25 business processes you can automate using Microsoft 365

Business automation and process improvement are key reasons why organisations launch Microsoft 365 and create intranets. They want to reduce costs, save time, increase productivity, speed up end-to-end processes and remove frustration for users.

Microsoft 365 customers have an incredibly powerful platform from which to start automating business processes, both simple and complex. Using different combinations of features and capabilities, you can make a real difference to your digital workplace, organisational efficiency and employee experience. The opportunity for business automation extends to some of the products that work alongside Microsoft 365, such as LiveTiles intranet, LMS365 or the Xoralia policy management tool, mainly because they are based on 365 technologies like SharePoint and Power Automate.

It’s also worth noting that Microsoft’s continuing investment in the 365 platform and Microsoft Teams means new opportunities for automation are opening up. For example, the Microsoft Viva suite of apps is providing exciting opportunities to increase productivity and improve employee experience, while Power Virtual Agents allows every organisation to leverage the power of bots. In fact, when we first published this post, we included 19 opportunities, but we’ve since expanded this to 25.

Let’s look at some of the processes you can automate, based on what we’ve seen with clients and other organisations. Just to be clear, there is a lot you can potentially do these ideas are just for starters!

  1. Updating key business policies

Many intranets have a central library of key business policies. It’s important that these are kept up to date; there may be regular reviews in place to ensure this happens. Automated reminders to content owners based on review dates introduce an automation layer to support an effective central policy library.

Potential tools to use: Xoralia policy management tool, SharePoint, Power Automate.
  1. Monitoring mandatory reads

Sometimes, it’s important for employees to read particular content for compliance, regulatory or risk reasons: perhaps a new policy, an important update or a critical communication. Monitoring who has confirmed they have read the content can be a real administrative burden. Automating this process saves vast amounts of time and effort. This can involve sending targeted reminders based on Active Directory (AD) groups to those employees still to confirm the mandatory read, and producing real-time progress reports.

Potential tools to use: Xoralia policy management tool, SharePoint, Power Automate, Power BI, Azure Active Directory
  1. Adding document metadata

Having the right metadata for documents helps with findability, but also gives users important information about the content; it may define displays in web environments, and support other outcomes such as targeting. Getting the right metadata on a document is something some organisations struggle with, especially if it all needs to be done manually.

Automation can really help add accurate document metadata. For example, if there is metadata associated with a project and a new document is added to the project workspace, the document may be able to inherit that metadata. There are also opportunities to use AI to suggest the right metadata to add through the SharePoint Syntex service.

Potential tools to use: Power Automate, SharePoint, SharePoint Syntex
  1. Archiving content and data

Governance around the archiving and deletion of content and data is critical for keeping your digital workplace tidy, aligning to company retention policies and enhancing findability. Adding some automation to this process really helps so that documents, content and spaces are automatically archived based on different criteria (including review or approval from the content owner).

Potential tools to use: Power Automate, SharePoint
  1. Updating employee profiles

The employee directory and profiles are a staple of the intranet environment, but the best ones always represent the one source of truth of HR data so that profiles are always accurate, and employees don’t have to complete information across two systems.

Updates to your HR system containing individual employee data should always be reflected in individual employee profiles. For example, an update to a job title in the HR system should also be displayed on the intranet, ideally in real-time.

Potential tools to use: LiveTiles Directory, Delve, Custom-built solution, Active Directory
  1. Requests and approvals

This is perhaps the most common form of process improvement driven by intranets and Microsoft 365, using forms and workflow to deal with requests involving everything from booking travel, to organising annual leave, to requesting stationery, to ordering lunch for a client meeting. Usually, these requests need to go through an approval process. In many organisations, there will still be request and approval processes which are done using email or even paper that are just waiting to be automated. Increasingly, requests and approvals are being dealt with through chatbots that might be accessed through Microsoft Teams, or even through a mobile app for frontline staff.

Potential tools to use: Microsoft Forms, Power Automate, SharePoint, Power Virtual Agents, Microsoft Teams apps
  1. IT and facilities performance monitoring

Performance monitoring of different systems is an obvious area to automate, using dashboards to provide reporting and notifications when things don’t look right, based on different rules. We’ve seen many examples of this, including the monitoring of load times on different web channels or servers, or reporting on the temperature of different parts of a building.

Potential tools to use: Power BI, LiveTiles Intelligence, SharePoint, Azure application insights
  1. Microsoft 365 adoption reporting

Unsurprisingly, digital workplace teams are always interested in driving adoption of Microsoft 365 and its constituent tools. With so many tools and channels in operation, automated reporting of the use of different applications and channels via a customised dashboard is almost always of interest to teams. Increasingly, some of the behaviours of Microsoft 365 are being rolled into the new Viva Insights tool which focuses on collaboration, productivity and wellbeing, offering some organisation-wide analytics.

Potential tools to use: Power BI, Microsoft 365 out-of-the-box, Viva Insights
  1. Logging support calls

There are already systems like ServiceNow which allow users to log issues and automatically raise tickets for IT, HR and other support services. The ability to raise tickets is usually a prerequisite for running any scalable helpdesk or support service, and integrating this automation into your intranet or Microsoft Teams can be helpful. Increasingly, support calls are also being logged through chatbots. More lightweight processes might not always warrant investment in a separate system. In these instances, using your intranet platform or Microsoft365 may make a lot of sense as an affordable system to log support calls, and automation can really add value.

Potential tools to use: Microsoft Forms, PowerApps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, Microsoft Teams Apps
  1. Centralising notifications from different systems

Information overload is still a real issue for many users, especially with an overwhelming email in-box. Many users find it hard to keep on top of all the automated notifications, alerts, approvals and actions needed across a number of disparate systems.

Having a focused activity stream, list of notifications or notification dashboard from systems in one place (universal inbox) that can allow users to organise all the things they need to do, and ensure approvals are made more speedily. Here, there are an increasing number of options to deliver this capability within Microsoft Teams, to frontline staff via a mobile app or through a chatbot facility where employees can complete simple transactions.

Potential tools to use: Power Automate, PowerApps, Microsoft Teams Apps, SharePoint, LiveTiles Everywhere, Power Virtual Agents
  1. Financial reporting and monitoring

Financial reporting is an obvious use case for a dashboard which can have considerable value for senior management and finance departments, helping to drive accountability and support decision-making. However, dashboards with simplified financial and performance data such as sales can even be presented to users on the intranet homepage as a way of keeping everybody up to date. This form of automation almost always has value.

Potential tools to use: Power BI, SharePoint
  1. Marketing automation

Marketing automation is on the wish-list of most marketing functions, but is not always put into operation. Marketing automation can be powerful in saving time and supporting your sales funnel. It can range from the simple (sending out an automatic email based on the completion of a website form) to the sophisticated (sending out a targeted message based on a range of user behaviour). Reporting on the success of your efforts is also automated.

Potential tools to use: PowerApps, Power Automate, Power BI, Microsoft Dynamics, Outlook
  1. Tracking assets

IT departments often need to track and manage the assets which are given out to users, including devices, equipment, software licenses and more. It’s incredible how many teams still rely on spreadsheets and email for this exercise, even though there may be some workflow in place to issue devices for new employees. Automating this process allows you to use one source of truth for keeping track of your assets alongside stakeholder and user reporting. You can also potentially integrate this with the process for users requesting new assets, as well as the employee onboarding and offboarding process.

Potential tools to use: PowerApps, Power BI, Power Automate, Microsoft Forms, Power Virtual Agents
  1. 360 appraisals

360 appraisals tend to be a process-heavy exercise involving data input from different users, reporting, approval workflow, notifications and the need to store all the data in a core system of record. In other words, 360 appraisals are ripe for automation and improvement! Appraisals can be cumbersome and time-consuming, so anything which makes them easier for everybody is welcome.

Potential tools to use: Microsoft Forms, Power Automate, PowerApps, SharePoint
  1. Document building

Building model documents based on different criteria is a theme often found in knowledge management. It’s of real interest in certain sectors, especially professional services, but also functions such as in-house legal teams. Being able to build automated documents like contracts and agreements based on different metadata (e.g. client name or document type) can help maintain document standards, as well as save huge amounts of time.

Often, the model document produced is a starting point which must still be completed and checked, but the process automation adds a lot of value.

Potential tools to use: PowerApps, SharePoint Workflows, Microsoft Office, Power Virtual Agents
  1. Know Your Client

Know Your Client (KYC) is a standard process carried out by some companies as part of the due diligence and procurement process to onboard new clients, suppliers and vendors, and minimise risks involved. KYC may involve interrogating external databases with company information, and performing credit checks. The extent to which KYC processes can be automated varies, but there is usually scope for speeding up the process, such as using a chatbot to gather initial information or running the process through Teams if that is the system where most work gets done.

Potential tools to use: Virtual Power Agents, PowerApps, Power BI, Microsoft Forms, Power Automate, Microsoft Teams apps
  1. Resource planning

Resource planning for projects, teams and initiatives can be challenging, particularly if relevant information is scattered around different systems. For example, you may want to view core information from your HR platform, timecard systems and details of expertise from people profiles to help you assemble the right team and check availability.

Automating reporting with data from various systems to help with resource planning and specific views to aid team selection can be very powerful, helping you to create the best teams while ensuring capacity. This can be extremely valuable for managers and frontline teams where shift work is involved, or for businesses with a lot of seasonal work or intense projects.

Potential tools to use: Power BI, Microsoft Planner, Power Automate, Microsoft Shifts
  1. Project management

Project management is a broad activity which is key to the way many companies operate. Microsoft 365 can help with many aspects of project management, including providing the base for some automation. For example, some companies might choose to automatically create a collaboration space whenever a project is set up in their financial management system or equivalent, or choose to integrate real-time budgeting and financial or timecard information within their project space. This helps to embed collaboration and dashboards right into the project management processes, as well as drive efficiencies.

Potential tools to use: Microsoft Planner, Power BI, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Project, SharePoint Online, Outlook
  1. Employee onboarding

Having a formal employee onboarding programme drives efficiencies and make new starters feel welcome, supporting better employee retention. With so many checklists and tasks to complete and information to provide, there are myriad processes which can be automated or semi-automated even before a new hire’s first day. Ensuring that employees fill in the necessary forms before they start and in their first few weeks (and ensuring this information goes to the right people and systems) is a great starting point. They might need to read a policy, take a course, review information on the intranet, complete their contact details, supply particular forms and more. Some organisations particularly with frontline employees choose to invest in a dedicated employee onboarding app for this.

Potential tools to use: PowerApps, LMS365, Xoralia policy management tool, Power Automate, SharePoint Online, LiveTiles content targeting, Power BI
  1. Employee offboarding

Employee onboarding gets a lot of attention, but offboarding also involves multiple processes, including ensuring equipment is recovered and sent back, completing any necessary paperwork, making adjustments in different systems, carrying out an exit interview or even issuing an invitation to join the alumni programme. This is another process where automation can streamline interactions, workflows and reporting.

Potential tools to use: Power Automate, Microsoft Forms, Power BI
  1. Collecting data from the field

Sometimes, field workers or mobile employees may need to file reports with data collected when they are out and about, such as engineers making site inspections. Ideally, data should be gathered and inputted directly into mobile devices. Automation can make sure this information appears automatically in documents, databases, dashboards and even workspaces.

Potential tools to use: PowerApps, Microsoft Forms, Teams Apps, Power Virtual Agents, SharePoint, Power BI
  1. Learning and development administration

Learning and development is a critical part of employee and organisational life. However, it can take a lot of administration effort, particularly when enrolling employees onto mandatory training (which can occur annually), monitoring progress and completions and reporting sometimes even to external bodies – for compliance reasons. Automation makes a lot of sense in enrolment and tracking, especially when targeting different courses to different Microsoft AD groups. Although it’s early days, learning automation might also involve Viva Learning in the future as its capabilities evolve and develop.

Potential tools to use: LMS365, SharePoint, Power Automate, Power BI, Microsoft Viva Learning, Xoralia policy management tool, Azure Active Directory
  1. Keeping groups and lists up to date

Group and list management is often a time-consuming activity and can incorporate multiple aspects of your digital workplace, including e-mail distribution, content targeting, personalisation, security and permissions, subscriptions, employee directories and more. Groups can be highly dynamic, based on joiners and leavers, internal moves and individual preferences. Ensuring your Azure Active Directory groups are fully up to date and mirroring your needs is key. Here, automation is a must, including synchronisation with your HR system of record, as well as facilitating elements such as default membership of different communities, enabling topic subscriptions on your intranet and more.

Potential tools to use: Azure Active Directory, Power Automate, SharePoint
  1. Meetings

We spend so much of our time in meetings, yet very little automation outside of what happens when you use Outlook tends to be applied to meeting booking, even though this is an area where there are multiple opportunities to improve processes. Automation could be applied to booking equipment, creating a space, sourcing tools such as whiteboards (if for a virtual meeting), diary management, sending out reminders, constructing minutes, determining agendas, regulating the number of people in the office (due to COVID restrictions), gathering pre-meeting data and even organising travel arrangements.

Potential tools to use: Power Automate, Outlook, Microsoft Forms
  1. Knowledge Management

Viva Topics is an intriguing new part of the Viva suite of employee experience apps that uses AI to automate the presentation of content and identification of experts on different topics, and presents this information to users. In a way, this represents the partial automation of knowledge management, and is an exciting prospect. However, it comes with a caveat: Viva Topics is not plug-and-play, and requires active and ongoing knowledge curation, plus a necessary level of content, to get value out of the tool.

Potential tools to use: Microsoft Viva Topics, SharePoint

Microsoft 365 is a productivity and automation platform

You can do so much with Microsoft 365, providing a digital workplace where you can drive automation, reporting and more. In fact, there’s so much to automate, it can be hard to know where to start! If you’d like to discuss using Microsoft 365 to automate key business processes across your digital workplace, then get in touch!

7 reasons why a LiveTiles intranet is better than just using SharePoint Online

A key question for intranet teams is what base technology to use for their intranet. For most organisations that are using Microsoft 365, this tends to be a relatively simple question, as the advantages of using SharePoint Online for your intranet are obvious. However, on top of that, there is often a question about whether to use an additional in-a-box solution that works alongside SharePoint and comes ready with templates and capabilities to enable a much quicker and easier implementation.

Two years ago, and perhaps even just last year, the value of deploying an intranet in-a-box product was pretty clear for most organisations. However, recently, the development of SharePoint Modern and more intranet-ready features becoming available more or less out of the box with SharePoint Online has opened up the number of options for intranet teams. It is now far more feasible to launch an intranet based on SharePoint Online largely out of the box; in particular, IT teams are keen to promote this approach, fully leveraging their Microsoft 365 agreement and reducing licensing costs.

On balance, while we think this is a valid argument for small organisations, an in-a-box intranet product like LiveTiles (formerly called Wizdom) provides considerable value for medium and large organisations, and is still a more realistic option for the intranet than just relying on SharePoint Online alone. Not only does LiveTiles offer far superior intranet capabilities for navigation, content and governance, it also has several unique features that are not available in SharePoint out of the box.

As this is a question that is being asked now, has always been asked, and will continually be asked as Microsoft continues to add features, here is our current take on seven key areas in which LiveTiles provides real value over SharePoint alone.

1 Global navigation

A staple of modern intranets is to have a global navigation and mega menu similar to that which you might expect of a global organisation, spanning across different site collections and even different applications. In this respect, you also need to have some flexibility to meet the kind of restructuring and renaming that is commonplace in most organisations. With a LiveTiles intranet, you get all the flexibility to meet complex and evolving needs, as well as the ability to direct different navigations to varying target audiences. This is a real strength of the product.

How the navigation looks is an important consideration too. The LiveTiles megamenu looks engaging and can include images, videos, dynamic content, widgets and labels.

Global navigation is an area that Microsoft hasnt nailed with SharePoint out of the box. It is still difficult to create a navigation across site collections, with navigation generally shared across a single hub. The look is very basic too. Here, a LiveTiles intranet provides far better support for a global intranet navigation.

2 LiveTiles Everywhere

One of the most popular features of the LiveTiles platform is the LiveTiles Everywhere capability – a personalised toolbar that features the ability to view news, relevant information, personal links and apps and complete transactions from any number of different systems that you want to integrate (we call these micro-services). You can also expand the toolbar to give a dashboard view.

What makes the LiveTiles Everywhere features so powerful is that it can be viewed consistently across different applications, including within Microsoft Teams. This brings a unifying and consistent single-entry point into the wider digital workplace that fits directly into the flow of everyday work, helping employees save time and enabling communicators to drive messages to where employees actually are. There is simply no comparative feature available in SharePoint Online.

3 Support for internal communications

A key use case for any intranet is internal communications. Here, an intranet product like LiveTiles will far better support the needs of internal communicators with content targeting, news templates, homepage displays, noticeboard feeds with different channels, video feeds, RSS, channel subscriptions, mandatory channels, content governance features, content approval workflow and more. Because features on the LiveTiles intranet have been developed to meet the needs of internal communication teams, and have been shaped by their feedback, a LiveTiles intranet ticks the boxes far more convincingly than SharePoint Online.

Just using SharePoint Online is likely to leave Internal Communications teams frustrated, particularly in larger and more complex organisations. There are many gaps to fill. Even though SharePoint Modern has hugely improved information and content publishing from SharePoint classic with much-improved templates like Communication Sites, it is still unlikely to give communicators the control and features they need. This includes configuration of the homepage, the use of different news templates, the ability to target news, and easily surfaced local news that most internal communications will expect from their intranet software.

4 Content governance

An intranet is only as good as its content. Related to the needs of internal communicators is the kind of content governance that needs to be in place across an intranet to ensure content is up to date, of good quality and truly sustainable. A LiveTiles intranet has several advantages over SharePoint Online for this, with several core content governance features, including:

  • Content approval workflows to help preserve good quality and findability
  • The ability to display clear ownership of content down to the page level, encouraging ownership and accountability
  • Automated page review notifications to ensure content is up to date
  • Editor dashboards these are aggregated views of the pages a person is responsible for, helping them to keep on top of content management.

Additionally, a LiveTiles intranet has a template for a Policy Library that allows you to implement mandatory policies and the kind of governance you need in place in order to establish a central location for key organisational policies – often a staple requirement for a good corporate intranet.

5 Collaboration governance

Successful digital workplaces also need to have some measure of collaboration governance. Site sprawl, duplicated and unused sites, using the wrong tool for the wrong type of collaboration, and the inability to lock down certain collaboration tools are all common issues. As Microsoft Teams (and soon, Yammer) use has ramped up recently, usually without much governance applied, these are all issues that many organisations are now facing.

In the face of these problems, a LiveTiles intranet and platform can add real value through collaboration governance features which increase control over the collaboration site provisioning process, covering different types including Microsoft Teams, team sites and Yammer Groups. This provisioning process can add approval workflow and spin up different types of tool depending on use case, helping to maintain control and governance over your collaboration tools. These features will not be present in an intranet based on pure SharePoint, meaning that it can be difficult to drive effective collaboration while also maintaining any control over the platform.

6 Intelligent insights and tools suited around intranet needs

Another key feature of the LiveTiles platform is the ability to integrate intelligent tools that are suited to the specific needs of intranets. Again, these are capabilities that are not available out of the box in SharePoint Online. Many of these features are included in the LiveTimes Quantum suite of tools, and include:

  • Advanced analytics around content that engage content owners and underpin user experience, for example, heat maps tracking places where users interact on the page
  • An intelligent employee directory that notifies users with requests, completes their profile and fills in any gaps in AD profile information
  • A bot platform that allows non-IT people to create bots to handle repetitive tasks that can then be embedded into the intranet.

7 An internal communications app

Another advantage of the LiveTiles platform is its great mobile app, that can be easily deployed and focuses on employee communications. While the SharePoint mobile app is decent, it does not deliver convincing news and updates to all employees regardless of location and device. In particular, the LiveTiles Reach app is excellent for organisations with a high proportion of frontline or deskless workers who need to be kept informed and engaged, even if they dont have an Office 365 licence.

Have any questions? Get in touch!

Its important that intranet and IT teams make sure they have the right intranet technology for their needs. For medium and large organisations, a LiveTiles intranet and  platform have several advantages over just using SharePoint Online.

If youd like to discuss intranets, the LiveTiles platform or SharePoint Online, then get in touch!

Webinar: 3 classic mistakes to avoid when deploying MS Teams

Webinar details

Date: 20th November 2019
Time: 2:00pm to 2:30pm UK time
Presented by: Nico de Jong, Innovation and Experience Lead, Wizdom & LiveTiles

With more than 19 million weekly users just two years after launch, MS Teams has taken the world by storm. As an intuitive tool for teamwork and collaboration its not hard to understand that the application is adored by users.

Deploying MS Teams in your organisation, however, requires careful planning and consideration. As teams in MS Teams per default can be created by any user, policies must be in place to avoid:

  • An enormous number of MS Teams and Office 365 workloads created.
  • Lack of control in what is being shared externally from MS Teams.
  • Clutter of inactive teams resulting in low findability and discoverability.
  • More teams created for same purposes.
  • Users working in silos in different teams.

Have you already deployed MS Teams and are experiencing some of the issues above? Dont despair! We will also cover how you can gain control over your Office 365 self-service environment even long after a MS Teams rollout.

In this webinar we will cover how to establish automated processes for governance to ensure MS Teams is rolled out to make the workday better for each employee in your organisation.

Learn how:

  • to define fixed standards for teams creation and provisioning,
  • to maintain and keep your Office 365 self-service environment tidy,
  • to establish a healthy teams lifecycle.

 

Sign up today!

 

How a new SharePoint intranet can help unite classic and modern SharePoint

Moving over from classic SharePoint to modern SharePoint is not always straightforward. Not only can it feel like a new platform and interface to get used to, but then you have the issue of managing your legacy classic environment with your modern sites too.

Managing two systems is complicated in itself but additional questions arise. How do you move forward with a consistent user experience across your SharePoint landscape? What do you do when you want people to adopt modern sites, but a team wants to introduce a classic site, because thats what they’re used to?  You may also have an older intranet that can only cope with classic SharePoint.

These issues can sometimes even cause teams to postpone moving over to modern. In this article were going to see how a new SharePoint intranet can act as a bridge between classic and modern SharePoint and help teams with an over-reliance on classic SharePoint move forward with modern sites.

We still love modern

One of the best things about the recent evolution of SharePoint is the development of the modern experience and all the benefits it has brought to intranets and digital workplaces. Modern has delivered better interfaces, better performance, better support for publishers, better self-sufficiency, better site templates, better web parts and more. In 2018 we wrote about eight things we love about SharePoint modern pages.

As Microsoft continues to invest in modern and roll out additional features, we continue to enjoy working with it, both in our role as geeky developers and as intranet and SharePoint consultants, helping our customers launch fantastic intranets and digital workplaces.

Starting with SharePoint from scratch? Use modern!

Naturally anybody starting out on building a new intranet that is based on SharePoint Online and starting from scratch will be utilising the modern experience.  The same now goes for on-premises customers where SharePoint 2019 (which has been playing catch-up to a certain extent) can now also fully utilise the modern experience.

Weve launched both custom and Wizdom intranets that are mainly powered by modern SharePoint. Wizdoms in-a-box intranet was originally designed to work with classic SharePoint and has also now been extended to work along with modern SharePoint. Wizdoms developers have been working away since 2018 to make sure that each part of Wizdoms intranet and digital workplace offering plays nicely with all of modern SharePoint.

Recently we have been working on a brand new global intranet for TTEC, a global provider of customer experience solutions. Because the client wasnt working with existing classic SharePoint sites, we were able to only utilise modern web parts on a Wizdom intranet to deliver the very best experience possible for TTECs mobile and remote workforce.

Mixing classic and modern SharePoint

However, many organisations who are looking to design a new intranet or digital workplace environment may already have classic SharePoint in place or even a mixture of classic and modern SharePoint in place. This is particularly the case with organisations that have:

  • a custom-designed intranet that is based on classic SharePoint, so lists and sites and pages need to stay classic
  • worked with a previous SharePoint intranet based on classic and are looking to upgrade, but have already started to experiment with modern too. For example, perhaps a particular function has used a communication site and this has now spread to other parts of the business.
  • where a company has been brought together by acquisition and there are different versions of SharePoint being used
  • where there has been little to no governance and the SharePoint landscape is a digital wild west.

A SharePoint intranet as the unifying experience layer

In these types of situation, a new SharePoint intranet can actually act as an excellent unifying experience layer that can bridge the gap between classic and modern SharePoint, incorporating both within one common experience for users.  Depending on the situation, this new intranet could be a Wizdom intranet or a custom-build.

For example, Content Formula worked on improving the intranet for Petrofac, a global provider of oilfield services to the oil and gas industry with nearly 11,500 employees worldwide. Our work focused on building a new homepage experience. Despite the old intranet, Petronet, being based on classic SharePoint, our custom template for the homepage incorporated modern web parts. We also delivered other templates that led to a far more engaging, visually appealing and ultimately vibrant intranet.

When organisations do have a SharePoint environment where there is a mixture of classic and modern, the intranet helps your users:

  • deliver a great user experience for content, protecting users from the more dated and less friendly classic experience that tends to be the driver of negative opinion about SharePoint
  • bring the worlds of classic and modern SharePoint together so there is a more consistent and less confusing experience for all.

It also helps digital workplace teams too by:

  • allowing hesitant teams to finally get started with modern, because they previously wanted to avoid a mixture of classic and modern
  • aligning your SharePoint intranet with the Office 365 or SharePoint roadmap by starting to use modern sites and web parts, allowing for a more sustainable intranet with less retro moves of introducing more classic SharePoint
  • allowing teams to move forward with modern in a more achievable and gradual way, without having to migrate or upgrade everything over to modern all at once.

Moving forward with modern!

If youre stuck with a legacy intranet based on classic SharePoint, have a sprawling mixed landscape of modern and classic or are holding back on kick-starting modern SharePoint, then a new intranet can really help. Weve delivered both custom intranet with Sharepoint and Wizdom by LiveTiles intranets that unite modern and classic and end up being loved by the users and the teams that run the intranet! If youd like to discuss any aspect of modern SharePoint and moving on from classic, then get in touch.

Microsoft Teams intranet by Wizdom

Help users work efficiently in Office 365 groups and teams. Wizdom prevents Office 365 sprawl, keeps your self-service environment tidy, and offers users a one-stop digital workplace in Microsoft Teams.

Contain and create MS Teams your way

Catch sprawl in its making. Wizdom allows you to control the Microsoft Teams creation process through approval flows and templates with fixed standards for privacy level, roles, theme and logo.

A built-in governance flow will clear away inactive MS Teams and create a clutter free environment for your business to collaborate in.

All the time you will stay in control of flows. Restore archived MS Teams and change processes if you like, but feel free to let go of tiresome manual tasks like creating a new Team every time its requested by a user.

A one-stop digital workplace in MS Teams

By bringing in a personalized and intelligent overview of content and tools across all systems, Wizdom breaks the silos between applications and delivers the ONE corporate dashboard in MS Teams you need to visit to keep up and get work done.

No more searching in silos and relying on memory to find the presentation you are looking for. No more checking and registering data in a multitude of applications to be on top of things.

When youve logged on to MS Teams, you have access to everything. Simply, everything you need to get work done.

As a Wizdom customer you will automatically receive Wizdom for MS Teams. If you are a new customer, you have the opportunity to upgrade to the full Wizdom intranet solution, after purchasing Wizdom for MS teams. Please reach out if you have any questions.

 

Book a demo

Digital transformation through governance and simplicity

#1All Office 365 groups and teams automatically live up to company defined standards

By creating new teams based on fixed templates, users intuitively establish groups and teams with a suitable level of security and governance for the business purpose.

Data is systematically collected for each team created, ensuring all teams are optimized for findability and governance.

#2Approval flow controls teams creation

By adding a layer of either manual or automatic approval, Wizdom ensures there is a legitimate reason behind the creation of every new team.

#3Lifecycle management of all teams

A built-in governance flow requires team owners to regularly confirm relevancy of their teams in MS Teams. Ultimately, auto archiving will clear away inactive teams. No sweat though, a team can always be recovered if it becomes missed.

#4Your entire digital workplace delivered in MS Teams

Through system integrations and flows, Wizdom collects information and tools from all applications and services used by the business, and delivers these in MS Teams.

Each user gets a personalized and organized dashboard with all the tools, and information needed to get work done.

Eliminating frustration wasted on application silos and a complex landscape of collaboration tools, this makes MS Teams the perfect environment for employees to simply go and get work done.

 

Download the ‘Alleviate application chaos with Wizdom for MS Teams‘ brochure in PDF

 

Book a demo

 

The original article was published here

Microsoft Teams Governance

Dont let Microsoft Teams run out of control

It feels like nothing can stop the march of Microsoft Teams. Microsoft has declared it their fastest growing enterprise application with around half a million organisations using it. A figure that is set to rise. Microsoft also continue to invest in Teams, adding new features, folding in other capabilities like Skype for Business, and evolving ways to integrate with the rest of Office 365 and even third-party applications.

Individually within separate organisations, Teams adoption is also going well, helping to drive communication, collaboration and workflow. In some organisations Teams usage is positively exploding with people keen to try out the tool; many are finding it fills an essential gap for team communication and coordination, an area where other online tools have been less successful in the past.

Can Teams really run out of control?

This is great news for digital workplace teams and IT functions that have been tasked with promoting Teams. But Teams can also prove to be too successful. When Teams does go truly viral and where use is not being co-ordinated or managed in any way, it can lead to issues that ultimately may damage the overall success of the platform and the business value it delivers. These issues include:

  • Teams being used for purposes that its not best suited for, when a Yammer community or other collaboration tool would be better suited for a particular use case
  • Spaces that get set up initially, often to see what the fuss is all about, but then never end up getting used
  • A duplication of Teams spaces that are used for the same purpose, causing confusion for users and limiting collaboration
  • A proliferation of so many sites that individual users find it very difficult to keep on top of all their site updates and increasingly difficult to find what they need
  • A lack of clarity and confusion at the individual site level about what a Teams space has been set up for
  • Problems with who should be responsible for managing an individual Teams space if somebody leaves the organisation
  • People getting invited to Teams spaces that shouldnt be, resulting in individuals seeing sensitive content or being onboarded early onto Teams while it is still being rolled out

Does this really matter?

As any advanced enterprise technology gets rolled out there are inevitably going to be a few issues encountered, and a few bumps in the road can be expected. At first, as digital workplace professionals focus on adoption, they may care less about issues such as site proliferation; these issues are not necessarily serious. However, in the medium to long term, all the above issues highlighted can become real problems.

Individual users will find it hard to find individual Teams sites, but also the discussion threads and files within them. They will also find the overall ease of use of Teams starts to depreciate, with extra time and effort spent keeping up with too many sites.  The overall management of the platform will also become much harder. For example running any compliance processes across so many sites. Adoption of other collaboration and digital workplace tools may also suffer as Teams is perceived as the only tool in town.

Introducing appropriate governance

In the same way that email inboxes have become unwieldy, network file shares have become dumping grounds and SharePoint sites feel like a digital wild west, its all too easy to let Teams run out of control. The answer is to introduce some light governance that can help to prevent Teams running out of control, but without the governance becoming a barrier to usage or painful to manage.

By governance we mean some of the polices, processes and rules that need to be put in place to make Teams work in the best way for users, team and the whole organisation.

Some digital workplace and collaboration professional feel uneasy about putting governance in place because they worry it will stifle innovation and collaboration. It may also create an administrative overhead that they simply cannot manage.

It is true that too much governance can lead to issues. For example, if you are over-prescriptive about the use of Teams (and actively police it to check people are using it properly), need three levels of approval to actually create a Teams space and then have a policy to delete any Teams space that hasnt had anything added for two months, you will very quickly run into problems. Teams will become unusable and people will inevitably turn to other solutions.

But putting in an appropriate level of governance will lead to a better-managed platform and a better user experience of Teams.

What sort of governance does Teams need?

What governance measures are needed for each organisation varies, but we have observed the following as what works well:

  • On an organizational level, every Teams space has an owner who understands what their responsibilities are, with clarity over who is responsible for inviting individuals to a Teams space
  • A clear handover process is in place whenever a Teams owner leaves your organisation.
  • A search facility or process so individuals can search for other Teams before they create a new space, ensuring there is no duplication of sites
  • The ability to drive a consistent naming convention for Teams, supported on an organizational level.
  • Standard templates with meta data, with an overview of all existing Teams and Workspaces
  • A site provisioning process that may also take in other examples of collaboration sites (e.g. a community site) depending on the use case, so that the best type of space is created for different needs
  • A clear policy and process to make sure that Teams get decommissioned at the right time.

The net impact of all these governance measures will be:

  • A reduction in the creation of duplicate and unnecessary sites
  • The use of better tools for different use cases e.g. Yammer for wider community sites
  • Better findability and easier overall management of Teams.

How we baked governance into Wizdom

Knowing the importance of governance of Microsoft Teams and governance in general weve sought to hard bake governance features into the Wizdom product. Several of these are perfect for controlling Teams, including:

  • A provisioning machine that enables users to easily create teams that live up to standards for roles/permissions and metadata.
  • The ability to create a template for Teams that includes the right default features based on use case, in a custom-made solution e.g. including Planner if Teams is being used for a project.
  • A form that ensures the right information including site purpose and nominated owners and roles are captured and are also available centrally to review by the digital workplace team
  • A central register of sites for digital workplace teams, making it easier to enable processes relating to the archiving of sites or handing a site over to a new owner
  • The ability for viewers to link to the Teams spaces they are members of within the Wizdom intranet (there are different ways to achieve this)
  • And, of course, a Wizdom intranet can be used to distribute resources on the best way to use Teams or as a channel to ask questions to experts.

Dont ignore Teams governance

If Teams feels like its starting to get out of control, then do something about it. Its never too late to introduce some governance, perform a clean-up operation and make life easier for everybody and avoid bigger problems further down the line. You can use many of the features of Wizdom to help you, particularly with our powerful provisioning engine. If youd like to discuss Teams governance and how Wizdom can help, then get in touch!

 

The original article was published here

Should smaller companies choose SharePoint Modern out of the box or Wizdom for their intranet?

One of the questions we increasingly get asked by companies is whether they can use Modern SharePoint and some of its constituent parts such as communication sites and hub sites as an intranet, straight out of the box? Or is it a better option to customise it or choose an in a box solution like Wizdom?

Our answer is usually fairly unequivocal. If you are a larger company or have more complex needs, in general out of the box SharePoint just isnt going to meet your needs. Across a wide range of capabilities and attributes including internal communications, collaboration, forms & workflow and branding, weve generally found SharePoint Online alone just wont cut it for you. Thats not to say its core elements wont be a key part of your intranet, but with a purely out of the box approach there is usually a missing feature, an irritating compromise you have to make, or something frustrating for users. Dont underestimate how seemingly small issues can seriously impact your adoption and user confidence in your intranet.

Of course, this situation may change over time as Microsoft continue to add to SharePoint Online and add templates and features which support more sophisticated intranet management. But its also very much the case that your own needs will change too. You need an intranet platform that is going to support your future internal communication and digital workplace strategy.

If youre a smaller company perhaps say of 200 or 300 people and you have what youd classify as less sophisticated internal communications needs, then the situation is less clear cut. Lets look at some of the variables you need to consider, in terms of the suitability of SharePoint Online or Wizdom out of the box for key use cases.

Internal communications

Modern SharePoint has made leaps and bounds when it comes to news publishing and support for internal communications. You can use a combination of communication sites for news and then aggregate these within a hub site, so effectively you can have different teams and departments contributing news. The good news is that the publishing user interface are really easy to use, and news is presented well. Microsoft have also added capabilities around more audience targeting.

For a small organisation with straightforward internal communications needs this may be perfectly serviceable. For example, if you already mainly rely on email for sending messages around the office and dont have a dedicated internal comms manager Modern is probably all you need.

However when you have a more complex communications needs with audience targeting that is particularly granular, multi-language, approval workflow, the need for news to move from a main carousel to a different homepage area and you work off an editorial calendar, its likely youll need the extra features and templates of a solution like Wizdom. Smaller organisations with a diverse and distributed workforce may also find this is the case, although increasingly over time Microsoft are adding capabilities that may help to drive more sophisticated internal communication capabilities.

Publishing and content management

The cornerstone of a great intranet is great content that helps employees get things done. Standard documents, information on how things work, departmental landing pages, product information, information on company strategy and more means that the intranet should be an essential reference guide that supports everything from task completion to driving better customer service.

Despite the transformation of publishing content when comparing modern and classic SharePoint, when it comes to a publishing platform and related content management processes Wizdom wins hands down.

If you want to drive content to higher publishing standards that presents information in a number of different ways and need to ensure that content is always up to date (for example if you are basing sales or customer support staff need access to product information) then Wizdom  provides a more focused set of options, for example having a central policy, procedures and forms library straight out of the box. If you rely on a devolved publishing model with numerous content owners, then Wizdom allows you to build in governance for publishing to maintain standards.

If your content needs are far less important and its just a collection of central documents that need to be maintained and accessed and you dont have a large collection of critical operational content, then modern SharePoint with pages and document libraries will probably suffice.

Collaboration

Of course, Office 365 and indeed SharePoint Online already packs a very handy set of collaboration tools including Microsoft Teams, Yammer and Team Sites. For any small organisation Wizdom is unlikely to add much to this toolset although there is a handy community template also. For most small organisations Office 365 out of the box is going to work fine.

Wizdoms collaboration provisioning engine also allows you to control the type of collaboration site that employees use for different use cases and also establishes approval workflow for sites set up. If youre a company that has a more frequent or structured approach to collaboration (for example an engineering firm with a strong project management methodology) you may find Wizdom has some advantages for you over just using Modern SharePoint Online.

Navigation

Microsoft has recently made building something resembling a more traditional top-level navigation much easier, allowing you to tie together communication and hub sites together into what is more like an intranet experience. If youre a smaller organisation, then youre unlikely to need a massively complicated navigation so SharePoint out of the box will probably work. If you require something more complex such as personalised menus for different groups then Wizdom may be more robust, but again this is less likely to be a concern for a smaller company.

Apps, forms and workflow

Most intranets now have come packed with various apps and workflow capability that work just out of the box. Wizdom is particularly good for this, for example with the ability to manage events and an additional module to manage tickets, as well as simple request and approval processes via forms. However, Office 365 comes with huge capabilities to develop custom apps via various tools like PowerApps and Flow. While you can do some even more amazing things by leveraging their power in combination with Wizdom, in terms of creating apps suited around the way your business actually works and then presenting these through a single-entry point, then both Wizdom and Modern SharePoint / Office 365 deliver.

Integration with Office 365 and other tools

Both SharePoint Online out of the box and the Wizdom product have the ability to integrate tightly with other Office 365 tools such as Teams and Yammer. They also come with customisation options to integrate popular services and other applications.  Generally, youll find both approaches probably support the Office 365 integration options youre considering so if you are a small company, we imagine most of your integration needs will be met.

Other areas

Different organisations need different capabilities from their intranet depending on industry sector, key organisational processes and what systems are already in place. A small companys needs around core intranet staples such as the employee directory and particularly enterprise search may differ from organisation to organisation so the suitability of SharePoint out of the box will also vary. For example, Microsoft have recently made improvements to search which may meet many needs, but other organisations may need something very specialist.

Future needs

Its always difficult to know what youre going to require in the future. Your organisation may restructure or get larger. Your needs may become more sophisticated as you see new possibilities with your platform, or you introduce a new service.

In general, you need a solution thats going to be flexible in terms of being able to scale easily, add new features and integrate with other tools. Both SharePoint Online and Wizdom intranet both provide some flexibility and evolution in this case. Microsoft are definitely ramping up intranet-related capabilities for Office 365 and this is likely to continue. Wizdom intranets roadmap remains aligned to the Office 365 roadmap, but has also continues to add new features and even innovations like AI.  So as a small company, installing SharePoint Online out of the box doesnt necessarily limit all your future options. You can also always upgrade easily to Wizdom intranet if you grow rapidly, especially as Wizdom works independently of your SharePoint sites.

Costs

Of courses, cost is where SharePoint Online and Office 365 out of the box is going to have an advantage over Wizdom. If you are a smaller company with simple needs, then this may be the factor that pushes you towards simply using Office 365.

Our only advice is to beware of hidden costs and false economies. Relying on Communication and Hub sites may look fantastic on your budget plans but if user needs are probably better met by an intranet product like Wizdom,  then you may eventually end up facing additional costs, for example when you start hiring developers to customise Office 365 or when other functions start to buy in other apps to compensate for what Office 365 cant do. Wizdoms reasonable pricing certainly makes it a great investment for most companies.

Still confused?

Whether you use Modern SharePoint or an intranet product like Wizdom will depend on your needs and priorities. Its not always a straightforward choice. If youre still confused, get in touch with us and well be happy to discuss this with you.

Introducing Wizdom Interactive Canvas: Your digital workplace dashboard

It’s with great excitement that we today can announce the arrival of Wizdom Interactive Canvas!

Creating a view of applications beautifully displayed in tiles, the Interactive Canvas allows intranet admins to set up a personalized dashboard of content, links, and applications that provides each employee the tools or content he or she needs to get work done, straight away.

Delivering the complete overview

The tiles can behave like links, display an image, render HTML, show rich text, or open a pop-up window or web application. This opens up for endless opportunities to include content and functions in the view. And make Wizdom Interactive Canvas the ONE place employees go to to get the complete overview of all work-related information and tasks.

As an intranet admin, you configure a selection of tiles. Each tile can be set up with its own background color, icon, image, and audience targeting.

From this selection, editors can select which tiles to include in an overview on a particular web page.

In this way, you can use the tiles to deliver users a dashboard with the complete overview of tools and information, or you can use the tiles to create an overview of content and links within a specific area as e.g. a selection of handbooks.

Right there when you need it

Including the Interactive Canvas in Wizdom Power Panel, you can make the dashboard globally available to users who can access their personal overview from everywhere at the digital workplace.

Wizdom Interactive Canvas is introduced for both SharePoint’s classic and modern experiences.

 

The original article was published here

How Wizdom Help & Training portal can make your life as an intranet owner easier

If your work includes being responsible for the intranet in your organization, you most likely are a trained multitasker with a myriad of tasks to look after. Delivering relevant corporate news, communicating internal campaigns, announcing and managing company events, providing proper tools and spaces for collaboration, ensuring compliance, keeping content relevant and up to date, managing digital workflows, offering relevant digital tools and fighting artificial robots. Well maybe not that last point, but you get the picture.

1. Help your editors and administrators understand SharePoint

SharePoint is a world of its own. Working with sites, pages, web parts, and content in SharePoint is something editors need to learn before they are ready to publish content. The Help & Training portal includes a section on this subject that introduces basic principles of SharePoint. Let your intranet editors follow tutorials to learn how to check in and out, create pages, and add and edit web parts. Let administrators dive into subjects like SharePoint search and navigation.

2. Stay up to date with your SharePoint knowledge

To call SharePoint ever evolving is probably an understatement. Not least with the latest release of SharePoints modern experiences theres a lot of new stuff you need to learn if youre working with an intranet based on this technology. Thats why weve made sure to always provide you guides on how editors and administrators can work with even the newest features of modern SharePoint. Trust us, we use the guides too.

3. Tutorials to all Wizdom functionality

Wizdom is a rich product that includes over 50 different modules for your intranet. Weve got everything! Even a module so you can see what your delightful canteen is serving up for lunch. This time around, we actually have a good canteen menu, which sometimes gives us vegetarian dishes and not just boiled cauliflowers. Back to intranets. Each module has its own function and configurations settings. In the Wizdom Help & Training portal you can find tutorials and video guides galore, introducing all the Wizdom modules and how users, editors, and admins can use and configure them for the optimal use on your intranet. And not mess up the entire system. You dont want to be giving Tom from management access to the internal communications. He might find out all the money youre spending on social media. Tom is old fashioned and doesnt believe in modern technology. Its all about the numbers with him.

4. Become Wizdom certified with on-demand training

Thats right, you can be Wizdom certified. Not only will you receive a certificate, you can also add the certification to your LinkedIn profile. Who doesnt love a certificate. We do! Now for the more interesting stuff. In the portal, you have exclusive access to our online on-demand courses providing intranet content creators, editors, and administrators convenient access to learning. The course material is covered in video as well as text and course participants can choose to complete a test to have a certification to feature internally or, as mentioned, pop it on their LinkedIn profile.

5. Get help & tips just for you working with a Wizdom intranet

It doesnt happen often, but sometimes it does … editors and administrators experiencing issues when working in Wizdom and SharePoint. Modern technology is great, but it doesnt always work. Glitches, artificial robots taking over the earth, power shortages and messy code just cant be stopped at times. Often you can find help in the Help & Training portal. Well, not for the robots, but for Wizdom product related queries, obviously. We write articles addressing common issues, helping you to solve them right there.

6. Keep updated about all new features coming to Wizdom

Every month there is a new release of Wizdom. We like to keep everything fresh and add all the bits suggested by our customers and partners. With Wizdom, Christmas comes every month. And with that comes a bunch of new features available for you as an intranet owner. Never miss a thing with our blog posts and videos highlighting what you can now offer users on your intranet.

7. On-demand resources to fully know your intranet platform

Its all there for you, when you need it, where you need it and especially when you dont think you need it. With the Help & Training portal, you can find help and inspiration to help you solve issues (not about robots taking over the earth, but weve already talked about that )and understand and develop your intranet at your own pace. And its all customized to you as the person responsible for the platform and with an intranet based on Wizdom.

Feel free to get in contact to learn more and see how we can help you optimize and streamline your intranet processes. Wed love to help with fighting the artificial robots and their push for world domination, but were a bit too friendly for that and would like to instead, offer them an intranet solution so their world conquering can remain nice and organized.

The original article was published here

LiveTiles, Hyperfish and Wizdom announced as Microsoft SharePoint Home Site Partners at SharePoint Conference 2019

Microsoft is excited that LiveTiles is a launch partner for SharePoint home sites. We are thrilled that LiveTiles, along with Hyperfish and Wizdom, are building on SharePoint innovations like home sites, to deliver unique experiences and solutions that empower our joint customers to achieve more.

  Dan Holme, Senior Product Marketing Director, SharePoint and OneDrive, Microsoft

About SharePoint home sites

Home sites aggregate corporate content news, events, organisational updates and policies and are designed to complement the existing communication and team sites.

Key features include:

  • An official site for corporate news
  • Robust menu options, such as the recently released mega-menu
  • Native mobile readiness
  • SharePoint start page that connects to your home site with the My SharePoint link
  • Seamless branding between org space and me space with the My SharePoint link
  • Microsoft integrated search, powered by artificial intelligence

LiveTiles, together with Hyperfish and Wizdom, extend the Modern SharePoint story

LiveTiles, along with Hyperfish and Wizdom (both LiveTiles companies), is a Microsoft SharePoint home sites launch partner, one of only fifteen globally.

Karl Redenbach, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, LiveTiles, welcomes this latest chapter to the Modern SharePoint story. Microsoft and Dan Holmes commitment to the evolution of SharePoint aligns perfectly with our own product roadmap, he said. We are more than delighted to be counted among their key partners to extend the home sites and Modern SharePoint capabilities to customers across the globe.

LiveTiles, with Hyperfish and Wizdom, extends and enhances the SharePoint home sites experience to deliver powerful, personal and enterprise grade intranet experiences. These solutions have been built on years of experience and have delivered some of the worlds largest intranets across the globe including PepsiCo, Virgin Australia and numerous Fortune 500 companies.

Key features include:

  • Enhancing the personal user experience with the Wizdom Power Panel, an intelligent and personalized view of your SharePoint intranet through an easy to reach side panel accessible at all times
  • Accurate content targeting with up-to-date user profile data
  • Rapid roll out of site solution templates
  • Engaging users with powerful LiveTiles Bots
  • Deep insights into user engagement with LiveTiles Intelligence for Modern pages
  • Protecting sensitive and confidential data across all collaboration channels

Discover more about home sites and how Wizdom along with LiveTiles and Hyperfish can help you enhance this latest Microsoft feature. Get in touch with us today.

 

The original article was published here

 

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