. The only display option provided for the classic web part is vertical sizing of the web part itself. The choices are incredibly limited (you can choose small, medium, or large). Unless you’re greatly limited on SharePoint page space, I recommend the large display. The small and medium options cause massive vertical scroll bar fatigue.

Mobile display
The mobile SharePoint app experience is also unique. The modern Yammer web part renders well in the SharePoint mobile app (as shown on the left below). The classic Yammer web part doesn’t support the SharePoint mobile app, so classic Yammer web parts will render as a blank grey box. Carefully consider whether mobile SharePoint access is important for your users. If mobile access is important, the modern Yammer web part is your only option.

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Choosing “classic” or “modern”
In the end, usage of the classic or modern Yammer web part comes down to a couple of key trade-offs. To help you narrow down the choices, take a look at the summary table below. Bottom line: If SharePoint mobile access is important, the modern Yammer web part is the only option. If mobile access isn’t a priority (or is seldom used), I will often use the classic Yammer web part because it supports liking and commenting on Yammer posts directly within SharePoint.

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Setting up the modern and classic Yammer web parts
The setup process for the Yammer web parts is a little cumbersome, as both the modern and classic Yammer web part display options are incorporated within a single Yammer web part. When you add the Yammer web part to your modern SharePoint page, the web part configuration tab will appear. You’ll need to start by typing in the name of the Yammer group you want to display posts for. (Note: There is no option to display posts from more than one Yammer group within a single Yammer web part. You’ll need to use multiple Yammer web parts if you want to display posts from more than one Yammer group.)

If you want to use the modern Yammer web part, select from the three conversation display options provided (top conversations, latest conversations or conversations you choose). If you want to use the classic Yammer web part, select the hyperlink “Use the classic version of Conversations” (highlighted in yellow below). The web part configuration tab will refresh, and you’ll be prompted to specify a display size (small, medium, or large) for your web part.

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Creating a custom Microsoft Flow template gallery for your organization (part 1)

Microsoft Flow comes with a wide array of templates you can use and customize to build the workflow capabilities you need. The templates serve as both a quick-start guide and a learning tool. You can use the templates as-is or review the templates to see how others have built custom flows. You can share flow templates you create by submitting them to Microsoft’s template gallery. If Microsoft approves your flow, it will be made available to all flow users.

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Microsoft Flow template gallery

But what if you want to share Microsoft Flow templates internally within your organization? Microsoft’s flow template gallery is open to the public, and doesn’t provide any safeguards for securing your internal company data or custom internal data connections. But since Microsoft Flow enables you to export and import workflows, you can build your own custom flow template gallery in SharePoint Online. You can use your gallery to:

  • Provide a browsable interface for reviewing and downloading flow templates
  • Enable the submission and approval of templates for internal sharing
  • Provide a community space where you users can access flow how-to videos and share learnings with others
  • Give your Office 365 users a jump-start for learning Microsoft Flow

In the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing a series of blog posts with recommendations on building an internal flow template gallery in SharePoint Online. I’ll also share ideas on driving adoption of Microsoft Flow. (Hint: Flow isn’t like Teams or email. Your flow users are unique, and your flow adoption plan needs to be targeted and specific as well.) I also recommend checking out Daniel Glenn’s Ignite 2018 session THR1111 – Creating a custom Microsoft Flow template gallery in SharePoint. The session provides background information on how an internal gallery can support flow usage. Thanks to Daniel for partnering with me on our concept and design for this internal flow template gallery.

See follow-up posts:

New mass file deletion notifications in OneDrive for Business & SharePoint Online

In August 2018, Microsoft announced a new email notification feature for large file deletions that take place in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business. The feature proactively alerts users when an unusually large number of files are deleted in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business and outlines steps for restoring the files. Mass file deletion notifications is the latest in a series of features (including the recent SharePoint Online and OneDrive document library versioning changes) designed to reduce accidental data loss.

If a large number of files are deleted from a user’s OneDrive for Business account, the user will receive an email notification with instructions on how to restore their files from the recycle bin. Users that delete a large number of files from a SharePoint Online site will also receive an email notification with instructions on restoring those files.

The tricky part is determining how many files must be deleted before these automated notifications take place. According to Microsoft, “Notifications are sent to users when a higher than usual number of files are deleted per hour.” No additional information has been provided on how the ratio of file deletions is measured or what percentage increase in file deletions is enough to meet the notification threshold. As Microsoft calls out, “This is not to be considered a fail-safe file recovery solution – it is a continuation of best efforts we are making to protect your files from accidental loss.”

No configuration changes are required for enablement of this change–it will automatically deploy in your Office 365 tenant. Rollout of the mass delete notification feature has already begun for Targeted Release customers; standard release customers will start receiving the feature in late September. Government Community Cloud (GCC) Office 365 subscribers will not receive the feature.