Author: Sarah Haase

Corporate collaboration evangelist & librarian | Microsoft MVP | Office 365/SharePoint Enthusiast

Build it with Microsoft Flow: Get a notification when a “watch word” is mentioned in Yammer

yammerIf your organization uses Yammer to drive information sharing and employee knowledge transfer, you have a potential treasure trove of great content. But staying up-to-date on Yammer conversations can be tough, particularly when you’re running from meeting to meeting. It’s easy to miss key Yammer posts, even if you subscribe to email notifications.

Fortunately, Microsoft Flow can help! Let’s say you want to monitor a particular Yammer group for one or more “watch words.” When a message that contains the watch word is posted on Yammer, you’d like Microsoft Flow to send you an email notification. This functionality enables you to audit Yammer groups for the content you’re most interested in.

Here’s an overview of what this flow looks like:

Yammer watch word-01.png

And here are the steps to re-create the flow:

  1. Create a new flow from blank (aka not from a template).
  2. Add the trigger When there is a new message in a group.
  3. In the Group Id field, select the name of the Yammer group you want to monitor.
    Note: This flow doesn’t monitor multiple Yammer groups at once; it triggers to run when a new message is posted in a single Yammer group. If you’d like to run this watch word flow across multiple Yammer groups, you’ll need to copy your completed flow and create a new flow for each group you want to monitor. The process for copying your finished flow is provided in step 15. 
  4. In the Network Id field, select the name of your Yammer network.
  5. If you’d like your watch word email notification to include the name of the person that posted the Yammer message, add the Get user details action. In the User ID field, add the Message List Message Sender field.
  6. Add the Get my profile action. This action obtains the SMTP email address for the current user (e.g. john.doe@mycompany.com). You’ll use this SMTP email address to configure your email notification.
  7. Add a Condition action.
  8. In the Value field, add the Message List Message Body Text field.
  9. Change the is equal to field to contains.
  10. Type your watch word(s) in the Choose a value field. In the example flow shown above, my watch word is PowerApps.
  11. Add an action in the If yes box. Since I wanted to send an email notification when my watch word was used, I added the email action.
  12. In the To field of your email, insert the Get My Profile Mail dynamic content.
    Note: You may need to select “See more” under the Get my profile header to see the Mail content.
  13. Add additional details for your notification (e.g. subject line, email verbiage, etc.).
  14. Save and test your flow.
  15. Optional. If you’d like to set up your watch word flow for a second Yammer group, follow these additional steps:
    1. Go to your flow’s information page.
    2. Click on the More dropdown and select Save As.
      Yammer watch word-02.png
    3. Specify a name for your copied flow and click Save.
    4. Return to your My Flows page and edit your newly-copied flow. Update the Yammer group identified in your trigger, save the flow, and turn on the flow.
    5. Repeat step 15 for each Yammer group you want to monitor.

Now that my flow is built, I receive an email notification like the one shown below each time the watch word PowerApps is mentioned in my Microsoft Flow Yammer group:
Yammer watch word-03.png

Sharing your new flow:
Now that you’ve created your flow, it’s time to think about sharing it with others in your organization.

Credits (and a few words of encouragement):
If you’re working with Microsoft Flow and are having a hard time figuring out how to build the workflows you need, don’t despair! When I first started trying to build this “watch word” flow, I got completely stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to build it without complicated formulas or JSON. Many thanks to Jon Levesque, Marcel Haas, and many others on Twitter for jumping in and teaching me a better way to go about it!

Requesting sign-off approvals on your OneDrive files

Microsoft has integrated out-of-the-box Microsoft Flow templates directly into OneDrive! With the new Request sign-off template, you can easily send your OneDrive files out to co-workers for review. You’ll be able to specify who the reviewer(s) are at the start of the workflow. You’ll be notified via email once one of the reviewers has approved the file.

Let’s walk through how the new flow template works:

  1. Select the file you want to route for approval.
  2. Go to the Flow dropdown in your menu bar and select Request sign-off.
    oob-flow-01
  3. When the flow panel opens, click Next.
    oob-flow-02
  4. Type in the name(s) of the people you’d like to review your document. If desired, type in a custom message for your reviewers.
    OOB-flow-03.png
  5. Click Run flow to execute your new workflow.
  6. Your reviewer(s) will receive an email notification that a document is pending their review.
    OOB-flow-04.png
  7. You’ll be notified via email when your file is approved or rejected.
    OOB-flow-05.png

Timing for this new feature:
This new out-of-the-box Flow template began rolling out to Office 365 tenants in December 2018.

The new “Send a copy” feature in Microsoft Flow

In January 2019, Microsoft announced the new Send a copy feature in Microsoft Flow. With Send a copy, you can quickly and easily share a copy of your flow with others in your Office 365 tenant. You can Send a copy of your flow from two different locations:

The options menu on your My flows page:
Yammer watch word-09.png

Or from the flow properties page:
Yammer watch word-08.png

Once you select Send a copy, a configuration pane displays. You can customize the title of your flow, add a description for it, and specify the name(s), email address(s), or security group(s) you want to share with. Remember: You can only send a flow to others in your same Office 365 tenant. You cannot use Send a copy to share flows across tenants.

Once you’ve finished entering all your flow copy details, click Send.
Yammer watch word-04

The recipient(s) will receive an email indicating a flow has been shared with them. The user(s) can also go to the Shared with me tab on their flow template gallery to see and use their copy of the flow.
Yammer watch word-05.png

Once the recipient(s) creates a new flow from the template that was shared with them, they’ll be able to customize it. IMPORTANT: No link is retained between the original flow and the version that is shared. The flows operate independently and can be customized at will.

So how well does the feature work?
Save a copy provides a quick and easy method for sharing flows between users. It’s relatively easy to use (both for the sharer and the recipient), and I love the new Shared with me template gallery tab in Microsoft Flow.

But at its core, the Save a copy feature is a one-time content push. Copied flows do not remain connected, and sharing only happens unidirectionally. A user you shared a flow with cannot, for example, iterate on your flow and dynamically share their updates with you. They can Save a copy of the updated flow and send it to you, but you’ll need to create a new instance of the flow to see the changes made.

The Save a copy feature also doesn’t allow for flow template browsing. Users are unaware of flows their co-workers have created; they can only see flows that have been manually shared with them. If you’re looking for a more robust method for sharing flow templates internally, check out my series on driving Microsoft Flow adoption with the creation of an internal organization-level template gallery. (Credits to Daniel Glenn for partnering with me on this solution.)

The bottom line:
Save a copy provides a quick and easy way to share flows with individuals or security groups. While there are limitations for its use (e.g. it’s a content “push” instead of a browse-and-reuse option), it can be used to create one-off flows in only a few clicks.

Setting up the “Buy a Feature” innovation game

Introduction
Late last year, I partnered with Mariah Gauthier and Matthew Ruderman to design a series of Buy a Feature innovation games. The games were used to gather feedback on the design of an Office 365 education site. During the game, we presented users with a list of education site features, along with corresponding prices for each. Participants were asked to “buy” the features they wanted using play money.

The hardest part of designing the game was pricing individual features and determining the amount of play money each participant would receive. How do we decide which features are the most expensive? And what formula should we use to calculate the amount of play money to provide each participant? If we gave our participants too much money, they wouldn’t have to prioritize their feature needs. If we gave them too little money, we’d lose valuable insights since only a few features would be purchased.

This guest blog post outlines the process we took to determine feature pricing. We hope this helps you as you plan your own innovation games. Enjoy!
– Sarah Haase

Post from Mariah Gauthier:
Supporting internal end-users of Office 365 at your organization can be challenging. We live in a tech-centric world, which means that consumers want access to on-demand support options hosted via a modern platform…even in the workplace. With Office 365, the tools for building a solution to fit this expectation are accessible, but you’re still going to need a game-plan going into it. There are many options for what you are able to include in an Office 365 education site, including (but certainly not limited to): descriptions of products, news announcements, Q&A, training options, and Tips & Tricks relevant to your specific environment. This being said: it takes a significant amount of time and available resources to build-out this solution from scratch, making it difficult to know where to start.

Innovation games, and the specific use-case of Buy a Feature, give you the ability to prioritize your list of possible “features” by engaging the opinions of the audience that you are designing for: your consumers! Buy a Feature allows players to prioritize a list of options that are available to be included in the design of a given solution. Players are given a budget and a list of possible features, with the goal being to fund the features that they most want to see included in the final product. For more information on how Innovation games can support your SharePoint/Office 365 strategy, check out a recording of Sarah’s Minnesota SharePoint User Group session.

Buy a Feature is a great way to engage your end-users in a way that both is innovative and inclusive. However, before the games can begin, you first need to walk through the steps of compiling the list of possible features to be offered in your proposed solution. For example: after doing some brainstorming, you come up with a list of 10 offerings (i.e., “features”) that you could potentially include in the design of your Office 365 education site. At this point, you can begin to determine the individual budget of each player and the total value of all of the offered features combined. I used Luke Hohmann’s book, Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play as a guide to determine these thresholds. The key is to determine what proportion of the Total Feature Value that you want players to have access to. I went with an approximate 50% ratio, meaning that the combined budget of all players in each round of the game would amount to about half of the total value across all of the offered features.

# of Players Individual Budget Total Group Budget Approx Total Feature Value
20 $15 (20×15) $300 (300×2) $600
10 $20 (10×20) $200 (200×2) $400
5 $40 (5×40) $200 (200×2) $200

After establishing your figures, you can then move in to assigning each feature with a price to be used during the game. To do this, review your list of possible education site offerings and consider which options will be the easiest and least time-consuming to build, and which will take more effort to create. Choose a scale of weight to use in this exercise (for instance, a scale of 1-7) and allocate accordingly. Once you’ve weighted each feature, you are then able to calculate your list of prices. I found that the best way to do this was to create a quick Excel workbook. I’ve included a template for you to use in your own applications of Buy a Feature. One important tip going into the pricing phase of your exercise: make sure that features with a weight of “1” are priced low enough so that an individual player can buy it independent from the rest of the group. Part of the value of this activity is in observing how players choose to purchase features, whether it be on their own with only their personal budget as a resource, or by choosing to collaborate with other players to buy features at a higher price-point.

The next step in this process focuses on deciding the number of innovation game sessions that you want to hold, and the rate at which you want to schedule them (example: 2x per week). There is no hard-and-fast rule for how many Buy a Feature sessions that you will need to hold to get a solid set of findings, although I would suggest hosting at least five (this will vary widely depending on your use-case). The overarching goal is to continue running sessions until you are no longer collecting any new data. Once the data that you are collecting becomes redundant (i.e., the results that you are getting are consistent from game-to-game), you can stop holding sessions and start analyzing your findings!

Some tips that I can offer you in prepping for and running your sessions:

  • Consistency: In order to get a strong set of results, make sure that you are consistent in the methodology that you employ across each hosted session of Buy a Feature. I would suggest putting together a PowerPoint deck to refer to during each game that details an agenda, rules to the game, and a list of features that includes a description of each offering and a price.
  • Quantitative Data: During each session, players will be independently or collaboratively funding features. Make sure that you have an easy-to-use method of recording which features have been funded, whether it be a team member recording these results and reporting them to the group live, or an automated way of calculation. This will depend greatly on if sessions are being hosted in-person or virtually.
  • Qualitative Data: A huge benefit to engaging Buy a Feature is that not only do you get quantitative data (fully funded vs. partially funded/not funded features), but you are also going to get qualitative data through observing how players understand and strategize during the game. I would highly suggest having someone on your team taking notes throughout game-play, to gather some of the rich findings that go beyond the budgeting aspect of the activity. This is also helpful because you can look back later and understand which features, if not successfully funded, were still important to the group.
  • Final Thoughts: At the end of each session, survey the players individually to find out what they consider to be the top 3 features. The reality is that not every player’s ideal set of features is going to be fully funded – the aim of this exercise is to understand the overall prioritization of the group, which may not align with each individual user’s opinion. Through utilizing a post-game survey, you can draw a comparison between individual opinions and the consensus of the group as a whole.

After hosting your sessions, you will be able to review your data and use it to form a well-researched and market-based set of next-steps. The beauty of Buy a Feature is that through engaging your end-users on what they want to see included in a solution, you can avoid falling into the trap of assuming you know what your users need!

Building a flexible model for sharing Office 365 changes with your end-users

Darrell as a Service published a great article recently about upcoming changes to the Office 365 ‘save’ dialog box. Starting in February 2019, Microsoft will roll out updates to the default save function for all Windows and Mac Office 365 users. When users press CTRL+S or click Save, the simplified ‘save’ dialog box will display. Files will be saved to OneDrive by default, but users will be able to change the save location via the More save options link. While we still have many questions about how this new ‘save’ dialog box will work, we know that this functionality change will impact our end-users significantly.

How many of our end-users will adapt quickly and easily to this ‘save’ dialog box change? And how can we ease this transition? Without an effective strategy for communicating changes like this one, we could be facing significant user confusion and a tidal wave of calls to the internal help desk.

save dialog box-01
Image source: support.office.com 

Building a flexible communications model
Most organizations can’t afford to create a formal communications plan for individual Office 365 feature changes (particularly given the volume of changes rolling out monthly). So how do we efficiently and effectively share Office 365 changes with our users?

We build a flexible communications model that guides us through the process of sharing Office 365 product updates. This model should provide a variety of conduits for communication, along with guidelines on when/why each should be used.

Your communications model should reflect the culture of your organization and the learning style(s) of your end-users. As I discussed in my post Change by color: The secret of green dots, yellow dots and red dots, some end-users will easily adapt to change. They’ll either roll with the changes when they come across them or be content with a quick explanation posted on a SharePoint Communications site or Yammer post. Other users require formal change communications. These are the users we need to build a flexible communications model for.

So how do you build this flexible model for sharing Office 365 updates? To start, I recommend building a list of the communication mediums you have at your disposal. Examples include:

  • Internal user group meeting announcements/demos
  • Yammer announcements
  • Microsoft Stream videos
  • News articles on a SharePoint Communications site
  • Tips & tricks rotator/carousel on your internal Office 365 learning center
  • Subscription-based email distribution groups (e.g. have end-users subscribe to an email distribution list to receive feature change communications)
  • Department or company-wide email broadcasts
  • News bulletins/announcements on your company intranet or help desk site

Once you know how you can communicate changes, you can build criteria for when to use each. You may decide, for example, to use an internal Office 365 Yammer group to share quick product updates. To help users differentiate these Yammer posts, you’ll use a consistent set of hashtags for product announcements:

  • #WhatsNew – denotes a new feature or capability
  • #mobile – denotes when an announcement is mobile-related
  • #OneDrive – denotes a OneDrive Yammer post
  • #Flow – denotes a Microsoft Flow Yammer post

The key is predictability. Users that want to learn about Office 365 changes on a proactive basis should have an easy time figuring out where to go to learn more. And your help desk agents should know where to go to review recent Office 365 changes so they can validate if a recent change is causing user confusion.

Your communications model must also flex and change over time. Be open to suggestions for improvement. And keep an eye out for trending information from your help desk. If you’re seeing large spikes in Office 365 user issues after changes are released, it could mean your communications model isn’t marketed well enough or isn’t hitting the right target audience. Focusing on a continuous improvement model will enable you to hone your approach and find the right strategy for communicating changes to your users.

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities call for speakers (April 2019 edition)

SPSTC_logo_smallWe’re thrilled to welcome everyone back for another SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities! Our Spring event is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, 2019 at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Our call for speakers is now open. If you’d like to be considered, please submit your session ideas and speaker bio. Submissions will be accepted through February 12th.

More information about the Spring 2019 event (including registration and session schedule) will be posted over the next few weeks. Please monitor our Facebook page and www.spstc.com for updates.

The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 2)

img_4406

Daniel Glenn and I just released episode 2 in our podcast miniseries The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption. The miniseries 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 focuses on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We discuss creative ideas for internal user groups, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discuss the importance of making these events your own by ensuring they reflect your company culture. We hope you enjoy episode 2! And keep an eye out for episode 3 in the coming weeks!

Have a user adoption question you’d like us to answer in a future episode? Tell us about it: https://go.re365.show/CoffeeChatQ

Previous posts in this series:

Using Microsoft Flow & Azure Cognitive Services to automate sentiment analysis of Yammer posts

yammer sentiment flow-14

As an Office 365 product manager and corporate evangelist, I’m responsible for engaging users and driving adoption of Microsoft Collaboration tools. Measuring the saturation and use of Office 365 is a key part of my role. Yes, I regularly review Office 365 usage metrics for high-level trending. But metrics alone don’t tell the story of user satisfaction and adoption. In order to build better training and adoption programs, I need to understand why my dedicated users love the tools and why others remain resistant.

Many companies rely on surveys to gather end-user feedback. While surveys are useful for gathering specific types of quantitative data, surveys are one-dimensional. You can’t dynamically ask follow-up questions to learn more about specific survey responses, and you can only capture a limited set of data points. Innovation games enable you to gather a much broader set of quantitative and qualitative user data, but require an investment of time to facilitate games and distill the results. For best results, I recommend a multidisciplinary approach that leverages Office 365 usage statistics, user survey responses, innovation games data, user testimonials, etc. to measure user satisfaction. 

With the release of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning algorithms, we also have the ability to gather user sentiments automatically. If your organization uses Yammer to drive employee engagement and empower open dialogue, you have a wealth of user data that can be analyzed. With Azure Cognitive Services and Microsoft Flow, you can perform automated sentiment analysis of your Yammer group posts. Sentiment scores for each Yammer message can be stored in SharePoint and visualized for trending analysis via Power BI. You can even send push email notifications to your Office 365 administrators or Corporate Communications team when strong positive or negative messages are posted in Yammer.

Chris Bortlik, Principal Technical Architect for Microsoft, recently shared a blog post on Yammer sentiment analysis. I used Chris’ model, with a few modifications, to gather and report on Office 365 user sentiment.

The scenario:
My organization leverages a Microsoft Flow Yammer group to foster employee conversations and questions/answers about flow. We want to monitor the Microsoft Flow Yammer group using sentiment analysis so we can:

  • Identify negative flow Yammer posts that require follow-up
  • Identify positive Yammer posts that can serve as user testimonials or references
  • Define trends in our Microsoft Flow Yammer posts (e.g. daily/weekly/monthly positive and negative trends, overall positive or negative sentiments for flow, etc.)
  • Validate the success of our Microsoft Flow education and adoption program (e.g. confirm we’re seeing growth in the volume of positive flow Yammer posts over time)

The setup:
Follow the steps outlined below to set up automated Yammer sentiment analysis.

Step 1: Confirm you have a Cognitive Services Text Analytics Account. In order to set up this solution, you will need a Cognitive Services account key and a root site URL.

Step 2: Create a SharePoint list to store your Yammer sentiment analysis scores. Flow will create a new item in your list for each Yammer message it analyzes. Here’s a list of the custom columns I added to my list:

  • Score – Number column; stores the sentiment rating for each Yammer message
  • Message link – Hyperlink column; stores a link to the rated Yammer message
  • Posted by – Person/Group column; stores the name of the person that posted the Yammer message
  • Thread ID – Single line of text column; stores the Yammer thread ID for the message. Enables you to sort, filter, and group sentiment scores for a given Yammer thread (including original message and replies).

Azure Cognitive Services will provide a numeric sentiment score between 0 and 1 for each Yammer message it analyzes. The more negative a Yammer message is, the closer to 0 its score will be. More positive messages will receive a rating closer to 1.

Here’s a screen shot of my SharePoint list. Each list item represents a rated Yammer message:
Yammer sentiment flow-11.png

Step 3: Identify the Yammer group you want to perform sentiment analysis on. You can set up sentiment analysis for multiple Yammer groups, but each will require a separate flow process. I also recommend setting up a different SharePoint list to hold sentiment scores for each of your Yammer groups. (Having different SharePoint lists enables you to set up different trending reports on Yammer group sentiment.)

Step 4: Create your Microsoft Flow. I created my flow from scratch (not using a template). Here’s a quick breakdown of the flow conditions and actions:

  • When there is a new message in a group – Detects when a new Yammer message is posted in my Yammer group
  • Get user details – Pulls Yammer user profile details. (Enables us to capture the full name and email address for the person posting the Yammer message.)
  • Detect Sentiment – Calls the Azure Cognitive Services API so it can calculate a sentiment score for the Yammer message
  • Create item – Creates a SharePoint list item for the Yammer message being analyzed
  • If the comment is negative – Sends an email to my Office 365 admin team if the sentiment score for a Yammer message is ≤0.3.
  • If the comment is positive – Sends an email to my Office 365 admin team if the sentiment score for a Yammer message is ≥0.7.

Step 5: Create Power BI report(s) to visualize your Yammer sentiment scores. Published reports can be rendered in your SharePoint Online Communications or Team sites using the Power BI web part. For help in setting up sentiment analysis slicers, check out this DataChant blog post.

Here’s a sample dashboard that shows Yammer sentiment data for my Microsoft Flow Yammer group:

yammer sentiment flow-14

Step 6: Distill the results. Once you start calculating Yammer sentiment and have reports to visualize the data, you can analyze the results and follow up where needed. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Break down negative Yammer posts (e.g. posts with a score ≤0.3) by user. Schedule follow-up meetings with Office 365 end-users that consistently post negative messages. The goal is to ask questions and understand the pain points the users are facing. Perhaps they have hardware or network issues that impact their productivity. Or maybe they’re having issues with Microsoft Flow and need a coach/mentor to spur their learning. Having one-on-one dialogues provides the opportunity for candid feedback and enables you to make a difference in the user’s productivity and technology experience.
  • Identify Office 365 enthusiasts. Break down Yammer posts by volume or by high sentiment average in order to find power users across your organization. Set up meetings with these enthusiasts to understand how they leverage Office 365. Incorporate them into your user group or internal community and support them in their growth. These enthusiasts can become your Office 365 evangelists!
  • Monitor the volume of Yammer posts in your group. Build a gauge that shows your number of Yammer messages month-to-date and identifies progress towards your monthly Yammer message goal. Keeping an eye on your total posts month-to-date and year-to-date will help you monitor use over time and highlight areas you may need to invest additional time and adoption efforts in.

yammer sentiment flow-15

  • Optimize your communications. If one of your Office 365 admin resources has consistent negative Yammer sentiment scores, have them evaluate the verbiage they’re using. Slight wording changes can change the tone of their messages, increasing Yammer sentiment scores and better engaging with end-users.
  • Take a health pulse. Build trending visuals that show average post volumes and sentiment averages by week or month. If you start seeing spikes on volume of posts and/or significant changes in your sentiment averages, it’s time to dig deeper. Perhaps you’re seeing a spike in interest in PowerApps after a compelling user group presentation or have network bandwidth issues that are causing issues. Either way, Yammer sentiment analysis can be your early warning indicator that something has changed.

2018: A blogging year in review

2018-abstract-art-285173

Late last year, I was challenged to write and blog more frequently on SharePoint/Office 365. It started as a five-week effort: write five new blog posts in five weeks. The writing didn’t concern me (I was an English & Journalism major; writing comes naturally). I was worried about coming up with meaningful topics to write on. I dove in and managed to get five posts written by the five-week deadline. I congratulated myself for the effort, relieved to be done. But after taking a couple of weeks off, I realized I missed it.

This year, I extended the model. I wasn’t sure I could manage a blog post per week, so I set a goal of publishing three blog posts per month. The results exceeded my own expectations! Here’s my 2018 blogging year-in-review:

Total # of blog posts in 2018: 43
Total # of words: 20,629
Average words per post: 480

Just like my five-week challenge, I was certain the biggest obstacle was going to be coming up with topic ideas. But here’s the thing–the more I blogged, the more topic ideas I came up with. There were only a couple of times this year when I was stumped for a new topic to blog about.

One of the biggest surprises this year was popularity of individual blog posts. Turns out I’m often a bad predictor of which posts will resonate with readers. I had to learn to write and publish without pre-judging whether a given post would be deep enough, technical enough, useful enough, etc.. At the end of the day, readers will determine the relative merit of each post. There’s no point in me trying to predict the outcome.

Some blog posts took on a life of their own, generating a great deal of interest. A prime example was my Ignite 2018 post on The importance of Community Managers. I wrote the post in less than 30 minutes (a very quick turnaround by my standards) and wasn’t sure it was deep enough to generate much attention. But the content resonated with the Office 365 community, and it was one of my most-tweeted blog posts of 2018.

I also had to learn to be ready when imagination struck. New blog post ideas can spring up anytime–while driving to work, grocery shopping, talking with other Office 365 practitioners, etc.. I learned to take a few seconds when imagination struck to jot down blog ideas when I had them. I’ve sent myself emails, left myself voice memos, created draft blog posts with a brain dump of ideas, etc. The methodology doesn’t matter–I just need to capture the ideas when I have them.

I’ve also been amazed how quickly (and how slowly) some blog posts come together. My post It’s not about the technology. It’s about the use case was written in 10 minutes after recording REgarding 365 debate #4: Org-wide Microsoft teams. Other posts take an inordinate amount of time and effort. I wrestled with Disruption vs. Value: Keeping your Office 365 Initiative Afloat for 10+ hours before I was happy with the results. While I hate the wrestling process, the outcome is always worth it.

So what am I planning for 2019? I haven’t set a formal goal yet, but want to maintain a frequent pattern of publishing new posts. I love the interaction with readers via Twitter, and have learned to love the writing and review process. Blogging frequently keeps me engaged in learning about Office 365, user adoption, and enterprise governance. It makes me a better employee, a better community contributor, and a better Microsoft MVP.

I’m signing off for 2018 with a summary of my top blog posts (by user views) and my favorite posts of the year. I hope you enjoy them!

Top posts (based on user views):

My favorite posts of 2018:

Participating on episode 21 of Microsoft’s The Intrazone podcast!

I was recently asked to serve on a panel for episode 21 of The Intrazone, Microsoft’s bi-weekly conversation and interview podcast about SharePoint usage and adoption. Hosts Chris McNulty and Mark Kashman recorded the show live at SharePoint Fest Chicago.

The topic for our panel discussion was 2019 predictions for SharePoint. I was asked to represent the user adoption and enterprise governance point of view. Wes Preston outlined his predictions about PowerApps growth, Drew Madelung shared thoughts on OneDrive, and Treb Gatte discussed data visualizations and Power BI.

So what are my top predictions for SharePoint in 2019? Check them out:

  1. User adoption challenges will grow. As organizations realize their users are not homogenous and the traditional methods (e.g. company-wide rollout email communications, “train the trainer” education strategies, instructor-led training classes that focuses on features and not business outcomes) are ineffective, there will be a stronger focus on effective adoption models.
  2. SharePoint hub sites will require enterprise-level governance. Hub sites enable us to bring families of SharePoint sites together with common branding, search, news, and navigation. But hub sites are limited (only 100 hubs allowed per tenant) and site owners may be unsure when and where to use hub sites effectively. I predict many companies will dive headlong into hub sites and later realize that more effective governance of hubs is critical. I recommend creating a hub site governance policy and seeding your organization with strong hub site success stories/examples.

For more on our SharePoint 2019 predictions, check out episode 21 of The Intrazone. And for more on the episode, read Mark Kashman’s blog post.

Thanks to Mark Kashman, Chris McNulty, and their Intrazone team for inviting me to participate. It was a pleasure!