Author: Sarah Haase

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

Determining if you should enable Microsoft Self-Service


To drive effective utilization of Microsoft 365, we have to create new Microsoft Teams, Planner plans, Yammer communities, and SharePoint Online sites on a timely basis. But many organizations have gatekeeping reviews or regulatory requirements that require reviews and/or approvals prior to creating new teams, plans, communities, and sites. The tension between quick creation and required governance leads to difficult decisions:

  • What (if any) approvals should be required in order to get a new team, plan, community, or site?
  • How quickly should the new team, plan, community, or site be provided? Is 2 hours quick enough? How about 2 days? 2 weeks?
  • Who should be able to request a new team, plan, community, or site? And should they have to declare a business purpose or specify the type of data (e.g. company confidential, personal information, highly classified, etc.) included?
  • Who will approve the creation of teams, plans, communities, and sites?

You also need to decide what type of self-service model you’d like to leverage. A request and fulfillment model begins with an employee completing an intake request for a team, plan, community, or site. This intake would then be processed on an automated or manual basis. If the request was found to be valid (within appropriate parameters), the new team, plan, community, or site request would be fulfilled. A create and certify model enables employees to create and use their new teams, plans, communities, and sites immediately. Creators would then receive required attestation or registration forms that must be completed within an allotted time period or their new team, plan, community, or site will be deleted. Some companies use a certify and create model where employees complete a required registration process and are then provided a new team, plan, community, or site.

Your organizational culture, regulatory requirements, and governance/auditing needs should drive your decisions on enabling Microsoft 365 self-service. There is no one-size-fits-most model for success. In Episode 24 of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we share ideas for choosing a self-service model, provide examples of what we’ve seen work well, and give some getting-started ideas. We hope you enjoy the episode!

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


Microsoft 365 is huge. Where should companies start?

In this week’s episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we were asked where & how companies should get started with M365. It’s far from a one-size-fits-most answer, as company needs differ widely. Drivers to get to the cloud can include:

  • Need to support Work From Home during COVID
  • Need to support regulatory requirements for data classification, version control, etc.
  • Need to support a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy for a distributed, remote, and mobile workforce
  • Need for stronger employee collaboration
  • Need to move off old hardware that is too expensive to maintain/support
  • Need to drive parity in software versions for all employees
  • An upcoming renewal fee that requires getting off a legacy system

And many more…

We shared our experiences guiding clients through the M365 onboarding process, recommending a start in the identity and security space. From there we examined workloads across M365, sharing how we’ve seen other companies proceed. While many organizations start with email first, we also discussed rollouts of Microsoft Teams (both with and without SharePoint/OneDrive enablement), Stream, and Yammer.

We hope you enjoy the episode!

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

Getting started with SharePoint home sites

SharePoint home sites provide a landing page and a Microsoft 365 “home” for your organization. An effective home site brings together personalized organizational news for your employees along with events, conversations, videos, and content.

Your home site will be your Microsoft 365 home base. Your tenant admin can configure your Microsoft 365 navigation bar so users are taken to your home site when they click on your company logo. And when mobile users click on the “home” icon in their SharePoint mobile app, they’ll be taken to your home site.

As the new Microsoft 365 landing site for your organization, your home site needs to engage users, reflect your brand identity, and highlight key organizational news and messaging. And if you incorporate SharePoint shy headers and megamenu navigation, your home site can connect your employees with key SharePoint sites and hubs across your tenant. When home sites are paired with company branding, hub sites, and effective site designs, they support your organization’s intelligent intranet.

You can only have one home site in  your tenant, and the home site must be a SharePoint Communications site. Your home site can also be a hub site.

A natural progression
Many organizations already have a de-facto home site within their tenant. The site may serve as their launchpad for Microsoft 365, providing getting-started information for their users. Building a de-facto home site can be a great stepping stone on the path to implementing the intelligent intranet at your organization. Making your de-facto home site a SharePoint Communications site will ensure the site can be promoted to an official home site when you are ready.

Enabling a home site
Your administrator will need to use PowerShell to elevate your SharePoint Communications into a home site. When you designate a home site for your tenant, the site receives several key feature enhancements:

  • It becomes an official organizational news site
  • Its search scope is automatically reset to be tenant-wide
  • It is linked to from the home button on your SharePoint mobile app (enabling 1-click access)
  • It is connected to your SharePoint start page

Want to see sites in action?
Check out the SharePoint look book ( to see some beautifully-built example sites. Microsoft even enables you to provision the sites in your tenant!

More information on home sites

And don’t forget to check out our Microsoft 365 Voice podcast episode on home sites and hubs:

The top 5 Microsoft Teams features every business user should know

20200713_155334454_iOSIn this week’s episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we were asked to share the top 5 Microsoft Teams features every business user should know. We couldn’t stop at 5, so welcome to our top 19 Teams features! A quick list of features discussed is provided below. Watch the episode for more details.

  1. Adding apps (e.g. Yammer) to your Teams navigation rail
  2. Live captioning
  3. Integrating key documents into Teams tabs
  4. Using two Teams instances (Teams application and Teams in your browser) when sharing your screen in meetings
  5. Blurred background
  6. Raise your hand
  7. Teams mobile app
  8. Automated permission enablement of files shared in a private chat
  9. Teams command bar
  10. Ability to share conversation history when you add someone to a chat
  11. Meeting notes & whiteboarding
  12. Transcription of recorded Teams meetings (just let everyone know they’re being recorded!)
  13. Creating a well-designed Team (using tabs, adding quick links to key documents, etc.)
  14. Ability to email a Teams channel
  15. Quickly notify team members of a key channel post by typing @team in your post
  16. Using tags in Microsoft Teams to notify key team members
  17. Using the Files tab in your Teams navigation rail to see recently-edited Microsoft 365 files
  18. Teams camera switching (useful if you have multiple webcams)
  19. Pinning a video during a Teams meeting so you can zoom in on a speaker

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

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:

    • 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.