Microsoft StaffHub for Frontline Workers

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Microsoft has made significant strides in recent years addressing the needs of workers who don’t work on a computer throughout the day. Some people don’t touch a computer at work at all, and yet they still require company news, communications, and access to company resources. I have seen estimates of 500 million to 2 billion people who fit into this category – that of frontline workers (although Microsoft uses the term “firstline”). Microsoft offers a plethora of Office 365 apps for mobile devices: Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote), Delve, SharePoint, OneDrive, and more. These apps are mobile-optimised versions of the larger application.

Microsoft is also investing in apps that are mobile-first, meaning they are first-and-foremost designed for people who use a mobile device as their primary (and perhaps only) device, not their secondary one. Microsoft StaffHub is an example of this workstream (released in January 2017). The StaffHub service offers a way for team leaders to create and share work schedules, tasks, and documents or links of relevance to their team. Schedules must be created and assigned using a web browser (therefore the team leader needs a computer, or at least access to one), but team members use the mobile app – available for iOS and Android – to view their schedules, request a schedule swap with another team member, create and work on tasks, hold discussions, and access the files and links their team leader has made available.

The capabilities in StaffHub enable the following:
• Each person with rights to StaffHub can sign into the browser edition and create one or more teams.
• Each team can be divided into multiple groups, although only using one team and one group is entirely fine.
• The team leader can add people to their team. An invitation to join is sent out by email, which must be opened using a mobile device. A new team member can’t use the link to accept the invitation on a computer.
• The team leader can create a schedule for each person, add notes to the day for every team/group member to view, and can also add notes to a specific shift for a person. Shift notes allow a team leader to point out a specific task or focus area for a team member for that shift. Once the schedule is created for a week (or day or month), the team leader can share the new schedule with their team. Each team member’s mobile app is updated, and they will receive a change alert.
• Each team has a files area to which the team leader can contribute files (documents, images) and links (URL resources). Team leaders can add and modify these; team members can view them. Files and documents must be added directly into StaffHub from the team leader’s computer; a team leader can’t browse a SharePoint document library or OneDrive for Business location for a file to add.
• Each person can belong to more than one group within a team, and to more than one team. For people in multiple teams, both the browser and mobile app enable switching between teams. Note that StaffHub does not create an aggregated calendar for a person on multiple teams; the schedule for each team is treated standalone. Notifications, however, are unified across teams, meaning that a single notifications screen shows all the outstanding notifications across all of the teams the individual is a member of.
• If enabled, team members can use StaffHub to clock in and clock out of their shifts. These time reports can be exported to other systems for payroll processing. There is also a location detection option in StaffHub, meaning that a worker will need to be at or near a specific geographical location in order to clock in or out, thereby reducing fraudulent time cards.
• Team members can use the mobile app to request a shift swap with another team member. All requests have to be approved by the team leader.

Everyone using StaffHub needs an Office 365 account. Note, however, that rights to StaffHub are included in the Office 365 F1 (Firstline) plan, which is much less than an Enterprise E1 plan or above. F1 also includes rights to Outlook (with a 2GB mailbox), Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive for Business, and more.

Applying formal Project Governance to Teams

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Few would argue that using Teams for smaller, less formal projects is a breakthrough. But could we actually use Teams for very formal projects that require stricter governance and more control. This blog will walk you through what works and what doesn’t, using our PACE Project Governance principles as a guideline.

Ensuring the project is aligned to the organisations vision and strategy is an important role for the Project Leader and Project Sponsors. Capturing this and communicating it with the rest of the team is something a Teams Wiki can do really well. This applies to capturing project objectives and any other information that can be classed as long term (not likely to change much) – think of the scope of the project, business case or impact analysis.

Silverside
Personally I have yet to discover an easy way to create an org-chart of the members of the Project Team or a RACI chart. But a simple table with the names, roles and responsibilities may be sufficient. (If not creating a SharePoint list is certainly an option or even an Excel spreadsheet. Save the spreadsheet in the Team and publish a link in the Wiki.)

A great benefit of the wiki is to on-board new project members, simply send them a link to the wiki, they can read up on background of the project. Before catching up on specific conversations and action lists.

Communication is vital to any project and takes on different forms. Discussions, whatever you do don’t discuss project matters in emails. Use Teams conversations functionality to discuss all matters for the project. Short status updates can be made in the General tab and specific updates or discussions in channels if required. Meetings, periodic, spontaneous, virtual or around the boardroom table. Skype functionality built into Teams means the whole team, or parts thereof, can meet. Meetings can be recorded, action items captured in you Planner action list. And finally, documentation, the more formal and long term form of communication.

Saving all documentation in the Files library of the Team (channel) epitomises modern collaboration. One file saved online, where everyone can edit or comment on the file. Versions are automatically saved and can be reverted to if required. By default, the latest version is always opened. Connect a file to a specific task, hold discussions around a document. Regardless of the size or complexity of a project, this functionality solves a myriad of collaboration issues.

Should your team members still find it difficult to keep track of conversations? Using @mentions can help significantly.

Then, vital to any project, task management in Teams is basically what the name says, a way to manage tasks. A little limiting if you are used to managing your projects formally or have complex projects that require RAID or CARDI logs. But you can get creative using the buckets and labels to take task management up a step towards project management.

Silverside
This is definitely a point where good planning will be worth the time you invest. If you rely heavily on dependencies, timelines and milestones consider opening the Team in SharePoint and adding a Task list. The list is highly customisable and users can link the tasks to their Outlook Tasks if they already work in Outlook. The downside is, there is currently no easy way to add this list to Teams. Your team would have to go to the SharePoint site to see the list. You can however build a mobile app for this list using PowerApps, which would make it very simple for users to add new tasks.

In conclusion, Teams, combined with Planner (or SharePoint depending on the complexity of your task management requirements), is a great solution for projects. Applying good project governance principles is possible in this modern collaboration tool.

Changes Afoot for Microsoft OneNote

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One of my friends once covered himself in Post-It Notes and walked into his local Microsoft office. He was hoping to become the product manager for Microsoft OneNote – hence the attention-grabbing way of presenting himself – but his approach was stymied because the receptionist didn’t even know what OneNote was.

That lack of knowledge still seems to be a challenge for Microsoft – people are either ardent fans or barely know the product exists. Although OneNote has been offered as part of Office since Office 2003 and is now included as part of Windows 10, it remains under-used for what it has to offer. Perhaps Microsoft’s work with tuning it for the education market with OneNote for Classrooms will seed the market with a whole new love for the program in about a decade’s time, but that’s a long-term play we will need to watch.

OneNote on Windows comes in two editions: a full-client edition in Office 2016, and the Windows 10 app edition installed as part of Windows 10 and updated from the Microsoft Store. The Office edition of OneNote has always been more fully-featured than the app edition, and while a OneNote notebook can be opened in both, having two editions has been confusing. And unnecessary. But that confusion is about to disappear.

Microsoft recently showed its hand on the future of OneNote for Windows users: the full-client version is going away, and the app version will become the primary offering (see The best version of OneNote on Windows). Frequent users of OneNote will have noticed that while the app edition has been updated relentlessly over the past couple of years, the OneNote 2016 edition has barely been touched. Past momentum has now been formalised into a statement of direction and future intent, even though the app edition does not yet support all the capabilities of the full-client edition.

The OneNote app edition does offer several features not available in the full-client edition, and more feature goodness is on its way. Current differences include ink effects, better ink-to-text support, a faster and more reliable sync engine, Researcher (for finding source materials and content to cite on your topic; requires an Office 365 subscription), and a list of recently changed notes (all notes across notebooks that you have recently changed). New forthcoming features include tags and tag search (with tags that roam across devices), and live previews of Office documents within a OneNote page.

One capability that will not be included in the OneNote app edition, however, is support for offline-only notebooks. In the app edition, all notebooks are created in OneDrive (or a SharePoint team site) and then synchronised to a local device. In the OneNote full-client edition, on the other hand, it is possible to create an offline-only notebook. For people who don’t want to have their information in cloud storage at all – or are prohibited from doing so due to strict privacy laws – this gives the full-client edition a major edge over the app edition. Going forward, at this time, Microsoft’s statement is “if you don’t like it, find another product.” Fans of the full-client edition will be able to keep using OneNote 2016 when Office 2019 hits the market, but no new Office 2019 edition of OneNote is planned. On current intent, it is unlikely that Microsoft is going to add many capabilities to OneNote 2016 going forward, so it is essentially being run off the road.

Overall, there are many people very upset with this statement of direction from Microsoft – the UserVoice forum for OneNote includes angry and passionate words from many users to retain the OneNote desktop edition in Office 2019. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft makes a new decision based on this outpouring of support from its ardent fans.

At Silverside, we advocate the use of OneNote both personally for personal information management and as part of team and group work. A OneNote notebook can be added to a Microsoft Teams workspace, and used and shared across the team for capturing ideas, for example in a meeting. Please check out our Smarter Meetings Principles document, and the associated Workbook on Smarter Meetings with Microsoft Teams.

In summary, what should you do now:

• If you haven’t used OneNote yet and are considering doing so, start with the app edition. At this point, it’s the right direction for new users of an amazing product.
• If you rely on OneNote 2016 and the app edition will not meet your requirements, upvote the capabilities you need in the OneNote Uservoice forum. And consider adding your support to the call for a re-consideration of the strategic direction.
• At some point, if Microsoft continues down this pathway and the app edition doesn’t become sufficient for you (for example, with no support for offline-only notebooks), you will need to find an alternative offering.

Getting on-board quickly with QuickHelp

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Microsoft have sponsored an amazing user adoption initiative. The QuickHelp program created and almost instantly updated by Brainstorm Inc. We at Silverside are proud to be the first company based in The Netherlands to collaborate with BrainStorm, providing our customers with this great learning tool. At our company we recently began using the platform for our own internal user adoption programme.

Every Microsoft user are constantly surprised by new opportunities. Which means we have to discover and explore new functionalities and what normally concerns us the most, are about what we don’t know. However, every functionality that may be making our work so much easier, we just need to know what we have.

Let’s see what Quick Help are offering for us.

Having a platform personalised to your organisation, language and preferences for topics means you can very specifically find topics (or are offered learning plans) which can be followed when it suits you, skip or watch a video again as you require. Read about benefits of personalized QuickHelp profile in the article QuickHelp: a learning tool for all employees.

Quick Help

QuickHelp also offers learning events that are regularly planned which you can register to join at a time that suits you. Pick to learn about a topic as you require the skills.

Quick Help

Training videos are generally short 1 – 5 minutes is probably average. There are a number of Microsoft published videos in between those created by Brainstorm as well as regular polls to find out how you are experiencing the information, allowing the platform to improve on what you (or your colleagues) are being offered. Understand what level of expertise you already have or what functionality you are already familiar with. For those of us who prefer keeping a quick guide handy there are guides you can print and keep at hand. Or add them to your favourites and you can review them as required.

Explore Quick Help and make your learning process more interactive and easier.

Rogers Adoption Curve put into Practice

Do you remember life we had mobile phones? And when they were new, seeing people on the street making calls, seemed weird. Irritating attention-seekers, who would want to have a private conversation on public transport? The Roger’s Adoption Curve can tell the story of this development.

In the video of interviews in Holland (1998) we hear people categorically stating why they will not need a mobile phone. This is a perfect example of how users adopt a new technology, what we call user adoption. In this case the mobile phone, which was then on the rise. But replace ‘mobile phone’ randomly with other technology, such as LinkedIn (not very new) or WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat. Or at work with the introduction of new apps, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams within Office 365, Salesforce chatter, or Watson Workspace, Rogers adoption curve remains valid.

Silverside's Rogers Adoption Curve

To which group of Rogers Adoption Curve would people in the video belong to?

Do you want to know more about how employees embrace new technology? Then read about Silverside’s Change model.

Thinking about Fileshares with the Silverside Collaboration Framework

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We have a flashy new tool, but we do not change the way we work. So old wine in new bags. And then you do not get anything out of it! How many times have you experienced this?  

This article is one of a series:
1. What does not work with fileshares and e-mail?
2. Smarter collaboration on files with Office 365
3. Thinking about Fileshares with the Silverside Collaboration Framework
4. You can also share e-mails 

How often do you still see the outdated way of organizing files and version control continued in Office 365. 

The fileshares are migrated one by one to the personal OneDrive of employees. In this way you end up with all the quality documents in the OneDrive of the Q&A Manager, all policies with the OneDrive of the IT employee who created them, and the HR files in the OneDrive of someone from HR.
The OneDrive becomes a large swamp, in which nobody can find anything anymore. And what happens when a person leaves the company? Ownership of these files is also lost.
It is better to look at the files on the fileshares in a different way. Start with the thought: what kind of work is it, and what purpose does it serve. 

Collaboration Framework approach

We work from our Collaboration Framework. Here we do not look at the technology, but at the business and human factors that are necessary to make collaboration successful. Whatever organization you have, and whatever work you do, you can always work together as a group in four areas: All four areas are a community, a society, a group. But each has a different character. 

Silverside Collaboration Framework

Silverside Collaboration Framework

Community of Practice (COP)

A Community of Practice is a group of people who share a specific field or expertise. The emphasis here is on progress. In a COP, documents are shared, are continually improved upon. The subjects have something in common with the core business of the organization. Here the money is earned, and they are supported by the whole organization. That is why this is generally also a top-down approach. There are clear rules. A COP is predominantly a group that applies for a long term, precisely because it has been supported by the organization and the business itself is making better. A document is the result of the work here. 

Project

Typical for a project is that a clear result follows. Something is being delivered. And that is done within a fixed short term. Often several disciplines within the organization are involved in a project. Sometimes even external people. Speed ​​and flexibility is usually very important. That is why there is a need for a lot of ease of use and few rules. In addition to documents, there is a lot of emphasis on tasks, progress and deadlines. When you want to make processes or business better, project documents can ultimately form the basis for adjustments in the COP. 

Team

With a team there is a clear organization. Usually inspired by the organization chart of the company. Think of divisions, departments, countries, and locations. With a team, it is clear who is a member. You can often distinguish between a public part (of the team, for the organization) and a closed part (with the team, for the team). The work that a team does, is about daily business. We are not working towards one specific goal, but doing the work is central. Documents are often supportive to processes. Communication and planning are a big part of working together. 

Community of Interest (COI)

In a COI people who have a shared interest come together. This can be something that has nothing to do with the business itself, such as a self-supporting iPhone community. But it can also be an area that has common ground with the organization. The key word, however, is that people in the group have the same passion. The difference with a COP is that these interests are not borne by the organization, but have developed completely bottom-up. There are no or few rules. Usually a COI has a short-term character. The interest can quickly become obsolete (think of the iPhone, maybe this was rather black?). These are often new, innovative topics. Eventually it disappears automatically, or changes into a Project or COP. A document is often the starting point of a discussion here. 

4 elements of cooperation

So far we have always talked about working together on documents. But collaboration consists of more than just sharing files. When working together we talk about 4 elements: communication, appointments, actions, and results. All these elements come together within each type of community in the model. Office 365 offers one central place for each of the 4 types where the calls, the agreements (rules and agreements in the agenda!), the documents and the tasks can be found. 

The recurring question ‘When do I use what?’ 

Office 365 workshop

With Office 365 you as organization have a wide range of apps at your disposal. Group files can be stored in SharePoint sites, in an Outlook Group, in a Team or in a Plan. These apps have some overlap, but each also has its specific features and benefits.
When you look at these various apps from a technological point of view, you can simply list the functionality. Of course it is possible that employees are really looking specifically for a certain functionality, and therefore would make a choice for one or the other.
The reality, however, is that employees have choice stress. Do I have to use SharePoint sites, Outlook Groups, Teams or Planner? The Collaboration Framework helps with the choices!
Looking at a typical file share you can easily recognize how you can think about them in communities. You usually see the folders for departments and projects on fileshares back. What you do not often find here is the COP and the COI. They often exist more in e-mail or simply do not have a clear place.
Within Office 365 you can think of the apps that are most suitable for each of the four elements.

Issues that have a long-term focus, require rules (governance) or structure and that are important for the entire organization (top-down) can best be arranged with SharePoint sites. Task-oriented work is central to Planner. The latest addition to Office 365 – Teams – is ideal for low-threshold collaboration with a focus on communication. For completely free sharing with each other and a lot of interaction, without any control and rules (bottom-up).  Read more on the article  When to Use What.