Tips for getting started with SharePoint hubs

If you’re on SharePoint Online and haven’t started exploring the use of hubs yet, it’s time to invest. SharePoint hubs are a key component of your intelligent intranet strategy, alongside home sites, branding, navigation, and site scripts.

Hubs provide a familial, logical tie between your SharePoint sites. Hubs unify site branding, provide a common hub navigation experience, roll up news and events, and provide a way for your users to find interrelated content quickly and easily. Hubs also support the dynamic nature of your organization. As departments re-org and your company structure changes, simply associate your SharePoint sites to new hubs and your branding will update automatically.

Hubs will require a re-examination of your information architecture and SharePoint site planning strategies. To help you with the transition, check out my list of getting-started hub tips.

1. Embrace the new “flat” world of SharePointTo embrace SharePoint hubs, you need to let go of the old hierarchical model for organizing sites in nested site collections. Modern SharePoint sites are flat, existing in their own individual site collections. SharePoint hubs allow you to assemble these flat sites logically into families and make use of hub branding, unified navigation, and content roll-ups. And best of all, hubs prevent the age-old struggle of migrating SharePoint sites between physical site collections.

Hubs also change the longstanding trend of using departmental site collections as a quick and easy method for organizing SharePoint sites. The dynamic nature of hubs (and the quickness and ease with which you can change hub site associations) gives you the flexibility to organize your SharePoint sites more creatively.

2. Let your users chart your course. I recommend analyzing your users and their content needs before you start mapping out the structure of your hubs. Consider how your users will draw connections between your content, how they’ll approach finding the content they need, and why they care. Key questions to ask:

  • How do your users classify content? If one of your employees changes their name, where would they go to find information on submitting a name change? Would they start by searching HR policies? Looking for tax forms? Or contacting the Legal department? Learning how your users think about content will help you determine its best logical “fit.”
  • If you had the ability to target content to key employees, how would you do it? Hubs are being enriched with great audience targeting features that enable you to dynamically target content for key users. As you design your hub strategy, keep your audience targeting needs in mind. A simple way to define key audiences is to lay out your content, associated hub, and the audience the content will be targeted to (as shown below).
    audience targeting
  • Branding & common navigation. Hubs provided a unified look and feel and a common hub navigation bar. Simply put, which sites do you want to have joined with a common brand and navigation bar? And which sites will your users want to see together? Breaking down your hub site associations to this level will help you differentiate your site and hub alignment.

3. Learn how mind-mapping can help you map your sites to hubs.  Hubs require us to build logical links between our SharePoint sites based on the subject matter and audience. Tying sites together by department or organizational division is no longer enough. We must account for how users will think about the content stored on our sites and how they’ll connect content from different sites.

Mind-maps are a great tool for drawing and designing your hub site relationships. Mind-mapping is the visual representation of thoughts, discussions, and ideas. While strategists and information architecture practitioners have advocated using mind-maps for years to capture group conversations and decision-making processes, the new flat architecture model for SharePoint makes mind-maps a perfect methodology for outlining the logical ties between your SharePoint sites.

If mind-mapping is a new concept for you, start small. Try building a mind-map while you watch Microsoft Ignite 2019 session videos. Once you get the hang of mind-mapping, it’ll be easier to apply the concepts to your SharePoint information architecture.

Mind map example 2

4. Consider a naming convention for your hubs. If you’ll be using hubs throughout your organization, you may want to consider a naming convention that clearly identifies each hub as a hub. Let’s say, for example, you have a hub for Legal, another for HR, and a third hub for Marketing. How do you want to refer to each hub? Examples may include:

hub naming conventions 03

Using a common term for each hub (e.g.  spot, inside, or about) enables you to clearly differentiate hubs from your other SharePoint sites. I recommend finding a term that fits the culture, style, and brand identity of your organization. You’ll want to educate your users and SharePoint site owners about your new naming convention so they recognize your hub sites.

5. Consider how you’ll govern the use of hubs in your organization. Hubs can only be created by Office 365 global administrators or SharePoint administrators. Since hub creation is centrally controlled, you’ll need to consider how your new hubs will be created. Will site owners request hubs via a centralized form or via email? Will there be an approval or review process to ensure new hubs are appropriately scoped and named?

There are many additional governance questions to consider for your hubs:

  • How will you ensure duplicate hubs aren’t created?
  • How will you manage your number of hubs?
  • Will you require a minimum number of associated sites for each hub?
  • Will you set up permission guidelines for associated sites?
  • Will you define roles & responsibilities for your hub site owners? Will hub owners require anything of their associated site owners?
  • Will you audit your hubs on an annual or semi-annual basis?

I recommend a practical governance model that takes into account the key use cases for hubs in your organization. If you’re working in a large enterprise, for example, you may need to put governance precepts in place to ensure you stay below the 2,000 hubs per tenant limit that Microsoft has in place. If you’re working in a small to medium-sized organization, a 2,000 hub site limit may be a non-issue and require no governance oversight.

6. Determine whether you’ll incorporate a home site as part of your intelligent intranetHome sites serve as the landing site for your organization, bringing together personalized and organizational news, events, conversations, content, and video on a single SharePoint Communications site. Incorporating a home site along with your hubs will require additional information architecture planning. Check out Microsoft’s home site planning recommendations to get started.

SharePoint Conference 2020–it’s back!

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As you plan your community events and conferences for 2020, make sure you don’t miss the SharePoint Conference. We’ll be back this year with more speakers, more content, and more attendees in sunny Las Vegas May 19-21, 2020!

I’m honored to be asked back as a speaker, and will be presenting Getting started with SharePoint home sites and hubs. The session will cover Microsoft’s new intelligent intranet features, including usage of home sites to surface personalized organizational news and hubs to organize SharePoint sites into contextual families and roll up relevant content. For more information, check out my session promo video below.

Hope to see you at the SharePoint Conference. And don’t forget to use promo code HAASE to save $50 on your conference registration!

2019: A blogging year in review

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It’s one of my favorite blog posts to write–the year in review! At the end of each year, I dedicate a post to recapping some of my favorite (and most popular) blog posts. Here’s my look back at 2019.

Posts published: 30
Blog views: 64,031
Blog visitors: 44,551

Top posts of 2019 (based on user views):

My favorite posts of 2019:

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 7)

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Daniel Glenn and I recorded episode 7 of our podcast The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption last week at SharePoint Fest Chicago. In this episode, we talk about how user self-service impacts adoption. Listen in to learn how governance and the amount of time taken to fulfill user requests for SharePoint sites, Office 365 groups, and Yammer communities impacts Office 365 usability.

We hope you enjoy episode 7!

About the podcast:
The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focused on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We shared creative ideas for hosting internal user group events, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discussed the importance of making these events your own by tying them to your company culture.

Episode 3 focuses on strategies for building user adoption campaigns to support Office 365 product rollouts. We discuss how user personas can help you identify product use cases and key product features, share practical ideas for generating user excitement, and talk about the importance of running Office 365 pilot programs to road-test your communications and training plans.

Episode 4 is our listener Q&A session, where we answer questions like:

  • How do I work with (or around) executives that don’t support our SharePoint/Office 365 efforts?
  • How do I build a user adoption strategy when my own leader doesn’t want to support it as an ongoing service offering?
  • How can we encourage geographically-dispersed staff to engage in local Office 365 community events?

In episode 5, we confirmed and debunked common Office 365 user adoption myths. Check out the episode to learn our thoughts on myths like:

  • “We hire smart people. They’ll figure out how to use Office 365 for themselves.”
  • “If you build it, they will come.”
  • “Clicks (or volume) equals value.”
  • “Once that killer feature is here, the tools will sell themselves.”
  • “Voluntold champions will drive usage and adoption.”
  • “Organic adoption is the best!”

In episode 6, we discuss the role a village plays in an organization’s Office 365 adoption journey.

Previous posts in this series:

Insider tip: Mind-map your way through #MSIgnite 2019 session videos

I’ve been doing quite a bit of mind-mapping lately. And the more I mind-map, the more I love it.

What is mind-mapping?
Mind-mapping is the visual representation of thoughts, discussions, and ideas. Mind-maps radiate out from a central idea, theme, or question, and include concepts and ideas, labeled connection lines, and even pictures/diagrams. You can think of mind-maps as a type of cognitive diagram.

The example mind-map below shows how ideas and data points can be connected to a central idea/theme in a visual way.

Example mind-map. Illustration credit: Meagan Haase

Example mind-map. Illustration credit: Meagan Haase

There are many benefits to mind-mapping the books you’re reading, the meetings you’re attending, and the conference sessions you’re listening to:

  1. It promotes “meaningful learning.” When you learn something meaningfully, you’ve taken in the new information and tied it to things you already know. Meaningful learning is the process of converting new information into knowledge you can use.
  2. It helps you “connect the dots.” Mind maps lay out conversations and discussions by radiating concepts from a core question or theme. The act of drawing connections between these new concepts and labeling the connection lines helps you see and remember how ideas connect.
  3. It’s a visual learning device. The art of visualizing new concepts can help us imprint them on our minds in new and different ways. And if you’re an artist or a visual learner, mind-maps can help you translate words into visuals that are easier to remember!
  4. It makes complex ideas easier to understand. Drawing out complex ideas is just…different. And sometimes a different frame of reference is all you need.
  5. It promotes active listening. If I’m just sitting and listening to content, it’s hard not to get distracted with email, Twitter, or other things going on around me. Mind-mapping content while I’m listening to it helps me engage on a whole new level. I’m not distracted; I’m actively engaged in what I’m hearing.

A few things to keep in mind when you start mind-mapping:

  • You’re not working in permanent ink. Scratch things out if you’re working on paper. If you’re using mind-mapping software, figure out how the “undo” and “delete” actions work.
  • Don’t fret about those things you call “mistakes.” Our brains are not perfect, and it usually takes us awhile to learn new things. Don’t expect your mind-maps to be succinct. Our mind-maps should reflect the same circuitous path we take to learn and build shared understanding.
  • Never mind the artistry. I’m not an artist, and I heartily join in when others make fun of my sorrowful-looking stick people. Here’s the great thing–no one is going to judge your mind-map for appropriate use of color, visuals, and artistic decor. It’s a mind-map, not an art exhibit!
  • Practice makes you faster (and more accurate). When I began creating mind-maps, it felt like I was working a long-dormant group of visual muscles. That’s OK. Practice helps.
  • You’re working off a blank slate, so build to suit. If you’re a word-based thinker, focus on building mind-maps that are entirely word-based. If pictures, icons, and drawings help you learn, try incorporating a variety of visuals into your mind-map. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

My mind-map journey
Historically, I’ve built most of my mind-maps on whiteboards during work meetings. But this week, I’ve been focused on building electronic mind-maps using Coggle.it To get better (and faster) at building electronic maps, I’ve been mind-mapping Microsoft Ignite 2019 session recordings. The mind-maps capture the most meaningful words from each session, along with a contextual visual representation of how I connected all the ideas. Here are a couple of examples:

Travel_the_world_meet_the_communityTHR1063_-_MSIgnite_2019.png

Build_an_Office_365_Champion_program_THR1068_-_MSIgnite_2019.png

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 6)

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Daniel Glenn and I recorded episode 6 of our podcast >The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption live at Microsoft Ignite 2019. In this It Takes A Village episode, we discuss the role a village plays in an organization’s Office 365 adoption journey. Learn how an internal community of users can educate your users, keep up with the pace of technological change, provide education and cheerleading support, and hold regular adoption events.

We hope you enjoy episode 6!

About the podcast:
The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focused on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We shared creative ideas for hosting internal user group events, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discussed the importance of making these events your own by tying them to your company culture.

Episode 3 focuses on strategies for building user adoption campaigns to support Office 365 product rollouts. We discuss how user personas can help you identify product use cases and key product features, share practical ideas for generating user excitement, and talk about the importance of running Office 365 pilot programs to road-test your communications and training plans.

Episode 4 is our listener Q&A session, where we answer questions like:

  • How do I work with (or around) executives that don’t support our SharePoint/Office 365 efforts?
  • How do I build a user adoption strategy when my own leader doesn’t want to support it as an ongoing service offering?
  • How can we encourage geographically-dispersed staff to engage in local Office 365 community events?

In episode 5, we confirmed and debunked common Office 365 user adoption myths. Check out the episode to learn our thoughts on myths like:

  • “We hire smart people. They’ll figure out how to use Office 365 for themselves.”
  • “If you build it, they will come.”
  • “Clicks (or volume) equals value.”
  • “Once that killer feature is here, the tools will sell themselves.”
  • “Voluntold champions will drive usage and adoption.”
  • “Organic adoption is the best!”

Previous posts in this series:

Microsoft Ignite 2019 – Using Innovation Games to gather requirements

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Microsoft Ignite is coming up soon! One of the sessions I’ll be facilitating is a 75-minute unconference session on using Innovation Games to gather requirements.

Unconference sessions are unique. Designed to be highly interactive, these sessions give you an opportunity to engage with speakers and fellow attendees, learn new skills, and share your ideas. During this Innovation Games session, you’ll learn how games can be leveraged to gather project and feature requirements, determine what motivates our team members and customers, and build shared understanding. You’ll participate in several Innovation Games during the session, and learn how you can adapt and facilitate the games once you return home.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about Innovation Games. Reserve your spot now!

Microsoft Ignite 2019 – Women in Technology leadership roundtable

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In November 2019, I’ll be heading to Orlando for Microsoft Ignite! One of the sessions I’ll be facilitating is the 75-minute Women in Technology leadership roundtable “unconference” session. Unconference sessions are interactive and collaborative. Meant to facilitate conversation, networking, and group-based learning, unconference sessions give attendees the opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another.

The Women in Technology leadership roundtable will focus on the unique challenges female tech leaders face. We’ll share leadership success stories and challenges, discuss the importance of personal brand, evaluate the impact of role and gender-based stereotypes in the workplace, and conduct peer mentorship mini-sessions. In the peer mentorship mini-sessions, attendees will work in small groups to share ideas and solve everyday workplace challenges.

Whether you’re a woman in tech, an organizational leader, an aspiring mentor, or an ally that wants to support the growth of gender diversity in the tech space, you have valuable insights to share. We’d love to hear your stories, your ideas, and your suggestions at the Women in Technology leadership roundtable!

Space for this unconference session is limited, but you can pre-register to reserve your seat. A waitlist will automatically queue up if the session fills up, so add your name to the list even if registration peaks.

Click the link below for session details and registration.
https://go.splibrarian.com/msignite-unc1017

SPS Ottawa – October 2019

administration-ancient-architecture-1045915-cropI am so excited to be visiting Ottawa, Ontario for the first time this week! I’ll be seeing friends and speaking at SPS Ottawa. My session, When cookie-cutter user adoption doesn’t cut it, examines typical pitfalls of SharePoint and Office 365 user adoption campaigns. I’ll explain why great user adoption ideas can work well at one organization and fail miserably at another. I’ll also provide practical tips and techniques for building adoption strategies that reflect the unique needs of your culture, your users, and your business. Attendees will leave the session with a working knowledge of how to design adoption strategies tailored to their organization’s needs.

Many thanks to Antonio Maio and Mike Maadrani for welcoming me to speak at the event. I can’t wait! Registration for SPS Ottawa is still open and attendance is free. Consider joining us; it’ll be a fantastic event!

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 5)

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Daniel Glenn and I recently recorded episode 5 in our podcast The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption. In this myth-busting episode, we confirm and debunk common Office 365 user adoption myths. Check out our thoughts on common theories like:

  • “We hire smart people. They’ll figure out how to use Office 365 for themselves.”
  • “If you build it, they will come.”
  • “Clicks (or volume) equals value.”
  • “Once that killer feature is here, the tools will sell themselves.”
  • “Voluntold champions will drive usage and adoption.”
  • “Organic adoption is the best!”

We hope you enjoy episode 5!

About the podcast:
The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focused on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We shared creative ideas for hosting internal user group events, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discussed the importance of making these events your own by tying them to your company culture.

Episode 3 focuses on strategies for building user adoption campaigns to support Office 365 product rollouts. We discuss how user personas can help you identify product use cases and key product features, share practical ideas for generating user excitement, and talk about the importance of running Office 365 pilot programs to road-test your communications and training plans.

Episode 4 is our listener Q&A session, where we answer questions like:

  • How do I work with (or around) executives that don’t support our SharePoint/Office 365 efforts?
  • How do I build a user adoption strategy when my own leader doesn’t want to support it as an ongoing service offering?
  • How can we encourage geographically-dispersed staff to engage in local Office 365 community events?

Previous posts in this series: