ServiceNow and MS Office 365 integration

ServiceNow is an increasingly popular employee service platform that helps drive HR and IT self-service through automation and content. As a core part of the digital workplace, many organisations want to integrate ServiceNow into their core Microsoft 365 experience in order to deliver a more unified digital employee experience, as well as to deliver automation and workflow across different platforms. Although ServiceNow is not produced by Microsoft, there are multiple ways to integrate it into a 365-powered digital workplace. In this post, we’re going to explore some of the different options.

What is ServiceNow?

ServiceNow is a platform that many organisations are using as an employee service portal, delivering IT and HR support as well as other employee services. ServiceNow acts as a place for users to:

  • Access a knowledge base of authoritative, service-related content
  • Raise tickets with the helpdesk and view progress
  • Ask questions and get answers
  • Make requests and trigger appropriate workflows
  • Access a chatbot and live chat
  • View other service-orientated communications and updates.

ServiceNow is one of the most popular non-Microsoft platforms being used by larger enterprises today. When introduced successfully, it can significantly relieve the pressure on busy HR and IT helpdesks, help employees resolve issues more quickly through a self-serve approach and streamline support processes.

One of the best things about ServiceNow is that it allows teams to present content in a user-centred way more akin to an intranet experience through creating pages and defining a global navigation, for example. In some service-orientated portals and HR platforms, content publishing capabilities are an afterthought, but in ServiceNow, content can be presented in high-quality ways to drive effective self-service.

Integrating ServiceNow with Microsoft 365

Because ServiceNow is often used as the one source of truth for service-oriented content either for HR or IT support, or both – it needs to be easily accessible for employees. Integrating ServiceNow with Microsoft 365 has real value, helping to create a seamless experience that is more efficient and drives a less fragmented digital employee experience. It also helps to drive adoption of ServiceNow, and encourages the employee self-service that is often the ROI sought when acquiring the platform.

When we consider integration, it is usually about surfacing ServiceNow content and providing routes to ServiceNow across key Microsoft 365 channels such as a SharePoint intranet, Microsoft Teams or a user support Yammer community. However, it’s also possible that you may want to access elements of Microsoft 365 within ServiceNow too, even if this just entails introducing links to take you back to your SharePoint intranet.

It’s also worth noting that ServiceNow and Microsoft 365 have some overlapping features; it’s quite likely that a digital workplace team may not be using all the capabilities within ServiceNow because they are already using Microsoft 365.

Connectors

Microsoft 365 and the individual tools within the platform support out-of-the-box integrations with an ever-increasing number of other digital workplace platforms. Because ServiceNow is now a popular enterprise application, there are connectors which appear in different 365 stores and connector libraries, such as:

On the other hand, there are also connectors to Microsoft 365 within ServiceNow, with further work on these in the pipeline.

These connectors mean that integrations are much more straightforward than they used to be, and are now geared towards the most popular use cases such as searching for ServiceNow content. Of course, the ability to use APIs to establish custom integrations is available as well.

Seven high value integrations with ServiceNow

There are several different popular integrations and links between ServiceNow and Microsoft 365 that deliver value. Let’s explore seven of these in more depth.

1 Single sign-on and Azure AD integration

Without doubt the most important integration that you can carry out with ServiceNow is with Azure Active Directory. This will enable single sign-on for your users, as well as automate the starters and leavers process governing access to ServiceNow. You can also leverage different AD groups to target ServiceNow content and establish workflows, such as for new hires.

2 Add favourite links

Most SharePoint intranets allow employees to access favourite links to popular tools, usually from within the homepage but also from a toolbar. For example, in the LiveTiles intranet product, the LiveTiles Everywhere toolbar allows employees to access key links to other platforms and tools. ServiceNow is a core system that employees use on a daily basis, so including a link to it by default on your intranet increases convenience and supports adoption efforts.

3 Search for knowledge base content in the intranet search

ServiceNow provides authoritative content on IT and HR services and processes through its knowledge base capabilities. Often, employees want to be able to access this know-how content within the intranet experience, and it make sense to be able to search for this content within the intranet or Microsoft search. Here, integration delivers a lot of value, so employees have just one search box and place to go to find the HR or IT content they are looking for with no duplication of content between systems.

4 Use the global navigation to navigate between channels

Increasingly, digital workplace teams are looking to provide a global navigation that spans across different digital workplace tools, establishing a way for employees to travel between platforms and applications in as frictionless a way as possible. Here, the global navigation of an intranet can support deeper links into different screens within ServiceNow, but can also work the other way round with links back to the intranet within the ServiceNow navigation. The LiveTiles Everywhere toolbar can potentially be accessed across different tools too.

5 View tickets in progress and submit tickets

A high value integration provides employees with the ability to view the status and information about ServiceNow tickets-in-progress and let them know if action is required. It can also be useful to have a call-to-action to submit a new ticket within ServiceNow, sometimes without having to even leave the system (such as a SharePoint intranet) that the person is in. For example, in our recent work for Entain Group, we delivered an integration with ServiceNow through the LiveTiles Everywhere toolbar that means employees can view the status of their ServiceNow tickets and receive related alerts within their core intranet experience. Further integrations with Workday mean that the toolbar is an essential part of the digital employee experience at Entain.

6 Support workflows and automation

ServiceNow supports automation and workflows related to employee services, and it makes sense to link these up with other workflows across Microsoft 365 tools. For example, you could update a SharePoint list, send out a specific type email via Outlook or add a piece of information to Microsoft Dyanmics based on an action within ServiceNow. Here, you can use Power Automate to link up workflows with ServiceNow. Other areas of the Power Platform, including PowerApps and Power Virtual Agents, can also involve integration with ServiceNow.

7 Interact through chatbots

ServiceNow comes with its own intelligent chatbot, but employees can find it hugely convenient to interact with bots outside ServiceNow, helping them perform simple tasks such as submitting a ticket in ServiceNow or searching the knowledge base. This has real value in Microsoft Teams where employees can perform actions without having to enter ServiceNow, bringing employee self-service right into the heart of the daily flow of work.

Want to know more? Get in touch!

Integrating ServiceNow into your core Microsoft 365 digital workplace has real value for employees and support functions. If you’d like to discuss integrating ServiceNow and Microsoft 365, then get in touch!

7 recent improvements to Microsoft Search

Search is one of the most challenging areas of the digital workplace, but nevertheless one of the most important. Employees need to be able to quickly and effortlessly find the information, content and files they need to carry out their work. However, the increasing volume of data, the quantity of different repositories in which information and content can be found and the unrealistic expectations of employees who want everything to work just like Google make it difficult to excel in search.

Improving search requires a variety of different tactics, including working with content, reducing the number of items that can be searched for and configuring the search tools and experiences at your disposal. Taking a holistic and ongoing approach to improving and managing search is usually best.

If you have a Microsoft 365 digital workplace, the good news is that Microsoft continue to invest in search to support improvement. In recent years, they’ve started to drive a more unified search experience across the 365 universe, as well as the Windows 10 desktop. Search is also underpinned by the Microsoft Graph, bringing more personalised and valuable searching to a variety of different use cases.

In this post, we’re going to look at some of the more recent improvements to Microsoft Search that are helping to improve findability and the overall digital employee experience for those with a 365 digital workplace.

One element that has helped support the improving search is a well-designed Search & Intelligence area of the Microsoft 365 admin centre, where admin teams can receive insights, add search answers, configure filters, add data sources and control customisations, all in one place. Most of the features rolled out by Microsoft discussed in this article are controlled from here.

1 Improved support for people-centric searching

In 2020, Microsoft introduced a number of features that improved the ability to find people – a key use case within the digital workplace that underpins communication and collaboration – as well as knowledge management processes around expertise location. The people-centric search provides the ability to carry out a search relating to an individual.

There is also the ability to find skills and expertise that take into account any self-declarations of expertise that are added to your employee directory or equivalent. This is supported by machine learning that identifies areas of expertise from a user’s content and interactions, and makes suggestions for individuals to add expertise to their own profile.


People-centric search in Outlook mobile and SharePoint

2 Improvements to answers

Answers is a search feature that can prove incredibly useful when implemented well. Users can access short, Google-like answers directly in any search results that are returned, saving time and increasing findability and knowledge flow. For example, an answer could address a frequent question or provide additional information, such a list of public holidays during the year. Sensing that value, Microsoft has extended the Answers capabilities across three areas: acronyms, calendars and files.

Furthermore, administrators can now associate answers with different acronyms, so using a natural language query can ask what a particular acronym stands for. This is a useful feature for new starters in organisations where the amount of TLAs (three-latter acronyms) can reach bewildering levels. Meanwhile, calendar answers allow users to find meetings within their search results including queries like the meeting name, the time of the meeting or even an attendee. Similarly, you can now also look for Microsoft 365 files.


Acronym answers in Microsoft Teams desktop and mobile

3 Extending the search

As well as the ability to add extra Answers, Microsoft has also extended the search in a number of ways, including introducing:

  • The ability to search for Power BI assets
  • Searches for conversation threads from Yammer, Teams and Outlook, with a more straightforward capability to filter these through a conversations category
  • A catalogue of floor plans
  • An image search
  • A topic search that looks for the topics which have been automatically identified or manually created via Viva Topics.

Again, all these elements fulfil that more Google-like experience that employees are seeking, or address specific use cases such as searching floor plans that can help in desk booking processes.

4 Helping administrators to improve search

To improve findability and get the best out of Microsoft Search, it needs to be actively managed. To have a real impact, this should be done in tandem with other improvements, including tagging your content and even training users and content owners.

In the past year, Microsoft has rolled out additional administrative features which support improvement efforts. One of the most important of these is a useful form that allows users to provide feedback about their search experience and the accuracy and quality of the hits returned. The small form can ask for multiple choice or free text answers, and is embedded with a call-to-action within the search page. Specific user search feedback can be enormously powerful in refining searches, continuously improving findability and the overall search experience.

Complementing this is a Search Insights board that helps deliver analytics, such as the most popular searches being run across your tenant. This can provide clues on trending topics that you may want to address in content, search answers and more.

Finally, Microsoft is also rolling out additional options to customise search with custom filters, and tweak how search is displayed. Anything that makes it easier for admins to configure search and provide specific filters for their organisation will improve both findability and the digital employee experience; however, a corresponding effort to tag pieces of content to match any new filters may be required to get real results.


Microsoft Search analytics, administrator view

5 Adding Graph Connectors to non-365 applications

Improving digital employee experience is often about simplifying and reducing the number of different channels, tools and systems that employees need to use. Bringing different apps and information sources together into one search experience is one way to do this.

If you’re using Microsoft 365, Microsoft Search is likely to form the basis for your enterprise search experience. Here, your users may well want to view search from other key enterprise systems and repositories such as ServiceNow and Salesforce. To support this, Microsoft is investing in various Graph connectors which will enable digital workplace teams to unite search experiences and provide search for content beyond the 365 environment. These connectors allow you to incorporate data and files stored in Azure blog and data lake capabilities. The enterprise websites Graph connector is also designed to bring core intranet content into Microsoft search experiences.

Further enhancements to Graph connectors are also on their way, including the ability to cluster search results from one source such as ServiceNow, and add key HR data to profile information from your HR system of record. There will even be the ability to change the status of content from within the search experience, for example, updating a ServiceNow ticket. Additional connectors are also due to be added, including Atlassian products Jira and Confluence. Collectively, we think these changes will support the evolution of good DEX and encourage more people to search.

6 Improvements to search within specific tools

The Microsoft Graph and the ability to embed the search experience across the Microsoft stack is also improving the search within individual channels and tools across the 365 suite. Microsoft continually roll out these improvements to searching with Teams, Office, Outlook and even the general Windows 10 desktop. Some of these enhancements meet specific use cases, such as a new Org Explorer view within Outlook that provides a more robust and pleasing searchable org chart.

7 Personal query history

Microsoft Search has the ability for an individual to view their personal query history as they enter a new search. Using type-ahead capabilities, it provides a quick reference to recent or frequently performed searches that can then be re-typed with one click, saving time for users. This is just a small example of the kind of modest tweaks that can make a different to users.


Microsoft Search layout designer

Improving Microsoft Search

Improving Microsoft Search is an important task. Microsoft are investing in search to facilitate this with some of the features mentioned in this post. Despite these advances, improving search can still be a complex and fiddly process. If you’d like to discuss how to get the best out of your Microsoft Search, then get in touch!

7 strategic tips: external apps in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a platform that is continuing to evolve and receive great levels of adoption. When it first launched, few predicted that Teams would have quite the impact that it has, but it is now at the centre of the digital workplace for many organisations.

One element of the Microsoft Teams experience that is increasingly coming to the fore are the apps that can be experienced through Teams. In our experience, not many digital workplace teams and IT functions are fully leveraging the possibilities for accessing apps through Teams, meaning that many are missing out on a big opportunity.

Accessing apps through Microsoft has real value because:

  • Many employees spend their working day in Teams, thus it makes sense for them to access apps and relative content there, with Teams acting as an entry point into the wider digital workplace
  • Integrating apps into Teams means content from apps can be shared and discussed within Teams channels and chat threads, such as a page on the intranet, an e-learning course or a Jira ticket
  • Apps that have chatbots to support transactions and deliver information can be experienced through Microsoft Teams
  • Users of the Teams mobile app can also access apps and consume information through it, providing a feasible one stop shop for the digital workplace through one mobile app in a way that is relatively straightforward.

When considering an app strategy or approach to Microsoft Teams, there are several different elements to consider. In this post, we’re going to cover seven of these.

1 Deciding which apps to include

A major element of your approach to Teams apps will be deciding which apps to include. The good news here is that there are a wide range of apps available to meet employee needs, with very few barriers.

Within Microsoft Teams, there are essentially three types of apps that can be integrated into the experience. These are:

  • Microsoft 365 apps such as Yammer, Planner, SharePoint and the new Microsoft Viva suite of apps
  • Third party apps such as ServiceNow, LiveTiles intranet and Salesforce, many of which are available out of the box
  • Custom apps, built around specific use cases for your organisation or legacy applications, which can now be experienced through Teams.

Any app approach will need to include a policy on which apps to include (or exclude), and decide on a process around adding or removing apps. One handy element of the Microsoft Teams experience is that all these apps can be aggregated into the Teams app store and accessed by users in a uniform way, regardless of the type of app being used.

2 Enterprise-wide setting relating to apps

The Microsoft Teams Admin Center is the place where admins can configure enterprise-wide settings for Teams, including apps. Recently, there have been some improvements introduced that give admins even more control over how apps are experienced and the policies they want to implement, including which apps to include in the app store and which are pushed to different groups of employees.

Teams admins are able to target apps to different groups based on AD profiles. For example, you might want to target a particular app like LiveTiles Reach which delivers frontline communications to frontline workers, or an employee onboarding app to new hires. Within the Admin Centre, you can create policies that ensure a particular app automatically appears in the left-hand rail of Microsoft Teams for different AD groups.

Other settings you can control include:

  • Excluding access to particular apps already available within the Microsoft Teams store
  • Dictating which apps appear in the left-hand rail for all employees, such as an intranet app
  • Preventing apps being pinned by individuals for a more fixed Teams experience
  • Revoking an app completely.

3 Branding your enterprise app store

To provide a more branded, company-specific digital workplace experience, Microsoft has also recently introduced more flexibility to brand your own Teams enterprise app store. The Customize Store area now means that admins can decide on a logo, a custom background and specific text colours for their store. Although these changes don’t sound dramatic, they can help highlight the official apps to use, and differentiate the store experience from the normal Teams look to support increased adoption.

4 Building custom apps

One of the strongest elements of using Microsoft Teams apps is the ability to build and add custom apps that employees can access. These can range from highly complex apps that deal with specific business processes to relatively simple ones; a basic custom app might be used just to add a link to your company intranet within Teams. Defining the custom apps for your organisation is a big topic in itself, with multiple options for apps across the Microsoft 365 universe.

Within Teams, some apps can simply consist of a link and iFrame to allow employees to view information from within Teams. Some highly successful custom apps within Teams are just a set of links accessible across the top of a Teams app which might lead to a range of key pages and views, such as high value SharePoint pages or an area of ServiceNow. These simple custom apps are very straightforward to create using the Teams App Studio, and can be set up by a non-IT professional through a citizen development approach. Here, the interface allows you to set up links, tabs and more. More complex apps that might be driven though an API will need to be generated by an experienced developer.

5 Leveraging messaging extensions

Another way that Teams apps deliver value is through the ability to reference content from an app within Teams channels and conversations. For example, the LMS365 for Teams app brings a learning management platform right into the heart of Microsoft Teams. The ability for a user to search the LMS365 app for learning content they may want to share with a colleague has real value; likewise, you might want to reference a ServiceNow ticket in a conversation between a user and the IT helpdesk.

Apps that allow you to feature contextual information from the app in a Teams channel or conversation have messaging extensions; the relative information is usually presented in a card format. There are also some out-of-the-box messaging extensions such as those designed for sending praise and approvals. Considering which apps to enable messaging extensions for is another good way to add value to the Microsoft Teams app experience.

6 Utilising bots using natural language

Some apps within Teams can use chatbots driven by natural language. Chatbot interactions work very well within the Teams environment, and are increasingly being adopted by users. These can be a great way to carry out simple transactions, receive status updates on workflow and get simple answers to questions without having to visit separate apps, again, all without leaving Teams.

7 Support and governance

Of course, there are other elements to consider when formulating your approach to Teams apps relating to governance, support and training. For example, you will need to define who owns the app strategy, and who can configure the apps settings. There will need to be a process for adding and reviewing new custom and third-party apps, and you’ll need to consider communication and support for users as well as any necessary training.

Accessing apps through Microsoft Teams

Accessing apps through Microsoft Teams is becoming a core part of the Teams experience, and is popular with employees. If you haven’t previously considered an app strategy for Teams, now’s the time to start thinking about your options. If you’d like to discuss apps for Microsoft Teams, then get in touch!

Returning to the office: a checklist for intranet and digital workplace teams

More and more organisations are now actively planning for employees return to the office, or have already started the process. In many cases, new hybrid working patterns are being introduced whereby employees are working two or three days from home, and then coming into the workplace for the remainder of the week. The pace of the return to the office across different organisations and locations varies dramatically as the situation is still fluid, and restrictions and guidance can change rapidly.

At the start of the pandemic, intranet and digital workplace teams pulled out all the stops in order to support the scaled-up remote working that has kept businesses operational. Now, as we return to the office and adopt hybrid working patterns, it’s worth considering some of the changes and tactics to adopt in supporting employees when they return to the office.

Below are a few checklist suggestions for intranet and digital workplace teams as we return to the office.

1 Creating an intranet-based return to the office hub or equivalent

Intranets and digital workplaces provide clear, authoritative and trusted information on working matters. During the pandemic, many teams created a COVID-19 hub that aggregated communications, guidance and resources relating to navigating the pandemic, bringing important information into one convenient, easy-to-find place. Sometimes, additional hubs dedicated to topics such as homeworking were also created.

Now as we return to the office, creating a similar hub and perhaps integrating it into your existing COVID-19 area is a good way to help employees find all the information they need in one convenient place. This could link through to some of the information, resources and apps we suggest below.

2 Location-specific information

While there may well be some generic policies and communications which apply to employees returning to all your locations, there might also be a high degree of variation in the detail depending on where the office is located, the nature of the building and the employees and functions who are working there. Global companies will almost certainly have some offices open and some closed, with different rules depending on local regulations and guidance.

It is imperative that an intranet or digital workplace provides access to the individual information specific to each office for local teams to refer to. Having an overall schedule of the opening status of each location with links to local information can also be useful, particularly if one employee is planning a communication with a colleague from another office and wants to know if they are likely to be at home or in the office.

3 Detailed guidance on social distancing and other behaviours

Many offices are likely to have some degree of social distancing operating through a combination of reduced number of people in the office, new rules regarding movement through buildings, measures to reduce likelihood of infection and more. Having details of this guidance is crucial so everybody knows what is expected of them when they come into the office, and the changes they need to make to their usual working patterns. While communications will focus on the main points, providing a more detailed version of the measures keeping them safe can give further confidence to employees who are nervous about returning to the office.

4 Leadership communications

The return to the office is an emotive subject that generates a range of opinions; some employees are desperate to return, while others are nervous about coming back to the physical workplace. Continuing adherence to social distancing guidelines can also be controversial. Leadership communications that provide details on the why as well as the how are important to provide clarity and make sure everyone is on the same page relating to the return to the office.

5 Integrations and access to apps that support hybrid working

A key area where intranets and digital workplaces can provide value is to facilitate easy access to all the additional apps that support hybrid working patterns and a safe return to the office. An intranet or Microsoft Teams can provide access to these apps through either links or more direct integration. We covered some of these apps in an article about how the digital workplace supports hybrid working. They can include:

  • Survey and screening tools for health declarations required for anyone attending the office
  • Meeting room, desk booking and shift management tools that help with capacity management and regulate the flow of people coming into the office
  • Scheduling tools so teams can co-ordinate visits to the office
  • Wayfaring tools to reflect new rules about movement through the office
  • Access to learning resources and courses relating to new procedures surrounding office visits
  • Mandatory reads on documents relating to the return to the office that employees are required to read
  • Surveys and polls to check in with employees and find out about issues relating to the return to the office that need attention from management.

6 Forms and workflow to cover gaps

Some of the apps mentioned above may require specialist software. If you haven’t got a particular app in place, simple forms and workflow that can be deployed relatively easily using a tool like Microsoft Forms can provide a stopgap to support information gathering and approval workflow related to the return to the office. For example, you can deploy forms to cover health screening, information gathering and even desk booking in a way that will be more efficient than using email. Usually, forms can be easily integrated into your intranet and Teams experience.

7 A support community

Inevitably, employees will have questions relating to the return to the office. Having a support community on a social platform like Yammer can provide a good route for employees to ask questions and get authoritative answers, as well as swap tips relating to some of the changes surrounding hybrid working. A support community can also help with employee health and wellbeing.

8 Turn back on the staff restaurant menu!

And finally, if your staff canteen is operational again, don’t forget to feature the staff restaurant menu on your intranet! This has always been a popular intranet staple, but has been missing from most intranets for the past eighteen months. If you’re returning to the office, it’s time to post that menu again!

Supporting the return

Digital workplace and intranets can play a significant role in supporting a smooth return to the office. We’ve listed a few ideas above for teams to consider. If you’d like to discuss how your digital workplace can better support hybrid working, then get in touch!

Running blended learning through your Microsoft 365 digital workplace

For a long time learning was at the periphery of the digital workplace and away from the daily flow of work, for example centred on a Learning Management System that was not easy to access and had poor usability. Given the importance of learning and training to employees and organisations, this has always been an anomaly. Thankfully a range of digital tools mainly available through the Microsoft 365 digital workplace are at last integrating learning right into the heart of the digital workplace. With the current focus on employee experience and on enabling people to better use digital tools, there has also never been a better time to initiate a project to deliver better learning through Microsoft 365.

Another advantage of Microsoft 365 is that because of its wide variety of channels and tools, it can support different types of learning. Most organisations have blended learning programmes with a mix of classroom training, e-learning, mandatory training, mentoring, Communities of Practice and more. Microsoft 365 can support blending learning through a mix of different channels. It can also help learning administrators to manage learning and support managers who need to keep on top of the training within their teams.

In this post we’re going to explore the different tools and channels that can be used to support blended learning programmes, making learning more accessible and discoverable.

A core learning platform and LMS through LMS365

The most important part of a digital learning ecosystem is a core learning platform or Learning Management System (LMS) that allows users to access a course catalogue of training available, book courses, access course material, and carry out e-learning. They can also then view a record of the learning they’ve taken and what they might need to take in the future.

For administrators, a learning platform provides the core tools to manage learning, including an administration module, and extra features such as learning paths, certificates and points to deliver on the learning requirements of different organisations. There may also be tools to create learning content.

LMS365 is a fully featured learning platform that integrates seamlessly into Microsoft 365. It is an additional product to a 365 license and not provided by Microsoft, but many teams tell us it feels like part of the 365 suite, and it is gets excellent reviews. With LMS365 installed, it means most of the barriers associated with learning are removed and employees can reach and discover learning via different tools such as Microsoft Teams. In fact, the integration is so seamless that employees may not realise they have left SharePoint. There Is also a good LMS365 mobile app.

LMS355 is also very good at supporting blended learning, as you can manage both classroom training enrolment and e-learning from the same catalogue.

Learning hubs and pages through SharePoint

The flexibility of building SharePoint sites and pages means you can create dedicated learning hubs that guide users towards all the learning opportunities available for them, and then also include links, resources and even embed feeds for example from a Yammer learning community to make it easier for users to take action such as enrol on a course. Blended learning programmes cover a range of options, so a learning hub based on SharePoint provides both an overview and a starting point for employees.

Typically, a learning hub might be integrated into a SharePoint intranet, but it could also be a standalone communication site or even team site. Some LMS365 clients also choose to build a learning hub as a seamless entry page into LMS365. Some learning hubs may also be dedicated to specific topics for example learning about how to use digital workplace tools.

Learning discovery though Microsoft Search

A major advantage of bringing learning resources into your Microsoft 365 digital workplace is that it means you can include learning within your Microsoft search. Here the results of blended learning including specific courses, a community or even a specific learning asset can be returned, making learning more discoverable though an intranet, Teams and SharePoint search.

Automation and enrolment on learning through Power Automate

Learning is an area where automation can help streamline the administration of learning, for example in registering users on to different courses and updating learning records. A platform like LMS365 will do some of the automation for you and here the ability to leverage AD groups in Azure is particularly useful for example in rolling out mandatory training for all managers. Within 365, Power Automate can help you to create other automated and custom flows that can support blended learning; these might include automatic enrolment into a particular Community of Practice, or automated reminders for people attending a course.

Learning analytics through Power BI

Analytics are important not only in measuring the effectiveness of learning, but also in administering mandatory training. While some products within your learning ecosystem will include handy analytics built-in (such as our Xoralia Policy Management tool), integration with Power BI means it is very straightforward to create bespoke learning dashboards and reports for learning administrators, managers and even senior leaders.

Communities of Practice through Yammer or Teams

Communities of Practice (CoP) dedicated to professional topics are a solution that can support the less structured and more social elements of blended learning by providing access to experts within the community, facilitating interaction and discussions, and sharing learning resources such as videos. The best tool to use for a CoP is Yammer particularly if a community is large – but it is also possible to use Teams, particularly if the community is a smaller and more focused.

Policies and mandatory reads through Xoralia

A blended learning programme and also the learning elements of an employee onboarding programme may require employees to read particular policies and documents. Here the mandatory reads capability within a tool like Xoralia can help keep track of which employees have read a page or document; the tool lets employees know they have something to read, asks for confirmation they have read it and then delivers reports to administrators to track progress. Xoralia is built for SharePoint so again integrates seamlessly with other 365 tools.

Learning events calendar via SharePoint or LiveTiles intranet

Blended learning programmes are likely to include learning events such as webinars. A central calendar of learning events can also be a good way to display upcoming opportunities for employees, particularly if it is available via the intranet. This can be achieved in different ways including using SharePoint calendars or using the event calendar functionality within a LiveTiles intranet. At Content Formula client RSSB, the latter is used to display learning events on the intranet homepage.

Frontline enablement through PowerApps, LiveTiles Reach or LMS365 app

Learning is also an important component in enabling frontline employees and delivering a good employee experience. Being able to access learning materials including training videos on a personal device is an excellent way to support wider learning, especially when it can be carried out a time convenient for that user. A variety of different options across Microsoft 365 can deliver learning to the frontline via mobile apps including custom PowerApps, LiveTiles Reach or the LMS365 app.

Social learning through LMS365 for Teams and Microsoft Viva Learning

More informal social learning and sharing is another component of blended learning. With Microsoft Teams usage so high, making sure employees can access learning through Teams and then have conversations about learning opportunities and resources can support blending learning. Here, LMS365 for Teams can make learning discoverable and allow peers to share learning resources within their discussion thread. Microsoft Viva Learning is also bringing learning into Teams, although this offering is still evolving, but we can expect this to play a major role going forward.

Blended learning through the digital workplace

Microsoft 365 provides excellent support for blended learning from LMS365 as a core learning platform through to Yammer-based Communities of Practice through to Power BI learning dashboards.

If you’d like to discuss how to support learning in your organisation and make sure it is in the flow of daily work, then get in touch!

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