Author: Sarah Haase

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

Microsoft Teams – Insights from the experts!

ShareGate has assembled a new Ebook with expert insights on deploying, managing, and using Microsoft Teams. From deployment to governance to adoption, learn how to make the most of your Teams deployment!

Here’s a sneak peak into some of the topics covered:

  • Leveraging training as a governance best-practice
  • Consumption doesn’t equal adoption (it’s not all about your volume of teams)
  • Review your default Teams settings – and make sure they work for your org
  • Focus on your user’s needs and pain points (not on cool features)
  • Determine how self-service can help drive growth

Don’t miss my recommendations about having authentic dialogue about your Teams data security (page 36). Enjoy your free copy of Win as a Team!

Integrating Yammer communities in Microsoft Teams

I’m loving the new Yammer app integration in Microsoft Teams. Use the app to highlight Yammer conversation topics that pertain to your team, showcase relevant Yammer communities, and drive employee engagement. The app is fully-functional, enabling users to participate in Yammer conversations without leaving the Teams app. Best of all, the Yammer app leverages the new Yammer user interface!

There are two different ways to integrate Yammer into your Microsoft Teams experience: You can add Yammer to your Teams navigation rail or create a Yammer tab in a team.

Add Yammer to your Teams navigation rail

This option adds a fully-functioning Yammer app to the left-hand navigation menu in Teams:Yammer app in Teams - 09

To add Yammer to your Teams navigation rail:

  1. Go to Microsoft Teams. While on the Teams navigation tab, select the button and select Yammer communities.
    Yammer app in Teams - 01
  2. When the Yammer app appears in your navigation bar, right-click it and select Pin.
    Yammer app in Teams - 02

Add a Yammer tab to your team

This option allows you to add a Yammer tab directly to a Microsoft Teams team. The tab can display a single Yammer community or a Yammer topic. (A Yammer topic is a quick way to tag  your Yammer posts with a common retrieval term. Want a quick way to find all your OneDrive Yammer posts? Just add a #OneDrive topic to each post. You can add topics to your Yammer posts by clicking “add topic” or typing in a hashtag and your topic name.)
Yammer app in Teams - 10

To add a Yammer tab to your team:

  1. Go to Microsoft Teams and navigate to the channel you want to add Yammer to.
  2. Click on the sign next to your channel tabs:
    Yammer app in Teams - 03
  3. Select the Yammer communities box.
    Yammer app in Teams - 04
  4. To add a Yammer community to your team, choose the Yammer Group option, type in a keyword to find your group, select the group, determine whether or not you want to post a message to the channel about this new tab, and click Save.
    Yammer app in Teams - 05
    Your Yammer community will now show up as a tab in your channel:
    Yammer app in Teams - 06
  5. To add a Yammer topic to your team, follow steps 1-3 above. But this time choose the Yammer Topic option, type in the Yammer topic you’d like to use (leaving out the #), determine whether or not you want to post a message about this new tab, and click Save.
    Yammer app in Teams - 07
    All Yammer conversations that include your topic will now display in your new Yammer tab:
    Yammer app in Teams - 08

Things to remember

A few caveats to keep in mind as you work with the Yammer app in Teams:

    • The new Yammer user interface only works on the Teams navigation rail. If you add a Yammer tab to your team, it will display in the old Yammer user interface.
    • The Yammer app only appears when accessing Teams on the web and via your desktop; it isn’t available in the Teams mobile app. You’ll need to use the Yammer mobile app to see your Yammer conversations on the go.
    • You can’t create new Yammer threads from a Yammer topic tab in Teams. By design, the Yammer topic tabs pull in all Yammer conversations with a given topic tag (regardless of which Yammer community the post is in). While you can respond to any of the Yammer topic conversations shown on your tab, you cannot create a new Yammer topic post from the tab.
    • You can add multiple Yammer tabs to a single team. Want to highlight several Yammer communities or topics in a single team? No worries–just follow the steps outlined above and create several Yammer tabs.

For more information, see Microsoft’s documentation.

How quickly can you deploy Microsoft 365 during COVID?

In this week’s episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we discuss how quickly you can onboard an organization to the Microsoft 365 cloud. This is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, when organizations are accelerating their M365 deployments.

We share our experiences working with organizations to deploy Microsoft Teams, Exchange, OneDrive, etc., including typical migration timelines and how orgs are condensing those timelines to enable a huge remote workforce. From accelerating migration timelines to disabling cloud throttling limits, we outline what we’ve seen work (and not work) during an abbreviated deployment schedule.

Moving an organization to M365 within weeks instead of months is a huge lift. It requires a willingness to accept/embrace change, a strong executive and IT support system, and additional funding. Listen in to learn how organizations are managing it.

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

Overcoming SharePoint adoption hurdles

In this week’s Microsoft 365 Voice episode, Mike, Antonio, and I share ideas on overcoming SharePoint user adoption hurdles. Key topics discussed include:

Enjoy the episode!

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

What’s your favorite Surface device?

20200727_144913246_iOSThis week’s Microsoft 365 Voice episode is all about Surface devices! Antonio, Mike, and I discuss which Surface devices we own and how we use each device. Listen in to hear our thoughts on the Surface Laptop, Surface Pro, Surface Go, and Surface Book.

Key topics discussed include:

  • Use cases (which devices we prefer using for presentations, demos, entertainment, travel, etc.)
  • Preferences in choosing Surface devices (screen size, weight, storage capacity, etc.)
  • How and when we chose to upgrade our Surface devices (e.g. going from the Surface Pro 3 to the Surface Pro 6)
  • What types of files we store locally on our devices

Enjoy the episode!

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


Choosing when to use a Teams private channel, a Yammer community, or a SharePoint site

This “what to use when” episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice explores when to use Teams private channels versus Yammer communities or SharePoint Online sites. Key topics discussed include:

  • Prerequisites for creating Teams private channels
  • Use cases for Teams private channels
  • Overview of how Teams private channels are secured
  • Types of Yammer communities you can create (public, private, and secret)
  • Use cases for private and secret Yammer communities
  • Discoverability of Teams private channels and Yammer communities
  • Granular access controls for SharePoint
  • How to choose the right solution for your collaboration needs (e.g. ease of use, accessibility of files, and desired audience).

Enjoy the episode!

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


What is the difference between SharePoint home sites and hubs?

This episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice is all about SharePoint home sites and hubs. Key topics discussed include:

  • What are home sites and hubs? And how do they differ?
  • How many home sites and hubs can you have in your Microsoft 365 tenant?
  • How do you get started with home sites and hubs?
  • How are home sites and hubs created?
  • Can a hub be a home site?
  • Will hubs be included in SharePoint Server 2019?
  • Tips for using hubs, including “sticky” hub site branding.

Correction: During the episode, we said we weren’t sure whether admins could remove a home site once it was defined in their tenant. A huge thank you to Microsoft for clarifying – you can use the Remove-SPOHomeSite PowerShell command to remove a home site.

Enjoy the episode!

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


SharePoint hub site branding is “sticky”

Hubs bring families of SharePoint sites together with shared branding, a unified navigation experience, and news and event content roll-ups. Hubs are dynamic and can grow and change with your organization. As departments re-organize, you can change your hub site associations and sites will automatically update to reflect the branding of their newly-assigned hubs.

But what happens when you remove a hub site association?
Let’s say you’ve designed a beautifully themed SharePoint Online site. You’ve spent hours perfecting the site, and it looks phenomenal! You decide to associate your site to the Human Resources hub so it can be tied into your company’s information architecture. You open your site, go to Settings > Site Information and select the Human Resources (HR) Hub from the Hub site association dropdown field. Within seconds, your site is joined to the HR hub and has assumed its branded look and feel.

Now let’s say you’ve had a change of heart and want to remove your site from the HR hub. You go back to Settings > Site Information and set the Hub site association dropdown to “None.” Your site will be removed from the hub, but the hub’s branded look and feel will “stick.” You will be able to update your site’s branding now that it is no longer associated with a hub, but you cannot revert back to the branding your site had before it was associated to a hub.

Implications for your SharePoint site owners
The implications of this “sticky” hub site branding are significant. Let’s say, for example, that your site owners don’t understand what the Hub site association dropdown in the Site Information panel means. They choose to associate their site to a hub without understanding the implications, and suddenly their site has updated branding. While site owners can go in and remove the hub site association, there is no “undo” function that will allow them to revert back to their site’s previous branding. That branding is forever lost once they associate to a hub.

So what can you do to prepare?
Here are a few options for navigating sticky hub branding:

  1. Educate your site owners about what hubs are and what the Hub site association dropdown field does. Make sure they’re aware that hub site branding is sticky.
  2. Consider adding hub site approval flows. These automated Power Automate flows force all hub site join requests to go through a required approval process. This is a great opportunity for hub site owners to identify sites that should not be associated with their hubs.
  3. Restrict who can see and join hubs. You can define specific users or mail-enabled security groups that can “see” your hub in the Hub site association dropdown field. By limiting which hubs are visible, you can control which hubs your site owners can associate to.
  4. Incorporate site designs and site scripts to automate the re-branding of your SharePoint sites.
  5. Build a “staging” hub that resets sites to your corporate brand standard. Build your staging hub with a standard company brand look and feel. When you have a SharePoint site that needs a reset of its branding and theme, simply associate the site to your staging hub. You can remove the hub site association once the site re-brand is complete.

Sticky hub branding examples
Image 1: A SharePoint site with branded look and feel. This site has not yet been associated with a hub.
Hub site branding - 01

Image 2: The site has been associated to the Human Resources hub and has inherited the hub’s look and feel.
Hub site branding - 03

Image 3: The site has been removed from the Human Resources hub, but has retained the hub’s sticky branding:
Hub site branding - 05

Is Microsoft 365 adoption a project or a service?

Historically, many of our waterfall IT implementation projects classified training as part of the project rollout effort. End-user communications were done in broad waves (usually via mass employee e-mails or non-personalized intranet news articles), and training efforts were limited to a phase of the project rollout schedule. With our move to agile, many organizations have expanded training in an effort to drive sustained user adoption. But the critical question still remains: Should Microsoft 365 adoption be treated as part of your rollout project or as an ongoing service?

In most cases, the answer is dictated by funding. Organizations with a fixed-dollar approach to implementing Microsoft 365 tend to view end-user training and adoption as a part of the implementation project (regardless of whether they’re running in waterfall or agile). Organizations with a more fluid funding model or a cultural drive for ongoing employee education may invest in resources to support ongoing Microsoft 365 user adoption efforts.

How do project-based and service-based adoption efforts differ?
Project-based user adoption is temporary, with a defined start and end date. If you’re running adoption as a service, you’ll be investing in user adoption on a continuous basis. You may be staffing virtual or in-person office hours, leading training classes, hosting user group meetings, coaching employees on how to use Microsoft 365, etc.

Adoption project or service-01

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, user adoption isn’t a temporary effort. There is no magic formula for success and adoption doesn’t have an end date. If you want successful adoption of Microsoft 365, you’ll need to build, evolve, and drive adoption from now until the day you stop leveraging the platform. Even the most successful adoption programs will die without dedicated attention and fresh ideas.

What does an agile adoption service look like?
Agile Microsoft 365 adoption services will vary by organization and industry. There is no one-size-fits-most approach to building a successful adoption service – you will need to figure out what works for your users.

A few key things to take into consideration as you design your adoption service:

  • Ongoing resource availability. Adoption requires time. You can run successful adoption programs with employee volunteers, but it is always beneficial to have staff dedicated to driving Microsoft 365 adoption. Dedicated staff give you access to time and resources on an ongoing basis, along with the ability to track adoption goals as part of employee performance.
  • Focus on the outcomes. User adoption isn’t an exact science. A user adoption best-practice that has worked amazingly well in one organization will completely fail at another. Your users and your company culture have an immense impact on the success or failure of your adoption initiatives. I recommend taking an iterative, outcome-based approach to user adoption. Try out new ideas with an adaptable mindset. See what works and what doesn’t, and don’t get attached to ideas until you know they work for your organization.
  • Be creative. When you run a long-term adoption service, you run the risk of users tuning out your message. You’ll need to evolve your approach and messaging to be noticed. Don’t be afraid to be creative and think outside the box!

How much control do you enforce on your Microsoft 365 services?

In this episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we discuss controls you should enforce on your Microsoft 365 services. This is a broad topic, and the approach taken needs to reflect your organization’s use cases, risk acceptance stance, industry, and regulatory needs.

Key topics discussed:

  • Should you enable all your M365 services (e.g. email, OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Teams, etc.) at once? We discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a holistic “big bang” rollout versus enabling services individually or in small groups.
  • How do you manage and secure M365 mobile apps? Do you enable mobile app access at the same time you enable browser or desktop applications (e.g. do you roll out Teams for desktop, browser, and mobile simultaneously)? And how will you manage your mobile security?
  • The importance of planning. Understand your organization’s needs, your appetite for control and risk, and how the Microsoft 365 services work together before you build your rollout and enforcement plans.

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