Michael Blumenthal, Office 365 MVP https://michaelblumenthal.me Business Productivity Advisor | Technical Evangelist | Chicagoland Office 365 Adoption Users Group Co-Leader | Public Speaker Wed, 25 Jul 2018 21:50:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 I’m a Microsoft MVP for the 4th year in a row! https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/07/im-a-microsoft-mvp-for-the-4th-year-in-a-row/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/07/im-a-microsoft-mvp-for-the-4th-year-in-a-row/#respond Mon, 02 Jul 2018 22:35:37 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=697 Continue reading I’m a Microsoft MVP for the 4th year in a row!]]> I’m pleased to announce that Microsoft has again awarded me the Microsoft MVP award in the Office Apps and Services category. Here’s the letter that explains what this means:

Being an MVP is a great honor. It recognizes for the technical community leadership activities I do including co-leading the Office 365 Adoption User Group (Chicagoland chapter) and public speaking on Office 365 topics.  It also keeps me on the leading edge of Office 365 through monthly training that Microsoft provides. I also get to interact with some amazing people: my fellow MVPs and the Microsoft staff that make Office 365.



https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/07/im-a-microsoft-mvp-for-the-4th-year-in-a-row/feed/ 0
Key Takeaways from the Digial Workplace Experience 2018 conference https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/06/key-takeaways-from-the-digial-workplace-experience-2018-conference/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/06/key-takeaways-from-the-digial-workplace-experience-2018-conference/#respond Sun, 24 Jun 2018 04:57:50 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=684 Continue reading Key Takeaways from the Digial Workplace Experience 2018 conference]]> I attended the second and third days, June 19 & 20, 2018, of the Digital Workplace Experience conference.  Here are my notes from the event.

I’d say the key themes of the conference were artificial intelligence in the workplace, change management, and worker experience.

We’ve seen some of the major players in the industry – Microsoft, Amazon, Google – invest heavily in artificial intelligence, and we are now seeing significant interest in how that applies to worker productivity and the employee experience.  I suspect we are in the hype phase of this trend, but it is interesting to see what’s been done so far. Liberty Mutual created a chatbot to answer common employee questions.  LiveTiles has a tool for enabling power users and above to create chatbots.  One of the calls to action from one of the keynotes – by someone at LiveTiles, as I recall – was to start thinking about how chatbots can improve the worker experience at your organization. One key piece of advice from the conference was to not expect one chatbot to handle all kinds of requests, but rather have many simpler chatbots that are specific to a particular domain.  In other words, don’t expect your pizza-ordering chatbot to also be able to tell you how many days of time off you have left.

On the theme of change management, two messages were clear.  One is that you need a sustainable process to respond to the constant change in the digital workplace.  Remember, Microsoft releases on average about a change a day to Office 365. So you need a process that can sustainably keep up with that kind of rate of change.  The other message was that change agents are a critical component of your change management process.  In fact, these two concepts – change agents and sustainable change – are intimately related.  You must have an ongoing process to recruit and train/nurture change agents in order to have the people needed to drive change throughout your organization in a sustainable way.

The third theme was about worker experience. On one hand, there were strategy discussions that aligned closely with what I’d read in Jacob Morgan’s the Employee Experience Advantage book.  On the other hand, there were product vendors promising to drive employee engagement and measure the employee experience.  Some of these were tools for building better intranets.  Two vendors I talked to were selling software that measured the health of end-user PCs and Mac (i.e. desktops and laptops.  Both claimed that device health and application health were the way to measure the end user experience.  It’s not.  First, these vendors were only able to measure laptops and desktops, and not mobile devices.  At this point, mobile devices are so critical to end-user computing that they can’t reasonably be ignored.  Second, an end user’s device can be perfectly healthy while the user is working on some horrible, mind-numbing, soul-crushing, disengagement-driving task.  Surveys and conversations with users will measure their engagement much better than measures of the health of their devices.

Aside from the vendors offering to measure end-user computing laptop/desktop device health, the other common sub-theme of the worker experience theme was integration. Bring disparate corporate systems together into one pane of glass – one app.  One example was about bringing all a user’s to-do’s into one view, regardless of if those tasks originate from the CRM system, the expense report system, the helpdesk ticket system, or any other system that has tasks.

All the slides from this year’s conference are at https://www.slideshare.net/dwexperience. One deck that I’d highly recommend reviewing if you are interested in the cultural aspects of the digital workplace is Brian Solis’s Culture 2.0 deck.  Among other things, slide 27 says “You are designing work experiences for a world that loves to vomit rainbows.”  This is an outcome of the fact that we have more and more young workers (and SnapChat users) as a part of our multi-generational workforce.

The conference also featured art in several presentations an in one piece of conference hall artwork (pictured below, the “culture wall”), from gapingvoid, a company that designs cultures.

The conference will return in 2019.



https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/06/key-takeaways-from-the-digial-workplace-experience-2018-conference/feed/ 0
Notes from the 2018 SharePoint Virtual Summit https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/notes-from-the-2018-sharepoint-virtual-summit/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/notes-from-the-2018-sharepoint-virtual-summit/#respond Thu, 24 May 2018 14:14:49 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=635 Continue reading Notes from the 2018 SharePoint Virtual Summit]]> The 2018 SharePoint Virtual Summit was Monday morning, May 21, 2018. This year, the SharePoint Virtual Summit is really the keynote from the SharePoint North America Conference.

As Jeff Teper explained, the SharePoint community has spring and fall “moments” each year where the product team makes a lot of announcements. The SharePoint North America conference is the Spring Moment, and Microsoft Ignite is the Fall Moment.

Here are the notes I took during the event:

  • Previously, if you put OneDrive on your phone, it will automatically upload your photos to your consumer OneDrive. Announced today was that you can upload those photos to your OneDrive for Business (ODFB). ODFB is also starting to surface the photo intelligence capabilities (mostly auto-tagging, from what I’ve seen), that consumer OneDrive already has.
  • Page Libraries will support metadata, which can be used for targeting content to specific audiences.
  • There will be a number of new web parts. Web parts developed with SPFX will be able to run directly in a Teams channel tab.
  • Microsoft sees corporate communications as a key use case for SharePoint News. SharePoint News can leverage Stream for video and News will look good on mobile devices. It can be used for rich mobile communication. In other words, consider using the SharePoint mobile app as a tool for telling your internal brand stories.
  • The SharePoint mobile app is getting an update. The UX will be simplified, with the Find tab, driven by search, will consolidate a number of things that previously had their own tab.
  • SharePoint Spaces was announced and means that people can create and display 3D environments and 3D visualizations right in a SharePoint site. See this eWeek article. One member of my user group suggested that this could be used for sharing 3D architectural renderings of office space changes, such as when a company moves into a new office.
  • The new SharePoint Admin pages were demonstrated, including the ability to select multiple site collections and email the site owners of the selected site collections.
  • Microsoft showed off Hub Sites briefly.
  • There will be a built-in workflow for page publishing approval that uses Microsoft Flow as the workflow engine.
  • Improvements in Search and support for external content sources.
  • A new Training web part populated with content direct from Microsoft and updated by Microsoft, but with filters you control so that the content is appropriate for your organization.
  • A number of improvements to SharePoint Lists, including:
    • Much improved support for pasting from Excel, including automatically adding columns if the number of columns being pasted is greater than the number of columns in the list. This was one of things that people in my user group viewing party were most excited about.
    • The ability to create a Planner task from a list item
    • A new column type for Locations (addresses)
    • Support of the use of lists from within Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft’s support for keeping user data in the appropriate geographies (called Multi-Geo support) was talked about. The point of this is not for performance as much as compliance. If you have users in multiple countries, you can keep each user’s data in the appropriate country.
  • They promoted their SharePoint migration tool. I am still skeptical of how it competes with similar tools from vendors who have been working on these tools for 10+ years, but I have not done a head to head comparison.
  • Microsoft remains committed to SharePoint On Premise (though remember this is always a subset of SharePoint Online). SharePoint Server 2019 will support the modern sync client.

If there are things I missed, feel free to add them in the comments!


https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/notes-from-the-2018-sharepoint-virtual-summit/feed/ 0
Cross-Posted: Three Tips to Assess an Office 365 Tenant https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/cross-posted-three-tips-to-assess-an-office-365-tenant/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/cross-posted-three-tips-to-assess-an-office-365-tenant/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 22:50:28 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=641 Continue reading Cross-Posted: Three Tips to Assess an Office 365 Tenant]]>

4WARD365, now called CoreView, is an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) that makes management tools for Office 365 and they invited me to blog for hire.  I’ve just published my third and final blog post for them. It’s on their website. The article is reprinted below.

I’m about to embark on the next step in my professional journey, and that involves taking responsibility for an Office 365 tenant that I’ve never seen before. Here are some helpful tips I’ll share with you on how to assess an Office 365 tenant that’s new to you.

A prerequisite to doing this assessment is that you will need to be a global tenant administrator or to work with someone who is.
Without further ado, here is my Top Three Areas to Review in an Office 365 Tenant:


What products or product bundles have been purchased (subscribed to)? These can include a variety of Office 365 licenses with such memorable names as E1, F1, E3, E5, Business, Business Essentials, and Business Premium. Some are capped at 300 users. Some are only for government or education customers. Others may be bundled such as Microsoft F1, E3, or E5, as opposed to Office F1, E3, or E5. There’s multiple ways to purchase these as well, such as direct from Microsoft, through a License Reseller, or through a Cloud Solution Provider. Is it a stand-alone monthly or annual subscription, or part of a larger Enterprise Agreement? It’s important to understand these and the corresponding cost structure. Controlling your Office 365 costs directly relates to managing these licenses.

Furthermore, if you have multiple kinds of licenses, for example, E3 and F1, which users get which licenses and why? Are licenses only assigned to active users? If accounts for users that have left the organization still have licenses assigned, that could unnecessarily be increasing your costs. Proactively monitoring and re-harvesting those inactive licenses is an important admin task that should be performed on a regular basis.

You will also want to know who makes decisions about licensing and who can purchase more licenses.



Go into the Office 365 Admin portal and look at usage reports. What workloads (such as SharePoint, Exchange, OneDrive, Teams, etc.) are being used? Which ones are not being used? Why?

Also look at the Power BI dashboard about user adoption. Again, look at what is and isn’t being used, and ask whomever should be knowledgeable about the tenant or the business what has driven the current state of usage.

To take your analysis further, you want to correlate usage and license type. Once you do that, you can correlate usage and license cost. That’s hard to do with the out of the box capabilities. You will either need to resort to writing your own PowerShell scripts or make use of third-party management tools such as CoreView. A benefit of connecting usage with license type and cost is that you may be able to identify either users that can be assigned cheaper licenses or users that would benefit from training programs so they can get more value from the license they have.


Who makes governance decisions and what decisions have been made? That assumes there is a governing body in place – but there may not be. I’ve written previously about the governance team. That team needs to address a myriad of questions, including the licensing and usage questions above, as well as helping define the vision of how Office 365 will serve the needs of the business and what Office 365 tools to promote first. My Top 10 areas of governance are:

  1. Admin Account Governance
  2. License Governance
  3. SharePoint Site Governance
  4. OneDrive Governance
  5. Information/Data Governance
  6. Microsoft Teams Governance
  7. Service Configuration Process Governance
  8. General Usage Governance
  9. Security Compliance Governance
  10. Driving Usage Adoption

For a more detailed discussion of those areas of governance, see my blog post about identifying your governance needs.

Once you assess Licensing, Usage, and Governance, you will have a good foundation for managing and maturing your organization’s use of Office 365. You might also be ready to shop for some tools to help you manage the tenant and automate these assessment processes on a regular basis.

https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/cross-posted-three-tips-to-assess-an-office-365-tenant/feed/ 0
Office 365 Governance Essentials: Part 3 – Identifying Governance Needs https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/office-365-governance-essentials-part-3-identifying-governance-needs/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/office-365-governance-essentials-part-3-identifying-governance-needs/#respond Tue, 15 May 2018 04:57:10 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=628 Continue reading Office 365 Governance Essentials: Part 3 – Identifying Governance Needs]]> This is part 3 in a series of posts about Office 365 Governance. The first post was about making use of the Weekly Office 365 Changes Digest. Doing so is an essential part of change management. The second was about the work of an Office 365 Governance Team. In this post, I will talk about the many kinds of governance questions a governance team could address. Which ones it actually addresses are determined by the team considering the needs and priorities of the business.

In no particular order, I present to you a selection of governance questions for you to ponder.

Admin Account Governance

Governance policies for Office 365 Administrative Accounts address the following questions:

  1. Should accounts with administrative privileges have usernames that follow a particular naming convention? For example, prepending the prefix “admin-” to an administrator’s regular user account name. For example, if the administrator’s regular account is jsmith, his or her admin account would be admin-jsmith.
  2. What rules should be defined, communicated, and enforced about appropriate usage of admin accounts?
    1. Guidelines I’ve seen used include:
      1. Use your admin account for any activity that requires elevated permissions
      2. Use your regular (non-admin) account for regular work (e.g. knowledge worker work, as opposed to system administration)
    2. Just-in-time permission granting to admin accounts is ideal but beyond the capability of many organizations. Separating admin accounts from regular accounts is the next best thing. Use of multiple web browsers can make it easier to segregate one’s non-admin identity from one’s admin identity. For example, use one web browser for non-admin work, another for admin work on your production Office 365 tenant, and a third browser for work on your dev/test Office 365 tenant.
  3. Who needs to have an admin account and what level of administrative permissions are needed, including in the Office 365 Admin Portal, the Security and Compliance Center, and in Azure AD?
    1. For example, what admin permissions does the helpdesk need to have? Who should have full Global Tenant Admin rights versus who should have one or more granular admin perissions?
  4. Should there be consistency between admin rights in your on premise AD environment and your SaaS environments? For example, if your SharePoint admin(s) is/are responsible for both SharePoint on premise and SharePoint Online, do they use the same admin accounts for both?
  5. What Office 365 licenses should admins have, if any? The needs can depend on what services they administrate.

SharePoint Site Governance

  1. Who gets to create a site?
  2. Should there be a workflow or approval process for site creation?
  3. Which site templates will be permitted?
  4. What do we need to know about every site in our environment?
  5. How do we avoid abandoned sites? Is it important to?
  6. Do we need to backup our SharePoint Sites?
  7. How do we manage access to our sites?
  8. What do we expect of site owners?
  9. What rules do we have about external access to sites?
  10. How many site owners must a site have?
  11. How do we handle site owner training?
  12. How do we handle site owner transition?
  13. What compliance or regulatory requirements affect our use of SharePoint?
  14. How does Microsoft Teams affect our usage of SharePoint?
  15. How do Hub Sites affect our use of SharePoint?
  16. Do we customize the access request process?

OneDrive Governance

  1. Do we allow external sharing?
  2. If we allow external sharing, how often do we review who has access?
  3. What compliance or regulatory requirements affect our use of OneDrive?
  4. Who is responsible for applying legal holds?
  5. What is appropriate usage of OneDrive at our organization? How is that being communicated to users?
  6. What OneDrive training needs to be provided to managers regarding when one of their direct reports leaves the organization and they get notified about access to the user’s OneDrive?

Information Governance/ Data Governance

  1. What policies procedures and settings do we put in place to manage sensitive information (social security numbers, PHI, customer lists, etc) and compliance requirements?
  2. What do we do regarding records management?
  3. What are our policies about document retention as they apply to SharePoint and OneDrive?

Microsoft Teams Governance

  1. Who can create a Team?
  2. Do we limit or monitor Team creation? For example, one organization I work with does not limit Team creation, but monitors it so that every time a new team is created, IT staff reach out to the creators to offer training.
  3. Do we put a Team expiration policy in place?
  4. Do we force Teams or their underlying Groups to make use of a naming convention prefix?

Service Configuration Process Governance

  • What changes made in the Office 365 Admin portal should be under strict change control?
  • Which changes in the Office 365 Admin portal should not be under change control?

    For example, user management changes done through the Office 365 Admin Portal are not considered subject to change control. However, changes that disable or enable application access for all users would be under change control. Changes that control what applications are available for the end user to download may or may not be under change control. It’s again up to the Governance team to decide that.

General Usage Governance

It’s up to the governance team to determine what “When to use what” advice to provide to end users. For example, when to use Teams versus Yammer or Sway versus PowerPoint? The answers depend on the organization as much as they depend on the use case. For example, the difference in use cases for Teams and Yammer is more significant with a larger organization (for example, 3000 users) as opposed to a small organization (15 users).

Other questions on general usage include:

  1. How often do we monitor usage of a given workload?
  2. How is success of our adoption efforts measured?
  3. Do we integrate with the HR Onboarding process and provide O365 training to new employees?

License Governance

There are a variety of licenses for Office 365 and related product services.

  1. Which license or licenses do we use?
  2. What rules do we put in place to guide which users get which licenses? For example, a mix of E3 and F1 licenses is not uncommon. How do we determine who gets which kind?
  3. Are there license options that need to be adjusted when a license is assigned a user?
  4. Is license assignment automated as part of an automated user provisioning process?
  5. Are licenses reclaimed when a user leaves the organization?
  6. Who makes decisions about license purchases?
  7. Do you buy your licenses monthly or annually? From Microsoft or a reseller?


At times, governance of Office 365 can seem overwhelming. There certainly are enough choices to make. If you find yourself so overwhelmed by the choices, don’t panic. Prioritize the aspects of governance that are important to your organization. If you need help, rely first on your governance team. Microsoft and Microsoft Partners can also provide assistance. Of course, it can also help to compare notes with your peers at other organizations. Join an Office 365 users group near you, or attend (in person or via web meeting) the Office 365 Adoption User Group (Chicagoland Chapter).

https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/05/office-365-governance-essentials-part-3-identifying-governance-needs/feed/ 0
Cross-posted: Effective Adoption Tools for Office 365 https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/04/cross-posted-effective-adoption-tools-for-office-365/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/04/cross-posted-effective-adoption-tools-for-office-365/#respond Sat, 28 Apr 2018 12:13:33 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=626 Continue reading Cross-posted: Effective Adoption Tools for Office 365]]> 4WARD365, an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) that makes management tools for Office 365, invited me to blog for hire.  I’ve just published my second post for them. It’s on their website at https://www.4ward365.com/effective-adoption-tools-for-office-365/

The article is reprinted below.

One of the challenges with user adoption is that it can be recursive. That is, when you buy tools to help with user adoption, you need to plan how the tools will be adopted and how you can get them into the hands of the users effectively.
For example, you want to drive adoption of Office 365, so you purchase training materials for Office 365. Of course, just buying the training materials does nothing in and of itself. Once you have purchased them, you have to get users to use them. In fact, you almost certainly will need to have an adoption plan documented in order to justify the purchase of the tool.

So, what are common training materials for Office 365 and how do you get users to use them? Common training materials include:

  1. How to Videos. These are usually short – I mean VERY short, 30 second to 5 minute videos that explain how to do exactly one thing. This could be how to upload a document, how to share a document, how to create a new document in OneDrive, or how to log in to office.com, for example.
  2. Videos about fundamental concepts. For example, a video explaining cloud computing and why we use it at our workplace. These can range from 20 minutes to an hour.
  3. A training portal that serves as a one stop shop for accessing training materials
Just like getting people to use parts of Office 365 itself, you need to start with awareness. Posters and lunch-and-learns are key to getting the message out that we are using Office 365 and that Office 365 can help us in our daily work. In these communications, always reference your training portal as where to go to find out more.
One thing to keep in mind is that users may need to be primed before training content is relevant to them. For example, the videos and reference cards about OneNote may not be helpful or interesting to the end user until you’ve had a conversation with them about how they take meeting notes and they have actually started working with OneNote.
With video content, not only do you want to make it available to the user in the training portal, but you can also feature them in monthly newsletters and digital signage.
Another key element of ensuring that the training you purchase gets used is that it has to be relevant to your users. Keep in mind WIIFM, the “What’s in it for me?” principle. Unless you have a very small company, your organization will consist of many different roles. That means you will need to segment your user population into personas. A persona represents a group of users with similar needs and work styles. For example, a project manager who frequently schedules meetings and tracks tasks will have different needs than another employee who needs to share information with outside partners, or another who sends out lots of e-mail messages with large attachments. Those could be three different personas. You will want to map out the personas in your organization so that you can target content to them appropriately. Which brings up the business value of another type of tool, one that will help you identify those personas by their activities in all workloads of Office 365 and enable you to automate the targeted messaging campaigns to them.

Once you understand the personas in your organization, you can do several things that will help your adoption efforts. Two of these are:

  1. Incorporate the needs of the different personas into your governance discussions
  2. Target each persona with relevant training communications
Let’s look at that second item in more depth. Review all your communication channels and think about how you can use them for targeted communication.
  1. Email. Use email campaign tools to communicate targeted training to the right persona and track who opens those messages and clicks on the internal training links. If you target your emails to your audience and provide them with personally relevant content on a consistent basis, you can drive readership above the 20% open rate. Additional ways to make email content more engaging include using pictures, testimonials and video links. Sending just plain text will not be as effective.
  2. Printed matter such as posters, flyers, brochures, and reference cards. Create these with content for specific personas and/or distribute them so that they are received by personas who will find them relevant.
  3. Digital Signage. Consider the personas in each office area that has a digital sign and decide what content would be relevant to them. Here again, video content, even silent with closed captions, can be very engaging.
  4. Live events such as webinars, lunch and learns, and IT Fairs.
    1. You can target specific personas when inviting people to the events.
    2.  At the beginning of your presentation identify the personas present and customize your content appropriately.
    3. Incorporate training videos into your lunch and learns.
    4. For an IT Fair, make sure the personas attending know which sessions will be relevant to them. For example, instead of “This session is about OneNote” say “Run meetings? Learn how you can use OneNote to take notes easier”.
  5. Word of mouth. Get the word out about new training content by telling managers to have their staff try the new training materials. Emphasis on “try” with the ask that feedback be provided. Select which content you promote to which managers based on the personas that report to them.
  6. Helpdesk. Make sure hour helpdesk staff are aware of the training resources that they can share with their customers. Help them understand which content they should recommend to which customer.
  7. Champions. Make sure your champions are the first to get access to the new training videos. Have them select their favorites to share with their peers.
  8. Onboarding. Include these training materials in employee onboarding and customize the onboarding experience based on their persona.
In conclusion, when you buy training assets to support your user adoption efforts, you need to plan for how to get end users to use the training. The best way I do that is to ensure the training assets are relevant to them. To ensure relevancy, align them to the users’ daily work and job role. Use persona mapping to identify common user needs and work styles based on actual activity metrics from Office 365, then target the content to those user personas. Be sure to track the behavior change in user activities to monitor the adoption trends in your organization and prove to upper management that your campaigns are being effective.
https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/04/cross-posted-effective-adoption-tools-for-office-365/feed/ 0
Resource Roundup: Understanding Office 365 https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/04/resource-roundup-understanding-office-365/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/04/resource-roundup-understanding-office-365/#respond Thu, 12 Apr 2018 15:25:07 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=615 Continue reading Resource Roundup: Understanding Office 365]]> I’m attending the Advanced Learning Institute’s Internal Communications for a Dispersed Workforce this week. I had the honor of being a panelist on the experts panel discussion yesterday.  Throughout the day, I heard a number of companies say they are moving to Office 365 and have questions about what Office 365 tool to use for what purpose.

There are a number of resources that  I would recommend for answering these questions.

Document Icon

  • To compare the different enterprise license options, start here
  • For a summary of what each Office app does, consider the Office 365 Periodic Table by MVP Matt Wade with help from Niels Gregers Johansen.


[full-size version]

Matt’s also got another infographic called the Document Circle of Life that explains when to use OneDrive versus when to use SharePoint.

MVP Michelle Caldwell has also summarized What to Use When nicely on one of her slides:

Click the above image of slide 62 to be taken to it in her slide decks on Slideshare. In the same deck, slide 21 talks about generational communication preferences that you may need to account for in your digital workplace.

And finally, if you are wondering when to use Yammer versus when to use Teams, it is laid out clearly here:




Specifically, your Inner Loop is those people you people you work on regularly on core projects, while your outer loop is people you connect with openly across the organization. Yammer is for Outer Loop, Teams is for Inner Loop. Except that for smaller companies the distinction becomes blurred – you could just use Teams for both.  But for organizations that are on the larger side, Yammer as a company-wide set of discussion forums and Teams as a hub for daily teamwork makes sense.




https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/04/resource-roundup-understanding-office-365/feed/ 0
Cross-posted: 8 Ways to Drive Usage Adoption for Office 365 https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/03/8-ways-to-drive-usage-adoption-for-office-365/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/03/8-ways-to-drive-usage-adoption-for-office-365/#respond Sat, 10 Mar 2018 07:06:27 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=596 Continue reading Cross-posted: 8 Ways to Drive Usage Adoption for Office 365]]> 4WARD365, an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) that makes management tools for Office 365, invited me to blog for hire.  I’ve just published my first post for them. It’s on their website at https://www.4ward365.com/8-ways-drive-usage-adoption-office-365/

The article is reprinted below.

These are several recommendations I’d like to share in this blog entry to help folks do a better job of driving adoption for their Office 365 deployments. If you’re spending a lot of money on Microsoft licenses that include all kinds of useful productivity features, you should try to get the most out of your investment. 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.
When you first deploy Office 365, most users will gravitate to using just the e-mail capabilities they’re comfortable with and shy away from the advanced workloads for file-sharing, collaboration and IM/Voice. How do you make them aware of more of the tools that are available to them? Sending out a generic announcement email is a common attempt, but what you will find is that less than 20% of recipients read your email. Obviously then, basic email blasts are not enough.
Which brings me to my first recommendation for driving usage adoption.
    1. Use Targeted Communications. If you are going to send out communications to prompt your end-user community to change their behavior and adopt new technology, you need to customize the message to their job role and specify how the new features can help THEM be more productive. That key element of personalizing the messages should have a laser focus on your audience and their needs. Something in each e-mail communication should answer the “WIIFM” question – What’s In It For Me? Then of course you need to track who opens those messages, clicks on the educational links, and actually starts using the new technology. Without tracking and reporting for adoption campaigns you can’t gauge your success.
The other seven channels of communication to help drive the adoption of Office 365 include the following:
  1. Printed matter such as posters, flyers, brochures, and reference cards. Posters can be put up in common areas such as break rooms, printer bays, and bathrooms. Yes, bathroom stall doors and above urinals are effective places. Laminating the posters before hanging them makes them more durable and easier to hang. You can make 11×17 posters and 8.5×11 flyers from the templates Microsoft provides in the FastTrack site. Flyers can be put in common areas with a sign encouraging users to take a copy back to their desk for easy reference.
  2. Digital signage. If the company does not already have digital signage in use internally, you can create your own with PowerPoint decks. For example, I created an auto-advancing slideshow using content from the poster templates and my own set of tips and tricks. I then put it on a tablet on a table in the break room or on a screen in another common area.
  3. Live events such as webinars, lunch and learns, and IT Fairs. These are a great way for IT to engage with end users, learn about how the business actually operates, and discover many opportunities to solve real business problems with Office 365.
  4. Word of mouth. This ranges from executive support for your adoption efforts to managers telling their direct reports to peers telling peers. You can harness the power of peers telling peers by creating a champions program. See #7 below.
  5. The IT Helpdesk. The IT Helpdesk staff should be trained in what Office 365 can do, as well as how to support and troubleshoot the office desktop clients, especially OneDrive Sync. Having the helpdesk staff understand what Office 365 can do is incredibly valuable because they are often the first opportunity to identify a business productivity problem that Office 365 can solve in ways the end user is not aware.
    • Examples include:
      • A user asks for support with Google Drive or Dropbox. This is an opportunity to introduce them to OneDrive or SharePoint, not just fix their Google Drive or Drobox problem.
      • A user needs to get 64-bit Excel installed because they have hit the row limit in 32-bit Excel. This is an opportunity for IT to solve a data management problem by creating an enterprise-scale reporting solution for that dataset, greatly improving the business process for that user’s team.
  6. Champions. As you identify people in the business who see the value of Office 365 through personal experience and are willing to mentor their peers, nurture those people with training and recognition. These people will promote the use of the tools with the credibility of being in the business. If you are a business person, who will you believe more? Your coworker saying how great Office 365 is, or the IT person saying how great Office 365 is? Hint: It’s not the IT person. Tip: Partner with the HR department and start a formal IT Champions program.
  7. Employee onboarding. Employee onboarding is a critically important opportunity to make new employees aware of the software tools available to them. The fresh energy they bring can also make them champions of new ways to work. You want to harness that energy and align it with the technology choices that the organization has made.
To ensure your technology adoption message gets through, use as many of these channels as possible. Start thinking of this as an internal multi-channel (also called omnichannel) marketing effort. These techniques apply not only to driving adoption of Office 365 but can also apply to driving adoption of better IT security behaviors or any other organizational behavior change. But remember, you need to keep track of your success. Tools like 4ward365 do a great job of monitoring and reporting user activity in Office 365 so you can watch adoption grow over time. And that tool even helps with automating the targeted e-mail communications to specific user groups.
Creating awareness of the broader set of Office 365 tools available is the first step. Microsoft advises following the ADKAR model from Prosci. I’ll leave the next step, a desire for change, for a future blog post.
Note that I’m not saying you should promote the entire list of Office 365 tools at once. Use your governance team and governance process to determine which tools to lead with. Focus on those and target your communications to the appropriate groups and watch the adoption numbers climb.


https://michaelblumenthal.me/2018/03/8-ways-to-drive-usage-adoption-for-office-365/feed/ 0
My “Hit Refresh” Moment https://michaelblumenthal.me/2017/10/my-hit-refresh-moment/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2017/10/my-hit-refresh-moment/#respond Sat, 28 Oct 2017 13:44:14 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=561 Continue reading My “Hit Refresh” Moment]]> Have you read “Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO?  As a Microsoft MVP, I received a complimentary copy of the eBook and dutifully read it.  In it, he lays out his vision for Microsoft and talks about how he and his team are changing the culture at Microsoft.  He also lays out his views on the coming wave of AI innovations and some of the challenges that the industry and society face.

 Microsoft MVPs have been asked to share their own “Hit Refresh” moments.  In a web browser, when you hit refresh on a web page, some things change and others don’t.  Taking that as a metaphor, a “Hit Refresh” moment is a moment you’ve decided to change some things in your life, but keep others the same.

My professional “Hit Refresh” moment was earlier this year, when I left a 20-year career in IT consulting to become an employee in a company’s IT department. The “part of the page that didn’t change” was my focus on Microsoft technologies (ever since 1995), which since 2003 has been SharePoint specifically and since 2014 has been the broader portfolio of collaboration and teamwork tools within Office 365.

I’m now in a role where I manage my employer’s Office 365 tenant and drive adoption the Office 365 applications.  I’m the product owner and service manager for Office 365 and it’s my job to ensure that my employer is getting value out of their Office 365 subscription. It’s a job that didn’t exist five years ago.  Five years ago (2012), I was creating custom intranet solutions using SharePoint Server 2010 on premise, in a “SharePoint Architect” role (a mix of SharePoint developer and SharePoint IT pro skills). After that, I completed one final SharePoint 2013 development project on a team of about a dozen people. Next, I took the lead on a project to build a data warehouse in Azure. From that point on, I stopped working almost entirely with SharePoint On Premise and entered the larger world of collaboration and communication applications in Office 365. 

What I found in Office 365 reinforced what I’d seen with SharePoint on premise: custom development is the option of last resort.  It’s the most expensive, technically complex, and time-consuming way to get the platform to meet your needs.  So much business value can be created by configuring the out of the box capabilities to match the needs of the business users.  In order to achieve that though, the end users need to be aware of the tools available and needs help setting them up and understanding how to use them. My role moved from a mix of Developer and IT Pro to a combination of IT Pro, Business Analyst, and Trainer.  

User adoption and service management is part of a company’s ongoing operations, not a one-time project.  In the first quarter of 2017, it became apparent to me that it was time to leave the world of consulting and become an employee in an IT department. I felt that only in an IT department could I have the opportunity to drive adoption of Office 365, and do for my employer what I had been talking to so many clients about.  It was a risk. It was different. It wasn’t consulting. I would no longer directly be generating revenue for my employer. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to make sure Office 365 was “done right”: that it was governed and that it produced business value for my employer. It was a “green field” opportunity.  I would no longer be slave to my utilization metric, the portion of my work week that was hours billable to a client. I “Hit Refresh” and became a member of staff in an IT department at a company with thousands of users, very few of which were using Office 365.

I’m very happy that I made the change. Some of my key initial accomplishments include:

  • Selecting a backup solution for our Office 365 tenant
  • Purchasing an email campaign management tool so we can do measurable email campaigns to our users
    • We share the tool with Corporate Communications so they get the same benefits for their email campaigns.
  • Getting two teams to use Microsoft Teams
  • Teaching the help desk how to better handle common types of SharePoint and Office 365 requests
  • Working with our head of training to establish training and communication plans and content for training both IT staff and end users on Office 365.
  • Creating an Office 365 governance team and putting a governance process in place. 

 We are now well positioned to drive awareness and adoption of OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint Online. I’m excited about that.

 In Chicago on November 18, 2017? I hope to see you at SharePoint Saturday Chicago.

 This post is part of the collection of #HitRefresh moments. Read more at http://www.hitrefreshbook.com. What’s your “Hit Refresh” moment?

https://michaelblumenthal.me/2017/10/my-hit-refresh-moment/feed/ 0
Learn PowerShell at the 2017 Collab365 Global Conference https://michaelblumenthal.me/2017/10/learn-powershell-at-the-2017-collab365-global-conference/ https://michaelblumenthal.me/2017/10/learn-powershell-at-the-2017-collab365-global-conference/#respond Thu, 19 Oct 2017 14:38:47 +0000 https://michaelblumenthal.me/?p=558 Continue reading Learn PowerShell at the 2017 Collab365 Global Conference]]> Have you heard about the virtual Collab365 Global Conference 2017 that’s streaming online November 1st – 2nd?

Join me and 120 other speakers from around the world who will be bringing you the very latest content around SharePoint, Office 365, Flow, PowerApps, Azure, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams. The event is produced by the Collab365 Community and is entirely free to attend.

Places are limited to 5000, and as of 10/19/2017 it was already 73% full so register now!

During the conference I hope you will watch my session ,’Introduction to PowerShell for Office 365 Tenant Admins’.

In it, you can learn PowerShell in under an hour!​

If you join me, you will:

  • Understand PowerShell syntax!
  • Learn how to write and run PowerShell scripts!
  • See how to connect to Office 365 with PowerShell.
  • Appreciate GUI-less tenant administration!


  • Office365
  • PowerShell

Audience :

  • Developer
  • IT Pro


  • Thursday, November 2 2017
    • 8 AM PT
    • 9 AM MT
    • 10 AM CT
    • 11 AM ET
    • 3 PM UTC

How to attend:

  1. Register here.
  2. At the time listed above go here to watch my session. (you can also add me to your own personal planner from the agenda.
https://michaelblumenthal.me/2017/10/learn-powershell-at-the-2017-collab365-global-conference/feed/ 0