Dan Hawtrey

Dan Hawtrey - Managing Director

Dan has worked on intranets since 1997 as an intranet and knowledge manager at Johnson & Johnson. He moved from the client side in 2005 and founded CF - the first intranet consultancy in the UK.

Dan is an intranet thought leader and blogs and speaks publicly on a regular basis. Dan gets involved with all projects and provides clients with strategic advice to ensure their intranets launch successfully, are widely adopted by users and have a high return on investment.

Phone: +44 (0)20 4534 3460

Email: [email protected]

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Olga Sherbakova

Olga Sherbakova - Operations Director

Olga works tirelessly - often behind the scenes - to ensure projects run smoothly, risks are anticipated and mitigated, and clients feel that their projects are in safe hands!

She drives rigour in all aspects of our business and regularly stress-tests our documentation and project controls. It’s because of her that we are an efficient, well-run agency. Her background in IT project management and business analysis means she also works client-facing as a Project Manager and gets closely involved in discovery phases.

Phone: +44 (0)20 4534 3460

Email: [email protected]

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Joe Perry

Joe Perry: Technical Director

Joe oversees the technical delivery of all our projects. He works closely with our UX consultants and clients to understand requirements and design appropriate technical solutions.

He has over 11 years development experience with the last 6 years as a full-stack Microsoft developer. He is also a strong JavaScript developer and uses his knowledge to guide our developers in creating slick user interfaces.

Phone: +44 (0)20 4534 3460

Email: [email protected]

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John Scott

John Scott: UX Director

John joined CF in 2006 and worked his way up the ranks. He brings a deep knowledge of SharePoint intranets matched with a natural flair for user experience design.

He has worked across both design and technical disciplines - a rare combination that allow him to build a bridge between the user experience and technical teams. This means that feasibility, usability, delivery and ease of maintenance are baked-into all of our solutions.

Phone: +44 (0)20 4534 3460

Email: [email protected]

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Viva Engage, Viva Goals, Viva Sales: what are the new Microsoft Viva modules?

Since the launch of Microsoft Viva in early 2021, Microsoft has continued to invest in its employee experience platform, by adding new features, connectors and capabilities to the existing four modules – Viva Connections, Viva Learning, Viva Insights and Viva Topics.

But in recent weeks the expansion of the platform and the Microsoft Viva brand has quickened with the announcement of three new modules: Viva Goals, Viva Results and Viva Engage.

In this post we’re going to explore the three new Viva modules, what they do and the value that they could bring to businesses.

What is Microsoft Viva?

Microsoft Viva as an employee experience platform that is delivered through Microsoft Teams. Initially four modules were announced, all of which have since launched. Even though Viva is positioned as a platform, it is arguably a series of separate apps within the Teams platform:

Viva ConnectionsViva Connections: A gateway to internal communications and company resources

Viva InsightsViva Insights: Personalised analytics and related insights for individuals, managers and leaders that support well-being, collaboration, productivity and more

Viva LearningViva Learning: A learning hub that aggregates learning resources from a variety of different systems and sources

Viva TopicsViva Topics: A knowledge discovery platform that uses AI to source resources and experts on different topics.

Microsoft Viva has had huge interest from intranet, digital workplace and Microsoft 365 teams, who are actively deploying one or more of its modules across the digital workplace.

Let’s explore the opportunities the three recently announced modules bring.

Viva Goals

Although Viva Goals was only formally announced in May 2022, it’s been on the roadmap for considerably longer, and is a direct result of Microsoft’s acquisition of Ally.io, a leading provider of Objectives and Key Results (OKR) software. OKR software helps organisations, teams and individuals to set meaningful goals and then record progress towards meeting them; it is a good way to give strategic context to employee’s daily work, for example.

The Viva Goals module brings the core OKR functionality from the Ally.io solution into Microsoft Teams, and presents an interesting option for organisations either using existing OKR software, or wanting to introduce it. Using Viva Goals will bring OKRs more directly into the flow of work in organisations and departments that use Microsoft Teams.

Viva Goals has several different options including:

    • OKRs available at the individual, team and organisational level
    • The ability to align OKRs with projects and tasks, with some integrations with applications like Jira
    • The ability to build custom dashboards to show OKR progress that can then be shared to help discussions, for example about progress of projects
    • Embed OKRs into Teams discussion threads.

Viva Goals will be made fully available in Q3 2022, and will be added as an option for those who have subscribed to the full Viva suite. It will also likely be available on a separate subscription. We can see Viva Goals really adding value in some organisations, and complementing other Viva modules, including Viva Learning

Viva Sales

Viva Sales was announced in June and represents a slight departure from the rest of the suite, in that it is positioned as a “seller experience application” rather than being applicable for all employees.

Viva Sales provides a range of tools to help anyone involved in sales processes. These include using AI to facilitate the capture of client and sales data that might arise from interactions in Teams and Outlook which will automatically be entered into a CRM system, reducing or even eliminating manual entry.

Although this will undoubtedly include Microsoft Dynamics, the use of the generic CRM term in the announcement hints that there may well be connectors to other popular CRM systems.

Although the details are still vague, other features of Viva Sales will include:

  • Surfacing data from an organisation’s CRM system in Outlook and Teams, to provide context to communications and conversations with and about customers and prospects
  • Providing various insight and suggestions using AI, relating to sales conversations, interaction and activity
  • AI-driven analysis of sales calls and meetings providing actions lists, analysis of performance and even sentiment analysis.

Although the full details of Viva Sales have still to come out and the module won’t be released until Q4 2022, we see lots of potential with Viva Sales.

CRM systems often do not get populated as much as they should do and can be disconnected from communication channels; we can see this working particularly well where non-sales staff are responsible for client relationships and even selling, and would benefit in having more visibility of CRM data. The AI-powered insights also sound intriguing.

Viva Engage

The latest module to be announced is Viva Engage, revealed in a recent post on the Microsoft Viva blog and announced at the Microsoft Inspire event. Viva Engage is positioned as being “designed to help people and teams to be their best..[and] give leaders a new way to shape culture at their organization by unlocking communication and engagement opportunities for everyone”.

However, Viva Engage is not actually new and is, to some extent, another re-branding exercise from Microsoft. It’s essentially a newly designed Yammer Communities app for Microsoft Teams that will replace the existing app and adds some new features on top of the existing Yammer platform. This brings the Yammer experience more directly into Teams, and again has real value in organisations where Teams adoption is high.

The key new element is a feature where people can create “storylines” using traditional posts, or photos and videos (now rebranded as “stories”), similar to some consumer social media platforms. Stories will appear in a carousel format at the top of a storylines tab..

Viva Engage will be free for anybody who has an existing license that covers Yammer. The Communities app will be rebranded in late August.

The announcement of Viva Engage has led some to initial confusion. In the threads to the original announcement and articles, some have said that trying to differentiate between Viva Engage and Yammer is confusing to explain to users, essentially as Engage is essentially a Yammer app. Others have asked what it means for the future of Yammer.

Defending the announcement Steve Nguynen confirmed that there is no plan to rebrand Yammer and that the “best way to think about this announcement is that Yammer is going to power the Viva Engage experience…and the beginning of us bringing Yammer more closely to our Viva suite of products.”

While we like the new storylines features, we agree that the positioning of Viva Engage in relation to Yammer is a little confusing as they are essentially the same product. We’d also like to see the Storylines feature added to the general Yammer platform to keep everything in sync.

Keep on moving forward with Viva

Microsoft keeps on investing in Viva and the three new modules extend the scope of what it can do. We wouldn’t be surprised if more modules were announced through the year.

If you’d like to discuss how you can use Microsoft Viva in your organisation or want to explore the potential of the newly announced modules, then get in touch!

Ten takeaways about Microsoft 365 and SharePoint adoption and change management

Driving adoption and change management (ACM) in Microsoft 365 and related channels such as a SharePoint intranet is a big-ticket item for every intranet and digital workplace team.

Teams want to increase the adoption of the platform and ensure it is being used in ways which deliver sustainable value; an intranet or digital workplace with limited adoption is not successful. But adoption and change management is not always straightforward.

Recently the Content Formula Team – consisting of Alex Yeomans, Manpreet Baghi and John Scott – hosted a webinar titled “Achieving adoption on your Microsoft 365 intranet”.

We were lucky to be joined by Si Steers, Head of Digital Product, Channels & Editorial, Internal Communications at Entain Group. Content Formula worked with Si and his team to help launch a new digital workplace at Entain, a large and growing brand in the gaming sector.

In this post we’re going to explore ten ACM takeaways from the session. You can also watch a recording below.

1. The ADKAR framework is great for embedding and sustaining change

Fundamentally change management is about people and changing behaviours. It’s also a mature discipline with a vast body of knowledge and range of frameworks and methodologies. One of the most popular of these is ADKAR – a robust methodology that Content Formula use and advocate for. One of the strengths of the ADKAR model is that helps to embed but then also sustain change but through a series of different steps.

In the webinar, Manpreet walked us through each step:

  • Awareness – driving awareness about the change and the need to change (“Have you heard of the proposed change”)
  • Desire – focusing and instilling a desire for people to change (“I am excited to get on board”)
  • Knowledge – providing knowledge about the change (“I have attended the training session and feel more confident”)
  • Ability – ensuring people are actually carry out the change required (“I am using the software daily now”)
  • Reinforcement – reinforcing the change for the longer-term (“I am complemented for incorporating this change”).

2. ACM is critical for Microsoft 365

Many organisations are implementing Microsoft 365 across their digital workplace. Here, adoption and change management is integral for success. Achieving ROI on the platform is dependent on adoption at scale but this will involve people using new tools and working in new ways for widespread communication and collaboration; only then can you expected to get the widespread productivity and efficiency gains that Microsoft 365 promises.

Manpreet also explained how Microsoft 365 also enables remote and hybrid working – another area which requires extensive change management. Moreover, when changes in behaviour are truly embedded and users are confident with using new tools, it also means you can start to advance the digital workplace and explore new and more sophisticated ways of using the tools at hand.

3. ACM has some key challenges

ACM is not always straightforward and does come with some common challenges. When teams are aware of these, they can then plan ahead to make sure their ACM efforts have maximum impact. Common challenges cover a number of areas:

  • Change fatigue is a common issue in change management with employees exhausted from a continual series of initiatives, making it harder to embed any further change.
  • Resistance to change is also common and there will always be groups who feel either threatened by the change or refuse to break existing habits.
  • ACM is often about winning both hearts and minds, and frequently employees get how to work with new tools, but don’t get the “why” behind the change, making it harder to change behaviours.
  • Sometimes usage is not advanced enough – for example Teams adoption might be high, but it is not being used in the right way – so the required change has not gone far enough.
  • Microsoft 365 and Office 365 are constantly being updated with new tools and improvements to existing tools within the suite; while this has its benefits, it does mean it can be hard to keep up with all the changes, and therefore manage the change effectively.
  • In digital workplace projects, ACM activity is not always adequately budgeted for; the change management budget can also get eaten into as other priorities or issues emerge.

In the webinar the team explored some of the ways to tackle these challenges such as using personas to help design the change effort and getting the right messaging across in communications.

4. Think about the short, medium and long-term

In the second half of the webinar, we heard from Si Steers at Entain Group. Entain is a diverse company with 25,000 employees spread across different countries, and includes a 14,000-strong frontline workforce based in shops in the UK. Content Formula helped Entain to move to a new Microsoft 365-based digital workplace, introducing Yammer and a new intranet called Entain.Me.

Si explained that when it comes to ACM it is important to think in the short-, medium- and long-term. Over the course of the year-long project to launch Entain’s digital workplace and also after going live, managing change has been baked into everything the core team does; initially getting people excited about the change, making it “sticky” in the medium term, and then refreshing the platform to support the ongoing change.

5. Launch with a splash but support users

In the session, Si talked about some of the activities the team carried out to launch Entain.Me, helping to grab the attention of employees, but also supporting users:

  • The team designed a communication campaign that had the consistent message that Entain.Me was a unique and personalised experience built around every individual user
  • They created a hashtag called #PlayYourWay and other communications that strongly echoed this message.
  • The launched an Entain.Me “Playbook” designed to help users get the most out of the new platform.
  • A classy and well-received launch video was created which was more of a “lifestyle” video than being about technology.
  • They made a quick-fire video series walking users through different platform features.
  • They created a Yammer community where people could ask questions about Entain.Me
  • They held a global “masterclass” event held via Yammer, which was an introduction and walk-through of the new intranet.

6. Support your publishing community

An essential component of any new intranet is also having good content. Content Formula worked with Si’s team to also focus on change management for the content owner community too, ensuring they felt supported. A site for content owners called Entain.Me Guru with a variety of guides and resources was set up. Initial training was also provided with an ongoing set of weekly drop-in content clinics, each one focusing on a separate theme, as well as the ability to ask different questions. This helped content owners migrate and create content in time for the launch of Entain.Me.

7. Leverage champions for long-term success

One successful change management approach that the Entain team has used is to leverage local champions who can embed changes with their peers in meaningful ways that make sense for local teams; this also helps a small central team to drive ACM across a large and diverse workforce.

The “Tecchies” – part of a wider ambassador programme called the Entainers – are acting as change agents on the ground to drive adoption of both Yammer and Entain.Me. They attend team meetings, share updates and help colleagues on the ground. Currently there are about 40 champions, but Si explained that he is keen to expand this to support the wider digital workplace journey.

8. Be mindful of the schedule

One important element in change management is to consider other change initiatives that are landing around the same time, or the order with which initiatives are launched to the business. Si explained that Yammer was launched before Entain.Me for two main reasons; firstly, the team did not want to overwhelm employees with two platforms launching at the same time. Secondly, as many Entain.Me sites had embedded Yammer groups, they wanted to ensure that Yammer was populated with content and discussions before people viewed it on the new intranet, so they didn’t find an “empty room”.

9. Don’t stand still

The need for ACM is always ongoing, even after a site has launched or a digital project has finished. Si advised that it as important not to “stand still”. Entain.Me was almost an MVP when it was launched, but there was always a vision for it evolve into a wider digital workplace with integrations to support a better employee experience.

The team are now working hard to iterate Entain.Me, for example to leverage Viva Connections to deliver more of that digital workplace “dashboard” functionality. Si emphasised that adoption and change management is a “continual journey without a start or end point” and it was essential not to let a site go out of date.

10. The essential ingredients of ACM

Towards the end of the session, Manpreet covered some of the essential ingredients of any successful ACM programme. These includes:

  • always putting employees at the centre of the change
  • ensuring you have a good understanding of any pain points that need addressing
  • establishing the right training and ongoing support
  • putting metrics in place in order to measure the change and track progress
  • having both peer-driven bottom-up communications perhaps though champions, but also top-down messaging to show endorsement from senior leaders
  • having a formal change and communication plan that targets efforts to different groups
  • making sure you have communications and assets that are engaging and stand out.

Need help with Office 365 or SharePoint adoption and change management?

ACM is critically important for Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Microsoft Viva and more. If you’d like to discuss your ACM strategy and approach for your digital workplace, then get in touch!

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