SharePoint Saturday New York City

I’m thrilled to be heading to NYC to speak at SharePoint Saturday New York City on July 28, 2018. Daniel Glenn and I will be co-presenting a new session at the event: Driving adoption of Microsoft Flow, one solution at a time. We’ll provide an introduction to Microsoft Flow, provide practical guidance on how to drive adoption, outline common workflow use cases, and illustrate how SharePoint Online can serve as a community knowledge center. Attendees will also learn how to build a reusable Microsoft Flow template gallery that enables easy sharing of workflows between business teams.

Registration for SharePoint Saturday New York City is already open. Check out the event schedule for details on all the sessions and the speakers page for details on who else is speaking. Please plan to join us–it promises to be a great event!

Join us for a LIVE REgarding 365 discussion about Microsoft’s upcoming Office user interface changes

Microsoft announced today that big user interface changes are on the way for Microsoft Office. The changes will be coming to Office Online first, but will eventually impact the desktop applications as well. Several members of the REgarding 365 team (myself, Loryan Strant, Daniel Glenn, and Darrell Webster) reviewed the changes and discussed organization strategies to drive adoption. Check out the video recording below

The importance of seeing your Office 365 users as individuals…

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Our users make their own choices. They choose where, why, and how to invest their time and energy on a daily basis. Yes, they can be required to fill out a vacation request form stored in SharePoint Online and yes, they can be required to upload their documents to a SharePoint site or to their OneDrive if access to their shared drives has been disabled. But it’s a fallacy to believe that closing doors and forcing users down a single path will achieve buy-in. Forcing usage of SharePoint and Office 365 doesn’t allow for exploration, curiosity, and growth. Users will grudgingly meet the minimum expectations, but will not invest in learning the platform.

The only path to generate true engagement is through voluntary adoption. And the core tenet of voluntary adoption is personal choice. In order for users to engage and choose Office 365, they must decide for themselves that Office 365 provides them with a net benefit. Our job as Office 365 practitioners is to drive change at the individual (not the organizational) level. This individual focus ties into our communication and training efforts. As my previous post “It’s time to be user-centric” outlines, one-size-fits-all models for driving adoption (e.g. mass email communications without personalized messaging, antiquated “train the trainer” models, and old-school documentation that focuses on features instead of business needs) won’t drive change at the individual level. A user-centric approach that accounts for individual needs and learning styles will drive engagement and excitement, building business champions that will serve as Office 365 evangelists.

So what needs to change?
IT leadership must realize that users are not a collective to be assimilated, positioned, or maneuvered. Successful adoption of Office 365 cannot be mandated, and users must be engaged as a group of individuals that make independent choices. Designing our adoption campaigns to account for individual needs and learning styles will drive engagement and stronger results.

#SPC18 session recap: Leverage Intelligent Video to Power a Collaborative Organization with Microsoft Stream

This week I’ve had the privilege to attend and speak at the 2018 SharePoint Conference. The conference has been amazing–great content, a fun venue, and fantastic speakers and attendees.

One of the sessions I’ve been looking forward to attending centers on Stream, including an overview of the app, a demo of its Office 365 integration, and migration paths from Office 365 Video. Check out my “pseudo” live blog of the session below. (I call it a “pseudo” live blog because I’m posting the recap in its entirety at the end of the session.)

Leverage Intelligent Video to Power a Collaborative Organization with Microsoft Stream

  • “Video is becoming ubiquitous in our personal and work lives”
  • As humans, we can process video 60,000 times faster than text (Liraz Margalit, Ph.D)
  • Key scenarios for use of video in organizations:
    • Executive communications
    • Training
    • Onboarding
    • Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing (usage is increasing due to the ease of creating video content. Subject matter experts are increasingly leveraging video to share what they know with others)
  • Stream is an enterprise video service; a destination where all the videos in your organization can be stored and discovered
  • The Stream homepage includes:
    • Trending videos
    • Spotlight videos (aka videos that have been “pinned” to appear by a Stream administrator)
    • Stream video watchlist
    • List of Stream channels I’ve followed
  • PowerPoint can be used as your video creation tool. The PowerPoint Recording tab enables you to create your recording. The Publish to Stream button converts your PowerPoint video into an MP4 file and automatically uploads it to Stream
  • All videos in Stream are automatically closed-captioned if the video is labeled as English or Spanish
  • Full-scale video transcripts are created for E5 customers. The transcripts are displayed alongside the Stream video, are editable by the video owner and allow users to jump to any point of video by clicking on the transcript. (Note: Only videos in English and Spanish are automatically transcribed).
  • E5 customers also have a People tab that appears under each Stream video. A picture of each person featured in the Stream video is shown. Click on a picture to jump to the point of the video where they are featured
  • Video analytics and REST APIs are not yet available in Stream
  • Stream videos are not available for searching in Delve at this time
  • Upload limit for a single Stream video is 50GB

Office 365 integration:

  • Stream supports Office 365 groups. Channels can be leveraged within an Office 365 group to segment videos by need/subject/audience
  • Each Office 365 group gets a unique landing page in Stream. This allows for highlighting of group videos
  • A Stream web part is available for SharePoint Online. The web part can be used to share a single Stream video or an entire Stream channel. All videos are played directly within the SharePoint Online page
  • Stream tabs can also be created in Teams. The Stream tab can display individual Stream videos or entire Stream channels
  • Yammer integration is also available
  • The goal is to continue evolving Stream integration into other Office 365 products

Stream administration:

  • All Office 365 global admins are Stream admins by default. You can also denote other individuals to be Stream admins
  • Stream admins can:
    • Set spotlight videos (aka videos that will be tagged to display on the Stream homepage carousel)
    • Configure a Stream video upload policy. Once defined, the policy will pop-up when a new user uploads a Stream video. The policy must be read and accepted before the user can continue
    • View storage consumption. Default Stream storage is 500GB, plus 0.5GB of storage per user. Additional storage can be purchased
    • Restrict the use of comments on videos. Individual video owners can restrict comments for their videos even if Stream comments are turned on by default
    • Restrict who can upload videos and create Stream channels
    • Run reports on Stream users. User reports include:
      • User’s unique ID
      • A list of the user’s uploaded videos
      • A list of the videos the user has access to
      • A list of channels the user has created
      • A list of all the groups the user is a member of
      • A list of all comments the user has made on Stream videos
    • Alter Stream videos (normally only video owners can edit video details)
    • Delete video comments

Stream permissions:

  • Stream videos can be secured with unique permissions. You can name specific users, leverage Active Directory groups or define an Office 365 group
  • No security can be set up for a Stream video channel on its own. Permissions are managed at the individual Stream video level or at the Office 365 group level
  • Stream does not support guest or external anonymous user access (possibly coming in 2019). In order to view a video in Stream today, all users must have an Office 365 Stream license

Office 365 Video to Stream migration:

  • Microsoft is programmatically going to migrate customers. Beta migrations are occurring in May 2018, with opt-in and opt-out customer migrations coming afterwards. (No specific timeline has been set.) Eventually, customers will not be able to opt-out; all Office 365 Videos will be migrated to Stream programmatically
  • Migration process is built into the browser interface. All content will be available for review in Stream before you go live

Stream roadmap (aka future items being defined and/or developed):

  • Stream mobile app with offline playback
  • Responsive channel web part for SharePoint
  • Teams meeting recordings auto-published to Stream
  • Branding via Office 365 suite navigation bar
  • External public anonymous videos
  • Video analytics/stats
  • Integration with enterprise search
  • Playlists
  • Interactive videos

Links for more information

Document library versioning changes coming soon for OneDrive for Business and team sites in SharePoint Online

UPDATE: On July 18, 2018, Microsoft announced an update to this SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business versioning change:

“Since this announcement, we have received feedback from our customers on this functionality and timing. First off, thank you for your valuable feedback. We hear you and are making changes to accommodate different customer needs. With that said, we will be providing an option to opt out of the site versioning requirements.”

As I mentioned in my original post, enforcing a minimum of 100 document versions in all SharePoint Online and OneDrive document libraries may significantly impact document retention policies for many organizations. The delayed implementation of this versioning increase (and the ability to opt out of it entirely) is a great outcome for companies with strong legal and compliance policy risks or concerns.

Companies wishing to opt out of the versioning setting update will need to execute a SharePoint Online Management Shell cmdlet. This cmdlet will need to be executed by the end of September 2018. Without the cmdlet, your tenant will be updated to the new versioning settings in October 2018. For details on executing the cmdlet, see Microsoft’s updated versioning announcement.


On May 16, 2018, Microsoft announced a big change to the default versioning settings for document libraries in OneDrive and SharePoint Online team sites. Versioning will now be enabled by default in document libraries and a minimum of 100 major versions of each document will be retained. This change will impact OneDrive for Business and all SharePoint Online team sites, regardless of whether the sites are connected to an Office 365 group or not. The change will not impact any on-premises SharePoint document libraries.

Targeted Release customers will start receiving this update in early June, and all tenants will receive the change by the end of July. As part of the change, any document library that does not have versioning enabled will be updated to retain 100 major document versions. Document libraries that have versioning enabled with a limit of less than 100 versions will have the version limit increased to 100. Document libraries that already have a version limit of 100 or more will be left as-is. Once this change is rolled out to your tenant, site owners and administrators will no longer be able to disable document library versioning or set a versioning limit of less than 100.

This is a big shift for SharePoint practitioners and evangelists. Many of us have advocated for strong version limits in our legacy SharePoint document libraries due to storage concerns. Unlimited versioning (or a high versioning limit) drove up site sizes, which in turn created site collection storage allocation limit issues. With the advent of Office 365, our ever-increasing amounts of storage in SharePoint Online, and our evolved approach to keeping site collections small and flat, storage concerns are no longer a primary driver for setting low versioning limits. Microsoft is also relying on versioning data to support an array of new features (e.g. file auto-save and OneDrive file restores).

It’s vital that SharePoint Online administrators and site owners understand these versioning changes and discuss the new minimum storage requirements with their business users. Compliance and legal teams should also be notified, as the required minimum versions may necessitate stronger eDiscovery controls or updates to your organization’s retention policies.

Minnesota SharePoint User Group (MNSPUG) Recap

MNSPUGToday’s blog post is a “pseudo” live blog of the May 2018 MNSPUG meeting. I say “pseudo” because I’m posting the recap in its entirety at the end of the session (instead of posting a series of short bursts during the session). I hope you enjoy the short, bullet-style recap of the meeting!

Meeting Topic

This month’s MNSPUG meeting featured several real-world case studies from user group members. Each presenter was asked to cover several key questions:

  • What was the business need?
  • What options did you have for solving the need?
  • Why did you choose the solution you did?
  • How did you implement the solution?
  • Was there any ROI on the solution?

Summaries of each case study are provided below.

Joseph Satre (Carver County)

  • Modernized the county jail’s invoice and payment tracking system, which is used to process invoices and receipts
  • All jail guests are charged $20/day. Invoices are generated upon a person’s release
  • Previous solution included an Excel spreadsheet, an Access database and a Word document. This process generated many records for the same invoice
  • Key requirements: track all invoice records and payments; generate both electronic and paper invoices; and allow reports to be generated with current balance data
  • Built the solution in SharePoint for licensing cost-saves. Jail services teams are also familiar with SharePoint, so adoption was going to be streamlined
  • Solution enables stronger revenue recapture on outstanding balances. All accounts are flagged when a balance remains after 90 days and those with past-due invoices are clearly identified
  • New solution has driven a 50% reduction in manual processing hours

Noah Spannbauer (Minnesota Twins)

  • Created a centralized event-based visual solution that imports event information from multiple locations/sources: SharePoint, SQL, Excel, Publisher, and Outlook public folders
  • Makes it easier for people to see relevant information and make decisions
  • Leverages a custom SharePoint Framework application
  • SharePoint search API is used to return events based on content type name and date range
  • SharePoint 2016 calendar with color-coded events makes for a strong visual display and easy filtering by event type
  • They’ve seen more ROH (Return on Happiness) than straight ROI (Return on Investment)
  • First impressions of the solution have been very positive, but they still have a lot of work to do to migrate users from self-made solutions to the SharePoint visual calendar
  • Their primary user adoption approach is to sit down with content owners to determine how best to ingest their data

Don Donais (Ameriprise Financial)

  • Migrated 1,100+ sites to SharePoint Online in 6 months
  • Restructured along the way, moving from a few “deep” site collections into many site collections with a relatively small number of sub-sites in each
  • Used a SharePoint site to distribute information and communications to site owners, project team members, and the technical migration team. Also used the site for various migration reporting dashboards
  • All site owners were required to fill out a survey indicating how they wanted to migrate their site. Options included: decommission (aka no migration), self-migrate (they re-create their site manually in SharePoint Online), migrate as-is (migration team would use a tool to lift-and-shift their site), and “pick-and-choose” content (site owners would get a fresh new SharePoint Online site; migration team would lift-and-shift selected lists and document libraries to the new site)
  • Leveraged a rubric to determine the migration level of difficulty for all sites. The difficulty level enabled the teams to schedule migrations for maximum throughput
  • Used a single SharePoint list to manage all migrations and schedule migration waves. Workflows were used to send automated site owner communications based on list status updates

Change by color: The secret of green dots, yellow dots and red dots

blue-bright-candy-827066_croppedI had an insightful user adoption conversation with Yammer product evangelist Steve Nguyen recently. Steve shared an analogy he uses to identify key internal change agents for technology initiatives. The model, called green dots, yellow dots, red dots, categorizes users in the midst of change moments.

Green dots are the individuals that are highly motivated to change. They’re keen to adopt new technology with no prodding or encouragement. Green dots are natural innovators and early adopters that engage of their own accord. They’re driven to learn, excited to engage in new technologies and unafraid to change and adapt.

Yellow dots are hesitant and require encouragement to change. Greenish-yellow dots respond well to positive messaging, only requiring mild encouragement to jump on board. Reddish-yellow dots are more resistant. While there is still a chance they will jump on board, it will take significantly more effort to get them excited about the change.

Red dots are resistant to change. They may be technology laggards, see no purpose in the change or are motivated to maintain the status quo. When pushed or forced to change, red dots can often dig in. They remain resistant and can influence others to refuse to adopt the new technologies.

So what does this mean?
As a change initiator, it’s important to understand where to focus your time. Green dots are intrinsically motivated to change. While you need to actively engage these users in your change management strategy and leverage them as key change agents, you should not spend a majority of your time trying to “win over” green dots.

Yellow dots are hesitant or reluctant to change, but can be encouraged to adopt. As change initiators, we need to consider yellow dots as our target market for change. Investing in adoption campaigns, targeted communications, user education and “what’s-in-it-for-me” messaging for yellow dots can yield tremendous results.

Spending too much time converting red dots is like chasing after your SharePoint naysayers. As I’ve shared in previous posts, SharePoint naysayers are those individuals that persist in deriding SharePoint without provocation or apology. Naysayers come from many different contexts and backgrounds and can exist at all levels of the organization. They may be developers, information hoarders or tech-geeks that are “above” tools like SharePoint.

As SharePoint practitioners, we’re prone to over-investing in an effort to convert our naysayers into enthusiasts. While this conversion may occur in rare cases, it is not the norm. True naysayers are entrenched in their beliefs, and will require a change of heart or social pressure from other resistors to make a change.

It’s also important to note that not all red dots are naysayers. Some red dots are simply slow to change or are technology resistant. Given adequate time and attention, these red dots can eventually be won over. But it’s important to acknowledge that these red dots are heavily influenced by the yellow dots that adopt before them. The yellow dots teach the red dots that change is possible and show that life on the other side isn’t all bad.

 

It’s almost time for SharePoint Saturday Nashville!

SPS NashvilleI’m thrilled to be heading to Nashville, TN in a few weeks to speak at SharePoint Saturday Nashville. There’s a great lineup of speakers for the May 5th event, including fellow Minnesotans Max Fritz and Trevor Huinker. I’ll be presenting my session “Yes Virginia, you can use Content Types.” It provides a 100-level introduction to content types, including live demos of how to set up and configure them in your lists and document libraries. I’ll also provide several use cases for business solutions you can build with content types. The session will be a great introduction for content type newbies, but will also provide creative ideas for experienced users on how they can leverage content types to automate business processes.

Registration for SPS Nashville is still open. If you’ll be in the area on May 5th, it’d be great to see you there!

The SPS Nashville team is hosting their first Cloud Friday Nashville event on Thursday, May 4th. Cloud Friday Nashville is an in-depth learning experience that focuses on strategy, utilization and development of Azure and Office 365. Attendees will be able to attend one of several 3-hour workshops in the morning, along with shorter sessions in the afternoon. Registration for this event is still open–don’t miss your chance to attend!

REgarding 365 debate #2: Are intranets still relevant?

It’s time for another REgarding 365 debate! Many of you may have seen our first debate, where we evaluated whether end-users should be able to create their own Office 365 groups. Now we’re back with a new topic: Are intranets still relevant?

We’ll be streaming the debate live on April 19th at 3pm Central time. If you join us live, don’t forget to share your thoughts via the debate chat. We’d love to hear what you think.

Watch a recorded version of the debate:

Watch the debate preview video:

Don’t wait. It’s time to engage your users

As SharePoint and Office 365 practitioners, we get excited when new product features and capabilities are released. It’s in our nature. We see the value these Collaboration tools provide and can’t wait to put new features to use. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget we’re in the minority. 

Most of our business users don’t really care about SharePoint or Office 365. They’re focused on the constant barrage of work coming at them and don’t have the time (or the desire) to learn new technology features. And we can’t force these users to adopt our platforms. They’ll choose to adopt only when they see that the technology can provide them a clear benefit.

Our job is to serve as a bridge for our users, showing them how SharePoint/Office 365 can eliminate the manual work they hate doing and deliver capabilities they need. If we bridge successfully, we’ll turn our users into advocates and evangelists.

So how do we engage our users? Let’s break it down into three initial steps:

Look for early adopters. In his renowned work on diffusion models, Everett Rogers identifies the vital role early adopters play in the spread of ideas. Early adopters are a judicious group of individuals known for evaluating new ideas, new technologies, etc. and making recommendations to others. Early adopters exist at all levels of an organization. They’re not always people-leaders or technology evangelists, but they’re well-respected and tend to be highly networked. They also tend to be key influencers (the people others go to when they have a question or need advice).

As SharePoint/Office 365 practitioners, it’s vital we identify the early adopters on our business teams and partner to deliver technology solutions for them. If we deliver solutions that thrill these early adopters, they’ll spread the message.

Find what your users need.When I was completing my Master’s in Library Science, I learned that library patrons seldom ask reference librarians for what they need. They translate their information needs into something more “helpful.” A patron that needs books on how to toilet-train their 2-year-old, for example, will ask for books on child development or child psychology. It’s the reference librarian’s job to ask questions and discern the real information need.

As a SharePoint/Office 365 practitioner, I have to ask “why” and “what for” questions to get at my users’ information needs. If I don’t bridge the gap and connect my users with the right functionality to meet their needs, I won’t be able to drive effective adoption and will miss the opportunity to deliver true business value.

Whenever possible, deliver the capabilities that thrill. As SharePoint/Office 365 practitioners, we’re fortunate to have at our disposal a suite of products and features with the capacity to delight our end-users. As you’re gathering user requirements and building solutions, don’t forget to ask your users for their wish list. You’ll be surprised how often these wish list items are easy to deliver without custom code or hours of additional build time. If there’s an option to deliver a wish list item that pleases your users without breaking the bank or destroying your delivery timeline, do your best to make it happen.

I often find that delivering simple things (e.g. conditional formatting on a SharePoint list, custom email notifications for items that have been completed, or a filtered web part view that only shows items assigned to a specific user) will make the difference in my solution being enthusiastically adopted or treated as “just another technology solution.”

In his book Anything You Want, marketing expert Derek Sivers calls out how powerful a message it sends when you thrill your current users: “It’s counterintuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.”