Podcast

Would you ever use SharePoint Online without Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams has become the primary solution for collaboration amongst work teams. In Episode 49 of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we discuss whether we’d use SharePoint without Microsoft Teams.

Of course, Microsoft Teams relies heavily on SharePoint Online for its file storage and document library controls. But SharePoint has several key advantages that keep it a frontrunner in the collaboration space:

  • SharePoint team sites & Communication sites are still important. SharePoint is a great solution for publishing content to a large group of people for ongoing consumption (e.g. news sites, intranet sites, etc.). Audience targeting enriches these publishing capabilities, enabling discreet data dissemination to the right people at the right time.
  • SharePoint home sites drive utilization of key new features like the SharePoint App Bar, global navigation, etc. Failing to take advantage of SharePoint will limit your navigation opportunities within Microsoft 365 as a whole (including Microsoft Teams).
  • SharePoint news is a critical component of your organizational content. Even if everyone in your organization is using Microsoft Teams, the ability to publish and manage dissemination of news via SharePoint is vital. SharePoint news enables cross-publishing across Microsoft 365, integrates page and Yammer comments, etc.
  • SharePoint Syntex integration for document understanding & forms processing. As we’ve discussed in previous episodes, SharePoint Syntex deploys models to your document libraries. These models leverage machine-learning and AI to analyze, route, and tag documents and forms.

We hope you enjoy the episode!

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

How do you track your work tasks?

Episode 47 of the Microsoft 365 Voice is all about task management!

Mike, Antonio, and I share details on how we track our personal and professional tasks. Key highlights include:

  • Yes, we still love Outlook tasks. All of us use Outlook tasks for managing individual work deliverables. I love seeing my tasks alongside my Outlook calendar. It helps me plan my day and my week.
  • Dates are critical (for some of us). All three of us handle task prioritization and due dates differently. I manage tasks daily, Mike manages his week-to-week, and Antonio has a custom approach. Listen in for ideas on how you can track your daily, weekly, and global tasks.
  • Task categorization (or task ordering) is vital. Some of us use color coding/categorization of our Outlook tasks, while others order tasks by priority.
  • Planner is key for projects. We all have experience using Planner for tracking projects, customer deliverables, etc. Planner is a great way to “live out loud” with shared tasks that others can see.
  • Task organization is related to email organization. I move emails out of Inbox constantly. Simply put, I want to be as close to Inbox zero every day as I can. This same methodology ties into my daily management of Outlook tasks. Mike and Antonio have a different way of managing their email Inbox and their tasks. There is no one-size-fits-most strategy.

Enjoy the episode!

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

Should you use a default label with Microsoft Information Protection (MIP)?

We took another deep-dive into MIP on Episode 46 of the Microsoft 365 Voice. This episode focuses on the importance of defining your label strategy, including the use of a default label. Here are a few of the topics Antonio, Mike, and I covered in the episode:

  • Plan your Compliance strategy up-front. Determine who needs to be involved in your Compliance strategy and carefully consider what labels you will use. Changing your sensitivity labels mid-stream can have dire effects on both your users and the veracity of your information protection program. Taking extra time to plan your strategy up-front will serve you best in the long run.
  • If you’re requiring sensitivity labels, you should set a default label. If you don’t, your users will hit a speedbump each time they try to save a file or send an email. Having a default label applied automatically will fulfill the requirement for a label, streamlining the employee technology experience. And as Antonio mentions in the episode, companies that have rolled out required labels without a default label have run into mechanical issues with file syncing, etc.
  • Can you have more than one default label in a single tenant? As Antonio explains, you can set up a default label for each of your sensitivity label policies. Depending on your information protection needs, you may want (or need) several policies. You can set up different policies for different users in your organization (giving users in Group A a different default label than users in Group B, for example). You cannot set up different policies based on type of content (e.g. emails vs. files).
  • Setting up different default labels for different departments can be a slippery slope. Too many exceptions and differences in the rules can fracture your users’ understanding of how MIP works. And as employees change roles or department reorgs occur, you’ll be in a never-ending swirl of moving users between policies and re-educating users on what their default label is.
  • Consider label exceptions carefully. To be effective, your information protection strategy needs to reach all your users. Granting exceptions that exclude some users in your organization from having to apply labels can erode your security posture and effectiveness.

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

A Compliance conversation with Joanne Klein

We’re thrilled to have our friend and fellow MVP Joanne Klein join us on Episode 45 of the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast. Joanne specializes in Compliance and Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) and has great guidance to offer organizations as they traverse the Compliance space. Here are a few of the topics covered in this episode:

  • There are always new things to learn. Joanne shared a bit about her background in the Compliance space and gave us some insights into the learning she’s doing as part of her new role as a Global Black Belt for Microsoft.
  • Think “big picture” first. Joanne recommends organizations start their Compliance journey with broad discussions on goals and key drivers. Laying a foundation that outlines organizational risk tolerance and data security needs will help you make detailed Compliance decisions (e.g. retention schedules, automatic archiving) down the road.
  • End-users are key to your success. New automation capabilities can help auto-tag documents and apply retention labels, but technology alone can’t close all your Compliance and security gaps. To ensure your content is labeled and secured appropriately, you need your end-users to play an active role. Ensuring they know how to label content (and how to choose the correct label) is a key part of your Compliance success story.
  • “Perfect is the enemy of good.” Content tagging isn’t an exact science. There is no perfect strategy (or ideal set of labels) that will ensure all your content is tagged appropriately. Even if you use auto-classification, there is still a margin of error for content to be mislabeled. Set realistic expectations on what you can achieve with appropriate controls, automation, and end-user education.
  • Identify who your decision-makers are. Build a RACI model to define who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed about your Compliance decisions. Do you have a Compliance Manager? Is the Compliance team driving decisions? What role does your security team have?

We hope you enjoy the conversation.

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

A SharePoint Syntex & Microsoft Viva conversation with Chris McNulty

We’re excited to have Chris McNulty, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft, join us on the Microsoft 365 Voice to discuss Project Cortex, SharePoint Syntex, and the newly-announced Microsoft Viva! There’s a lot to share in this space, especially since Microsoft’s unveiling of Microsoft Viva on February 4, 2021.

Our conversation with Chris spanned a wide range of topics, including:

Advantages of using SharePoint Syntex with an E5 license. SharePoint Syntex is licensed per-user-per-month as an add-on product. Chris helped us understand the key advantage of using SharePoint Syntex with E5 for automated classification and labeling.

Understanding how SharePoint Syntex document understanding models work – and how the models can be optimized for content variations. Chris explained how predictable patterns in your data makes it easier for SharePoint Syntex to label content and extract key pieces of metadata.

A view into how Microsoft chose the names Project Cortex, SharePoint Syntex, and Microsoft Viva. Chris even gives a hint about the future of the Project Cortex name…

What are “explanations” in SharePoint Syntex? Explanations are the “hints” you build into your document understanding model. The explanations teach your model how to identify patterns in your data. Chris provides helpful tips for teaching your users how to think about and use explanations in their models.

Introducing Microsoft Viva! Microsoft Viva is a new employee experience platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights. Viva can help organizations foster a culture that empowers and brings people and teams together and helps everyone be their best. Microsoft Viva integrates with Microsoft Teams, bringing four new focus areas:

  • Viva Topics – A new Project Cortex product that automatically organizes content and expertise, enabling people to find the information they need when they need it.
  • Viva Connections – A modern engagement experience designed bring people together and help them find their (digital) way.
  • Viva Learning – Engages employees in formal and informal learning opportunities that drive growth.
  • Viva Insights – Leverages analytics to provide insights and recommendations for personal well-being and employee productivity.

Chris does a great job explaining why Microsoft is passionate about employee well-being and how Microsoft Viva can help.

To learn more about Microsoft Viva, download the e-book or watch the digital launch event.

SharePoint Online branding: A Microsoft 365 Voice discussion

Episode 43 of the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast features a modern branding discussion with SharePoint developer and Microsoft MVP Thomas Daly. Topics covered during this session include:

  • Navigation is still key. Branding capabilities in SharePoint have evolved significantly in recent years, but navigation is still a critical design component. Effective use of SharePoint hub sites, an organizational Home site, and the soon-to-be-released Global Navigation component in the SharePoint App Bar will ensure your users can effectively find what they need.
  • Stay within your “zones.” Thomas recommends keeping custom development inside the existing boxes (or zones) of your SharePoint Online site pages. Reaching outside these standard zones and manipulating modern pages can cause major difficulties (particularly as Microsoft releases cloud changes). And remember – any custom development you inject is yours to support.
  • Think about the page scrolling impact of a customized SharePoint header and footer. The more you put into your custom header and footer, the more “squeezed” your SharePoint page becomes. Before you develop elaborate headers and footers, consider how the changes will impact your users. You don’t want to require extensive scrolling for them to see the main content on each of your SharePoint pages.
  • Create a SharePoint theme for your site (and don’t alter the default SharePoint themes). You can generate a new theme on your SharePoint site. Thomas recommends focusing the theme on one of your company’s key colors. SharePoint page elements and web parts tie into the SharePoint theme, but it is difficult to have multiple custom colors featured equally.
  • Don’t try and upload your own custom company font. This may seem like an elegant marketing choice, but trying to override the default Microsoft SharePoint fonts can cause significant page rendering issues. If you absolutely need to customize fonts, focus on web part titles and not the body font for your SharePoint pages.
  • Be consistent. Thomas recommends using site templates and site scripts to drive consistency. You can also use SharePoint hub sites to push a consistent branded look and feel experience to associated sites.
  • Check out the SharePoint Lookbook for site design ideas. See stunning visuals of example SharePoint sites and add the example sites to your tenant!

A huge thank you to Thomas Daly for joining us! Hope you enjoy the episode.

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

Our favorite Microsoft 365 moments in 2020

It’s time for the M365 Voice end-of-year episode! Mike Maadarani, Antonio Maio, and I have recorded and released 31 episodes since April 2020! In each episode, we pick a listener question at random and spend 20-30 minutes answering it. We’ve also hosted special guests Mark Kashman, DC Padur, Laurie Pottmeyer, Heather Newman, and Bill Baer. Our shows have focused on topics across the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, from Microsoft Information Protection to Project Cortex, SharePoint Syntex, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Stream, Microsoft Search, SharePoint home sites & hubs, mobility, user adoption, security, and compliance. Click here to check out our full list of episodes.

In our final podcast episode of the year, we highlighted our favorite Microsoft 365 things from 2020. Tune in to hear about our favorite features, roadmap updates, product releases, virtual conferences, community moments, and much more. Here’s a sneak peak at a few of our favorite things:

  • Ability to attend new virtual events like SPS Omaha and M365 Saskatchewan
  • Seeing how quickly Microsoft went to a full remote workforce during COVID
  • Launch of new collaboration features (e.g. integration of Yammer communities in Microsoft Teams, launch of products like Microsoft Lists, etc.)
  • Capabilities like Project Nucleus, which provide the ability to work with your data offline (this is particularly important in geographic areas with unreliable internet coverage)
  • Security updates to M365 (e.g. ability to assign Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels to Teams, SharePoint sites, and M365 groups)

We’ll be back in 2021 with more episodes. If you’d like to have your Microsoft 365 question featured on an upcoming episode, submit it online.

A Microsoft Teams discussion with Laurie Pottmeyer

We’re thrilled to welcome Laurie Pottmeyer, Senior Program Manager for Microsoft Teams, to episode 40 of the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast. We had the chance to ask Laurie all kinds of questions about Microsoft Teams, including:

  • What are your top 5 favorite Microsoft Teams features?
  • Which Microsoft Teams features are you surprised that people don’t talk about much?
  • Microsoft Teams daily active users jumped more than 50% since COVID-19 began, with more than 115 million users working in Microsoft Teams daily. How has the Microsoft engineering team kept up with this growth?
  • How is Microsoft innovating and adding new features to Microsoft Teams while ensuring the product stays secure and performs well?
  • What does a ‘day in the life’ look like for someone on the Microsoft Teams product team?
  • What suggestions and resources do you recommend for companies implementing Microsoft Teams?
  • What upcoming features are you looking forward to most in Microsoft Teams?
  • What trends do you see in how companies roll out Microsoft Teams (e.g. rolling out chat first, then online meetings, collaboration features, etc.)?

Learn more
Laurie recommended several online resources during the episode, including:

Did you know?
This is Laurie’s second appearance on the Microsoft 365 Voice. Mike Maadarani and Antonio Maio interviewed Laurie for episode 2 of the podcast when they were in Orlando for Microsoft Ignite 2019. Laurie is the only guest to appear in multiple Microsoft 365 episodes!

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

How do you know how many labels to use when implementing Microsoft Information Protection (MIP)?

Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) helps your organization discover, classify, and protect your sensitive information. You can use MIP to tag sensitive content and apply information protection policies (e.g. encryption, digital rights management, etc.) to secure content wherever it resides.

One of the many considerations when implementing MIP is determining which sensitivity labels you will use to classify your content. A sensitivity label is a tag (or identifier) that denotes how sensitive the content in the email or document is (e.g. whether it contains public information, company confidential information, personal information, etc.). Sensitivity labels can be applied manually by your employees or via automated policies. You can set up protections for sensitivity types (e.g. auto-encryption of all content containing personal information).

While your organization has a wide array of vital information, Microsoft recommends limiting the number of sensitivity labels you use in your MIP implementation. But how do you decide which sensitivity labels to use? And should you select one of those labels as a default that is auto-set for all content?

Episode 39 of the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast covers this topic in detail. Antonio, Mike, and I all advocate for limiting yourself to 3 or 4 sensitivity labels if possible (5 labels at the most). Here’s a few of the reasons we advocate for such a short list:

  • Fewer labels are easier to remember and use. Your MIP implementation will only be successful if your employees understand when & how to apply a label. Your employees aren’t all information tagging experts, so don’t make them have to know the Dewey Decimal System to tag a document or an email. Keep it simple.
  • Fewer labels makes it easier to determine which label to use when. Keeping to a smaller set of sensitivity labels makes it easier for your users to differentiate between data types. You want users to know when to use a confidential label and when to use a personal information label.
  • Fewer labels make for fewer errors. To maximize the effectiveness of your MIP implementation, you need to ensure a high percentage of your content is labeled correctly. Research shows that end-user sensitivity tagging has a misclassification rate of 30%. (This means that 30% of your content is not tagged with the appropriate label.) Having a small number of well-defined sensitivity labels will help you reduce this misclassification percentage.

You will also need to determine if you want a default sensitivity label (e.g. a label that is automatically applied to all new documents and emails). A default sensitivity label ensures all your content is tagged, but you’ll still need to educate users so they know why and when to use a label other than the default.

Additional tip:
User adoption and education are a vital part of your MIP strategy. To help you get started, Microsoft recently released a user adoption pack for MIP. The pack includes example email communications, PowerPoint training slides, etc. Check it out!

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

Is ‘Inbox Zero’ achievable (or relevant) in a Microsoft Teams world?

In episode 38 of the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast, we tackle the philosophical debate on Inbox Zero (the goal of routinely clearing out your email inbox so it contains zero messages). Antonio, Mike, and I provide our personal views on whether Inbox zero is relevant, realistic, and desirable. We also debate the impact Microsoft Teams has had on our email inboxes and whether Teams has significantly reduced our daily volume of emails sent/received.

It’s interesting that Antonio, Mike, and I have very different comfort levels with managing (or not managing) our email inboxes. We also have very different operating styles when it comes to using (or disabling) notifications in Microsoft Teams.

Listen in and let us know if you are #TeamSarah, #TeamAntonio, or #TeamMike!

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