The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption (episode 3)

img_4406

Daniel Glenn and I are releasing episode 3 in our podcast miniseries The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption! The episode, titled User Adoption Planning for Office 365 Pilots & Rollouts, was recorded at the 2019 MVP Summit. It focuses on strategies for building user adoption campaigns to support Office 365 product rollouts. We discuss how user personas can help you identify product use cases and key product features, share practical ideas for generating user excitement, and talk about the importance of running Office 365 pilot programs to road-test your communications and training plans.

We hope you enjoy episode 3!

Have a user adoption question?
During our next episode, we’ll be answering user adoption questions. Want to have your question featured on the episode? Submit it now at https://go.re365.show/CoffeeChatQ

Want to know more about our podcast miniseries?
The Coffee Chat on 365 Adoption explores the challenge of driving Office 365 adoption at the organizational level. In episode 1, we dispelled the idea that adoption is an urban myth. We explained why the traditional “build it and they will come” IT model doesn’t work and outlined why organizations must invest in user adoption as an ongoing service.

Episode 2 focused on organizing and facilitating user adoption events. We shared creative ideas for hosting internal user group events, including virtual or in-person office hours, “lightning round” demos, and hack-a-thons (aka innovation day events). We also discussed the importance of making these events your own by tying them to your company culture.

Previous posts in this series:

Build it with Microsoft Flow: Get a notification when your manager posts in Yammer

yammerWe’re all busy at work, and staying up-to-date on new posts in our favorite Yammer groups isn’t easy. Fortunately, Microsoft Flow can help! I previously shared a blog post on using Flow to monitor Yammer and send email notifications when a specific “watch word” was used. Now let’s take look at another common scenario: setting up Flow to send you an email each time your manager posts in Yammer.

Here’s an overview of what the flow looks like:

Yammer manager flow-01

And here are the steps to re-create the flow:

  1. Create a new flow from blank (aka not from a template).
  2. Add the trigger When there is a new message in a group.
  3. In the Group Id field, select the name of the Yammer group you want to monitor.
    Note: This flow doesn’t monitor multiple Yammer groups at once; it triggers to run when a new message is posted in a single Yammer group. If you’d like to run this flow across multiple Yammer groups, you’ll need to copy your completed flow and create a new flow for each group you want to monitor. The process for copying your finished flow is provided in step 22. 
  4. In the Network Id field, select the name of your Yammer network.
  5. Add the Get user details action. In the User ID field, add the Message List Message Sender field. (This action pulls the email address for the user who posted the Yammer message.)
  6. Add the Get my profile action. (This action obtains your email address and identifying information. You’ll need this to pull your manager’s information and configure your email notification later in the flow.)
  7. Add the Get manager action. In the User field, insert the dynamic content User Principal Name. (This action obtains your manager’s email address.)
  8. Add the Compose action. You’ll be using this action to translate your manager’s email address into all lowercase letters. Odd I know, but this ensure you don’t have any capitalization-based mismatches in your flow.
  9. Place your cursor in the Compose action Inputs field.
  10. Click the Expression option in the config box.
  11. Under the String functions header, choose toLower(text). If you don’t see the toLower option, click the See more link in the String functions header bar.
    Yammer manager flow-02
  12. Click the Add dynamic content option in the config box.
  13. Under the Get manager header, choose Mail.
    Yammer manager flow-03
  14. Click the blue OK button to save your expression.
  15. Add a Condition action.
  16. In the Value box, add the Yammer User Email field.
  17. In the Choose a value box, add Output.
  18. Add a Send an email action in the If yes box.
  19. In the To field of your email, insert the Get My Profile Mail dynamic content. You may need to select “See more” under the Get my profile header to see the Mail content.
  20. Add additional details for your notification (e.g. subject line, email verbiage, etc.).
  21. Save and test your flow.
  22. Optional. If you’d like to set up this flow for a second Yammer group, follow these additional steps:
    1. Go to the information page for your flow.
    2. Click on the More dropdown and select Save As.
      Yammer manager flow-04
    3. Specify a name for your copied flow and click Save.
    4. Return to your My Flows page and edit your newly-copied flow. Update the Yammer group identified in your trigger, save the flow, and turn on the flow.
    5. Repeat step 22 for each Yammer group you want to monitor.

That’s it! I’ll now receive an email each time my manager creates a Yammer post in my Microsoft Flow Yammer group.

Sharing your new flow:
Now that you’ve created your flow, it’s time to think about sharing it with others in your organization.

Piloting your Office 365 rollout

architecture-black-building-1563085.jpg

If you’re just beginning to plan your Office 365 rollout (or are in the process of rolling out additional Office 365 applications), it’s important to consider the benefits of running a formal pilot program. A pilot enables a subset of users to access Office 365 prior to its rollout to the entire organization. There are many benefits to running a pilot, including:

  • Road-testing your communications and training. I host weekly Q&A calls for my pilot testers. The calls enable pilot participants to provide feedback on their experience, highlight favorite features, identify gaps in our training materials, recommend new methods for engaging business teams, etc.. This feedback is key because it comes from the business. Whenever possible, I like to test out the pilot users’ training ideas during the pilot itself. If they request a What is Office 365 training session, I’ll assemble a training curriculum and offer the new class to the pilot group. Taking this extra step during the pilot enables me to gather more feedback and puts me in the best possible position for my org-wide rollout.
  • Building a knowledgeable set of pilot users that can support your rollout and (hopefully) recommend Office 365 to their colleagues. Giving users early access to Office 365 and offering them the opportunity to impact your rollout builds rapport. This enhanced sense of community engagement will help you build momentum for your rollout, enhancing user adoption.
  • Testing your license enablement and support processes. As part of your pilot, you’ll need to enable Office 365 applications for your pilot testers. You’ll also need to provide support as they begin using the products. This is an excellent opportunity to test (and improve) your licensing and support processes. After all, pilot testers are more likely to forgive enablement issues and support delays. And learning from your mistakes during a pilot will ensure the same mistakes don’t occur during your org-wide rollout!
  • Identifying use cases and success stories. Ideally, your pilot testers will be leveraging the new capabilities they’ve received. Consider setting up time for them to show off their results. You may find unexpected use cases for Office 365 and success stories that highlight key value-adds. Leverage these use cases and success stories to tell the story of Office 365’s business value.
  • Validating your governance and compliance policies. A pilot program enables you to see how Office 365 performs in your environment. Your networking team can validate network traffic is flowing smoothly. Your information security team can validate all appropriate risk requirements have been met. If you have compliance or legal record hold requirements, those teams can validate to ensure data is being scanned, stored, and supervised appropriately. If there are issues, you have time to correct before Office 365 is rolled out to your entire organization.

Pilot Planning
But how big should your pilot be? And how long should it last? The scale of your pilot should reflect the size of your organization and the level of governance and compliance controls you need to implement.

As a general rule, I recommend building a pilot program that is roughly 3% of your overall user base. If you’ll be rolling out Office 365 to 10,000 users, that would mean having a pilot group of 300. If you have a user base of 50,000, you’d want to build a pilot group of 1,500. While this 3% target may sound large, it affords the best opportunity for user feedback. Keep in mind that you cannot expect strong participation from all pilot users. No matter how well-intentioned, there is always a percentage of pilot testers that contribute minimally or not at all. Targeting 3% of your user base ensures you will have a viable set of pilot testers to try out your products.

Your pilot program will also enable you to test key governance and compliance controls (e.g. archival and supervision of Outlook email, record retention, SharePoint hub site governance, etc.). In order to run a valid test, you will need a sufficient data sample size. If 3% of your user base will not give you enough data to work with, increase the size of your pilot group accordingly. It is always best to adjust any necessary governance policies or security and archival controls before your org-wide implementation.

Now that you have a rough idea of your pilot size, it’s time to start planning who should be part of the pilot. Ideally, you should target:

  • Highly engaged users from across multiple business lines (not just IT).
  • Green dot and yellow dot users that are quick to adapt to change.
  • Volunteers. Always engage those who want to be part of your pilot. These users are more likely to engage, will dedicate more time, and are much more likely to provide feedback. While it may be more work to amass a set of volunteer resources, they will be more engaged and provide better feedback than voluntold users.
  • Strong communicators. Feedback is an essential part of the pilot process. You want to engage those that are willing to provide written or verbal feedback.
  • A variety of personality types. Ideally, you want to include technology optimists and pessimists in your pilot group. Technology optimists have a good impression of IT and are generally enthusiastic about trying out new technologies. Technology pessimists have a stronger “what’s in it for me” mentality and need to see or hear something compelling before they decide to jump on board. Incorporating both technology optimists and pessimists in your pilot will give you the best opportunity to validate your Office 365 messaging and training.

How long should your pilot last? While many companies have intense pressure to roll Office 365 out quickly, I’m a firm believer in meaningful pilots. The more time spent piloting and refining your approach to governance, training, and license enablement, the more successful your rollout will be. A pilot period of 3 weeks is incredibly tight, but can generate value. A pilot period of 1-2 months will generate more user data and enable you to refine your training offerings.

There is one exception to this “lengthier is better” rule for pilots. If you work for a company with a strong technology innovation culture and most of your users are very comfortable with technology change, a longer pilot may not be necessary. If your organization is facing a great deal of technology debt in the workforce productivity space, a longer pilot will better enable you to build momentum for the upcoming change.

Pilot execution
Now that you’ve completed your pilot planning, it’s time to execute your vision. Plan to launch your pilot with a formal series of kickoff meetings, brown-bag lunches, and/or targeted pilot communications. The goal is to celebrate this important stage of your Office 365 rollout efforts. And the more positive noise you can generate, the more pilot user engagement you’ll see.

You’ll also want to make it easy for pilot users to learn about Office 365 and provide feedback on their experience. A few ideas I’ve seen work well:

  • Share “getting started” scenarios. Many users may feel intimidated when they first open a new Office 365 app. Providing quick, easy-to-follow “getting started” scenarios for each app gives your pilot users a running start. If you’re going to pilot OneDrive for Business, for example, you could create getting-started scenarios that explain how to:
    • Create files in OneDrive
    • Save Microsoft Office files to OneDrive
    • Share a OneDrive file (or folder) with someone
    • See OneDrive files that have been shared with you
    • Open files using the OneDrive sync client
    • Edit files in the OneDrive mobile app
  • Host weekly Q&A sessions. As I mentioned previously, I host weekly Q&A calls for my pilot testers. The calls enable pilot participants to provide feedback on their experiences and ask product-related questions.
  • Schedule “Show & Tell” events where pilot users can share Office 365 tips and demo solutions they’ve built. Provide an opportunity for your pilot users to shine. Schedule a recurring meeting where the pilot users come together to share cool new tricks they’ve learned and demo solutions they’ve built in Office 365. For best results, keep this a peer-to-peer sharing meeting. Having a pilot user demonstrate a new Microsoft Flow they’ve built is powerful stuff. Their excitement and confidence in using Office 365 will motivate other pilot users to follow suit.
  • Build a private Yammer group for your pilot users. Yammer is a great “thinking out loud” app that supports discussion and sharing of ideas. I recommend creating a private Yammer group where pilot users can share insights, ask questions, etc. Add all pilot testers to the group before your pilot begins and send them the group URL for easy reference. As the pilot coordinator, it’s important you actively participate in the Yammer group. Share Office 365 tips, provide links to appropriate training resources, and answer pilot user questions.
  • Track your pilot user Yammer sentiment. If you’re providing your pilot users with a Yammer group for sharing ideas, use Microsoft Flow and Azure Cognitive Services to perform sentiment analysis on the pilot Yammer posts. The sentiment data gathered may provide insights into your pilot group’s overall satisfaction with Office 365 and help you identify solution use cases.
  • Stay in touch. I always want my pilot testers to feel like they are part of a valued community. Connect with pilot users that are in your geographic area by hosting meet-ups or coffee chats. Communicate with geographically-distributed pilot users via Yammer or Teams. And share an “Office 365 tip of the week” for all pilot users.

Want to learn more?
Asif Rehmani published a great article on the key reasons to include an early adopter program in your Office 365 rollout. Check it out–it’s well worth a read!

Learning & doing more with the Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide

Microsoft released a new Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide in January 2019. The guide explains why technology change is so hard and provides practical ideas for driving organization adoption of Microsoft 365. If you’re tasked with driving organizational adoption, the guide is a must-read.

Adoption requires users to adapt and change their technology behaviors. New Microsoft 365 users must understand the new technology at their disposal and be willing to fundamentally change the way they work. Bringing about a change of this significance requires an open mind, as well as an organizational investment of time, people, and resources. It requires effective just-in-time training to help people get up to speed on the technology, operational support that can assist users with their questions, and champions to promote the use of Microsoft 365. But organizational adoption programs also have to inspire users. Change is an individual choice that cannot be mandated or coerced.

The adoption framework outlined in the Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide provides a process for building your adoption plan and optimizing your results. It guides you through defining your strategy, determining your readiness to adopt, building your adoption plan, measuring and reporting usage, and encouraging ongoing engagement/adoption.

accomplishment-achievement-adults-1059118The guide also shares the inspirational champion story of the Best Buy SharePoint Ninja program. I’m thrilled to see the program still being upheld as a success story. Launching the SharePoint Ninja program at Best Buy was one of the highlights of my career, and effectively-built champion programs are a vital part of the Microsoft adoption story. For more information on the Best Buy SharePoint Ninja program, check out the session Matthew Ruderman and I delivered at SharePoint Conference 2014: http://aka.ms/bestbuyninjas 

Build it with Microsoft Flow: Get a notification when a “watch word” is mentioned in Yammer

yammerIf your organization uses Yammer to drive information sharing and employee knowledge transfer, you have a potential treasure trove of great content. But staying up-to-date on Yammer conversations can be tough, particularly when you’re running from meeting to meeting. It’s easy to miss key Yammer posts, even if you subscribe to email notifications.

Fortunately, Microsoft Flow can help! Let’s say you want to monitor a particular Yammer group for one or more “watch words.” When a message that contains the watch word is posted on Yammer, you’d like Microsoft Flow to send you an email notification. This functionality enables you to audit Yammer groups for the content you’re most interested in.

Here’s an overview of what this flow looks like:

Yammer watch word-01.png

And here are the steps to re-create the flow:

  1. Create a new flow from blank (aka not from a template).
  2. Add the trigger When there is a new message in a group.
  3. In the Group Id field, select the name of the Yammer group you want to monitor.
    Note: This flow doesn’t monitor multiple Yammer groups at once; it triggers to run when a new message is posted in a single Yammer group. If you’d like to run this watch word flow across multiple Yammer groups, you’ll need to copy your completed flow and create a new flow for each group you want to monitor. The process for copying your finished flow is provided in step 15. 
  4. In the Network Id field, select the name of your Yammer network.
  5. If you’d like your watch word email notification to include the name of the person that posted the Yammer message, add the Get user details action. In the User ID field, add the Message List Message Sender field.
  6. Add the Get my profile action. This action obtains the SMTP email address for the current user (e.g. john.doe@mycompany.com). You’ll use this SMTP email address to configure your email notification.
  7. Add a Condition action.
  8. In the Value field, add the Message List Message Body Text field.
  9. Change the is equal to field to contains.
  10. Type your watch word(s) in the Choose a value field. In the example flow shown above, my watch word is PowerApps.
  11. Add an action in the If yes box. Since I wanted to send an email notification when my watch word was used, I added the email action.
  12. In the To field of your email, insert the Get My Profile Mail dynamic content.
    Note: You may need to select “See more” under the Get my profile header to see the Mail content.
  13. Add additional details for your notification (e.g. subject line, email verbiage, etc.).
  14. Save and test your flow.
  15. Optional. If you’d like to set up your watch word flow for a second Yammer group, follow these additional steps:
    1. Go to your flow’s information page.
    2. Click on the More dropdown and select Save As.
      Yammer watch word-02.png
    3. Specify a name for your copied flow and click Save.
    4. Return to your My Flows page and edit your newly-copied flow. Update the Yammer group identified in your trigger, save the flow, and turn on the flow.
    5. Repeat step 15 for each Yammer group you want to monitor.

Now that my flow is built, I receive an email notification like the one shown below each time the watch word PowerApps is mentioned in my Microsoft Flow Yammer group:
Yammer watch word-03.png

Sharing your new flow:
Now that you’ve created your flow, it’s time to think about sharing it with others in your organization.

Credits (and a few words of encouragement):
If you’re working with Microsoft Flow and are having a hard time figuring out how to build the workflows you need, don’t despair! When I first started trying to build this “watch word” flow, I got completely stuck. I couldn’t figure out how to build it without complicated formulas or JSON. Many thanks to Jon Levesque, Marcel Haas, and many others on Twitter for jumping in and teaching me a better way to go about it!

Requesting sign-off approvals on your OneDrive files

Microsoft has integrated out-of-the-box Microsoft Flow templates directly into OneDrive! With the new Request sign-off template, you can easily send your OneDrive files out to co-workers for review. You’ll be able to specify who the reviewer(s) are at the start of the workflow. You’ll be notified via email once one of the reviewers has approved the file.

Let’s walk through how the new flow template works:

  1. Select the file you want to route for approval.
  2. Go to the Flow dropdown in your menu bar and select Request sign-off.
    oob-flow-01
  3. When the flow panel opens, click Next.
    oob-flow-02
  4. Type in the name(s) of the people you’d like to review your document. If desired, type in a custom message for your reviewers.
    OOB-flow-03.png
  5. Click Run flow to execute your new workflow.
  6. Your reviewer(s) will receive an email notification that a document is pending their review.
    OOB-flow-04.png
  7. You’ll be notified via email when your file is approved or rejected.
    OOB-flow-05.png

Timing for this new feature:
This new out-of-the-box Flow template began rolling out to Office 365 tenants in December 2018.

The new “Send a copy” feature in Microsoft Flow

In January 2019, Microsoft announced the new Send a copy feature in Microsoft Flow. With Send a copy, you can quickly and easily share a copy of your flow with others in your Office 365 tenant. You can Send a copy of your flow from two different locations:

The options menu on your My flows page:
Yammer watch word-09.png

Or from the flow properties page:
Yammer watch word-08.png

Once you select Send a copy, a configuration pane displays. You can customize the title of your flow, add a description for it, and specify the name(s), email address(s), or security group(s) you want to share with. Remember: You can only send a flow to others in your same Office 365 tenant. You cannot use Send a copy to share flows across tenants.

Once you’ve finished entering all your flow copy details, click Send.
Yammer watch word-04

The recipient(s) will receive an email indicating a flow has been shared with them. The user(s) can also go to the Shared with me tab on their flow template gallery to see and use their copy of the flow.
Yammer watch word-05.png

Once the recipient(s) creates a new flow from the template that was shared with them, they’ll be able to customize it. IMPORTANT: No link is retained between the original flow and the version that is shared. The flows operate independently and can be customized at will.

So how well does the feature work?
Save a copy provides a quick and easy method for sharing flows between users. It’s relatively easy to use (both for the sharer and the recipient), and I love the new Shared with me template gallery tab in Microsoft Flow.

But at its core, the Save a copy feature is a one-time content push. Copied flows do not remain connected, and sharing only happens unidirectionally. A user you shared a flow with cannot, for example, iterate on your flow and dynamically share their updates with you. They can Save a copy of the updated flow and send it to you, but you’ll need to create a new instance of the flow to see the changes made.

The Save a copy feature also doesn’t allow for flow template browsing. Users are unaware of flows their co-workers have created; they can only see flows that have been manually shared with them. If you’re looking for a more robust method for sharing flow templates internally, check out my series on driving Microsoft Flow adoption with the creation of an internal organization-level template gallery. (Credits to Daniel Glenn for partnering with me on this solution.)

The bottom line:
Save a copy provides a quick and easy way to share flows with individuals or security groups. While there are limitations for its use (e.g. it’s a content “push” instead of a browse-and-reuse option), it can be used to create one-off flows in only a few clicks.

Setting up the “Buy a Feature” innovation game

Introduction
Late last year, I partnered with Mariah Gauthier and Matthew Ruderman to design a series of Buy a Feature innovation games. The games were used to gather feedback on the design of an Office 365 education site. During the game, we presented users with a list of education site features, along with corresponding prices for each. Participants were asked to “buy” the features they wanted using play money.

The hardest part of designing the game was pricing individual features and determining the amount of play money each participant would receive. How do we decide which features are the most expensive? And what formula should we use to calculate the amount of play money to provide each participant? If we gave our participants too much money, they wouldn’t have to prioritize their feature needs. If we gave them too little money, we’d lose valuable insights since only a few features would be purchased.

This guest blog post outlines the process we took to determine feature pricing. We hope this helps you as you plan your own innovation games. Enjoy!
– Sarah Haase

Post from Mariah Gauthier:
Supporting internal end-users of Office 365 at your organization can be challenging. We live in a tech-centric world, which means that consumers want access to on-demand support options hosted via a modern platform…even in the workplace. With Office 365, the tools for building a solution to fit this expectation are accessible, but you’re still going to need a game-plan going into it. There are many options for what you are able to include in an Office 365 education site, including (but certainly not limited to): descriptions of products, news announcements, Q&A, training options, and Tips & Tricks relevant to your specific environment. This being said: it takes a significant amount of time and available resources to build-out this solution from scratch, making it difficult to know where to start.

Innovation games, and the specific use-case of Buy a Feature, give you the ability to prioritize your list of possible “features” by engaging the opinions of the audience that you are designing for: your consumers! Buy a Feature allows players to prioritize a list of options that are available to be included in the design of a given solution. Players are given a budget and a list of possible features, with the goal being to fund the features that they most want to see included in the final product. For more information on how Innovation games can support your SharePoint/Office 365 strategy, check out a recording of Sarah’s Minnesota SharePoint User Group session.

Buy a Feature is a great way to engage your end-users in a way that both is innovative and inclusive. However, before the games can begin, you first need to walk through the steps of compiling the list of possible features to be offered in your proposed solution. For example: after doing some brainstorming, you come up with a list of 10 offerings (i.e., “features”) that you could potentially include in the design of your Office 365 education site. At this point, you can begin to determine the individual budget of each player and the total value of all of the offered features combined. I used Luke Hohmann’s book, Innovation Games: Creating Breakthrough Products Through Collaborative Play as a guide to determine these thresholds. The key is to determine what proportion of the Total Feature Value that you want players to have access to. I went with an approximate 50% ratio, meaning that the combined budget of all players in each round of the game would amount to about half of the total value across all of the offered features.

# of Players Individual Budget Total Group Budget Approx Total Feature Value
20 $15 (20×15) $300 (300×2) $600
10 $20 (10×20) $200 (200×2) $400
5 $40 (5×40) $200 (200×2) $200

After establishing your figures, you can then move in to assigning each feature with a price to be used during the game. To do this, review your list of possible education site offerings and consider which options will be the easiest and least time-consuming to build, and which will take more effort to create. Choose a scale of weight to use in this exercise (for instance, a scale of 1-7) and allocate accordingly. Once you’ve weighted each feature, you are then able to calculate your list of prices. I found that the best way to do this was to create a quick Excel workbook. I’ve included a template for you to use in your own applications of Buy a Feature. One important tip going into the pricing phase of your exercise: make sure that features with a weight of “1” are priced low enough so that an individual player can buy it independent from the rest of the group. Part of the value of this activity is in observing how players choose to purchase features, whether it be on their own with only their personal budget as a resource, or by choosing to collaborate with other players to buy features at a higher price-point.

The next step in this process focuses on deciding the number of innovation game sessions that you want to hold, and the rate at which you want to schedule them (example: 2x per week). There is no hard-and-fast rule for how many Buy a Feature sessions that you will need to hold to get a solid set of findings, although I would suggest hosting at least five (this will vary widely depending on your use-case). The overarching goal is to continue running sessions until you are no longer collecting any new data. Once the data that you are collecting becomes redundant (i.e., the results that you are getting are consistent from game-to-game), you can stop holding sessions and start analyzing your findings!

Some tips that I can offer you in prepping for and running your sessions:

  • Consistency: In order to get a strong set of results, make sure that you are consistent in the methodology that you employ across each hosted session of Buy a Feature. I would suggest putting together a PowerPoint deck to refer to during each game that details an agenda, rules to the game, and a list of features that includes a description of each offering and a price.
  • Quantitative Data: During each session, players will be independently or collaboratively funding features. Make sure that you have an easy-to-use method of recording which features have been funded, whether it be a team member recording these results and reporting them to the group live, or an automated way of calculation. This will depend greatly on if sessions are being hosted in-person or virtually.
  • Qualitative Data: A huge benefit to engaging Buy a Feature is that not only do you get quantitative data (fully funded vs. partially funded/not funded features), but you are also going to get qualitative data through observing how players understand and strategize during the game. I would highly suggest having someone on your team taking notes throughout game-play, to gather some of the rich findings that go beyond the budgeting aspect of the activity. This is also helpful because you can look back later and understand which features, if not successfully funded, were still important to the group.
  • Final Thoughts: At the end of each session, survey the players individually to find out what they consider to be the top 3 features. The reality is that not every player’s ideal set of features is going to be fully funded – the aim of this exercise is to understand the overall prioritization of the group, which may not align with each individual user’s opinion. Through utilizing a post-game survey, you can draw a comparison between individual opinions and the consensus of the group as a whole.

After hosting your sessions, you will be able to review your data and use it to form a well-researched and market-based set of next-steps. The beauty of Buy a Feature is that through engaging your end-users on what they want to see included in a solution, you can avoid falling into the trap of assuming you know what your users need!

Building a flexible model for sharing Office 365 changes with your end-users

Darrell as a Service published a great article recently about upcoming changes to the Office 365 ‘save’ dialog box. Starting in February 2019, Microsoft will roll out updates to the default save function for all Windows and Mac Office 365 users. When users press CTRL+S or click Save, the simplified ‘save’ dialog box will display. Files will be saved to OneDrive by default, but users will be able to change the save location via the More save options link. While we still have many questions about how this new ‘save’ dialog box will work, we know that this functionality change will impact our end-users significantly.

How many of our end-users will adapt quickly and easily to this ‘save’ dialog box change? And how can we ease this transition? Without an effective strategy for communicating changes like this one, we could be facing significant user confusion and a tidal wave of calls to the internal help desk.

save dialog box-01
Image source: support.office.com 

Building a flexible communications model
Most organizations can’t afford to create a formal communications plan for individual Office 365 feature changes (particularly given the volume of changes rolling out monthly). So how do we efficiently and effectively share Office 365 changes with our users?

We build a flexible communications model that guides us through the process of sharing Office 365 product updates. This model should provide a variety of conduits for communication, along with guidelines on when/why each should be used.

Your communications model should reflect the culture of your organization and the learning style(s) of your end-users. As I discussed in my post Change by color: The secret of green dots, yellow dots and red dots, some end-users will easily adapt to change. They’ll either roll with the changes when they come across them or be content with a quick explanation posted on a SharePoint Communications site or Yammer post. Other users require formal change communications. These are the users we need to build a flexible communications model for.

So how do you build this flexible model for sharing Office 365 updates? To start, I recommend building a list of the communication mediums you have at your disposal. Examples include:

  • Internal user group meeting announcements/demos
  • Yammer announcements
  • Microsoft Stream videos
  • News articles on a SharePoint Communications site
  • Tips & tricks rotator/carousel on your internal Office 365 learning center
  • Subscription-based email distribution groups (e.g. have end-users subscribe to an email distribution list to receive feature change communications)
  • Department or company-wide email broadcasts
  • News bulletins/announcements on your company intranet or help desk site

Once you know how you can communicate changes, you can build criteria for when to use each. You may decide, for example, to use an internal Office 365 Yammer group to share quick product updates. To help users differentiate these Yammer posts, you’ll use a consistent set of hashtags for product announcements:

  • #WhatsNew – denotes a new feature or capability
  • #mobile – denotes when an announcement is mobile-related
  • #OneDrive – denotes a OneDrive Yammer post
  • #Flow – denotes a Microsoft Flow Yammer post

The key is predictability. Users that want to learn about Office 365 changes on a proactive basis should have an easy time figuring out where to go to learn more. And your help desk agents should know where to go to review recent Office 365 changes so they can validate if a recent change is causing user confusion.

Your communications model must also flex and change over time. Be open to suggestions for improvement. And keep an eye out for trending information from your help desk. If you’re seeing large spikes in Office 365 user issues after changes are released, it could mean your communications model isn’t marketed well enough or isn’t hitting the right target audience. Focusing on a continuous improvement model will enable you to hone your approach and find the right strategy for communicating changes to your users.

SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities call for speakers (April 2019 edition)

SPSTC_logo_smallWe’re thrilled to welcome everyone back for another SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities! Our Spring event is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, 2019 at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Our call for speakers is now open. If you’d like to be considered, please submit your session ideas and speaker bio. Submissions will be accepted through February 12th.

More information about the Spring 2019 event (including registration and session schedule) will be posted over the next few weeks. Please monitor our Facebook page and www.spstc.com for updates.