The Evolution of M365 Message Center Triage

I was looking back over my previous posts and realized how much the process of weekly triage of Message Center messages has evolved over the years. Almost 5 years ago, in July 2017, I wrote up the process I used at the time. That was reviewing, annotating, and distributing the Weekly Digest email of Message Center announcements. Since then, the process has grown into a weekly meeting with attendance from not just IT people responsible for different M365 workloads, Azure AD, Power Platform, and Windows, but also people from our Microsoft account team. It’s evolved from being based on a discussion of the weekly digest to being a discussion of the Message Center posts that were automatically added to Planner.

Let’s dig into the current process a bit deeper.

Every Sunday, Message Center automatically syncs new messages to our designated Planner Plan.

Every Monday morning, all our service leaders or their designated team members meet. Everyone except the Microsoft account team representatives is in the rotation to lead the meeting. The person designated for that week shares their screen, displays that Planner Plan, and leads the discussion of each item in the “New from Message Center” bucket.

Each item is discussed, with the service leader for the affected workload being asked to decide:

  1. Is action required on this announcement? If no, mark its task Completed. Action may not be needed because the item describes a change that is either not relevant to our tenant, only of informational interest to the people in the meeting, or may affect end users, but in such an obvious or discoverable way that no communication about the change is required.
  2. If action is required, assign the task to a person and move it to a different bucket. Examples are when a message center announcement is unclear and requires research or requires feedback to Microsoft or requires questions to Microsoft. If it requires feedback to Microsoft, that can be done by going to Message Center and giving that post a Thumbs Down with an explanation. If it requires questions to Microsoft, that can be handed to the Microsoft account team. In the cases where the announcement is going to require a project, a person is assigned the task so they can start the process of spinning up a project. If there are specific actions that need to be taken, those can be added to the task for the change. Comments can be added to capture any discussion or next steps as well.

We further optimize the process by having created a Power Automate flow that loops through the new items in the “New from Message Center” bucket and assigns the task based on identifying the related workload.

Triage team members should be reminded periodically to review assigned open tasks and close tasks that have been completed.

Although it’s possible to track and review Microsoft Roadmap items, those are rarely actionable enough to justify the effort.

If you have a Microsoft Account Team, ask them about the monthly Technical Update Briefing, which is another view of upcoming or recently released changes.

When Microsoft has a conference, they publish a Book of News on the first day of the event. Triage team members should reead that and if there are items that need to be discussed by the entire triage team, the items can be manually added to the Planner.

As M365 has over 700 changes per year, there’s a lot of changes to triage. It’s necessary though, otherwise you won’t know what’s going on in your tenant and feature deprecations could surprise you. That’s why it is critically important that every organization that wants to run O365 well have a robust triage process.