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Microsoft Flow is a Microsoft Office365 product that allow members of your organisation to create and automate workflows across multiple applications. These automated workflows are called “Flows”.

Flows can be created from scratch through a simplistic drag and drop interface without the need to know how to write code. You can also choose from hundreds of templates to get you started creating your own Flow logic.

Flows are most commonly used to trigger notifications or automate tasks your employees may be carrying out manually. For example, if an email was received in the accounts team shared mailbox with the subject containing “Purchase Order” you might have a flow store the email and attachments directly into a SharePoint folder then email a notification to the sales manager.

Amongst the thousands of possibilities, here is some examples of automation using Flow:

  • Request Manager Approval on Document
  • Get mobile push notification when receive email from VIP
  • Get daily weather reports delivered to email and phone
  • Track Facebook wall messages in an Excel Sheet or SharePoint List
  • Save Comments on Instagram posts to Excel Sheet or SharePoint List

In this blog article we will demonstrate how to harvest all tweets from Twitter that contain a certain #HashTag.

At Valto we work on many projects with Marketing and Communication departments from a wide range of organisations. A common issue we come across is these departments having a lot of “manual” processes for gathering data about what their customers are saying about them on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

Knowing what customers are saying about your organisation in a public platform is vital for several reasons. It will let you know what your customers are happy about, but more likely they will make known what they are unhappy about. The most popular platform for sharing feedback about a good/bad experience of a business is Twitter.

This article will show you how you can harvest all tweets that contain keywords or # related to your organisation and then store them inside a SharePoint Online list.

  1. Create a list inside your SharePoint Online intranet.
  2. Create the following fields:
    SharePoint List
  3. Click on the “Flow” tab on the ribbon and select “Create Flow”
  4. On the template selection pane on the right-hand side, scroll down to “Save tweets that include a specific hashtag to a SharePoint list”Microsoft Flow Template
  1. You will need to make sure Flow is connected to your SharePoint site and twitter account. Then click continue.
  2. You will then see the flow editing screen. First enter the search text you want to use to find tweets you wish to Harvest. In this example we have chosen to find any tweets that contain the hashtag “#Valto”. This will work for any word with or without a hashtag.Flow Tweet
  1. Next select the content that will populate each field as shown below:Microsoft Flow
  1. Click Save Flow at the bottom of the screen then Done at the top of the screen. This will have now published your Flow.
  2. Now from any twitter account post a tweet containing you chosen search word for example “#Valto”Valto Twitter
  1. Go back to your SharePoint list and within a few minutes you will see the post appear.SharePoint List Example

This process could be expanded to include notifications to members of your organisation, so they can react quickly to tweets containing explicit or negative wording for example.

There are many other twitter attributes of the tweets we have harvested we could also include in our SharePoint list for analysis afterwards such as:

  • How many tweets that user has favourite previously
  • How many people the user followers
  • How many friends the user has on twitter
  • What native language the user speaks
  • How many tweets that user has made in the past

All this information can start building a picture of the demographic of the users that has tweeted. For example, using this in analysis you could determine if this tweet is in fact from a genuine user account or perhaps it is a spoof account from a competitor.

If you have any business processes that you feel could be streamlined or made completely automated, please get in touch.

Author

 ValtoDougie Wood
SharePoint Specialist
T:  03335 779 009
E: Dougie.wood@valto.co.uk
W: https://valto.co.uk
10 Watergate Row, Chester. CH1 2LD

When speaking with new clients, we often find that although they are paying for Office365 for some or all their employees yet not taking full advantage of everything Office365 has to offer. On average most businesses are only benefiting from around 40% of what the Office365 suite of products has to offer.

This article aims to give you top tips for getting the most value from your Office365 subscription and outline some key functionality you may not be aware of.

1.   Compliance – GDPR Policies

25th of May 2018 is the official date when all businesses must be GDPR complaint. This is proving troublesome for organisations as they must completely re-think how to categorise their data in accordance to the rules and regulations to ensure their business is complaint.

What you may not be aware of is the Security and Compliance features that Office365 has built into it to assist you in categorising and applying automated rules to data you have stored inside of Office365 to ease this process.

A great example of this is “Labelling” data and then applying automated actions based on that label. It is possible to create multiple Label types and in our example below we have created a “Personal Data” label that we wish to apply to specific documents within SharePoint Online.

First, we create our label within the Office365 Admin Centre and document what the label shall be used for.

GDPR

We can then configure the settings to carry out automatic actions dependant on specific logic. This may be to ensure that certain documents are retain for a specific amount of time. If this was customer information we may need to delete the data after a specific time.

Personal Data

Once we have created our labels we can then start applying them to our document libraries within SharePoint. We can either bulk apply a label to every document or specifically choose a label for individual documents.

In the example below these two documents have been labelled as “Personal Data” meaning the documents cannot be deleted for 7 years in accordance to the labels rules we have created.

SharePoint Library

2.   Security – Multi Factor Authentication

We have all heard horror stories about businesses being “hacked” or “Cyrptolocked” which is essentially when someone gains access to your IT infrastructure and maliciously damages your data or holds it to ransom.

Security

Unfortunately, this type of attach is becoming increasingly popular as the hacking software is now readily available to purchase to attack businesses. Often businesses only take the threat seriously once they have been attacked and forced to pay on average between £4,000 – £10,000 or lose all their data.

There are multiple things businesses can do to protect their server environments but often forget about securing Office365 from potential hack attacks.

The best way to prevent something terrible happening to your data in Office365 is to prevent the hacker ever being able to get into your system. To this you will need to enable “Multi Factor Authentication” for all your users.

This means whenever one of your users logs into Office365 they must also authenticate from another device such as their mobile phone. This can be achieved with:

  • A code texted to the user.
  • A phone call that requires the user to press a number.
  • An app on their phone that requires them to press “Approve” when prompted for authentication.

This ensures that a hacker cannot use an employee’s account to login unless they have that employees mobile phone which is highly unlikely.

Multi Factor Authentication can also consider where the user is logging in from. This means your users may only be required to Multi Factor Authenticate when logging in remotely which is anywhere other than the office, as hackers will be trying to login remotely.

3.   Collaborate on documents with real-time co-authoring

Gone are the days of waiting for a colleague to complete their section of a document your team I am collaborating on before you can work on the document. No more backwards and forward emails with different versions of the teams document. When you and your colleagues want to collaborate on a document, you can use real-time co-authoring to see everyone’s changes as they happen.

As you can see in the example below, you will be able to see who is editing the document and in real-time what they are typing into the document.

Co-Authoring

Co-Authoring Collaboration is a simple three step process:

  1. Upload the document you wish to collaborate on into a shared document area such as OneDrive or SharePoint Online, so others can work in it.
  2. You invite people to edit it with you, so they receive an email with a shortcut URL to access the document.
  3. When they open and work in the document in Word 2016, Word Online you will see each other’s changes as soon as there are typed into the document.

4.   Extranet – Free External Users

Business often need to collaborate and securely store documents with external parties such as suppliers, consultants or customers. Previously this would be a difficult process to manage which would often evolve third parties emailing copies of documents back and forward into shared mailboxes.

However, by enabling the external sharing features within SharePoint Online your company can quickly configure a SharePoint “Extranet” which is an online portal that third parties can log into and upload/download any documents that are required.

You do NOT have to pay for external user’s licenses. It is free for external third parties to access you Office365 tenant.

This could be used for a customer portal that allows your customers to download your latest product materials or even a supplier’s portal that allows third parties to upload documentation for a procurement process.

Extranet

5.   O365 Video – Microsoft’s Answer To YouTube

Office 365 Video is a great video streaming product within Office365. It offers a YouTube style portal where users in your organization can post and stream videos.

It’s an excellent place to share videos of company-wide communications or recordings of tutorials, meetings, inductions, or training sessions.

Office365 Video

Office 365 Video allows you to produce collections of videos which is useful if you are creating a training course. Video displays a thumbnail image of each video on the site. You just select a thumbnail to view a video or use the search functionality for relevant content.

6.   Do not attach files, link to them instead

If your usual way of sending a document to a colleague is by sending it as an attachment in an email this can lead to issues of document duplication and colleagues having different versions of the same document.

To eliminate this issue happening you can send a link to the file instead. This will appear to the end user just like an attached document. However, instead of them having a copy version they will have a link directly to the original document.

Outlook Link

When you use OWA to share files stored on OneDrive for Business, recipients in the To: and Cc: lines automatically are given permission to view and edit the file. But it’s also easy to change the permissions on the file directly from the email message.

Manage Permissions

7.   Office365 Form integration with SharePoint Online

Office365 Forms is a product you may already be aware of to create basic forms, surveys and questionnaires. However, it was noted by Microsoft that is don’t work very well being a standalone product. Taking that onboard Microsoft announced at the end of 2017 that they will be integrating Forms into SharePoint Online.

They will be making it easier to integrate Office365 products such as Forms, Power BI, PowerApps. This means instead of interacting with these products individually Microsoft will be rolling out new web parts for each product to create a seamless experience for end users within a SharePoint Online intranet.

Forms

8.   Flow “Send for review” in every SharePoint library

For those who have yet to use this product, Flow is Office365’s workflow designer which will eventually be the successor of SharePoint Designer.

SharePoint has always had “Out of the box” workflows and had the ability to create more complex workflows with SharePoint Designer.

Before Flow can truly take over from SharePoint based workflows it must re-create the “Out of the box” workflows that have previously be available for SharePoint lists and library’s.

It was announced at the end of 2017 that Microsoft intend on rolling out a basic “Send for approval” Flow.

Microsoft Flow

Microsoft are building a basic send for review flow into every SharePoint library, so you don’t have to custom build one.  Users can route a file to another user for feedback and review.  Built with Microsoft Flow and integrated with the Flow approval centre, signoff Flows are trackable in SharePoint as well as the Flow admin consoles.

9.   Flow Launch Panel – Manual Start Button

On the topic of Flow improving its functionality to include options that have been available through SharePoint Designer, it has been announced that a “Launch Panel” will be added to lists and library’s using Flows.

This means you will be able to start a flow manually through a button on the ribbon rather than using triggers such as “on item creation” or “item modified”, but these automatic triggers will still be possible.

It was also announced that a user can pass values from an item into the Flow before it is triggered.

Flow

In our example above, a “Request new equipment” flow might ask you to select a desktop, laptop, or a tablet, and send that selection to the team responsible for handling the request. You are prompted to enter information in a panel that opens directly inside a list or library.

10.   SharePoint List – Column Formatting

SharePoint lists can be tailored to support almost any content or business solutions need.  But until recently it has not been possible to format columns.

Microsoft have recently introduced new, low-code capabilities that open custom formatting. This can be used to show RAG Status, Conditional formatted colours or icons, KPI, and much more.

SharePoint List

 

Author

 ValtoDougie Wood

SharePoint Specialist

T: 03335 779 009
E: Dougie.wood@valto.co.uk
W: https://valto.co.uk
10 Watergate Row, Chester. CH1 2LD

Office 2019

Office 2019 and SharePoint 2019 have been announced earlier this year at Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando as scheduled to be released the second half of 2018. It will include new versions of the Office apps (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) and servers (including Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype for Business).

Innovation powered by the cloud was a core theme at Ignite this year. However, moving to the cloud is a journey with many considerations along the way. Office 2019 will be a valuable upgrade for customers who feel that they need to keep some or all their apps and servers on-premises for the time being until they are ready to go fully into the cloud.

Share from Office

In addition to sharing straight from explorer, you can share your documents directly from whichever Office application you are using to create them (Word/PowerPoint/Excel etc).

OneDrive – New Features

We are all aware that SharePoint and OneDrive are based on the same technology. The main difference being OneDrive is used to store youronedrive for business own files and SharePoint being used to store files to collaborate on with your team. However, from recent updates we expect this hard boundary to slowly blur, as files and content are getting easier to share you no longer must open a browser or send an email to share your synced OneDrive and SharePoint files. Now you can simply right-click and select share, which will give you a secure URL to send to members of your organisation or even externally if this option is configured.

Save Space and Sync

Microsoft have recently released a “Files on demand” feature meaning you no longer must lose access to your files by choosing to selectively sync them. You will be able to simply right click your file and choose if you want a local copy or not.

Meaning you can retain your most important files for offline mode but also access all your files through explorer mode when connected to the internet. This will save your hard drive a lot of storage space. This will work for your personal OneDrive and SharePoint team sites.

Share to people without a “Microsoft Account”

With a new system that uses single-use security codes. You no longer need to ensure the person you are sharing with has a Office365, Live, Outlook, etc account. Now share your data with people using any kind of email service, give them edit or read access and even set expiry dates on how long they can access that file. Rest assured knowing that they can’t do or share anything you don’t want them to.

Short URLs

Microsoft are aware that the current URLs that are used for sharing files from SharePoint and OneDrive are rather long and ugly. They are working on a release to shorten and make the URLs look more pleasant when you share your files.

SharePoint Server 2019

Not much is known about the release of SharePoint 2019 yet, but we expect the look and feel to align even further to Office365’s SharePoint Online as Microsoft continue to encourage cloud hybrids making the user experience transition smoothly.

Most new changes and features are released to SharePoint Online first and they then work their way into the latest version of SharePoint server.

We know the Admin centre of SharePoint is being re-worked and being given a totally new look and feel like Office365 admin centre.

Notifications

The new admin centre will have graphs to show you your usage data, as well as messages that tell you which features have been added and removed from your specific tenant. This will enable you to be notified from both OneDrive and SharePoint of information related to sites about service health and activities.

Recover Bin

Among the many anticipated features, a stand out is the “Recover Bin” feature. This will allow admins to easily administrate the deleted sites much easier than before.

SharePoint 2019 – New Features

  • Communication sites – These have already been rolled out, but Microsoft continually improving these making more web parts, more layouts, and providing easier ways to communicate news and information throughout your organisation or even externally to clients/partners.
  • News Pages – Offering an easy way to create news articles and display them on your intranet homepage.
  • Promote Button – easily share interesting pages.
  • Column formatting –making your list data colour coded based on value has not been an easy task in the past. With the release of this new feature you will not require custom coding to format your list columns.
  • HUB Sites –the new hub sites will replace the need for top sites containing many subsites. You can create a new hub site and then connect ANY of your other sites to that hub site with one setting. This will then roll up all of the key information from team and commutation sites into one place. For example you may have a “HR Department” hub site which rolls up content from the “Finance” and “Resourcing” team sites. Those sites will instantly inherit the navigation, look and feel, and the content and activity feeds will roll up into your hub site.

 SharePoint 2019 – New Web Parts

We expect many of the features available in SharePoint Online will become available in SharePoint 2019 including integration with those found below. A lot of these new features will require your SharePoint 2019 environment to become more integrated with online services especially Office365 and we expect hybrid to become a much bigger part of the deployment.

  • Microsoft Forms – place form and surveys directly on your pages. We expect Microsoft will also integrate better Flow connectors to create automated workflows from the creation of a form.
  • Planner – You will not have to go to a separate app or webpage to view your relevant planner items. This could really benefit SharePoint project sites.
  • Connector web part – Soon you will be able to connect to over 100 different data sources that can be displayed in your sites for example company twitter feeds.
  • Improved Yammer web part – Yammer is Microsoft corporate and social networking product. Microsoft continues to make improvements to help it fit in better with rest of their collaboration apps.
  • 3D file viewer web part – Interact with 3D models right on your pages. This will be incredibly useful to our customers working in the graphic and interior design markets.

SharePoint 2019 Modern Site

Security & Compliance

  • Modern Site Management – Recently trying to manage the new team and communication SharePoint Online sites in Office365 has proven very difficult without a proper SharePoint admin page that can control the new sites. However, this is about to change with a new site management upgrade you will finally be able to search and administrate including Groups/Teams/Communication sites and perform bulk actions such as grouping existing team sites.
  • Site-Level Conditional Access – giving admins the ability to control access to sites depending on which device the selected user is access SharePoint on.
  • Compliance – as the deadline for being GDPR compliant approaches a lot of our customers are wondering about steps they can actively take now to be prepared. As different countries have different governing laws on compliance this has raised many issues. However, with a new feature being rolled out you will be able to determine which users reside in certain geographical locations then apply policies depending on the location they are in. It will also allow you to determine what country your data is stored in.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

For many of our customers GDPR highlights daunting issues of compliance. Organisations that fail to comply with the regulation will face massive fines: up to £17 million or four percent of global revenue, whichever is higher.

The May 2018, deadline for GDPR compliance is drawing closer but many businesses are unsure where to begin. Businesses cannot afford to waste time in GDPR preparation and we are currently helping originations taking the first steps to becoming compliant.

SharePoint 2019 will bring a whole host of tools to assist with this including a “GDPR Activity Hub”. The goal of this hub is to give customers and partners a tool to use in order to keep track of all the fundamental events, requests, tasks and activities required to be compliant with the GDPR.

SharePoint 2019 GDPR Portal

This will give your organisation a greater understanding of what is involved with becoming GDPR compliant and may highlight some critical issues that will need to be resolved before the official regulation comes in.

Find out More

If you’re interested in hearing more about Office & SharePoint 2019 and would like to speak to one of our SharePoint Consultants then contact us or call on 03335 779 009 .

Author

 ValtoDougie Wood

SharePoint Specialist

T: 03335 779 009
E: Dougie.wood@valto.co.uk
W: https://valto.co.uk
10 Watergate Row, Chester. CH1 2LD