A SharePoint developer's perspective on Microsoft Teams workshops

Read more

 

Jovita Elzbutaite, SharePoint Developer 

In July Silverside invited our friends, partners, and colleagues for two exclusive Office 365 workshops: Collaborate as a Team and Co-authoring documents. From our long experience of working with our customers, we see that most companies are struggling with the adoption of new technologies and new ways of working. Since many organizations are migrating to Office 365 products we see that IT department still has questions about the real effective use of Office 365. Hence, our senior consultant Sasja Beerendonk invited her colleagues and…
explore the new ways of collaborating together. Jovita Elzbutaite is a SharePoint developer in an Amsterdam-based company and she was one of the participants of the workshop “Collaborate as a Team. Jovita agreed to share her experience in participating in the workshop ‘’Collaborate as a team’’.

Q: Did your current employee already have Office 365 when you joined the company?
A: I started working in the period when the company just started working with Office 365, so I witnessed the migration process. They user SharePoint 2010 on premises before.

Q: So your company did a migration by the time you joined it, how was it?

A: It was a huge project because my organization has 40.000 users all over the world, so it was a big project. But I personally was involved in the SharePoint part. For example in The Netherlands they had SharePoint 2010 and they wanted to put Office 365 and I helped in this part, so I didn’t work in email migration, but I know that it was quite a difficult work in terms of making the end users to use the new platform. And migration is still going on, it is not finished because we use Office 365 in almost 40 countries, but we also have several countries that have their own Office 365 and now they need to migrate for their O 365 to ours, to have one global environment. Hence, the process is still in progress.

Q: Why do you think people are resistant to go to Teams?
A: Simply because it is a new tool, and they are so used to use emails that is difficult to change their habits.

Q: Being a SharePoint professional, what can you say about working in Teams? What is your opinion? Do you like this tool? Can you see the value?
A: Absolutely! The first positive thing I am seeing is that users can manage everything themselves, they don’t need to go to admin to ask to create a SharePoint site. They go to Teams instead, that is more user-friendly. They don’t need to do any complicated things. And this is easy, an advantage.

Q: Why did you decide to participate in Silverside’s workshop? 

A: Because I was curious about how other companies are using Microsoft Teams.

Q: Could you tell me what did you like about the workshop? And maybe you have also some suggestions on where we can improve it?
A: Well, the first impression was great! I loved the environment was very cozy. I like the way your colleagues accept and welcome people, this is very important for a person to feel comfortable, not stressed. And the big plus goes how it was organized.
The way how Sasja presented Teams was not for IT specialist, was for the end users, easy to follow and not too technical.
I see it as a very positive thing, you do not need to be an IT specialist to understand the workshop and so to understand how to work with Teams and why this tool is useful.
I would say that the workshop answers the question of why you should use Teams instead, what are the benefits. And the presentation was just great, the presenters did a good job and I liked the structure a lot. We had our hands on, to try to log in and use teams by ourselves within all team. So we saw and experienced by ourselves how easy it is to communicate in Teams and to work together on the same file at the same time, having also video conferences.

Q: What can be improved when talking and presenting Teams to people?
A: Well, from my perspective I would like to know more examples from other companies. How they are dealing with Teams and how they introduce it within the whole organization. What kind of problems they encounter.  I remember the presenter gave a few examples from other companies, but I want to have more. Learning from other experience is always nice!

Q: What did you learn?
A: Well.. definitely about new features in Teams.

Q: What are the benefits that the workshop brought to you?
A: for me, it was very useful! In our company, we need to use Teams, but it is not an easy task to do so. People don’t want to do changes, they have all these questions and I need to give recommendations and help users to work in Teams. For me it was such a useful workshop, I have more ideas now how to help.  This training gives some good insights on how to show people the benefits of Teams and how to encourage them to use it.

Q: Did you talk to someone about this workshop? What did you tell?
A: The day I went back to work I was telling my colleagues about my experience. We have some difficulties to encourage people to use Teams, but these workshops gave me a good overview of why people should explore Teams. It is obviously a great tool, but users are lacking in communication about Teams and they need more explanation. I hear people saying ‘’let’s just wait’’, ‘’maybe Teams is not ready yet’. I do believe that Teams is ready.

Q: For whom you would recommend these workshops?
A: I would definitely recommend these to my colleagues… Teams is a daily work, they need some time to learn more about it. This is why we still don’t go completely to Teams. But I hope we will within the next few months. So I would say these workshops would suit for all my colleagues because all for them have to use Teams.

Q: How the workshop can help?
A: People have questions about Teams and… they are too busy to Google and find the answers by themselves. I believe that if you give them an hour and you teach them it would be very useful, it would be a good onboarding action.

Q: What do you think is the best solution when employees have a question, they don’t know how to use the tool, but they still need to work with it? Because, of course, users have issues and they contact the IT support desk. 
A: This training would be a good start because it gives answers to the most common questions. But then a platform with the right content and information is needed, so people can search for the answers by themselves. You presented a new tool QuickHelp, that gives updated, relevant content for every user. From my experience, this is exactly what people need to feel secure while migrating and using new software. But this QuickHelp is handy for all users, no matter how good they are in using Office 365. People are a bit reluctant when you give them online resources. For some people it would work, but for the rest… you need to push them a little.
And also, it is a matter of time, managers should give some time for all employees to learn. Let’s say if they offer QuickHelp tool, users should schedule some time every day to learn about Office 365.

Q: What is your opinion about collaboration with office 365 tools?
A: I think there is nothing better than collaboration in Microsoft right now. I am very glad I was able to join your workshop, this definitely gave me so more ideas and perspectives while talking about Teams.

Jovita was involved in the migration to Office 365 process. From her experience, she knows that a migration to a new tool brings confusion to people. She believes that all employees need to have a proper introduction and training with the new technology and they also need some time to get used to a new, different way of working. Jovita thinks that these presentations and workshops are necessary when on-boarding people to Office 365 environment and says ‘’It is a perfect presentation that you need to give for all users when they are informed that they will work with Teams from now on. ‘’

Task management in Office 365: Use To-Do

Read more

Surviving in nowadays’ modern work environment and digital workspace where technology, collaboration and productivity are higher than ever, is not an easy task. Technology enables us to be more productive at work, doing more things in less time. Tools and apps facilitate us to manage our daily work and collaboration reached a new era, with smart tools that allow people to work together remotely from everywhere in the world.  Well, I am also part of this working environment, exposed to all this technology and fast way of doing things, managing tasks, collaborating and much more. Sometimes I wonder: During my working day, which is the most difficult thing to do? The answer for me was: managing all the things that I have to do, simultaneously. In one word? TASKS.

Personal tasks

As I said before, technology comes to help when we are talking about planning and managing tasks for various projects. I am not just talking about your Outlook calendar, but something more than that. As almost all of you, readers, know, Microsoft Ignite 2018 took place in September and many announcements have been done. The protagonist of this conference was doubtless Microsoft Teams and all its new integrations with other apps. Following the on-demand sessions remotely, my interest was caught by a session of about thirty minutes
presented Simon Chan, senior program manager, about how to manage my personal tasks across Microsoft Office 365. 

And actually, this section answered my main concern: How can Office 365 help me manage all my daily tasks across different plans and projects?

Microsoft task ecosystem is complex. There is a multitude of tools for general purposes, tasks, work, project management that we can use in Microsoft Teams, Project Online, Planner, Outlook, OneNote, To-Do. And the possibilities are almost infinite. But this session focused specifically on managing your personal and individual tasks using the Office 365 app To-Do.

To-Do, your personal task manager

To-Do is basically your personal task manager that helps you manage your tasks every day across different platforms. Since today, in order to keep track of all these tasks happening everywhere, you needed to manually add them inside of To-Do. However, the vision of Microsoft is to put the user at the centre of the task management process, with control on all the tasks he is assigned to or has to accomplish.

Microsoft vision To-DoSo the plan is to capture all the tasks and requests across all the different apps and organize them in one single place: To-Do. Thanks to this, your productivity flow will highly benefit. But Microsoft is just at the beginning of the process to build this vision.

New Features in To-Do:

  • My Day: it is a daily to-do list that teaches you to focus and achieve your most important tasks every single day. Moreover, “suggestions” tasks completed in To-Dogives you an overview of everything you had to do, but haven’t done yet. It helps you to be really intentional about the tasks you want to achieve that day. And this tool really works. Microsoft, thanks to a research, found out that actually 75% of tasks within My day are completed.
  • Intune: Microsoft enabled support for Intune in To-Do. Intune is a cloud-based service in the enterprise mobility management (EMM) space that helps to distribute applications while keeping your corporate data protected. It’s quite surprising that the company’s task management application was not supported by this platform but now that this support will soon arrive, it will make it significantly easier for Intune customers to deploy the app.
  • List sharing: an easy way to collaborate on your listed tasks. A way to manage tasks in really small groups. You can share a list of tasks by creating a link and share it with the app you use the most (like Microsoft Teams). People who will receive the link are invited to join your list on To-Do. You can decide when to stop sharing your lists whenever you want.
  • Steps: You can use steps to add more structured details to your tasks. But what you can also do with steps is to add subtasks where you can break down larger tasks into smaller and more achievable steps.
  • Importance: A more permanent way to Dark mode in To-Domark some tasks with high priority. But it is also a simple way to prioritize across lists. And it stands out visually, grouping all high priority tasks in one simple overview.
  • Dark mode: It is available right now and you can have your To-Do app with a dark background. Everything has been studied properly in order to make visually attractive all your lists, tasks, priorities and highlights, despite the dark background.

 

To-Do new integrations across Microsoft Office 365

  • Outlook tasks integrationOutlook integration in To-Do is available now: when you add a task inside of To-Do it appears also in your Outlook tasks. Everything sinks one to one. This integration is really helpful for everybody who establishes workflow between their email and Outlook tasks. Now they can just add those tasks on the phone in their To-Do app.
  • Outlook Web Email Integration: your To-Do lists are integrated into your Outlook Web Email, so you can easily drag and drop tasks from your emails in your To-Do lists. This integration will also help you manage your inbox better and reduce the number of emails in your inbox while keeping track of all the tasks you are required to do. Moreover, you can manage your tasks while checking your emails without switching between different apps. Coming in late 2018.
  • Outlook Calendar Integration: with To-Do integrate into your Calendar, based on your lists of tasks and priorities, you can easily manage your calendar and block some time to focus and accomplish high priority tasks, without living your Calendar. Coming in late 2018.
  • Flagged emails: The way flagged emails work is very simple, but it is also an incredibly powerful tool. When you receive an email that requires you to take some actions, simply click the flag, go to the To-Do button on your Outlook, and you will find that flagged email directly on your To-Do list. Flagged emails work across all Outlook clients. Coming in late 2018.

Planner integration in To-Do

  • Planner and To-Do: Planner is the place to go for all your team work management. In Planner it happens that you are assigned a lot of tasks. And to see all your tasks within Planner, you have a window called “My tasks”. However, what if you want to see in one place your Planner tasks, together with all your other tasks (like from your Outlook or other apps)? The answer to this is the integration of Planner in To-Do. This integration will be rolled out in spring 2019.

 

With these new features and integrations, Microsoft makes To-Do a more usable and flexible task management app. It seems that To-Do will become THE hub for task management, while Microsoft Teams is the hub for collaboration. If you want to know about the new features of Microsoft Teams announced during Microsoft Ignite 2018, read the blog Microsoft Ignite 2018: Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork.

Microsoft Ignite 2018: Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork

Read more

Microsoft Ignite 2018 returned to Orlando this year for another news-packed week. The company’s largest event for IT and enterprise developers saw its doors open to more than 26,000 people from 100 different countries.

Microsoft Igite 2018

During the event, many announcements about Microsoft and Office 365 apps have been done. In this blog, we have summarized the main announcements and new features regarding Microsoft Teams, the hub for teamwork. During the session “What’s new in Microsoft TEAMS the hub for teamwork” held by Angela Donohue Group Product Marketing Manager and Marc Pottier Group Manager, the newest features and main future directions of Microsoft Teams have been presented.

A changing modern workplace

As a matter of facts, nowadays we are living in a changing modern place. We are becoming more “social” at work and we use more and more mobile apps. Indeed, according to Microsoft,  45% of employees and workers use social tools at work. Diversity is another keyword to describe the current work environment, since 5 generations are working together in the workforce. Companies are global and there are no boundaries for the businesses. As a consequence, the trend or remote workers is expected to increase, reaching a peak in 2020, when  72% of workers will be remotely. At work, we are more team based and collaborative, since 80% of employee time is spent collaborating. In response to these changing modern trends, Microsoft Teams is evolving to offer companies and organizations all around the world the perfect solution to work in a smarter and more collaborative way in the modern work environment.

changing modern workpalce

 

Teams is the fastest growing business app in Microsoft history

During Microsoft Ignite 2017 Microsoft presented highlights like Guest Access for External Users, Command Box, Cloud Recording, Direct Routing, Inline Message translation and these were just few examples…. And always in 2017, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Teams will become the single client eventually replacing Skype for Business. Now, Microsoft Teams is ready to become Microsoft primary business communication platform!

Microsoft Teams

Skype for Business Online features have been delivered in Microsoft Teams. New customers should just jump straight to Teams and for existing customers there are resources available to help with planning upgrades for Microsoft Teams. Customers that have not yet tried out Teams can access a free version of Microsoft Teams to try an introductory experience. The free version of Microsoft Teams is now available worldwide in 40 languages and includes unlimited chat messages and search, built-in audio and video calling for individuals, groups and teams.

Be more productive with powerful new tools for meetings

At Microsoft Ignite, Smarter Meetings with Microsoft Teams has definitely been the focus of many sessions. Microsoft Teams, with the new features and functionalities, will help employees and team workers to stay productive and connected throughout the meeting lifecycle.

  • Scheduling meeting in Teams: There are many ways to schedule meetings in Teams. For example, using Outlook, you can now invite people outside your organization to join your teams meeting, only remember to add them as guests before the meeting starts. But now you can also schedule a meeting directly in the context of a thread. The advantage is that if you are working in your team and discussing around an issue with your team member, you can directly reply to him with a meeting or video call.
  • Background blur: Now, all Teams customers can remove distractions and focus your video on what matters most. Indeed, it is already available the functionality to blur your screen background during a meeting, so only you are visible (and not your messy living room if you are attending the meeting from home).
  • Meeting recording: Meetings are no longer just a point in time experience. With meeting recording in Teams, you or other invitees who missed the meeting can playback recorded audio, video and content at any time. Pull up a transcript, powered by Microsoft Stream, and search for keywords so you can optimize your time while getting caught up. And it is also indexed, so if you want to search for a particular topic, you can type the topic you want to hear about and Teams will display the moments when, during the meeting, that specific topic had been addressed. Same thing if you are only interested in one person’s speech in particular. You will just jump right to that point. This is very useful if you only missed one part of the meeting or if you are interested only in that part. You don’t need to listen to the entire meeting anymore.
  • Meeting notes: You can type in notes as you are in the meeting, you will see what the notes are and they get posted back into the channel instantly after the meeting is over.
  • Power point sharing: Share your content and open up a presentation during a meeting online. Join this meeting with the presentation simultaneously with your phone. And participants can even navigate through the slides privately, read ahead or look back to review something they missed.

 

remote team work

 

Collaborate as a(n) (international) team

  • Instant translation: Everybody in Microsoft Teams can communicate in their own language, and Microsoft Teams will automatically translate the text for you. Everybody can communicate in the language they are more familiar, no matter where you are in the world. How handy is this functionality, especially if you are involved in an international project? If your Chinese colleague writes a message in your team in Chinese, you don’t have to take Chinese classes to read and understand it! Teams will do the job for you! We are enthusiast about this feature, but we also wonder how accurate the translations will be…With Microsoft Teams collaboration is pushed to the limit! Our principle whitepaper Collaborate as a Team can give you more insights on how to boost collaboration in your organization using Office 365.

Finding expertise

  • Who: In Teams there is the functionality that allows you to know what people are talking about in chats. In the search bar loaded up with capabilities, there is also Who. You can ask the question “Who knows about CRM?” Who will look at all the messages and chats that you have and he will retrieve a set of people that know about that particular topic more than others? In this way, you can quickly and easily find the right person with the right expertise you are looking for. Finding the right person who can answer your question in an easy way can save you much time. For a deeper approach on how to profile expertise and find the right people with Office 365 tools, check Silverside whitepaper Profiling Expertise.

Empower workers in all roles and across industries

Microsoft is extending the power of Teams with new experiences that are tailored to industry-specific and role-based workflows. There are more than 2.5 billion first-line workers worldwide – including factory workers, store clerks, and electricians, among other roles. Why should they be excluded by the benefits of Microsoft Teams for their productivity?

WhatsApp Business

 

  • Home is a new mobile experience that allows first-line workers to see at a glance the most important and relevant info for their day. With Home, first-line workers can clock in and out of shifts/breaks, receive important notes for the day or shift, find out who is working during the shift and save time by easily reviewing information and schedule.
  • Shifts enables first-line managers to plan schedules in an employee self-service and integrated experience. They can create, update and distribute schedules for teams as well as broadcast open and unfilled shifts so that other employees can cover them. Finally, they can review and accept time off requests and swap shifts – all from mobile. For first-line employees, they can swap/offer shifts and request time off, right from their phones.

Teams for the entire organization

  • Introducing SharePoint & Teams Integration: SharePoint is being integrated even closer with Microsoft Teams. This means you will be able to see all the file use and customer use you have created in SharePoint in a surface in Teams. This will help you blend all your business practices in Teams. This will provide a consistent developer and user experience, regardless of whether your code is hosted in the cloud or within an organization via SharePoint.
  • Live events: You can create a new meeting and name it a “live event” and add some people. This will be a live event of one person or more people to many and it will scale up to 10.000 participants. So for example, if you are hosting a webinar you can do that in Teams. You can define who is the producer, who are the presenters and you can choose who you can present to (a specific group of people or it could be public), you can decide if the video afterwards will be recorded, available on demand and so on.
  • Replicate your best Team’s experience with Templates: Found a team setup that works best for a type of project or work style? You, as an admin, soon will be able to easily create new teams based on best practices and lessons learned by leveraging a new REST endpoint as part of the Microsoft Graph API. With Team Templates, you’ll be able to pre-define a team’s channels, apps, and tabs that can help you easily create consistent teams across your organization. You can also define team settings and auto-favorite channels, allowing your team owners to focus on collaborations rather than spending time setting up the team.  All other users, for now, can create a team based on an existing one, without having to start from zero. However, only admins will be able to create proper teams templates.

Webinar: Insight into Sales Meetings Done Smarter: Meeting Notes with Microsoft Teams and OneNote

Last week our senior consultant Sasja Beerendonk held a webinar Insight into Sales Meetings Done Smarter: Meeting Notes with Microsoft Teams and OneNote
The workshop was focused on insights into how to do sales meetings smarter sharing the real-life experience of an international Silverside customer Omron Healthcare. She presented the concrete methodology used to help the customer achieve what they needed regarding sales meetings.
Silverside philosophy teaches that first, you should learn how to use in the best way the tools you already have to work smarter. However, sometimes, from Silverside working practice we see that this is one of the most challenging actions for users in a process of changing the way of working.

In the specific case of Omron Healthcare, an international client spread out across EMEA, the sales organization wanted better insights from meetings held with large customers or resellers of their products.
They needed more alignment between the regions and countries sales meetings. The current practice meant each regional or even sub-regional team had their own way of working, with many different forms of meeting notes taking, in many different formats (Word, Excel, paper-based, or other forms), and in many locations (laptop hard drives, shared network drives). Consequently, there was no single place to be able to find all sales meeting notes.
The solution? Using OneNote notebooks in each channel in Microsoft Teams where salespeople share their meeting notes for that region. Subsequently, each regional notebook is set up, with section groups, sections, and pages.
By watching this webinar, you will be able to learn practical Office 365 Client Use Case and specifically, centralizing sales meeting notes with Teams and OneNote.
Moreover, you will know more about how to design the Team channels and tabs, structure the OneNote notebook with specific access rights for section groups and using page templates. Lastly, another key benefit that this webinar offers is concrete information on how salespeople went through training, and what typical current behaviour was though to tackle.

The entire webinar has been recorded and can be watched for free just by creating a free account through this link:

Insight into Sales Meetings Done Smarter: Meeting Notes with Microsoft Teams and OneNote

How to reduce the cost of a user adoption strategy?

Read more

Time is money. Said Benjamin Franklin and he was right. Especially nowadays.

If you think about your work day and all the activities and tasks you have completed… so many things need to be done in a short period of time. user adoption
Indeed, time is precious, so we have to use it in the right way. Hence, managing your time in a productive way, is critical. This is why people are looking for better options and solutions that can allow them to be more efficient. If you are working with your colleagues, which tool is the best for communicating and collaborating? No matter if you are working alone or in a team, time is always precious and working efficiency is always a priority.

 

How can organizations deal with this challenging demanding environment?

Technology comes to help. For example, Microsoft Office 365 tools are giving new modern ways of working. They enable employees to be more productive, more efficient while collaborating more.
But what happens when these tools are so new for employees? This brings big changes to their working environment and daily routines. And when it actually happens, people are stressed twice: how to meet their deadlines while learning how to work with the new tools?
In general, employees are always stressed about new technologies coming into their workplace. They are worried about how disruptive this will be for them. Usually, they are worried and raising questions like: will I understand the new tools? will I be able to use and work with them?

 

user adoption

 

Of course, managers say that they try to help employees to get to know the new tools. They organize trainings, they hire external experts’ trainers, send employees to some workshops. However, much of these trainings are, unfortunately, worthless. According to McKinsey & Co. research, only 25% of respondents to a 2010 survey said that training improved employees’ performance.

And the fear about how the change will affect their job causes reluctance to use the tool or to know more about it, as a result, employee spend more time working on their task because working tools are new and they still haven’t developed skills how to use these tools efficiently. What is more, when tools are new users have to spend long hours in training instead of working on their actual tasks. Lastly, the IT environment is changing rapidly, so what happens…? What you have learned a months ago, can look different today.

Continuous leaning that doesn’t require a lot of time is needed

To encourage your employees to learn how to work with new tools, managers need to provide them with good quality, relevant, always updated learning content that is available at any time. Silverside presents an Office365 knowledgebase QuickHelp.

This is a cloud-based training solution for Office 365 users, that is accessible anywhere at any time, right from within your Office 365 App Launcher. This platform provides always updated information depending on user’s skills and needs
(from a non-advanced user to a very advanced and even technical user.) The majority of content is in short videos (1- 4 minutes) so it is easy to follow.
Every user can find answers to questions or learn something new by taking only less than 5 minutes every day. Using QuickHelp all user aroption employees can be guided with assigned learning paths. It offers a personalized account, where he/she can select learning videos based on their preferences regarding Office 365 apps. This learning platform provides up-to-date information so an advanced user can find new topics, meantime a beginner can follow the full program on a certain topic without having any information gaps.

The strength of QuickHelp is the ability to give personalized, relevant and timely content for its users.

QuickHelp aims at eliminating inapplicable, irreverent content and focuses on those Office 365 tools that you are using.
With this platform user are able to reach the information they need based on their previous knowledge, preferences and, role in the company. And QuickHelp is available 24/7 so employees do not need to sit in a training for long hours.
Join us at our FREE workshop “Office 365 training: 5 min per day to increase user adoption” where our experts will present the changes in the IT world, the changing role of the IT support desk and will introduce the new approach ‘’ fix problems and learn at the same time’’ with QuickHelp.

How to change user's behavior?

Read more

We all have some behavior that we would like to change in ourselves or encourage others to change in a positive way. Sometimes we see the clear value of doing things differently, but for some reason, we do not change our behavior.

How do we start changing the behavior? For example, you want to quit eating candies. And so, you tell yourself ‘’ I have to stop eating candies otherwise, I will be fat.’’ So what we do here is trying to scare ourselves with the negativity that might happen to us and we think that this leads to making a change. And this tactic is very widely used not only by individuals but also in many organizations and institutions for example by a government saying ‘’ stop leave trashes otherwise you will live in a dirty neighborhood’’ or by healthcare institutions ‘’Stop smoking. Smoking kills’’

However, research shows that warnings have a little impact on changing behavior. According to Dr. Tali Sharot research, when we think about negative consequences we tend to ignore them because we are not completely sure if this (the negative scenario) will happen to us for real, we prefer to ignore negativity and so this emotion is not the best stimulation for a change. However, positive emotions are encouraging people to change says Dr. Tali Sharot. We like to feel that we achieved something positive, even though it is a small step.

QuickHelp

This model works for every kind of changes and the business world is not an exception. Indeed, nowadays in the global market, only those companies that can adapt to fast changes will survive.
Doesn’t matter in which market or sector you work, you have to always be dynamic, grow and learn a lot. But this is definitely easier said than done.

How can organizations deal with this challenging environment? Technology can certainly help. For instance, Microsoft Office 365 tools are revolutionizing the way of working in many companies around the world. They enable employees to be more productive, more efficient while collaborating more.
But what happens when these tools are so new for employees? This brings big changes to their working environment and daily routines. And when it actually happens, people are stressed twice: how to meet their deadlines while learning how to work with the new tools?
In general, employees are always stressed about new technologies coming into their workplace. They are worried about how disruptive this will be for them. Usually, they are worried and raising questions like: will I understand the new tools? will I be able to use and work with them? And the fear about how the change will affect their job causes reluctance to use the tool or to know more about it.

HOW TO TURN CHANGES INTO A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE?

Everyone wants to achieve positive results in a short period of time. Employees that are going through a change process are not an exception. So how we can offer them positive emotions in a change process that will not take much time?

Tiny Habits Program Tiny Habits Program

A “Tiny Habit” is a simple behavior or action you do at least once a day, that takes you less than 30 seconds and that requires little effort. Every time you succeed in doing or embracing the new habit, you must celebrate. The stronger you feel a positive emotion after your Tiny Habit, the faster it will become automatic. So with small actions repeated regularly, we can easily transform our behavior at work. Hence, if you want to encourage people for changes, this method can be an easy way to bring some positive emotions for employees when they feel happy that they did a small positive step towards bigger results.

QuickHelp. 5 min per day to improve your digital skills

QuickHelp is a cloud-based training solution for Office 365 users, that is accessible anywhere at any time. This platform provides a lot of information that is useful for all end-users (from a non-advanced user to a very advanced user.) The majority of content is in videos, that are shot (from 1 to 4 minutes) and very concentrate. It also gives opportunities to sign up for ‘’events’’, webinars with Microsoft certificated trainers where participates can ask questions online.

Quickhelp
By using QuickHelp all employees have a learning path to follow. A personalized account is offered, so every user can select learning videos based on their preferences regarding Office 365 apps. This learning platform provides up-to-date information so an advanced user can find new topics, meantime a beginner can follow the full program on a certain topic without having any information gaps. The most important, all information is accessible at any time and it’s simple to use. By taking only a few minutes per day to watch a video about the tool you would like to know more employees will have a positive feeling that they learned something. To do so employees were encouraged by the positive feelings and not by warnings.

In the process of changing our behavior emotions are playing an important role. We want to succeed and feel good about our selves. In a business environment, a ”change’’ usually is associated with new ways of working that cause stress. It means that employees have to accept and adapt to novelties. This negative feeling causes reluctant for a change. However, even though the change process is difficult and challenging, luckily, there are some tools and methods that can bring positive emotion to users and encourage them to change their behavior. Follow these rules and do small steps for big changes. And if you want to know more join our workshop Office 365 training: 5 min per day to increase user adoption!

How to get the most out of your Microsoft Office 365 investment?

Read more

Your IT manager suggested migrating to Microsoft Office 365, as it has been addressed as the best option now for your company. You trust him, you trust the IT team. So you did the migration, bought the licenses and now all employees are in. The investment was huge, and it’s time to get the most out of it. But how do you know whether and how your employees are going to use and exploit the possibilities that Office 365 can offer them in terms of productivity, collaboration and smart working?
By helping your end-users understand how those capabilities can improve their team collaboration and simplify their day-to-day tasks, you can make some positive changes for your company, starting to act for your return on investment.

 

Return on investment

 

 

1. Use Targeted Communications

To change the behavior of your end-user community and make them adopt the new technology, a communication strategy is essential. First of all, you have to create awareness and information about what is going on and what this changes will mean for end users.
You need to customize the message to their job role and specify how the new features can help them to be more productive, meaning do more in less time. So, focus on your audience and their needs. The critical question is “What’s in it for me? “ In other words, highlight the benefits for them.

2. Media mix

To implement your communication strategy, you can use several channels.
Printed material such as posters, flyers, brochures, and reference cards. They can be put up in common areas such as break rooms, printer bays, and bathrooms. Communicate your message and boost discussions, questions, dialogues.
Live events such as webinars, workshops, lunch and training. These are a great way for IT to engage with end users, learn about how the tool works, and discover many opportunities to solve real business problems with Office 365.
Audiovisual material. Videos broadcasted in your collaboration platform, internal organizational channels, WhatsApp groups, social media, intranet, corporate emails and newsletter.

media mix

3. Word of mouth

The good old way of communicating always works. People like to talk with people about what is happening in the organization. Everyone is involved in the word of mouth process to communicate the changes and marketing the new technology. Executives and managers are not excluded. They also have to tell their direct reports to peers telling peers. You can harness the power of peers telling peers by creating a champions program.

4. Champions program

Identify people in your company who see the value of Office 365 through personal experience and are willing to mentor their peers. They will be your ambassadors, promoting the use of the tools to their colleagues and inspiring them to follow their example.

5. Technical support for new users

The IT Helpdesk staff should be trained in what Office 365 can do, as well as how to support users facing problems and difficulties. Moreover, the IT help desk can identify a business productivity problem that Office 365 can solve in ways the end user is not aware, or discover common issues experienced by users that need more training.

6. Learning opportunities

Whether it is e-learning sessions, workshops, live or virtual training, the most important thing is to help users familiarize and experiment with Office 365. Learning how it works, the concrete possibilities and actions they can do in the daily work explained by experts is fundamental to avoid the barriers that can stop new users to adapt to the new tools.

 

conference call Skype

 

7. Keep track and monitor the progress

To do so, Microsoft provides many tools, such as Microsoft 365 usage analytics within Power BI. Thanks to this tool, you can gain insights on how your organization is adopting the various services within Office 365 to communicate and collaborate. You can visualize and analyze Office 365 usage data, create custom reports and share the insights within your organization and gain insights into how specific regions or departments are utilizing Office 365.

 

These seven points represent some tips and general ideas on how to proceed when a new technology, like Office 365, is being introduced in your company. However, to ensure a positive rate of user adoption and a successful change management strategy that will pay back your investment, a more structured user adoption strategy and change management methodology are needed.

Pace methodology SilversideSilverside PACE methodology is made of four phases: Plan, Acquire, Change, Enhance. Managing the organizational changes in the method of working and in technologies is just easier for managers, consultants and end users. Firstly, be aware of the organizational culture of your company and plan a complete and predictive change management strategy in all the aspects. Secondly, acquire the new collaborative business vision and the technologies necessary to implement the strategy. A user adoption strategy is fundamental at this stage to instill change at every level in the organization. Lastly, optimize the value gained by adjusting the strategy, address key challenges and align with the required business outcomes.

Download the PACE whitepaper! 

4 reasons why IT is a challenging environment

Read more

We are working in a business environemnt  where every day we see how employees encounter different issues related to the way of  working,  communciating, collaborating,  but also about tools and technologies. Since the business world is becoming more and more demanding, people have more work to do and less time, so employees have to do more in the same amount of time. This is why technology can help us by offering possibilities to be more productive at work. If on one hand technology supports and helps employees and businesses, on the other hand it is tricky and can cause many issues to the users.

Indeed, hardly a day is passing by without at least one novelty in IT environment is released. As a consequence, technology in our working environment is changing very fast: new products, new features and updates are being presented every day. In Silverside working practice we see some main challenges that companies have, but have to overcome.

What are the biggest challenges in this dynamic IT world?

1. Workload

If you think about your work day and all the activities and tasks you have completed… so many things need to be done in a short period of time.

workloadTime is precious, so we have to use it in the right way. Hence, managing your time in a productive way, is critical. This is why people are looking for better options and solutions that can allow them to be more efficient. If you are working with your colleagues, which tool is the best for communicating and collaborating? No matter if you are working alone or in a team, time is always precious and work efficiency is always a priority.

Technology provides all kinds of possibilities: tasks are automated, it is easier for employees to reach their goals in faster ways and it is now possible what some decades ago was impossible. In this context, competition in the market is higher than ever. Moreover, customers all around the world are more and more demanding, pretending high quality products and services, the right support from suppliers and fast responses when they have all kinds of issues. The result? The need for employees to reach maximum productivity in order to keep up with the workload they are assigned to do.

2. Globalization

We are living in a global economy. This means that companies expand all around the globe, opening new branches in different countries and continents, in order to enlarge the profits of the global market. In other words, business doesn’t have any boundaries anymore. This has a great impact on the way of collaborating and working.

Globalization

Nowadays, people can be in the different places and still work together: remote team work is a habit and being part of the same project team together with people from Japan and Canada is now the norm. How can this be possible? Thanks to technology. Hence, it is not possible to imagine working without smart technologies for business communication. If you have a meeting, do you always need to be physically in the same room with your colleague? In this age, the answer is definitely NO. However, the question arises on HOW to do that in a productive way with the right technologies? Which apps and which functionalities to use to have the most effective online meetings and conferences?

3. Fast Changes

The only constant is change.

fast changes

We are facing the challenge of finding that perfect balance between keeping up with change and not changing for its own sake. Change is inevitable, and change is good, but  change must be consistent with corporate objectives and and bring some positive results.

The impact of technology on constant changes is huge, because new tools, apps, new features, and updates are being released on a daily basis. Technology is changing so rapidly for organizations and the ability to adopt new technologies is becoming a vital mechanism. Hence, managers all over the world make many efforts in searching for the best technologies to help employees work better and smarter because nowadays the technologies give us many opportunities on how to improve our work.
However, changing the technologies means changes in the way we work, so people need to adapt and develop new skills.

4. User adoption

When we talk about business technologies the big problem arises when in reality only a few people will actually use these new tools. Why they do so? Because people don’t like changes, they like to behave in the same old ‘’natural’’ way. As a consequence, making change work for your business is the challenge. One of the biggest challenges that technologies bring to business is user adoption: getting employees trained on new tools of working and encourage them to use new tools on a daily basis.
However, at first, employees are stressed about new technologies coming into their workplace. They are worried about how disruptive it will be for them. Usually, they are worried and raising questions like: Will I understand the new tools? Will I be able to use and work with them? When employees are told that new technologies are coming into their workspace, they get stressed and feel under pressure. And so, the fear about how the change will affect their job causes reluctance to use the tool.

 

user adoption

 

One of the biggest mistakes that companies do when they implement the new technology, is thinking that the date when that technology is introduced, correspond to the starting date of its usage. Because it is not! The real struggle is not the switch from one software to another, but the task to make people adopt it.

 

Here I listed four business challenges that I believe have the biggest impact on our daily work. It is not difficult to imagine that in such a condition it is really challenging for us to keep up with this pace and the struggle with personal and group productivity, collaboration,  adoption of new tools and new ways of working is real. Hence, Silverside invites you to participate in our free workshop ‘Office 365 training: 5 min per day to increase user adoption‘, together explore the challenges that the dynamic IT world brings for the end user and find out about possible ways how to overcome these struggles.

The importance of Corporate Email Signature

Read more

Your email signature is as important as any other part of your corporate identity. Using a badly designed, not consistent email signature has a huge negative impact on a client or a prospect since it results in poor professionalism.

Having instead a consistent, simple, clean signature with the corporate logo that reflects the identity of the company is the right approach to increase the positive perception of the company in the eyes of customers and prospects, while providing an instant brand recognition of the organization. That’s why a corporate email signature is fundamental for every company. Indeed, an email signature is like handing a person a business card every time you send an email. When people say: “the first impression is the one that counts the most” is really true, also if we are talking about corporate electronic communications. In the end, why should you risk your professional image by not instituting a company-wide email signature?

 

email signature

 

To sum up, an email signature has four main areas of interest:

  • Legitimacy

Conveying a cohesive and consistent image of your company throughout every email of every employee means that your business is well established and trustworthy.

  • Branding

How to brand every message you send? Through a signature. It establishes and reinforces who you are as a company, enforcing your brand awareness among your customers and prospects.

  • Email marketing

Entrepreneurs and marketing professionals commonly use email marketing for business promotion. But what is the point of email marketing if your corporate email is not attractive? If the logo is not present in the email? If it is not recognizable or doesn’t have the link to the company website?

  • Digital Business Card

This signature is your digital business card, meaning it is a way to connect with customers, leads or potential new clients. Moreover, including the contact details and important links (like your website or social media) is a way to facilitate the communication and connection with your audience.

email signature

 

Dedicated software can be used to design and manage signatures. By managing email branding, you can easily refresh email signatures across your entire organization, as well as regulate them. If you still don’t have an email signature, Crossware can help you.

crossware

Crossware is an international leader in company email signature management. Crossware’s flagship product, Crossware Mail Signature, gives users complete control over their company email signatures. They can easily design an attractive and professional email signature and ensure that these are included on every email leaving their company, even those sent from mobile devices.

Start your 30 days free trial now!

The Microsoft news that was supposed to dominate the headlines yesterday was the forthcoming updates for Office 365 users of Outlook for Windows and Outlook on the web. Instead the news that dominated was the data centre outage in San Antonio TX after a lightning storm took out the cooling system, which had cascading effects across the world for Azure, Azure Active Directory, and Office 365. But that outage seems to be resolved now, and so we can get back to seeing how changes from Microsoft can have an impact on how people work together.

Two main blog posts on the Outlook Blog yesterday were released together to highlight the forthcoming changes in Outlook (although the team released five in coordination). It’s worth a read to see what the team has been working on: Outlook for Windows and Outlook for the web.

The forthcoming updates that stood out to me were:

  1. The opt-in slider for users of both clients to choose whether to switch to the new experience immediately, or wait until it is fully released. Giving people (and organisations) options for when they embrace the change in the interface helps with pacing what is coming, determining whether any new adoption resources are needed, and for the Outlook team at Microsoft, provides a way of getting targeted feedback from people with a high interest in seeing what’s coming. I don’t know why Microsoft uses a different name for the opt-in slider on Outlook on the web and Outlook for Windows though. That seems an unnecessary complexification of the change. 
  2. The simplified ribbon in Outlook for Windows. I remember the transition from the short icons to the higher ribbon a decade ago, and the furore in response. Looking at both the ribbon we’ve grown used to and the simplified ribbon that we’ll soon have access to, the second is definitely cleaner and easier to look at – mainly due to the removal of so many options. Microsoft’s design point that many people use the same 10 or so commands, but then the next few are different between people is well founded – and surely they have the in-product usage telemetry to make that design assertion. The simplified ribbon provides a way of addressing this individualisation of the experience; it will be good to try it out. I know in my use of Microsoft Office generally, there are many ribbon buttons that I don’t ever use.
  3. The subtle but powerful re-arrangement of the new meeting form was the change I loved the most: putting the time for the meeting ahead of the location. By entering the time first, the availability of locations can be shown alongside the list of possible meeting locations. Defaults are a powerful thing, and clearly so is the sequencing of input fields. It would be great to see this innovation flow across other Microsoft tools that combine a request for time with a request for a location, such as the new meeting form in Microsoft Teams. 
  4. Talking about the new meeting form, I was very surprised to see a button for making the meeting a “Skype Meeting” instead of a “Teams Meeting.” Surely the Outlook team has read the memo about Microsoft Teams being the strategic communication app in the Office 365 stack now, and Skype for Business being relegated to second or lower fiddle. Defaults are a powerful thing, and having Teams as the default option would be the better choice in light of the wider Microsoft vision. Hopefully that email about the strategy wasn’t caught in spam!

Finally, there are a whole set of small, almost inconsequential and subtle changes in the layout: Groups being a peer to Folders, message actions in the top right corner, background highlights for flagged messages, and so on. These are all good directional changes that simplify workflow within Outlook.

Of course, while Outlook remains a pivotal place for people to work, collaboration is best done through other experiences such as Teams, Yammer, and SharePoint. It’s good to see Outlook getting better, but no degree of getting better will address the fundamental weaknesses of an email system for productive collaboration. For that you need modern collaboration tools and a journey of transformation to becoming a collaborative business.

Microsoft Teams external communication

Read more

Since Microsoft Teams has been introduced two years ago, the product has evolved in a reasonable way. Yet, there are still some difficulties to overcome with Microsoft Teams. There are many questions that need to be answered prior moving to Microsoft Teams when coming from Skype for Business.

Let’s say you are working for an international organization and you didn’t implement Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams yet, but the company needs a communication client to communicate with employees all around the world. Currently some departments within the organization are using different communication clients with potential employees, or are communicating with external clients with different tools.

 

conference call Skype

 

Microsoft Teams seems to be THE tool, right? Possibly, I would say.

Depending on the requirements for your internal business it can be a problem. When you want to communicate with external parties, are you going to ask every external person to install Microsoft Teams? Even when it is not an External Client? I don’t believe so!

Currently, many organizations are using the Skype consumer client for external communication. Why? Because people are used to use Skype consumer everywhere around the world for communicating with potential new employees or external clients. And people are using it to communicate with friends and family around the world. It is easy to install, it is a lightweight product and it works on everything: from a simple tablet to phones and notebooks. It doesn’t consume a lot of bandwidth and it doesn’t need a lot of resources to operate smoothly. Next to that, it has persistent chat which stays available.

Are you going to ask a single person to install Microsoft Teams for just a one-hour call, and the hazzle that comes with it? Since not every person is handy with computers and software, you need to guide them with them. With Skype for Business you can communicate with Skype consumer, but it lacks many options that come with Microsoft Teams. Also, Microsoft decided that we need to move to Microsoft Teams, and Skype for Business will be deprecated.

But there is also an issue with Skype consumer version. You cannot use it in a very strict environment with Proxies. Skype consumer doesn’t like Proxies, and yes, in version 7 you can still use it, but in version 8 it isn’t possible to set a Proxy. And when you have configured a Proxy there is still no guarantee it will work. Skype for Business

So, let’s go back to Microsoft Teams. You would think that Microsoft Teams will support external communication with Skype consumer, since Skype for Business has it? Well, no! After investigating I found out that Microsoft rejected the implementation of integration with the Skype consumer version. The only part that Microsoft will introduce is the PSTN calling from Microsoft Teams to Skype Consumer, but not the ability to chat or send files.

Microsoft is limiting organizations to use Microsoft Teams with no possibility to communicate with external parties that don’t use this app. But nothing to say about the future, Microsoft is still learning from its own mistakes.

Yet there are no decent solutions for organizations who rely on communication with external parties when you are moving to Office 365 and Microsoft Teams. MS Teams is nice for internal communication and organizations who are using Microsoft Teams.

Source:
https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/16958347-skype-integration-consumer-federation

 

New data centres coming to Germany in 2020 for German data residency

Data privacy and data protection are serious issues across Europe. The new Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is top-of-mind for many organisations in the region – as it should be – and the rest of the world now too – as it has become – but matters of data privacy and data protection have been serious issues for a long time before GDPR. This is not the blog post for a deep analysis of GDPR, but one of the items that flows from the regulation is a high duty of care around where data is physically located and stored. When data is stored in on-premises systems and servers, it is much easier to draw a line around a box and say “this is where it is.” In the original vision of the cloud, on the other hand, data residency issues bordered on the irrelevant; as long as it was stored securely, so the vendors reasoned, where precisely it was stored “in the cloud” could be rather amorphous.

That’s changed. For example, Microsoft now offers much greater transparency around where specifically data is stored for Office 365 tenants, and even has an almost year old multi-geography offering for organisations that require different data storage locations in different regions but still within a single tenant. And in combination with a changed mindset around data storage location, Microsoft is building out a global network of data centres to provide in-region and even in-country guarantees for those organisations where the specifics around data residency is a potential show stopper. In principle, much of the world is now covered by a consistent data centre approach for Office 365, although this is a moving target as Microsoft re-jigs data storage locations to take advantage of new data centres.

One of the countries that has been excluded from the consistent approach is Germany. Back in 2015, Microsoft introduced a “new type” of Office 365 data centre for German organisations who required data residency within Germany. The Office 365 service offered through the 2015 German data centre was a special variant (e.g., Office 365 E4 Germany), and was run by a German-based third-party data trustee so that Microsoft would not have access to customer data as a non-German company. This approach provided an immediate answer for Microsoft and for German organisations, but over the subsequent years, the new capabilities introduced to Office 365 globally have generally been excluded from Office 365 Germany. No Microsoft Teams. No PowerApps. No Microsoft Flow. No Office 365 E5. No Yammer even. No MyAnalytics. No Planner. No, no, no and no.

It’s pretty hard to work with organisations on introducing change in how people work together using modern collaboration tools when they can’t even access them.

But the times are a’changin. Effective early 2020, Microsoft will bring its new Berlin and Frankfurt data centres on stream for Office 365, replacing the current 2015 data centre model. The new data centres are part of Microsoft’s consistent global Office 365 data centre strategy – not a continuation of the “new type” – and German organisations for whom in-country data residency is essential will be able to use these new data centres. We’re not there yet, but Microsoft is not onboarding new customers to its current 2015 German data centre any more, and new customers can either embrace one of the regional European data centres or wait for early 2020. Part of this stems from the impact of GDPR: since GDPR delivers a harmonised approach across all 28 member states in the EU, the need for a specific and exclusive approach in Germany is no longer required.

In the Euro 2012, Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1. In the FIFA World Cup 2014, Argentina won the penalty shootout against the Netherlands, and then proceeded to play Germany in the final (and lose 0-1). Clearly, Germany has a great football team (although go Netherlands in 2018!). Despite our country-level competition in football, we welcome all German organisations to Microsoft Teams (and other Office 365 services) in the new data centres, and look forward to bringing our PACE approach to make a winning combination – for all teams.