What’s your favorite Surface device?

20200727_144913246_iOSThis week’s Microsoft 365 Voice episode is all about Surface devices! Antonio, Mike, and I discuss which Surface devices we own and how we use each device. Listen in to hear our thoughts on the Surface Laptop, Surface Pro, Surface Go, and Surface Book.

Key topics discussed include:

  • Use cases (which devices we prefer using for presentations, demos, entertainment, travel, etc.)
  • Preferences in choosing Surface devices (screen size, weight, storage capacity, etc.)
  • How and when we chose to upgrade our Surface devices (e.g. going from the Surface Pro 3 to the Surface Pro 6)
  • What types of files we store locally on our devices

Enjoy the episode!

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


Choosing when to use a Teams private channel, a Yammer community, or a SharePoint site

This “what to use when” episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice explores when to use Teams private channels versus Yammer communities or SharePoint Online sites. Key topics discussed include:

  • Prerequisites for creating Teams private channels
  • Use cases for Teams private channels
  • Overview of how Teams private channels are secured
  • Types of Yammer communities you can create (public, private, and secret)
  • Use cases for private and secret Yammer communities
  • Discoverability of Teams private channels and Yammer communities
  • Granular access controls for SharePoint
  • How to choose the right solution for your collaboration needs (e.g. ease of use, accessibility of files, and desired audience).

Enjoy the episode!

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


What is the difference between SharePoint home sites and hubs?

This episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice is all about SharePoint home sites and hubs. Key topics discussed include:

  • What are home sites and hubs? And how do they differ?
  • How many home sites and hubs can you have in your Microsoft 365 tenant?
  • How do you get started with home sites and hubs?
  • How are home sites and hubs created?
  • Can a hub be a home site?
  • Will hubs be included in SharePoint Server 2019?
  • Tips for using hubs, including “sticky” hub site branding.

Correction: During the episode, we said we weren’t sure whether admins could remove a home site once it was defined in their tenant. A huge thank you to Microsoft for clarifying – you can use the Remove-SPOHomeSite PowerShell command to remove a home site.

Enjoy the episode!

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


SharePoint hub site branding is “sticky”

Hubs bring families of SharePoint sites together with shared branding, a unified navigation experience, and news and event content roll-ups. Hubs are dynamic and can grow and change with your organization. As departments re-organize, you can change your hub site associations and sites will automatically update to reflect the branding of their newly-assigned hubs.

But what happens when you remove a hub site association?
Let’s say you’ve designed a beautifully themed SharePoint Online site. You’ve spent hours perfecting the site, and it looks phenomenal! You decide to associate your site to the Human Resources hub so it can be tied into your company’s information architecture. You open your site, go to Settings > Site Information and select the Human Resources (HR) Hub from the Hub site association dropdown field. Within seconds, your site is joined to the HR hub and has assumed its branded look and feel.

Now let’s say you’ve had a change of heart and want to remove your site from the HR hub. You go back to Settings > Site Information and set the Hub site association dropdown to “None.” Your site will be removed from the hub, but the hub’s branded look and feel will “stick.” You will be able to update your site’s branding now that it is no longer associated with a hub, but you cannot revert back to the branding your site had before it was associated to a hub.

Implications for your SharePoint site owners
The implications of this “sticky” hub site branding are significant. Let’s say, for example, that your site owners don’t understand what the Hub site association dropdown in the Site Information panel means. They choose to associate their site to a hub without understanding the implications, and suddenly their site has updated branding. While site owners can go in and remove the hub site association, there is no “undo” function that will allow them to revert back to their site’s previous branding. That branding is forever lost once they associate to a hub.

So what can you do to prepare?
Here are a few options for navigating sticky hub branding:

  1. Educate your site owners about what hubs are and what the Hub site association dropdown field does. Make sure they’re aware that hub site branding is sticky.
  2. Consider adding hub site approval flows. These automated Power Automate flows force all hub site join requests to go through a required approval process. This is a great opportunity for hub site owners to identify sites that should not be associated with their hubs.
  3. Restrict who can see and join hubs. You can define specific users or mail-enabled security groups that can “see” your hub in the Hub site association dropdown field. By limiting which hubs are visible, you can control which hubs your site owners can associate to.
  4. Incorporate site designs and site scripts to automate the re-branding of your SharePoint sites.
  5. Build a “staging” hub that resets sites to your corporate brand standard. Build your staging hub with a standard company brand look and feel. When you have a SharePoint site that needs a reset of its branding and theme, simply associate the site to your staging hub. You can remove the hub site association once the site re-brand is complete.

Sticky hub branding examples
Image 1: A SharePoint site with branded look and feel. This site has not yet been associated with a hub.
Hub site branding - 01

Image 2: The site has been associated to the Human Resources hub and has inherited the hub’s look and feel.
Hub site branding - 03

Image 3: The site has been removed from the Human Resources hub, but has retained the hub’s sticky branding:
Hub site branding - 05

Is Microsoft 365 adoption a project or a service?

Historically, many of our waterfall IT implementation projects classified training as part of the project rollout effort. End-user communications were done in broad waves (usually via mass employee e-mails or non-personalized intranet news articles), and training efforts were limited to a phase of the project rollout schedule. With our move to agile, many organizations have expanded training in an effort to drive sustained user adoption. But the critical question still remains: Should Microsoft 365 adoption be treated as part of your rollout project or as an ongoing service?

In most cases, the answer is dictated by funding. Organizations with a fixed-dollar approach to implementing Microsoft 365 tend to view end-user training and adoption as a part of the implementation project (regardless of whether they’re running in waterfall or agile). Organizations with a more fluid funding model or a cultural drive for ongoing employee education may invest in resources to support ongoing Microsoft 365 user adoption efforts.

How do project-based and service-based adoption efforts differ?
Project-based user adoption is temporary, with a defined start and end date. If you’re running adoption as a service, you’ll be investing in user adoption on a continuous basis. You may be staffing virtual or in-person office hours, leading training classes, hosting user group meetings, coaching employees on how to use Microsoft 365, etc.

Adoption project or service-01

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, user adoption isn’t a temporary effort. There is no magic formula for success and adoption doesn’t have an end date. If you want successful adoption of Microsoft 365, you’ll need to build, evolve, and drive adoption from now until the day you stop leveraging the platform. Even the most successful adoption programs will die without dedicated attention and fresh ideas.

What does an agile adoption service look like?
Agile Microsoft 365 adoption services will vary by organization and industry. There is no one-size-fits-most approach to building a successful adoption service – you will need to figure out what works for your users.

A few key things to take into consideration as you design your adoption service:

  • Ongoing resource availability. Adoption requires time. You can run successful adoption programs with employee volunteers, but it is always beneficial to have staff dedicated to driving Microsoft 365 adoption. Dedicated staff give you access to time and resources on an ongoing basis, along with the ability to track adoption goals as part of employee performance.
  • Focus on the outcomes. User adoption isn’t an exact science. A user adoption best-practice that has worked amazingly well in one organization will completely fail at another. Your users and your company culture have an immense impact on the success or failure of your adoption initiatives. I recommend taking an iterative, outcome-based approach to user adoption. Try out new ideas with an adaptable mindset. See what works and what doesn’t, and don’t get attached to ideas until you know they work for your organization.
  • Be creative. When you run a long-term adoption service, you run the risk of users tuning out your message. You’ll need to evolve your approach and messaging to be noticed. Don’t be afraid to be creative and think outside the box!

How much control do you enforce on your Microsoft 365 services?

In this episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we discuss controls you should enforce on your Microsoft 365 services. This is a broad topic, and the approach taken needs to reflect your organization’s use cases, risk acceptance stance, industry, and regulatory needs.

Key topics discussed:

  • Should you enable all your M365 services (e.g. email, OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Teams, etc.) at once? We discuss the benefits and drawbacks of a holistic “big bang” rollout versus enabling services individually or in small groups.
  • How do you manage and secure M365 mobile apps? Do you enable mobile app access at the same time you enable browser or desktop applications (e.g. do you roll out Teams for desktop, browser, and mobile simultaneously)? And how will you manage your mobile security?
  • The importance of planning. Understand your organization’s needs, your appetite for control and risk, and how the Microsoft 365 services work together before you build your rollout and enforcement plans.

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


Managing a Microsoft Teams deployment with effective governance

In this episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we address a listener question about how to quickly (and safely) deploy Microsoft Teams. COVID-19 has driven a massive increase in Microsoft Teams deployments to support staff that are now working exclusively from home. In many cases, these Teams deployments are being done quickly and without the normal governance rigor.

Listen in to hear our recommendations for planning a quick deployment of Microsoft Teams. We highlight key governance decisions that need to be made prior to your rollout, as well as governance follow-ups that can be done after Teams is deployed. Enjoy!

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


Protecting your data in Microsoft 365: A quick walkthrough of the M365 security settings

banner-smallIn this episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice, we outline Microsoft 365 security settings for protecting your data. We cover authentication options and identity protection, data security policies, Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS), Data Loss Prevention (DLP), limiting third-party connectors in Power Automate, and how to protect content being shared from SharePoint and OneDrive. It’s a whirlwind tour of Microsoft 365 security settings in less than 25 minutes. Enjoy!

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


How do you manage your content lifecycle from Microsoft Teams to your Intranet?

In this episode of the Microsoft 365 Voice podcast, we answered a listener question about how files authored in Microsoft Teams could be shared organization-wide quickly and easily. The listener is leveraging Microsoft Teams and SharePoint in a mid to large-sized organization. They have content that is created in a departmental Microsoft Teams team, but later needs to be published to the intranet or a SharePoint Communications site so all employees can see it. During this episode, we provide best-practice recommendations for publishing content from Microsoft Teams to SharePoint. Enjoy!

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


May 2020 – Virtual conferences

Many of us are continuing to shelter-in-place due to COVID-19. While we all mourn the loss of our in-person conferences, there are several great (and free) online events you can attend this month. I’m thrilled to be speaking at 2 upcoming conferences – Office 365 Nashville and the Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon.

Office 365 Nashville – May 8, 2020
The Nashville organizing team has done a phenomenal job bringing together 30 speakers for this all-day event. With tracks for Power Platform, Office 365 Admin, Developer, Microsoft Teams, etc. you’ll be able to find an array of great sessions to choose from. And you won’t want to miss the end-of-day keynote by Jeff Teper (Corporate Vice President – Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive)! Check out the event schedule and registration, and don’t miss my session at 1pm! I’ll be walking through the process of setting up Azure Cognitive Services, Power Automate, and SharePoint to perform automated sentiment analysis of Yammer group posts.

Haase o365Nashville

Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon – May 27-28, 2020
The virtual marathon is a free 36-hour event that features speakers from all over the world. The organizing teams have pulled sessions from across Microsoft 365 and Azure, including keynotes from several Microsoft product team members. I’ll be delivering my Getting started with SharePoint home sites and hubs session, which outlines what home sites and hubs are and provides practical strategies for implementing them in your organization. Make sure to check out the other marathon speakers and register to attend!