Introducing Pronouns in Microsoft 365

Microsoft recently announced the ability for people within organizations to share pronouns within their Microsoft 365 profile. This is an exciting change, enabling organizations to create greater opportunities for inclusion.

We highlighted the new capabilities in Episode 93 of the Microsoft 365 Voice:

It’s great to see Microsoft supporting everyone in our community. Pronouns matter. Letting people choose their pronouns and having these pronouns reflected in Microsoft 365 are an important part of respecting everyone’s individuality.

The feature is disabled by default. IT administrators must enable pronouns before users will have the option to provide pronouns in their M365 profile cards. IT administrators should plan for this configuration change to take several hours to fully propagate in their tenant before the pronouns are available for editing.

Employees can choose whether to provide pronouns. Employees aren’t required to add pronouns to their profile cards. Employees that choose to add pronouns will have the pronouns appear on their M365 contact cards.

Microsoft has said more functionality is coming later this year. Stay tuned to the Microsoft 365 roadmap for further news.

Organizations that enable pronouns need to share the news. Consider how you’ll alert your employees that they can now provide their pronouns. Consider using Viva Connections or Viva Engage to spread the news. We provide several ideas during the episode on how to share this news across your organization.

Links to Microsoft articles: Creating the conditions for inclusion: Introducing Pronouns in Microsoft 365, https://aka.ms/M365PronounsUser, https://aka.ms/M365PronounsAdmin

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

In celebration of Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, a time to reflect on, appreciate, and celebrate the contributions women have made to change and improve our lives. As a female technologist, I’m passionate about encouraging and mentoring our #WomenInTech every day. Our female technology leaders face unique challenges. We’re often outnumbered by our male counterparts and can face an uphill journey to prove ourselves. But we bring strengths to the tech workplace: communication and critical-thinking skills, diverse life perspectives, and distinctive ways of solving traditional technology challenges.

This month we’re thrilled to welcome Edith Young to Episode 92 of the Microsoft 365 Voice. Edith is an IT leader with extensive experience in the Microsoft space. She also serves as a mentor and board member for TeamWomen, an organization dedicated to helping women and girls rise together.

We had a great discussion with Edith on the importance of leadership and mentoring. Key topics discussed include:

  • Be OK being uncomfortable. How to lean into discomfort when you’re starting a new role, stretching to take on a new project, etc.
  • Find your truth-tellers. Build relationships with those that will give you an unvarnished perspective on your performance, your personal brand, etc.
  • Build partnerships. Identify the key individuals, leaders, and teams to invest in building strategic partnerships with.
  • Look for leadership inspiration. Join a mentorship circle, take a leadership class, read books on leadership to gain new perspective and ideas.
  • Lean into new opportunities (especially the scary ones). When an unexpected opportunity to stretch and grow comes your way, lean into it.

A big thank you to Edith for joining us. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did!

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

A conversation with Stephen Rose

We’re thrilled to welcome Stephen Rose to Episode 90 of the Microsoft 365 Voice. Stephen is a Senior Marketing Manager for Teams and is the host of Inside Microsoft Teams (aka.ms/InsideMSTeams).

Topics covered in this episode:

An introduction to Teams Premium. Microsoft is bundling 400+ advanced features and artificial intelligence capabilities into Teams Premium. Organizations can purchase Teams Premium for specific users that need features like live meeting translations, intelligent recap, personalized timeline markers, etc.

The power of AI. Many of the Microsoft products we use every day have artificial intelligence. My personal favorite is subtitles in Microsoft PowerPoint. Turn on subtitles before you go into presentation mode, and you’ll see a live transcription of your meeting/presentation. You can transcribe from and to a myriad of languages – and it’s all powered by AI.

The importance of adoption. As Stephen shares, many of our organizations have gone through a profound transformation in the last 3.5 years. Our work here isn’t done. We need to ensure our information workers know and understand the Microsoft Teams capabilities they have – and how these features can help drive strong business outcomes. We also have to build awareness of when a Teams message is better suited than an email (particularly for different types of workers who respond differently to emails than IMs and texts).

Making Teams easier to use. Microsoft is continuing to invest in simplifying the Teams meeting experience, from streamlined content sharing to advanced features like PowerPoint Live.

A big thank you to Stephen for joining us. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did!

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

Talking Power Platform with new MVP Heidi Jordan

We’re thrilled to welcome Heidi Jordan to Episode 89 of the Microsoft 365 Voice. Heidi is one of our newest Microsoft MVPs, an advocate for Women in Technology, and a Power Platform superstar!

Topics covered in this episode:

A SharePoint girl in a Power Platform world. Heidi’s evolution from working in the SharePoint space to expanding into Power Platform (Power Apps, Power Platform, etc.)

Leaning into community. History on how Heidi got involved in the community by speaking, blogging, attending events, etc.

Building your personal brand. Heidi shares how she’s identified herself in the SharePoint and Microsoft 365 community, how she evolved the topics and sessions she likes to present on, etc.

Getting started with process automation. Heidi discusses her approach to identifying business process automation needs for the organizations she works with. She recommends breaking down manual processes into the basics of who/what/when/where/why. Once you define the key process needs and validate what’s most important, you can identify the core requirements for your Power Platform solutions.

Taking a visual approach to designing Power Automate workflows. Heidi talks through her process to visually map out business processes using Visio, PowerPoint, etc. Once she drives agreement on the desired flow, it’s easy to ingest that into Power Automate to create workflows.

The importance of change management and adoption. Business process automation requires buy-in from the information workers that are managing the day-to-day processes you’re automating. Building out features, enhancements, and solutions that make life easier for these information workers will lessen their burden and get them excited to work with you. Take the time to ask them for their wish list items – it’s worth it!

Break your large processes down into smaller chunks. Heidi discusses how she breaks down work processes into smaller Power Automate workflows.

A big thank you to Heidi for joining us. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did!

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

The Best of Summer: A podcast catch-up

It was a beautiful Summer in Minnesota, with warm weather and time spent outside with family and friends. We’re back to school and back to work, so here’s my catch-up blog post on the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast episodes you may have missed over the Summer.

How do you use OneDrive?

A great discussion with Mike Maadarani, Antonio Maio, and I about how we organize our work and personal files with OneDrive and the OneDrive Sync Client. You’ll get tips on how we organize our files by projects or by years, how we archive and search for content, and how we manage files between multiple devices.

How do you use Microsoft Forms?

We use Microsoft Forms to obtain survey and event feedback, manage podcast questions, and handle event sign-ups/registrations. We also discuss how Forms can be used to gather data from clients and employees you work with on a regular basis.

Planning large-scale Microsoft 365 migrations

We touch on many types of migrations, from migrating on-prem to online or tenant to tenant. Mike outlines scaling of migration projects (by number of files, number of users, volume of term store items, and number of third-party tools). He discusses how long the planning and analysis phases of migration projects typically last, as well as the key activities that need to be covered during this stage. Listen in for great tips on how to scope and plan your migration timeline and strategy.

What is Microsoft Defender?

Antonio Maio does a great job outlining the key components of Microsoft Defender, including Defender for Office 365, Defender for Endpoint, Defender for Identity, Defender for Cloud Apps, Defender for Cloud, and Defender for IoT. Listen in for a 20-minute overview of all the products that live in the Microsoft Defender suite.

Why would an organization need more than one SharePoint Syntex Content Center?

Microsoft has made significant changes in the licensing models for SharePoint Syntex over the past 6 months. Users can now access and build document understanding models in SharePoint Syntex without needing a Syntex license. (The Syntex license is required to publish models or to upload files to a document library that has a model associated.) As we discuss, this licensing change could drive the creation of unique content center sites for different business lines. You may want to create a content center site for IT, another for HR, etc. so document understanding models can be organized by division.

If you’re interested in SharePoint Syntex or are trying to determine how to manage/govern your use of SharePoint Syntex, don’t miss this episode!

What is Microsoft Loop?

Need an introduction to Microsoft Loop and ideas for how it can be used? We discuss the use case for Microsoft Loop, provide an impromptu product demo, discuss opportunities and challenges for driving Loop adoption, and discuss Loop security & compliance implications.

How do I choose between a Microsoft Form, a Microsoft List, or a Power App?

This classic ‘what to use when’ episode highlights the similarities and differences between Microsoft’s form-based apps. We provide an overview of each app, highlight when we choose to use each, and how we approach end-user questions on which tool to use when.

Are citizen developers good for the health of your Microsoft 365 tenant?

I love this episode, but there are no easy answers to this question. We discuss the importance of letting your organizational risk tolerance and need for innovation drive your governance policies for citizen development. A helpful start is determining how your organization feels about self-service creation of Microsoft 365 groups. Do you allow all users in your organization to create Microsoft Teams, SharePoint sites, Yammer communities, and Planners on demand? The answer to this key self-service question can be a bellwether indicator of your risk tolerance and desire for self-service innovation.

How do you use Microsoft 365?

A couple of weeks ago, Antonio Maio, Mike Maadarani, and I recorded two live episodes of the M365 Voice while in Las Vegas for the Microsoft 365 Collaboration Conference. We brought in a series of friends and fellow speakers to guest-star, focusing each of the episodes on a single question.

Question 1: What is your opinion of Inbox Zero? Is it achievable or just a load of bunk?

Question 2: Which M365 app do you start your workday in?

Here’s how it worked
Antonio, Mike, and I tackled each question first. Then we brought in fellow speakers one at a time, asking them the question and getting their thoughts.

There are always “teams”

If you’ve watched some of our previous episodes, you know we love to team up and compete to see which podcaster wins. As you listen in on these episodes, let us know if you’re aligned with #TeamMike, #TeamSarah, or #TeamAntonio.

A big THANK YOU to our special guests

These episodes wouldn’t have been possible without David Drever, Heidi Jordan, Drew Madelung, Daniel Glenn, and Pete Simpkins. Thank you for taking the journey with us!

What it means to be a Microsoft MVP

This week Microsoft hosted the 2022 Microsoft MVP Summit. In honor of the event, our Microsoft 365 Voice team discussed our journey to become MVPs.

Unique MVP stories

Antonio Maio, Mike Maadarani, and I had different experiences on our paths to being recognized as MVPs. We share our journeys on this episode, including details on how we got started giving back to the Microsoft 365 community and why we wanted to be MVPs.

It’s all about service – and there are so many paths to take

Being an MVP is all about giving back. Whether your passion and talents lie in public speaking, coordinating events, or answering technical questions, there’s a way for you to engage and share what you know. We highlight many different ways we’ve seen MVPs share their time and talents with others:

  • Speaking at user groups/conferences
  • Blogging
  • Podcasting
  • Hosting virtual or in-person coffee chats
  • Hosting ‘clubhouse’ sessions to answer technical M365 questions
  • Answering questions on the Microsoft tech forums
  • Organizing virtual or local user groups
  • Organizing SharePoint Saturdays or other community-run events
  • Engaging with Microsoft product teams to provide feedback on strategy and features

Finding your path

If you’re interested in becoming a Microsoft MVP, listen in for our ideas on building relationships and tracking your community activities.

Real-world Planner use cases

Several months ago, Antonio Maio, Mike Maadarani and I took a look at Planner in Episode 59 of the Microsoft 365 Voice. Now we’re back in Episode 71 with a more detailed look at how we use Planner for small agile workstreams and projects.

Why we (still) love Planner

Planner works best as a lightweight planning and project management tool. You can use Planner individually to manage personal tasks related to a given project, but it’s ideal for groups of 4-8 people working together on a small project or as part of a working group. We love the Kanban-style view of tasks in Planner. Organizing tasks in buckets works well, particularly if you have 10 or fewer buckets and 100 or fewer open tasks.

You can leverage Planner in your web browser or via Microsoft Teams for easy viewing and task management.

Running daily or weekly project stand-up meetings with Planner

During this episode I highlight how I leverage Planner to facilitate daily or weekly project stand-ups. I share how I limit the number of Planner buckets per project, how I build my task list, and how I leverage the Schedule view in Planner to define task start and due dates. Watch Episode 71 to see the live demo!

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

Managing certifications of your Microsoft 365 groups

Governing and securing your Microsoft 365 content can be difficult, particularly when it comes to maintaining and tracking ownership and permissions for your M365 groups, sites, teams, and communities. In Episode 68 of the Microsoft 365 Voice, Mike, Antonio, and I discuss methodologies we’ve seen for certifying M365 groups.

What are certifications?
Certifications are formal attestations (or evidence) that Microsoft 365 groups, SharePoint Online sites, Microsoft Teams, and Yammer communities have been reviewed. Organizations may require certifications for various reasons, including regulatory requirements, audit needs, security protocols, etc.

What do certifications cover?

Certification requirements vary based on an organization’s industry, security needs, and regulatory requirements. As we discuss in this episode, organizations may require M365 re-certifications at specific intervals (annually, semi-annually, etc.). The contents of certifications differ, but often include a review of M365 group permissions, a validation of who owns/manages the groups, etc.

What should organizations consider when implementing a certification process?

You should start with a review of your organization’s security requirements. Certifications can be expensive and time-consuming to conduct, so it’s important to understand why you need to complete certifications and what the outputs of the process should be. Key questions to consider:

  • What evidence should be gathered and stored as part of your certifications?
  • How often do you need to certify your groups?
  • What defines success? Do you need to have 100% of your groups certified during each cycle or will a lesser percentage (e.g. 95% of groups certified) meet the objective?
  • Who will oversee the certification process?
  • How will you facilitate and support the certification reviews?
  • What tool(s) will you use to gather evidence? Will you survey M365 group owners or have them fill out a PowerApps form to “sign off” on their certification?
  • How will you maintain certification records?
  • Will you retain a master list of M365 group owners?
  • Who is responsible for completing M365 group certifications? Will you require a high-level business officer to complete each review or will the person who grants access to your M365 groups be required to complete the certification?

We hope you find this episode helpful as you consider your M365 certification needs.

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

Where to share important corporate documents

In Episode 67 of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we discuss whether OneDrive, Teams, or SharePoint should be used to share key work documents.

This episode was inspired from a listener’s question: We’re just beginning to use Office 365 and have our important documents in OneDrive. We want to share these files with others. Should we jump to Teams or should we use SharePoint?

We approached this question from a variety of angles:

  • How do you manage corporate records? Do you require official records to be stored in SharePoint or Microsoft Teams? And what types of content do you recommend storing (or not storing) in OneDrive?
  • What granularity level do you want to use for sharing? If you share files from OneDrive, you’ll be sharing at the file or folder level. If you share documents via SharePoint or Microsoft Teams, you’ll have a broader set of sharing protocols in place (e.g. for a department or team).
  • How do you manage retention? You can apply multiple retention policies across SharePoint sites. This may present significant benefits in storing files in SharePoint versus OneDrive.
  • What’s the quickest way to share a file with one (or a few) people? We all appreciate how quick and easy it is to attach (aka share) a OneDrive file to a Teams chat.
  • What happens to OneDrive files when you leave an organization? OneDrive files are tied to a specific user. If that user leaves the organization, additional work will be required to maintain those files. And if the user had their OneDrive files shared broadly with other co-workers, that sharing will need to be set up again once the files are moved from the departed employee’s OneDrive.
  • Ensure you don’t lose document versions. If you change the locations where your documents are stored, you need to ensure you’re not losing access to previous document versions. If your employees download OneDrive files to their PC and re-upload the files to Teams or SharePoint, they will lose access to prior file versions.

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