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Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Teams & Azure Upcoming Changes

Microsoft recently held their annual tech and development conference at Orlando Florida and there are a lot of exciting changes coming to the Microsoft platforms. We’ve summarised a few of the key developments in our blog post and what we’re most excited about.

SharePoint Online

Intranet

There are a huge number of features coming to the platform these range from functionality, branding and mobile improvements. A few of the upcoming changes can be found below.

  • Branding – Improvements to the layout options including the ability to add a header, footer and mega menu.
  • Personalised Web Parts – That will show information tailored to that user rather than generic information for the whole company.
  • New Web Parts – Countdown Timer, Events Roll Up
  • Improved Mobile Capabilities – Accessing Documents, News and Information from the SharePoint application

OneDrive Mac

Microsoft’s fantastic OneDrive on Demand tool allowing for users to sync live copies of SharePoint Document libraries to their PC without consuming storage (effectively replacing file shares) is now available in Beta for the Mac platform. This has been one of the most requested features for Macs for Office 365 and will be a huge step forward for Microsoft and Macs.

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft are investing heavily into their Microsoft Teams platform. Here at Valto we’re huge fans of Microsoft Teams and have been deploying this for many organisations and applying our best practices and governance. A few of the key announcements can be found below.

Background Blur

This fantastic feature will make remote and home working much easier and potentially less embarrassing! Microsoft have released a video demonstrating the capabilities of this below.

Teams & SharePoint Integration

Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are already integrated allowing for Teams to display SharePoint sites within the app and visa versa.

 

The new changes will bring much deeper integrations allowing for Lists, Libraries and Web Parts to be displayed within Microsoft Teams directly. More bots and connectors are being worked on to allow for News to automatically be displayed within Channels and Teams. More details from Microsoft on the SharePoint Blog.

Recording Meetings & Stream

Another brilliant feature we’ve been making extensive use of at Valto is the ability to record meetings and have the videos automatically sent to the attendees at the end of the meeting. 

This will be extended further in the future to use Artificial Intelligence to automatically detect actions and create meeting minutes that can be used following the meetings.

Replacing Skype for Business

New tenants will no longer include Skype for Business and will be given Microsoft Teams by default. On top of that, new tools have been created to migrate existing tenants to a Teams Only environment.

Microsoft Azure

Windows 10 Desktop in the Cloud

One of the most exciting announcements for Microsoft Azure and the Modern Workplace is the new capabilities of being able to launch a Windows 10 Desktop in the cloud. In other blog posts predicting the future of the Cloud and Microsoft we talked about the ability to use a mobile device to replace your PC with a dock and monitor. Having the ability to spin up a Windows 10 Desktop in the cloud brings this further to reality.

There are a lot of organisations out there that use thin clients and don’t have a requirements for running a desktop 24/7 this new functionality could potentially save enterprises a lot of money.

Office 365

Artificial Intelligence

This is a big focus for Microsoft at the moment as gleamed from the Microsoft Inspire and Ignite Conferences. There is a huge focus on delivering AI that will improve the modern workplace. A lot of the current announcements are about building the platform for this including,

Office 2019

With Office 365 you always get the latest version of Office features as they are rolled out. Microsoft have released the latest on-premise version of Office to the general public which contains a lot of the improvements of the Office 365 version.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Top 10 Tips

We’ve been deploying Microsoft Teams since its inception for a range of clients from SMEs to Enterprise and developing a set of Microsoft Teams Best Practices that can help your organisation with Microsoft Teams implementation. We’ll soon be launching our Microsoft Teams Governance Whitepaper for free. To keep you going in the meantime we’ve got our Microsoft Teams Best Practices Top 10 Tips.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #1 – Replacing SharePoint Team Sites

For organisations that are ready to start with Teams straight away and are embarking on a SharePoint Project the default deployment is to create Microsoft Teams for the users within each team or department. This provides all the functionality of SharePoint and the enhanced capabilities of Microsoft Teams. As part of the build and architecture we scope out the required teams and deploy these as part of the roll out. We help organisations adopt a proven governance and control plan for the deployment of Teams. Look out for our Microsoft Teams Governance White Paper due to launch soon.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices SharePoint Page

Microsoft Team SharePoint Page

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #2 – Naming Standards

One of the challenges when rolling out Microsoft Teams in a larger organisation is the creation of a Team also creates an Office 365 Group which requires an email associated with it. Many organisations already have group email accounts such as Finance, Sales, etc. so when creating a Microsoft Team these may conflict with the group. Having many email accounts with similar names can also cause confusing. We recommend that a prefix or suffix be appended to the creation of all Microsoft Teams for example Finance could become Finance Team and Sales would become Sales Team. This naming standard will prevent issues and confusion with similar sounding email accounts and ensure that finding these teams later will be much easier.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Duplicate Warning

Microsoft Teams Duplicate Warning

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #3 – SharePoint Intranet Hub Sites Configuration

Teams are very easy to navigate and find within the Teams Client and Web however there are still many organisations that rely on SharePoint as an intranet or central access point. Every Microsoft Team by default creates a SharePoint Site that is associated with it. Its important that while users can easily use Microsoft Teams that users can still access this through SharePoint. With the new hub sites its possible to create a central hub site and link the existing Microsoft Team SharePoint sites to this hub site. Hub sites provide users a central area with consistent navigation and branding as covered in our previous post on this.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices SharePoint Hub Sites Navigation

SharePoint Hub Sites Navigation

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #4 – Managing Teams

Defining and creating the architecture design for Microsoft Teams is an important factor in success and adoption. Many users we’ve worked with have highlighted issues where they are unsure which Microsoft Team they should be using especially when users have created multiple teams for their department or group. However, the power of Microsoft Teams is still the ability for users to create a Team where they feel this would be worthwhile or there is a gap currently. By defining a simple structure that covers all of the base teams, any externally shared teams if required and by creating a centralised SharePoint site that is easy to navigate and training the users on this will simplify the experience.

Some organisations with this in place are then happy for users to create Microsoft Teams on an ad-hoc basis without any approval process however for many of our enterprise organisations a key control is having an approval step prior to a Microsoft Team creation. We have created an automated system using Microsoft Flow and SharePoint that can simplify the Microsoft Teams request process.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Request Form

Microsoft Team Request Form

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #5 – Chatting Thread/Replies

Within Microsoft Teams a key step for user training is the ability to have threaded conversations. Its often a step that is missed from the users training and adoption that can vastly improve the user experience. Threads allow for users to contain all of their conversations around particular topic within one area and allow for users to reply and keep everything contained. It’s a simple but overlooked step in our training process that improves the overall user experience of Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Conversation Threads

Microsoft Teams Conversation Threads

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #6 – Fun Stuff

Depending on your organisation there are a number of settings that can be enabled or disabled these include the options for disabling emojis, memes, GIFS and stickers and increasing the strictness of the GIF searching within the platform. Many organisations may enjoy the fun components of Microsoft Teams whereas other organisations may find these are inappropriate for their workplace. Working with the management teams in the organisation to understand what is an acceptable level and tweaking these settings is another key step in the adoption and removal of a potential barrier to utilising Microsoft Teams in the business.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Fun Stuff Settings

Microsoft Teams Fun Stuff Settings

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #7 – External Sharing

Microsoft Teams Best Practices External Access

Microsoft Teams External Access

If your organisation is using Teams successfully and would like to involve other organisations such as clients or partners then enabling the guest functionality for Microsoft Teams. Again, this should refer to your Microsoft Teams, Office365 & SharePoint Architecture design as to which Teams will be shared externally and any naming standards they might follow. External Sharing can be a fantastic way of integrating your clients and suppliers into your organisation and streamline your processes and flows with them, it can also show that you are leading the way with technology and impress the people you are working with. We’d recommend that as an organisation you get used to using Teams internally and then trial the external sharing before rolling out across the organisation.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #8 – Automatic Bots & Posts

Microsoft Teams is all about sharing information and collaborating better. We’ve found great success with organisations by identifying automated points where sending information to a Team is very useful. An example of this would be when invoices are sent or paid from applications such as Xero or Sage that they automatically notify all of the relevant people. We have configured an automation that posts in our Customers Team when an invoice has been paid or becomes overdue. Identify where your teams get asked many of the same questions and see if a Bot or Flow can be created to automatically provide the information to the relevant Team.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Xero Bot

Microsoft Teams Xero Bot

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #9 – Tabs

Microsoft Teams can be extended even further by including any tabs for other applications you might use and become a one stop shop application for your organisations Team. Include relevant 3rd Part Web Applications, Planner, a Wiki, PowerBI or any other tab that would be useful for your Team and provide a centralised area for all users.

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tabs

Microsoft Teams Tabs

Microsoft Teams Best Practices Tip #10 – Additional Resources

Finally, our last tip on the Microsoft Teams Best Practices is additional resources that will kick start your Microsoft Teams project!

TALK TO US

Our Microsoft Teams Best Practices are constantly evolving, and we’ll update this post regularly with any new tips. If you’re interested in architecting your Microsoft Teams with Best practices from the get-go call now on 03335 779 009 or Contact Us and chat with one of our Microsoft Teams specialists.

Office & SharePoint 2019 – Whats coming next from Microsoft?

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

 Valto Dougie Wood

SharePoint Specialist

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

Valto Q4 2017 Updates & New Member of Staff

Valto have been exceptionally busy over the last few months with several strategic partners coming on board including Preact a Dynamics CRM Partner.

We’ve also been busy working on some exciting projects including Turquoise Mountain where we are helping migrate the charity to Office365, Consolidate their Windows Licensing and start to utilise Mail, SharePoint, OneDrive & Skype for Business.

This month we welcome Dougie Wood to the team. Dougie is an Office365 & SharePoint Specialist with over 5 years experience in the SME & Enterprise Markets including many clients in the North West and has worked with enterprise clients including Barclays and IMI.

We very much look forward to maximising Dougie’s experience and will be introducing him to our clients during our next visits.

Valto have also launched several new products within their product portfolio including,

  • SharePoint ISO Management – If you’re company has or is working towards any ISO accreditations including ISO 9001, 20001, 370001. Our SharePoint ISO management tool can assist with the ongoing management of this by providing an easy to use Document Management interface including review and approval workflows, intelligent auto updating word headers/footers and version control.
  • SharePoint Leave Request – Our Leave Request system allows you to submit and manage all types of leave request including Holidays, Sickness, Overtime, Time off in Lieu and escalate approvals to employees line manager automatically.
  • SharePoint Phone Directory – Combining the collaborative tools of Office365 including Delve and Profiles our SharePoint Phone Directory allows you to easily view all members of staff and their important information including Phone Numbers, Office Locations, Pictures and Skills.
  • SharePoint SOX Management – Building on the success of our ISO Management process our SOX Management Tool allows you to fully manage the Sarbanes Oxley providing a dashboard for controls that will automatically create actions on a set frequency which can then be reviewed and approved by members of staff.
  • Azure Costing Saving Tool – In partnership with XX we’ve launched a new tool that can help with the ongoing management and control the costs of Azure subscriptions. We’re excited about this product and more information will be available soon.
  • SaaS Security Monitoring Tool – Our new tool that can help you monitor and control critical security settings within Software as a Service cloud applications including Azure, AWS, Office365, Dropbox, etc.

More details and new pages of these products will be published over the coming weeks.

Find out More

If you’re interested in hearing more about our applications or want to speak to one of our SharePoint Consultants then contact us or call on 03335 779 009 .

Author

 

 Valto Hugh Valentine

Managing Director

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