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What is Microsoft Flow?

Microsoft Flow is a cloud-based service that enables users to create automated workflows. This breaks down complicated business processes into clear, defined steps.

What are the Types of Microsoft Flows?

There are a few different types of Microsoft Flows, and they can be manual or automatic.

  • Automated: This is a flow that is triggered automatically when an event occurs, like a lead being uploaded or a new email.
  • Button: This is a flow that is triggered manually when you press a button.
  • Scheduled: This is a flow that runs at a scheduled time and can be a recurring flow.
Microsoft Flow Examples:

  • Approve requests: Instead of emailing back and forth about approving documents or requests, you can make an automated workflow to reduce the amount of time spent on these trivial tasks. For example, rather than messaging someone in Teams to approve a blog post or a contract, this can be automated with Microsoft Flow. Another example would be when an employee wants to take vacation days, you can use automated workflows to simplify your approval process.
  • Trigger notifications: You can create a flow to send you a notification when a certain event happens. A typical example would be to trigger a notification, like an email or text message, to the Sales team members when someone uploads a new lead to CRM. Or if you’re not someone who checks your email frequently, another example would be to set up a flow where you receive a push notification or text message when your boss sends you an email.
  • Collect data: Another powerful Microsoft Flow feature is its ability to collect data. If your company wants to find out what people are saying about your products, you can create a trigger in Microsoft Flow that will find tweets that mention the products and save those tweets in a SharePoint list.
  • Multiple integrations: Microsoft Flow can be integrated with a number of different apps, like Salesforce, Slack, Twitter, Office 365, and Google Drive. One example of how to use this is when a new file is added to OneDrive, you can have a flow that automatically copies the file and adds it to SharePoint. There are also plenty of premade flows that take advantage of this powerful integration, like a flow that will track Microsoft Forms responses in an Excel Online sheet or another flow that tracks Outlook emails in a Google Sheet.
  • Button: The above examples are all of automated flows. Some examples of button flows would be:
    • Click a button to send a note as an email
    • Choose a file and send an approval request to your manager to review and approve the chosen file
    • Click a button to send yourself a reminder in ten minutes. This delayed reminder is useful if you’re close to finishing a meeting.
How to Create a Workflow in SharePoint:

Let’s focus in on one of the example flows previously mentioned, creating an approval flow for vacation requests, and walk you through how to setup that flow.

  1. Create a list in SharePoint for employees to fill out their vacation time requests, and create a public calendar in SharePoint to see approved vacation requests.
  2. Go to Microsoft Flow and start creating your SharePoint flow approval. You’ll choose the vacation time requests SharePoint list as the trigger for the flow. Then, you’ll choose an action, which in this case would be to start an approval.
  3. Assign the approval to the relevant user.
  4. Create the condition step (what will happen once you approve or reject the request).
    1. Approval flow: You’ll create two actions for if the vacation days are approved. First, the SharePoint list item for the vacation days request will be updated to show that it was approved. Second, the SharePoint vacation calendar will be updated to include the user’s approved vacation days.
    2. Rejection flow: If the request is rejected, you’ll create an action to update the SharePoint list item to show that the request was denied with any relevant comments you want to include. For a more in-depth explanation of this process, you can check out this informative video.

Microsoft Flow Packages:
  • Flow Free: All you need to do to have access to Microsoft Flow for free is to have a free Microsoft Account. With Flow Free, you can create an unlimited number of flows, get 750 runs per month (One run is one flow that is triggered, either automatically or manually), and checks happen every 15 minutes (Checks are refreshes to look for new data and don’t count as runs).
  • Flow Plan 1: This plan is $5 per user per month. It also lets you create unlimited flows, gives you 4,500 runs per month, has 3-minute checks, and comes with premium connectors, like Salesforce and Oracle.
  • Flow Plan 2: This plan is $15 per user per month. Again, this one lets you create unlimited flows, gives you 15,000 runs per month, does 1-minute checks, has premium connectors, and gives you access to organization policy settings and business process flows.

Why Should You Use Microsoft Flow?
  • Streamline tasks: Use Microsoft Flow to help you prioritize your inbox. Instead of looking through your emails to see which are urgent, create a flow to send you a push notification if your boss or an important customer emails you. Also, instead of creating the tedious task of looking through Twitter to see who mentioned your company, set up an automated flow to collect data when your company is mentioned in a tweet. Then, the busy work is out of the way and you can go through the collected data when you have time.
  • Save time: With automated flows, you can put tasks in motion without having to stop and take time away from your actual work. With flows like the vacation day request flow, you can ask your boss’s permission to go on vacation without wasting time going back and forth.
  • Increase productivity: Ultimately, Microsoft Flow helps you to save time and spend your day more efficiently. With its automatic workflows, you can streamline tedious tasks and spend more time on the ones that really matter.

Microsoft Flow is a great tool to incorporate into your daily work schedule. With flows that are simple to create and edit, you can create a more effective and efficient work routine. If you’re spending a large portion of your day checking email or completing other tedious tasks, consider implementing Microsoft Flow for a more productive work experience.

The post Microsoft Flow: What It Is and How to Use It appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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With all of the messaging apps on the market, it’s hard to know which one is best for your organization. Although they all seem similar, there are distinct differences between each of the tools, which will affect how effective they are for your employees.

Depending on your company culture and what type of communication you’re looking to encourage, you will discover the differences between these deceptively similar tools.

In this blog post, I’ll focus on the differences between Yammer and Slack, two popular internal communications solutions that are both useful depending on the type of communication that you’re looking to foster.

What is Yammer?

Yammer is a social and internal communications tool that facilitates engagement and collaboration between employees. It is a quick and easy way for end users to share resources, have conversations, provide feedback and stay informed.


What are the key features (benefits) of Yammer?
  • Seamless integration: Since Yammer is in the Office 365 suite, it’s simple to share and edit content from other Office 365 products right within Yammer. This is a great time-saving feature that makes it easy for users to edit Word documents or Excel spreadsheets without having to leave Yammer. Also, since Yammer is integrated with Office 365, you can search for certain subjects and find results across all of the Office 365 products, including OneDrive, SharePoint, and Yammer.
  • Clear communication: Instead of relying on email and meetings to stay up to date with your employees, you can send a quick message on Yammer. This real-time communication is more efficient than lengthy conversations over email, which may not include all of the relevant team members. A survey done by Microsoft found that more than 75% of those surveyed, responded that Yammer helps their teams to communicate more effectively.
  • Increase engagement: Yammer makes it easy to get your employees involved in conversations or brainstorm around a topic. Instead of emailing specific people, sending a message in Yammer gives everyone the opportunity to share their opinions and insights on a common topic. You can also gather this type of feedback by creating polls in Yammer or have users vote on company-wide changes.
  • Foster company culture: Since everyone in the company has access to Yammer, this promotes the opportunity to create new connections between your employees as anyone can answer a question in Yammer, not just someone from your department or team. According to the previously mentioned Microsoft survey, over 80% of respondents said they feel more connected to their coworkers because of Yammer.
What is Slack?

Slack is a collaboration solution that consolidates all of your company’s communication (messaging, files, and tools) in one place. It helps your employees save time and drives meaningful and productive conversation.

What are the key elements of Slack?
  • Organized communication: With Slack, you can neatly segment your conversations into channels. These channels can be created for teams, projects, announcements, or anything else relevant for your company. Another helpful feature is that team members can join and leave channels, ensuring that only relevant people are involved in the channel’s discussions. This prevents other people’s time from being wasted, which is a common occurrence with email.
  • Powerful integration: You can connect different tools to your Slack account, such as Salesforce, JIRA, and Google Drive. This allows your users to create and comment on these files from within Slack, saving your users’ time and effort. Instead of sending the link through email and going back and forth with your responses, you can simplify this by communicating about the file directly in Slack and completing the task in a shorter amount of time.
  • Boost collaboration: With Slack, you can communicate with more than your direct employees. You can create or share channels with other companies that you routinely work with, such as vendors, partners, and customers. This shortens that process of getting in touch and makes it easier to stay connected. Another way to stay connected with Slack, is the voice and video calls directly from Slack. Without needing to open another tool, you can quickly host a meeting and finalize decisions with your team.
  • Collect feedback: Having a channel for customer feedback is a great way to have an accessible area where everyone can see current issues and can provide actionable suggestions for customer support. Since Slack is very easy to search, this is an area where your Customer Support team can quickly search for keywords and reply to customers in real time with feedback from previous cases.
Yammer vs Slack: What’s the Difference?

Yammer and Slack are both useful internal communication tools that serve very different purposes. Yammer is more of a social networking site for your organization.

Discussions are created when someone posts a message and then people respond with comments to that post. It eliminates the need for company-wide emails as it allows you to message your entire company directly with tips, company announcements, or general questions.

On the other hand, Slack is more of a messaging tool for your company. It is used more for real-time messaging and answering questions on projects or other essential tasks.

Since people answer faster, Slack is more useful for working within groups and discussing interdependent projects or deadlines.

Mistakes to Avoid with Yammer and Slack
  • Not enough training: Before implementing a new tool, it’s important to make sure your users know how to use it. Otherwise, all of the money and time you spent on implementing the tool will go to waste, as your users will be less likely to use it.
  • No support from leaders: Having your leaders set the tone and show how they use the tool is a vital step to getting your users to use the tool. Once they see the CEO is using Yammer or Slack, they will be more motivated to be active on the platform.
  • Not enough encouragement: Without explaining to your employees the value and purpose behind implementing a new tool, none of your employees will understand the switch and will be hesitant to use the new technology. By showing how it makes their work lives easier, employees will be quick to hop on the bandwagon.
Yammer vs Slack: Which Tool Should You Use?

Deciding what type of communication is most important for your company will help you to determine whether you need to use Yammer or Slack.

If you’re looking for a tool to send company-wide messages and encourage informal communication between your employees, Yammer is the way to go.

If you’re looking for a solution that allows team members to send messages about projects and tasks and get real-time answers, Slack is the better option.

Another factor is the tools your company is currently using. If everyone uses Office 365, Yammer is the better choice since it integrates with all of the Office 365 products.

However, if your company leans towards Google Drive, Slack is the more logical option as it integrates with the Google Drive suite.

By analyzing your organization’s culture and communication style, you can choose which communications tool is right for you.

The post Slack vs Yammer: Which Communications Tool is the Right Fit? appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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Having strong internal communications is vital for any organization. Without it, your stakeholders, managers, administrators, and employees won’t be on the same page. This can result in a lot of unnecessary confusion and miscommunication. By strengthening your intranet communication, you can ease the process for the stakeholders, managers, and administrators as well as the end users.

1. Create communications goals

Before implementing a new internal communication strategy, you first need to determine what your communication goals are. Decide what types of behaviors and actions you want to see in the new portal and then plan out how you’ll make them a reality. By having a strong change management plan from the start, you’ll be sure to achieve all of your goals. In your change management plan, some typical goals to include are raising awareness, increasing employee engagement, and receiving employee feedback. By having clear and understandable goals, it will be easier to see what you’ve achieved and what you still need to work on. It’s also important to relay these goals to your employees. If they identify with your goals and understand why you want to increase internal communication, they are more likely to be on board with the new changes.

2. Define the audience

Choosing your audience is another important step in having strong internal communication. You don’t want to send the same generic message to everyone, so it’s crucial to personalize your messages and segment your audience. Then, you need to decide which message you send to which department or team. By doing this, you make your employees feel like their time matters. Instead of being bombarded with generic emails that may or may not be relevant to them, employees will receive personalized emails that contain topics that are important for them to know about or provide them with new instructions or tips for work. This saves the employees a lot of time and means that they will pay more attention to the emails that they do receive and keeps the organization overall more focused.

3. Get feedback

Conducting surveys of your employees is one of the best ways to improve communication. This can be done at many different times to achieve different results and engage your employees. For example, before creating your new intranet communication strategy, you can create a survey asking your employees for ways they think internal communications could be improved. Since your employees are the ones who may be struggling with the current communication methods, they are the best people to ask. Another time to ask for feedback is after you make changes to your communication strategy. Then, you can ask employees what they like and what still needs to be improved. In general, you can create surveys to ask employees about your intranet and if it’s helpful or not. By surveying your employees, you’ll get in-depth information and insights from those using and communicating within your intranet the most. Another option to strengthen communication within the organization is to share the overall feedback that was gathered from the survey. Knowledge is power and people tend to want to be part of it.  

Intranet Communications Tools

There are a variety of tools available that can help you to boost your internal communications. Here are some of the top tools:

  • Yammer: Yammer is a social networking tool that eases communication within organizations. Microsoft describes Yammer as a tool for the “outer loop”, meaning it is usually used to send a message to a large audience base. This means that pretty much anyone can engage in the company’s conversation in Yammer, bringing together employees who may have never spoken to each other before.
  • Teams: Teams is a communication tool that facilitates communication between teams. Microsoft explains Teams as a tool created for the “inner loop” of communication, meaning it’s commonly used by teams to work together on projects or events. Because Teams is used for real-time feedback and collaboration, it usually has a high volume of messages that are responded to very quickly.
  • Slack: Slack was the first collaboration tool created to allow chat and file sharing for within organizations. Slack is able to integrate with over 800 third-party apps. This is a huge advantage for content sharing as it makes sharing content between employees quick and easy. For companies that use Google Drive, Slack is a strong communication tool as it effortlessly integrates with the platform.
  • CardioLog Engage: CardioLog Engage is an internal communications tool designed by the creators of CardioLog Analytics for SharePoint, Office 365, and Teams. With CardioLog Engage, you can create segmented campaigns and send your personalized message to as many relevant employees as possible. It supports all popular communication channels (emails, text messages, phone calls, and pop-up messages in the portal), increasing the chance users will see and react to your message.

Many of the tools listed above have similar features and this can make assessing the benefits for your organization a little confusing. We have created some useful guides to help you navigate the differences between them all along with the pros and cons:

The post Intranet Communications – Driving Staff Communication and Collaboration appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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Gamification is a powerful way to get employees more engaged, but how does it work? The psychology behind gamification explains how implementing one simple tool can increase project completion rates and employee enthusiasm at work. Through positive reinforcement and friendly competition, gamification excites and motivates users to repeat desired actions. If you’re searching for ways to boost SharePoint and Office 365 adoption, don’t overlook gamification. Read on to learn more about how it inspires your employees to succeed.

1. Real-time reinforcement

By congratulating someone on a job well done, you boost their confidence and their drive to repeat the same action. Gamification makes doing this so much easier. To recognize each employee in person would be time-consuming and would most likely result in at least a few forgotten employees. With a gamification system, users are reinforced for their positive behavior automatically. This instant reinforcement makes them feel more driven to repeat their successful behaviors.

We can see the same type of reinforcement on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. When someone uploads a post to Instagram, almost instantly people begin liking their post. This real-time feedback excites the user and motivates them to continue posting on the platform. By incorporating gamification into the SharePoint portal, you can inspire users to repeat positive behaviors, such as liking comments and writing posts.

2. Achievement

Similarly to reinforcement, instilling a sense of achievement in your employees is another crucial component of gamification. By making the employee feel like they’ve accomplished something, he or she will be more likely to repeat the action. People are more likely to return and do something again if they feel like they’ve done a good job. When users are faced with a large project, it’s easy for them to become discouraged and want to give up. By breaking down a large goal and rewarding users after the completion of each subgoal, users will feel a sense of achievement throughout the project, not just at the end.

Ensuring that users feel achievement throughout a large task, such as training or a project, is critical for its full completion. By making sure that users feel like they’re achieving something and that it’s not going unnoticed, your Office 365 adoption rates will continue to rise.

3. Positive competition

From a young age, people grow up competing with themselves and striving to do better than they did in the past. This inner competition still exists in adults and gamification can help it to resurface. When you incorporate gamification into the workplace, employees are able to see physical metrics for their actions. For example, dashboards that show employees how far they’ve gotten through their training or what type of tasks they completed this week in Office 365 are crucial if you want employees to improve. Seeing their scores for the last month will incentivize employees to work even harder this month. Also, this streamlines their focus. Instead of them continuously performing the same actions, these dashboards can show them what skills they can enhance.

On the other hand, competition with their colleagues is another strong motivator for users. Dashboards can also help with this as they show how the user ranks against their peers and who has the top score. This gives employees another clear goal to work towards. Just like with reinforcement, social media is also another example of this. If you post a status on Facebook and it gets fewer likes than your friends’ statuses, you will want to post again but with different content to get more likes. Seeing others’ scores inspires people to change their strategy and results in new ideas and increased Office 365 adoption.

4. Control and transparency

Incorporating a gamification system gives users more control. Instead of having to continuously check in and tell the user what their next steps are, gamification allows the user to do that all on their own. This is important because it makes the user feel in control of their own progress. They can choose when to click on next steps and decide which of the available actions to complete next. Giving users this type of freedom makes them feel more independent and in charge of their own actions, which is essential to keeping employees happy and motivated.

Gamification also makes what managers want from their employees more transparent. At some companies, workers go through training or complete tasks without being aware of how many steps are next. When users don’t fully know what’s going on, they don’t feel trusted. By allowing users to see their own progress and where they stand, they will feel more at ease and respected by their company. At the same time, a gamification tool also makes the users’ actions more transparent to others. Managers can easily access the dashboard and see what tasks employees have completed and assign tasks for them to work on in the future. Having transparency on both sides ensures that everyone is on the same page and that no task is overlooked.

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5. Your brain chemistry

Gamification triggers a dopamine release in the brain. When you do things you enjoy and that challenge you, like playing games, there is a release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls pleasure. This dopamine rush lights up your brain’s reward pathway and makes you want to repeat the action that initially released the dopamine.

This is why some people get addicted to video games and why apps try to use gamification to get their users to keep coming back. Battling challenges and earning rewards is exciting and encourages repeat visits. This powerful reaction is one of the reasons why gamification provides such strong results.  


Gamification for Office 365 is also an amazing method to encourage end users to explore more content, get familiar with new ideas, and ultimately become better employees. Unlike other traditional tools that mainly provide value to admins, managers, and stakeholders, gamification is a unique tool to provide value directly to the end user, making him the focus while increasing his adoption and improving his productivity. One SharePoint gamification tool that can help you succeed is GAMIFY by CardioLog Analytics. By providing your employees with real-time recognition through points and scoreboards, GAMIFY can increase your Office 365 adoption in a snap.

The post Office 365 Adoption: How Gamification Can Help appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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Teams is Microsoft’s newest collaboration tool designed to improve collaboration in a chat-based workspace. Teams is being called the “one app to rule them all” because it provides a platform for people to work together, hold conversations and meetings, share content, and even work on other apps right within the Teams app. Teams can facilitate communication and information sharing within geographically dispersed groups. Microsoft announced that Teams would become the primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365 and Teams has therefore gradually replaced Skype for Business. Companies still using Skype for Business are encouraged to migrate to Microsoft Teams for a more robust platform.

The Benefits of Teams

Organizations can comfortably switch to the newer platform without sacrificing features because it has all the Skype for business features and a whole lot of additional features. The benefits of Teams are great; but, they will only be realized to full potential if users adopt the platform.

Replacing a platform with one that provides similar functionality and a few more features is one thing, but replacing a platform with one that provides a considerably larger number of features is a much bigger deal. Skype for Business is not simple by any means, but it is basically a communication tool whereas Microsoft Teams is so much more than just a communication tool and on top of that, Teams users also gain access to a SharePoint site and all its wonderful, modern features.

In terms of content sharing: There’s no reason for you to be using network file shares if you’re also using Microsoft Teams. With Teams, you can easily share files if these files are from the Office 365 platform.

Another interesting feature of sharing content in Teams is that you can view and collaborate on files within Teams. If someone sends you an Excel spreadsheet, you can edit it in Teams without having to leave the platform.

If you are currently using Skype for Business you should migrate, or in other words, upgrade to Microsoft Teams because you can use the full feature set of Microsoft Teams and change the way you work.

Microsoft Teams’ collaborative features:
  • Messaging:

There are two types of Messaging in Teams: Chat and Group Conversations. A Chat is a thread of dialogue between users and Group Conversations occur inside a team or a Channel within a team. You can extend a chat to voice, video or both from inside the chat, begin a screen sharing session from a chat without going to voice or video and if you attach a file it uploads it to the users’ SharePoint and you’ll see the file listed in line with the dialogue. This feature enables the user to open the doc in Teams with the chat dialogue along the side. Microsoft also added in the option to add apps to Teams chats.

Teams Group Chats are threaded conversations between a team of users in the organization. They take place in a team or channel which means the whole team can discuss topics that are relevant to the context of the team or channel. If you get mentioned in a Group Chat you get alerted and a record appears in your activity feed.

You can upload files, chat about them and even co-author them right inside Teams. You can also escalate a Group Chat to a meeting.

  • Meetings:

Meetings can be scheduled from within a chat, a Team, the meetings app inside Teams or in Outlook using the Teams add-in. Attending the meeting in Teams is very simple – you can use the join link in the reminder or in the meetings app inside Teams. If you’re at a PC that doesn’t have the Teams app, you can even join from a web browser. You can meet with internal colleagues, external, contacts or anonymous participants.

You can also record meetings or get them transcribed in Stream which gives you the ability to translate the text in real time.

Another great new feature is background blur. This is the ability to mask and blur everything behind you so your colleagues can focus on you instead of what’s behind you.

  • Voice:

Internal calling is largely the same, Teams uses the Phone System add-on in Microsoft 365 like Skype for Business Online. PSTN calling is quite different for Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. Teams has a feature called Direct Routing, this gives you the ability to connect Teams to your existing lines or PBX using only a Session Border Controller (SBC). This is huge because it cuts down on a lot of the cost and complexity of setting up “on-premises call handling”.

The Migration Steps

Many organizations have experienced the hardships of poor implementation and user adoption of collaboration tools in the past. Since Teams is built for larger enterprises, its deployment process requires more effort and time. In deploying Teams, it is more effective to have administrators take control of this process and use tools to simplify the transition.

Adoption is key to business value so it is extremely important to get as many people as possible on board as soon as possible. People resist change so the organization must take the following steps when migrating to Microsoft Teams:

  1. Planning – Bring the project executive sponsors together and get them to actively communicate the value and benefit of Microsoft Teams.
  2. Generate excitement so that users will accept it – Tell them the plan, build excitement, tell them they will be trained, and get them excited to work with Microsoft Teams.
  3.   Raising awareness – Inform, involve and inspire your users in order to see the expected behavior change required of a new technology.
  4. Offer training – Once your employees have heard the buzz about Teams and seen the new tool in action, offer a variety of training options tailored to your employees’ needs, learning styles, and preferred communication channels.
  5. Feedback – Throughout your migration, it is important to offer employees a way to ask questions or give feedback to the rollout team. This will ensure acceptance.

In each of these steps, internal communication is utterly important and there are many amazing tools to help you manage your migration from Skype to Teams with internal communication.

Simplifying Migration from Skype to Microsoft Teams - YouTube

The post The why’s and how’s of migrating from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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Teams is Microsoft’s newest collaboration tool designed to improve collaboration in a chat-based workspace. Teams is being called the “one app to rule them all” because it provides a platform for people to work together, hold conversations and meetings, share content, and even work on other apps right within the Teams app. Teams can facilitate communication and information sharing within geographically dispersed groups. Microsoft announced that Teams would become the primary client for intelligent communications in Office 365 and Teams has therefore gradually replaced Skype for Business. Companies still using Skype for Business are encouraged to migrate to Microsoft Teams for a more robust platform.

The benefits of Teams

Organizations can comfortably switch to the newer platform without sacrificing features because it has all the Skype for business features and a whole lot of additional features. The benefits of Teams are great; but, they will only be realized to full potential if users adopt the platform.

Replacing a platform with one that provides similar functionality and a few more features is one thing, but replacing a platform with one that provides a considerably larger number of features is a much bigger deal. Skype for Business is not simple by any means, but it is basically a communication tool whereas Microsoft Teams is so much more than just a communication tool and on top of that, Teams users also gain access to a SharePoint site and all its wonderful, modern features.

In terms of content sharing: There’s no reason for you to be using network file shares if you’re also using Microsoft Teams. With Teams, you can easily share files if these files are from the Office 365 platform.

Another interesting feature of sharing content in Teams is that you can view and collaborate on files within Teams. If someone sends you an Excel spreadsheet, you can edit it in Teams without having to leave the platform.

If you are currently using Skype for Business you should migrate, or in other words, upgrade to Microsoft Teams because you can use the full feature set of Microsoft Teams and change the way you work.

Microsoft Teams’ collaborative features:

  • Messaging:

There are two types of Messaging in Teams: Chat and Group Conversations. A Chat is a thread of dialogue between users and Group Conversations occur inside a team or a Channel within a team. You can extend a chat to voice, video or both from inside the chat, begin a screen sharing session from a chat without going to voice or video and if you attach a file it uploads it to the users’ SharePoint and you’ll see the file listed in line with the dialogue. This feature enables the user to open the doc in Teams with the chat dialogue along the side. Microsoft also added in the option to add apps to Teams chats.

Teams Group Chats are threaded conversations between a team of users in the organization. They take place in a team or channel which means the whole team can discuss topics that are relevant to the context of the team or channel. If you get mentioned in a Group Chat you get alerted and a record appears in your activity feed.

You can upload files, chat about them and even co-author them right inside Teams. You can also escalate a Group Chat to a meeting.

  • Meetings:

Meetings can be scheduled from within a chat, a Team, the meetings app inside Teams or in Outlook using the Teams add-in. Attending the meeting in Teams is very simple – you can use the join link in the reminder or in the meetings app inside Teams. If you’re at a PC that doesn’t have the Teams app, you can even join from a web browser. You can meet with internal colleagues, external, contacts or anonymous participants.

You can also record meetings or get them transcribed in Stream which gives you the ability to translate the text in real time.

Another great new feature is background blur. This is the ability to mask and blur everything behind you so your colleagues can focus on you instead of what’s behind you.

  • Voice:

Internal calling is largely the same, Teams uses the Phone System add-on in Microsoft 365 like Skype for Business Online. PSTN calling is quite different for Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams. Teams has a feature called Direct Routing, this gives you the ability to connect Teams to your existing lines or PBX using only a Session Border Controller (SBC). This is huge because it cuts down on a lot of the cost and complexity of setting up “on-premises call handling”.

The Migration Steps

Many organizations have experienced the hardships of poor implementation and user adoption of collaboration tools in the past. Since Teams is built for larger enterprises, its deployment process requires more effort and time. In deploying Teams, it is more effective to have administrators take control of this process and use tools to simplify the transition.

Adoption is key to business value so it is extremely important to get as many people as possible on board as soon as possible. People resist change so the organization must take the following steps when migrating to Microsoft Teams:

  1. Planning – Bring the project executive sponsors together and get them to actively communicate the value and benefit of Microsoft Teams.
  2. Generate excitement so that users will accept it – Tell them the plan, build excitement, tell them they will be trained, and get them excited to work with Microsoft Teams.
  3.   Raising awareness – Inform, involve and inspire your users in order to see the expected behavior change required of a new technology.
  4. Offer training – Once your employees have heard the buzz about Teams and seen the new tool in action, offer a variety of training options tailored to your employees’ needs, learning styles, and preferred communication channels.
  5. Feedback – Throughout your migration, it is important to offer employees a way to ask questions or give feedback to the rollout team. This will ensure acceptance.

In each of these steps, internal communication is utterly important and there are many amazing tools to help you manage your migration from Skype to Teams with internal communication.

The post The why’s and how’s of migrating from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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There has been a lot of buzz lately around Power BI. Power BI was released in 2014 and made a huge impact on how Microsoft users view their data. Microsoft branched out from static reports to create highly visual and interactive dashboards that change to reflect real-time data.

For SharePoint administrators, using Power BI for SharePoint is a game changer. It allows you to track real-time usage of the product to help boost SharePoint adoption. By making the most of Power BI, you can see how your SharePoint portal is being used by your end users and find areas for improvement.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is an analytics tool that helps you visualize your data by creating sleek, customizable reports. It creates live dashboards that you can share with anyone in your organization or embed in your app, website, or SharePoint portal. Power BI can pull data from data sources on-premises or in the cloud. It can take information from services like Excel, social networks, Salesforce, and SharePoint.


What are the Different Power BI Licenses?

Power BI comes has three different licenses.

  • Power BI Desktop: This version is free through your Microsoft Account. It allows you to pull information from hundreds of data sources both in the cloud and on-premises.
  • Power BI Pro: This version takes reporting a step further. Power BI Pro allows you to collaborate with any user in your organization on a report and share content inside and outside of your organization. This license is $9.99 per user per month.
  • Power BI Premium: The pricing for Premium is calculated per node per month plus the $9.99 Power BI Pro licenses for every user. Power BI Premium lets you share data with any user, even ones not in your organization, without buying a per-user license. Premium allows larger enterprises to scale up and view up-to-date data from anywhere with the Power BI Mobile app.
What are the Benefits of Using Power BI?
  • Power BI Desktop is free. There aren’t any disadvantages of trying Power BI because you can try it free of charge. The free version allows you to create dynamic reports that are easily customizable. You can later decide if you want to upgrade, but the free version should be sufficient for most reports.
  • The UI is sleek and the reports are interactive. Without any coding or time-consuming efforts, you can create reports using the pre-made visuals or your own customized visuals. The dynamic feature of the reports makes it even easier to analyze your data. Since Power BI integrates to your data sources, like SharePoint, when information changes, the report automatically updates to show that real-time data.
  • The reports are easy to customize. You can quickly change the entire look and feel of your report without any coding. You can add or remove data, change visualizations (for example, you can change a graph to a chart to a map), and apply more filters to get even more detailed insights.
  • There are hundreds of data sources that Power BI can use to gather information. Some of the available on-premises and cloud-based services are Salesforce, Excel, SharePoint, and Dynamics 365. With automated refreshed, Power BI always pulls the latest information from these sources.

What are the Benefits of Power BI for SharePoint?

With SharePoint, some of the top metrics to track are adoption and engagement. With Power BI’s Office 365 adoption content pack, it’s easy to find out the exact information you’re looking for. You can see how many of your users have adopted Office 365, including the number of new users vs returning users. Being able to measure this gives you a clear understanding of your ROI on SharePoint or Office 365. If you see that a large portion of users are not using SharePoint, you may need to organize a training day or a session with SharePoint power users to get lagging users excited about the portal. You can also filter the usage information by properties from the Azure Active Directory, including region and department. This allows you to even further refine your training and only host training days for lagging departments. This saves you time and money on training users who are already consistently using SharePoint. You can also use this information to create surveys specifically for inactive users to find out why they’re not as involved in the portal. On the other hand, you can use this information to ask the most active users how they use the portal to learn from their success as well as have them promote the portal within their team.

How to Use Power BI for SharePoint:
  1. Install Power BI Desktop and sign in with your Office 365 credentials
  2. After opening Power BI, click on “Get Data” to import information from SharePoint.

  1. Click on “More…” in the dropdown menu and search for SharePoint. Three SharePoint data sources will show up: Folders, Online Lists, and normal lists. After choosing one, you will put in your SharePoint URL.

  1. Next, you’ll choose a folder or list and then click “Load”.

  1. Now you can start designing your report. You can pick and choose from any of the visualizations available in Power BI, such as bar charts, line charts, map, scatter chart, and pie chart.

  1. After finishing your report, you can click on “Publish” to publish the report to Power BI Online. You’ll be asked to choose where to publish the report: in your workspace or in your Office group workspaces.
  1. A vital step after publishing any report is to schedule its data refresh. Under Schedule Refresh, you can add in how often you want the data to refresh as well as the times when it should refresh (you can add more than one).
  1. Turning your report into a dashboard is very simple. All you have to do is go to your report and click on “Pin Live page” on the top. Then, Power BI will ask you to choose which dashboard you want your report on, whether it’s an existing dashboard or a brand new one.

  1. Now that you’ve created your dashboard, let’s share it. Under your report’s File menu, click on “Publish to web”. Power BI will provide you with the embedded code that you can paste into your blog or website as well as a URL that you can quickly email to your colleagues.


Power BI also gives you a few other sharing options for your report. Besides publishing to the web, you can also embed the report in a website or portal, embed the report in SharePoint Online, export it to PowerPoint or export it to the Power BI Desktop.

Using Power BI for your SharePoint portal can help you to boost user adoption and engagement. It gives you the ability to measure and analyze your employees’ actions in SharePoint to discover who are your top users and who needs more support and training. Even the most basic Power BI license, Power BI Desktop, can provide you with the valuable metrics you need to gain the most benefits from your SharePoint portal.

The post Power BI and SharePoint Reporting appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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Key business goals and objectives are achieved by increasing adoption of the company’s intranet portal, but adoption is not the end goal itself. Increased adoption leads to higher value of Office 365, allowing you to get the most out of your investment in it. Office 365 is only as powerful and capable as the number of people using and contributing to it. By following these ten tips, you’ll be able to increase your Office 365 adoption and make the most of your intranet.

Top 10 Ways to Improve Office 365 Adoption:
  1. Impact Business Objectives – It is important to define why you are implementing the technology and to set clear objectives. It can be difficult to measure success with abstract objectives, such as ‘centralize knowledge and resources’ or ‘automate and improve business processes.’ One way to be more specific is by setting SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, you can break down ‘automate and improve business processes’ with the SMART acronym and create a goal like “We would like to automate and improve our paper-based legal contract management contract reviews processes by the end of the quarter”. You can break it down even further by creating shorter term goals underneath the main objective and having a timeframe for each subgoal. 
  2. Complete the Transition – It is easier to adopt new technology when you have fully transitioned from your organization’s old systems. By removing alternate solutions and making it mandatory to use the modern ones, adoption of the product will happen faster and be more effective. Encourage employees to share ideas and documents in OneDrive, ask others questions via Teams, and look for items in Search and Delve to get users to embrace the full Office 365 suite. 
  3. Provide Effective Support – Organizations often forget about crucial policies, guidance, and plans that should be in place to ensure there is sufficient support for end users. There are many components to keep in mind from the transitional efforts (such as content migration processes and questionnaires) to maintenance and management (such as site and review checklists). Being mindful of how your Office 365 support is managed and executed within your organization will increase adoption and engagement
  4. Plan for Adoption – Microsoft provides many resources to help you get the most out of Office 365. There are four main categories:
    • Scenarios – Inspire people to use technology in new ways
    • Methodology – Templates and best practices
    • Communities – Learn from peers and adoption experts
    • Resources – Get new ideas from other customers’ stories about how they use Office 365
  5. Measure Adoption – Value is assessed best by measuring usage and adoption. Once you have that information, you’ll be able to make changes accordingly. Analyzing usage reports, patterns, and search logs will show what features users like and which they still haven’t incorporated into their daily routines. Administrators can take this information and create new training plans to encourage users to integrate more Office 365 features into their workday.

    This chart shows the percent of active users as well as the average length and depth of each visit.

  6. Drive Awareness and Interest – Promoting the product to users will help them understand what Office 365 is and how it can be leveraged. This can be done before the launch through activities such as scavenger hunts, competitions, or trivia contests. These activities can also occur after the launch to make users aware of the Office 365 tools available and to educate them on new ones. 
  7. Guide Understanding –  To increase adoption, users need to be shown the full capabilities of the Office 365 features and taught how to use these features effectively. Organizations should provide guidance on what users can do in Office 365 and explain which features to use in different scenarios to provide context for the users. 
  8. Coach and Find Champions – The best way for people to learn is from each other. Identifying champions and influencers (often non-managers) and celebrating their successes should be done to encourage adoption. Once you’ve recognized what they did well and included a screenshot or two, it will not only validate the high achiever but also connect them to others who hope to do the same. It’s a technique that can be repeated continuously to show appreciation for the influencers and to engage employees. 
  9. Elicit and Capture Feedback – Creating targeted polls and surveys to collect feedback will both engage users and provide helpful insights based on their experiences. The more specific the questions are, the more helpful your results will be. Having polls incorporates bidirectional communication in Office 365 to allow you to better understand your intranet and its users. 
  10. Solve Business Problems –  When there are examples of processes and scenarios where the tool is used to solve business problems, higher adoption is achieved. A showcase can also be utilized here to show what solutions are available to people in Office 365. Once users understand that it’s a platform that can solve business needs, they will be able to maximize the usefulness of Office 365.

Following these ten steps will increase adoption and lead to success within the portal. By adding analytics to these processes, you can understand your adoption rates and know exactly how to increase portal engagement. These measurements can allow you to track increases in adoption, measure changes in productivity, and analyze collaboration and engagement.

What to Measure to Improve Adoption:
  1. Content Analytics – Third-party analytics services elevate content analytics from simple page views to influential content. This is tracked by looking at comments, likes, ratings, and followers to show not only page clicks but what users are truly looking for and interested in. 
  2. User Analytics – The data gathered from user analytics is beyond what they are viewing; it looks at how users are interacting with each other. Instead of looking at average user behavior, we can analyze evangelists to leverage their influence by promoting them as ideal users. We can find these evangelists by tracking their followers and how much content they are contributing.This chart shows your most influential Yammer users as well as the most popular message and thread topics.
  3. Community Analytics – The shift here is from content usage to community engagement. Providing metrics on active discussions, whether or not questions are being answered and how quickly, and which groups are less active and need more training provides insight on the community as a whole. It also provides administrators with actionable next steps to take to improve community engagement.

Take action into your own hands and improve your portal by using these top ten ways to improve adoption. By adding analytics into these methods, you have a solid idea of which communities are most resistant to SharePoint adoption and you know to focus your efforts on them first. There a variety of analytics tools that you can use to help you increase Office 365 adoption, including CardioLog Analytics.

CardioLog Analytics monitors a variety of metrics within the SharePoint portal, including search, to provide an in-depth view of the environment. It enables organizations to improve intranet usability, drive portal collaboration, boost user engagement, and enhance overall business productivity. Check out our webinar to learn more about using the power of analytics to increase adoption.

The post Top 10 Ways to Improve Office 365 Adoption appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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Getting hired is exciting, but that excitement can start to fade once the often mundane training begins. Usually, training tasks feel boring and unhelpful as they tend to consist of reading information and watching videos and don’t always include a chance to apply the skills in a hands-on way. Adding in gamification will reinforce your onboarding process. Incorporating gamification in the training process is a simple way to motivate employees to complete their onboarding. It will also help users to enjoy training more, which is another strong factor in their information retention. By adding gamification to SharePoint onboarding, your employees will enjoy the process more and learn faster and more efficiently.

Fun

The essential purpose of gamification is to incorporate fun and game-like elements into work. This turns mundane tasks like onboarding into an engaging and interactive experience that interests users while also making them more likely to retain the information they learn. Incorporating gamification features like points and badges increases the game-like feeling and enhances the learning experience. Keeping these game elements as rewards is important because you don’t want gameplay to replace training; its goal is to enhance it.

Motivation

Another benefit of gamification is that it sparks users’ interest and motivates them to make repeat visits to the SharePoint portal. By directly showing end users their scores, users know how they rank against themselves from the previous month. This intrinsically motivates employees to try harder to beat their previous scores by completing certain actions on the portal. During first-time and on-the-job training, this intrinsic motivation will inspire users to focus on the material and complete all of their tasks to earn the highest score possible.

Rewards and Recognition (sometimes in real life too!)

Earning points and badges for completing Office 365 onboarding tasks is an easy incentive provided by gamification. Each time they finish a new task, users will be instantly rewarded with a higher score. These points also allow companies to show employees that they recognize their efforts. This recognition can be boosted with real-life rewards that mirror their virtual scores. For example, earning 100 points could result in a free lunch. By providing users with real-world rewards, new employees will quickly feel valued and appreciated.

Real-time Feedback

One of the most helpful features of gamification is that it provides users with instant feedback. They can easily see how far along they are in the training process. This encourages users because they are instantly rewarded for their hard work, making them want to continue learning. It also means they are more engaged in the Office 365 onboarding and will have better retention of the information. Additionally, gamification provides users with clear goals as the onboarding process is outlined for them. There’s no confusion on what tasks users need to accomplish as they can see their badges for tasks they’ve previously completed and badges they have yet to earn.

Friendly Competition

Most gamification systems allow end users to see their own scores as well as their peers’. Seeing how their scores have increased or decreased over the past month gives users a clear idea of how they can improve. Being able to view their own scores inspires users to consistently work hard to increase their total score. Additionally, seeing how they rank against their colleagues encourages users to put more effort into their training to improve their ranking and beat their peers. It also gives new employees a way to feel connected to the company as they can congratulate their colleagues on their achievements.

Return on Investment

Investing money in a gamification system can seem like an unnecessary expense. However, once you implement it, you will see a return on your investment over time. By engaging your employees during the onboarding process, they’ll have higher retention and recall. This means that you won’t need to spend money on retraining later. This will also result in your employees being profitable sooner as they will learn their job tasks faster and more efficiently.

Gamification is a strong option if you want to improve your company’s Office 365 onboarding process. For teaching employees how to use the company’s internal portal, GAMIFY is a great option. It rewards end users with points and badges and shows them how they compare to their peers to inspire friendly competition.

The post Ease the SharePoint Training Process with Gamification appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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Any plans to move your business forward have to start with the people. People are a company’s most important asset, and as cliché and worn out as it sounds: an engaged, happy employee is a productive employee, which obviously means more money for the company.

Leaders and managers have to actively prioritize employee engagement.. The single most effective strategy is to make sure employees feel listened to. Giving employees a voice in the company and getting them to be more involved is very important. Managers need to know what employees need and want. In Harvard Business Review there is an article, How to really listen to your employees, which explains how managers ensure that employees feel like they are being listened to, for example by letting them lead meetings. If they feel like they are being listened to they will be more engaged at work. Companies are realizing the importance and benefits of engaged employees more and more since employee engagement may be the single most effective competitive strategy to many organizations.

The advantages of employee engagement:
  • Lower turnover

Lower turnover means more money saved for the company. If workers are engaged they are more likely to stay at the company for a long time. That will eventually help the company save a lot of time and money. High employee churn is very expensive for a company because it involves hiring and training and taking time for the new employee to reach peak productivity levels. It heightens the chances of errors and of course also creates the possibility of loss of engagement from others. And unfortunately, there is the devastating possibility that all of this could take place and the new employee can just as easily quit again and then it was all a waste.

  • Increased productivity

When a person likes what they are more focused and work harder. Not only will they get more done, they are also more likely to do it well when they put in their best effort. Thus increased productivity will be a side effect of being more engaged. Employees who are engaged at work also want to be more involved and informed. They bring more energy to their work, along with a more positive attitude. They are creative thinkers with fresh ideas and they’re collaborative team players, which allows them to get things done more efficiently – leading to better productivity.

  • Growth in revenue

Engagement can have a massive impact on your organization’s financial performance. High employee engagement can have a very positive effect. One study found that organizations with engagement scores in the top 25 percent had twice the annual net profit and 2.5 times greater revenue growth than those in the bottom quartile.  Regrettably, when companies look to increase the company’s profitability, so many organizations look outward instead of turning inward. But no company can prosper without a solid, engaged team. Engaged employees get more done and are absent less which improves profitability. Workforce opinion surveys show that companies can boost their business performance by 30% if their employees are highly engaged.

By prioritizing employee engagement,  you can enjoy all of the above benefits. It is really a win-win situation. Unfortunately, as crucial as engagement is, many companies still have not implemented an effective internal communication strategy, even though it can clearly give them many advantages. The need for communication and engagement increases when a company is managing change because it would mean that these employees need to adapt to the change. A smart engagement tool that can be used to help employees voice their opinions, among other things, is Engage by CardioLog.

The post 3 Major advantages of employee engagement appeared first on SharePoint and Social Reporting.

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