Yammer will now use Office 365 profile

The way that Yammer profiles work is changing. And for some its long overdue. From late September user profiles in Yammer synchronise with your Office profile, and you won’t be able to edit it in Yammer.

What does this mean?

After September’s update, Office 365 profiles will become the single source of truth for contact information, about me bios and profile pictures across all applications including Yammer.

Previously there has been a disconnect with Office 365 and Yammer profiles that have allowed users to modify certain aspects of their Yammer profile. This has caused issues with outdated information and inconstancies with users’ names and profile pictures. Moving forward Yammer profiles will automatically sync with Office 365 profiles to ensure parity.

*If a Yammer user does not have a corresponding Office 365 identity, they will not be affected by this feature.

Thereafter users who wish to change project, education and skills information will have to navigate to their Office 365 profile. Get there by selecting the profile picture in the top right and corner after signing into office.com and then update profile (see below). Depending on your settings users may have to contact their IT administrator to update their name, job title and profile picture.

 

Office 365 profile

How to access your Office 365 profile

 

How will this affect your users?

Office 365 user profiles will now essentially override Yammer profiles. When this happens anything that has been added to the Yammer profile will be lost and any non-AAD profile properties (profile fields that are only found on the Yammer profile) will disappear, for example, the Facebook profile field.

Next steps

There are a few steps that you may want to take to ensure minimal disruption when this update comes into play:

  • Update training content, materials and onboarding processes

It’s handy to get in quick and update any reference materials so that users can self-serve any issues and add Office 365 profile population to the onboarding process.

  • Let your users know

Communicate the change to your users, explain that their Office 365 profile is now the single source of truth and let them know how to edit it. This is important as it may affect keyword searches and results on Yammer.

 

Preferred Parterner Announcement

Engage Squared Recognised as “Microsoft Preferred Partner” for Business Applications

Microsoft Preferred Partner for SharePoint Business Applications Microsoft SharePoint Business Applications Partner Program Charter Member PowerApps Flow SharePoint Microsoft Teams

Joins exclusive ranks as a “Charter Member” in the Microsoft 365 Business Applications Partner Program – one of just 37 companies worldwide and the only Australian consultancy to make the list.

Engage Squared is excited to be recognised for our innovative work with PowerApps, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Flow.

As a preferred partner, Engage Squared has access to Microsoft resources that will help us deliver even more effective digital workplace solutions to our customers. These resources include connections to Microsoft advisors, access to product roadmap information that informs the technology strategies underpinning our implementations, and exclusive technical knowledge bases.

We’re particularly excited by this program because it reinforces the value we see in Microsoft’s holistic approach to technology solutions – deploying the power of Microsoft 365 to achieve easy to implement automation, applications and knowledge management.

Seen from a product perspective, these three things map to Microsoft Flow, PowerApps and Power BI (which create the “Business Applications”, in Microsoft parlance) and SharePoint (which provides the knowledge management). When we combine these approaches into a single solution, rather than leaving them siloed within distinct projects, we can fuel transformative business change.

Case Study: ATO

Productivity soars as ATO wins back 55,000 hours a year with “Intranet Accelerator”

In the words of our CEO, Stephen Monk: “It’s gratifying to be recognised by Microsoft for our innovative work with business applications.

We believe when you make people’s work lives more enjoyable and productive, you make their organisation stronger and more effective. It’s extremely rewarding to work with Microsoft’s app technologies because they can solve so many different problems so quickly. 

We’ve helped our customers implement solutions ranging from a PowerApps engagement that saved more than three days of effort every week, to more holistic solutions streamlining a diverse range of business processes—such as front-line health and safety, procurement and the project management and delivery of portfolios worth billions of dollars. 

It’s exhilarating to be part of this program and to continue working closely with Microsoft in solving new business problems as they emerge. Having exclusive access to the Microsoft product team is particularly rewarding. 

“Combining powerful technologies to solve problems for people is why we’re here. It’s about bringing people and technology together.”

Case Study: Aboriginal Legal Service

Connecting and Empowering Community Legal Workers with Office 365 


“Our community teams now have a system that will radically improve their efficiency as they deliver services and work with Aboriginal community members in our 26 locations across NSW and ACT”

– Michael Higgins, Chief Operating Officer, Aboriginal Legal Service

Banner - Business User Group meetup

Event recap: “Bots in the Real World: Truth, Hype and Demos”

A lot of us long for the day we can kick up our feet and let Cortana manage our professional lives. Or we worry that our jobs will be stolen by bots.

This month at the Melbourne Office 365 Business User Group (BUG), they took a shot at cutting through the hype and getting to something practical.

Facilitated by Engage Squared and hosted at Microsoft’s office at Southbank, they had 90+ registrants and a full house on the day.

Host Jack Hendy (an adoption specialist at Engage Squared) kicked off the session with…

“What’s new in Office 365”:

  • Cortana can be tagged in emails to help arrange meetings (Your personal assistant, just @Cortana)
  • New Q&A functionality in Yammer (Lets you mark answers to questions)
  • Microsoft Whiteboard App (Allows you to add reactions, integrates with SurfaceHub and has “ink beautification”: Bad handwriting? No worries)
  • PowerPoint-designed slides (Make your company’s branding consistent using custom templates and automated suggestions)
  • New customisable and unified Microsoft Search (A reason to use Bing)

AnswerBot: Going with the Flow

Their first presenter, Jason Soo from law firm Hill and Wilcox, introduced us to the basic Question and Answer (QnA) bot, enhanced with Flow. The bot solution leveraged Flow’s approval workflow, allowing the bot to update its QnA knowledge base with new answers to new questions.

This bot/Flow duo:

  • Captured questions from a Yammer group (this could be any ‘front door’/entry point, such as an intranet or website)
  • Answered questions parsed through the Azure QnA Maker
    • If the question is “like for like” or the answer has a high degree of confidence (an adjustable setting in QnA Maker), the response is posted in Yammer
  • If the confidence score is low or no match has been found, an approval flow is triggered which then presents a subject matter expert with the question, a potential answer and an option to submit another answer
    • This can be extremely powerful for enterprise-wide bots, as subject matter experts can be tied to different knowledge bases (owned by different portfolios/organisational groups), all connected to one bot
  • The answer, once accepted in Yammer, is automatically added back to the associated knowledge base

Apart from the ‘learning’ AnswerBot is capable of, she can be used to drive uptake and draw audiences to platforms like Yammer.

Jason also showed how he was able to set up AnswerBot (Flow not included) in 5 minutes using an Ignite video found here.

Codee: Journey from FAQs to Teams Governance

Next on deck was Adrian Tan and Sarah Aquilina from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Codee started her journey as an Office 365 FAQ assistant and is currently on the road to becoming much more, starting off with Teams Governance.

How do you transition an organisation of 13000 people[1] off Lotus notes and onto Office 365 while keeping up with basic (but necessary) queries?

The answer was Codee (formally known as BAE).

Codee is a basic QnA bot (living in Teams) that also leverages the Azure QnA Maker. Sarah, a non-technical stakeholder, showed how she was able to use the QnA maker to manage and improve the bot without needing help from the rest of her team.

The related cost of Azure consumption and virtual machines in the cloud was also discussed. The group agreed that different business problems called for different levels of investment and the free options provided by Microsoft to trial bots made it easy to get started. Generally, the ROI associated with the automation of answers to high-volume, repetitive questions was seen to pay for the initial outlay quite quickly.

Adrian, the program manager at DHHS concluded that paying the monthly cost to maintain Codee allowed his team to focus their efforts on activities more impactful to the business.

Codee is currently being developed to have the ability to create Teams at DHHS and asking for Teams names, owners and settings during the provisioning process.

ZELA: The Truth and the Hype

Elaine Van Bergen finished off with the (not so cold) hard truth: bots are just apps.

They’re apps that can be used to supplement other content in areas such as websites, Yammer and Teams.

In its more advanced stages, a bot:

  • Can be used to greet and attempt to assist users (and refer them to humans if sentiment analysis or the specificity of the questions warrant it)
  • Can be used with voice recognition or integrated with IVRs to provide feedback and activate workflows

While these examples are exciting, Elaine emphasised that while it’s easy to create bots and get immediate returns, any complexity or customisation will find you needing developers. It was also recommended to run basic bot projects before delving into more technical projects.

Elaine then introduced ZELA to the group.

ZELA is Microsoft’s internally built bot that assists with high-volume, low-risk queries to the legal department which previously lead to bottlenecks. ZELA helps with:

  • Answering self-help queries such as “where can I find…”
  • Client requests for support
  • Answering general, front-line questions from clients

The group agreed ZELA was a good example of fast value-for-effort and was intrigued by its use in a department as critical as Legal.

 

The session concluded with a prize giveaway, thanks to sponsorship by Logitech.

If you’re in interested in future Business User Group meetups, please join them and us at the next meeting!

Melbourne: https://www.meetup.com/Melbourne-Office-365-Business-User-Group/

Sydney: https://www.meetup.com/Sydney-Office-365-Business-User-Group/

 

 

[1] DHHS, ‘People Strategy 2020’, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria, 2017, p 15, https://dhhs.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/201708/People-strategy-2020_2017-07-03.pdf, (accessed 4 July 2019).

Banner - UAT Testing

Doing UAT Right

Of all forms of testing, user acceptance testing is often the most essential to get right. Why? Because it saves you money. Too often I find organisations underprepared for the task of doing UAT properly and I believe this is largely due to the organisation not knowing the true impact of NOT doing UAT properly.

In 2017, IBM found the cost to fix a bug found after a build was 4 to 5 times higher1 than if the bug had been found in the design phase. More alarmingly, it was 100 times higher if the bug was found after deployment to production.

diagram cost of bug fixing over stages

4 Steps to getting UAT right

  1. Define your UAT team
    It’s important to avoid restricting your UAT team to project team members. The most important group to include in UAT testing is the “real” end users of your solution. And the key word here is ‘users’. This is crucial because they’re the people who will use the solution daily. Every persona and stakeholder group should be included, which means that people from each group should be selected to join the UAT team. Prepare that UAT team early and enable focused UAT to happen by booking in the UAT resources ahead of time. Consider booking time in your UAT team’s schedule to enable them to adequately perform UAT.
  2. Confirm test cases and acceptance criteria
    Agree upon user stories and their acceptance criteria during the design phase of your project. Each user story should cover a specific use case or scenario of the solution and therefore lends itself to being turned into test cases for your UAT. The test cases are normally a set of actions which the UAT team member can carry out to verify if the solution has worked as intended. The acceptance criteria define what is considered to be “working” in the solution.
  3. Develop a UAT plan Consider the following when writing your plan:
    • When will UAT start and finish?
      – It is important that a finite date is applied to the UAT period to avoid perpetual testing.
    • How will the test results be collected?
      – Write down how the communication between your project team and your UAT team will take place while testing. Doing this prevents the project team from the nightmare of receiving emails, word documents, spreadsheets, screenshots (or no screenshots) and endless discussions through email and other channels.
      – Collecting and managing bugs in a central repository will also mitigate the risk of duplication of bugs, as well as assist with the management of bugs through the correction and retesting process.
    • How will you label any bugs found (bugs, feature-requests, usability, training, etc.)
    • Who will triage the results?
      Remember: the triage process can bury you. Plan ahead and appoint someone to manage the triage and confirmation of defects.
  4. Conduct UAT
    Provide the UAT team with the list of test cases (as demonstrated in table1 below) as well as for instructions about how to log a bug well (i.e. the bugs should include the account used for testing, the device used for testing, screenshots, URLs, description of how to reproduce, etc.). Consider holding a UAT ‘briefing session’ to take the UAT team through what is expected of them throughout the UAT period.
    With the UAT plan in place and the UAT team readied for the task, the UAT can begin with the tests being performed and the results recorded. Were the tests successful, or did defects result? Any bugs raised then need to be triaged, confirmed as defects, corrected and re-tested.

    Table1 – Sample UAT test caseSample test case:
    As a user, I can see news on the home page
    ID Acceptance criteria description Pass/Fail/other Comments
    1234 Verify that you can see a news carousel on the homepage
    1234 Verify that the news carousel auto rotates
    1234 Verify that you can click on a news image and be taken to the news page
    1234 Verify that when you click on the navigation arrows in the carousel, the image displayed changes.
  5. Close and sign off UAT
    Once all testing is complete and all bugs are corrected, the project team should conduct a UAT closure meeting. During the meeting, you should look to tie up any loose ends, and formally close the testing period. Signing off or closing the UAT period means that you can move your solution into production.

Many development teams, including Engage Squared, apply an agile approach to projects with continuous integration and continuous testing. Agile’s incremental approach allows more feedback, flexibility, and of course testing, so that every time a feature, fix, or function is added or changed in the code it’s checked for bugs. In turn, we have found this helps avoid preventable bugs – ultimately saving time and money.

 


1 https://www.researchgate.net/figure/IBM-System-Science-Institute-Relative-Cost-of-Fixing-Defects_fig1_255965523

Office 365 Matter Center

Update to SharePoint Lists and Libraries

I thought it is important to let you know about an announcement Microsoft have made this month about changes to Office 365, particularly with SharePoint online.

 

“Starting April 1, 2019, it will no longer be possible to restrict an entire organization (tenant) to classic mode for lists and libraries.” (Announcement here)

 

What setting are they referring to?

If a SharePoint admin has selected that the default lists and libraries experience to be Classic for the tenant, this will no longer apply. Here is the setting in the SharePoint admin console:

SharePoint Admin Setting

What is the impact to the end user?

Any list or library that is currently being displayed to an end user using the classic experience as a result of this setting will switch to the modern experience:

 

Classic experience

Classic Library in SharePoint

Modern experience

Modern Library in SharePoint

 

Can I still restrict lists and libraries to the classic experience?

Yes you can, Microsoft have provided a number of tools to assist. You can still disable modern experience for specific site collections via a PowerShell script. This can be for a single site collection or for a list of site collections. List owners can use List Settings to configure that list to use the classic experience for all users. Users can still use the “return to classic” option on modern views of lists or libraries to temporary return to classic.

 

Microsoft has also provided a tool called the SharePoint Modernization scanner which identifies sites and lists that have customisations that are not supported by modern experience (all unsupported features of modern experience).  Although many of these lists will automatically remain in classic experience even after this change, you may wish to keep some sites running entirely in classic to avoid users switching between different experience modes within a single site.

 

If you have any questions please get in touch! help@engagesq.com 

Banner - Working with AI

Working with the AI Spark partner program

Engage Squared recently had the opportunity to spend two days in Hobart with our partner LiveTiles, as part of their AI Spark Partner Program.  

AI Spark is a Microsoft and LiveTiles accelerator program for partners working with the LiveTiles Bots platform. Through the program, Engage Squared will be able to build AI capabilities that we can use to help customers develop and deploy AI solutions. 

LiveTiles Bots is a ‘no-code’ bot builder powered by Microsoft Azure’s bot framework and language understanding intelligence service. It takes a huge amount of the complexity and required technical know-how out of the bot-building process, allowing users to quickly create an AI tool relevant to their needs. 

We’ve been hearing more and more of our customers talking and asking about bots and AI, and it’s clearly an area set for a huge amount of growth, with enormous opportunities for businesses to take advantage of the technology to transform the way they and their people work. 

We’ve learned so much about bots and artificial intelligence over the past few days, being able to work with a no code solution that integrates with so many SaaS based applications, utilising complementary technologies such as Microsoft Flow has clearly outlined why AI is of great focus to Microsoft. 

Using the LiveTiles bot platform means the approach to building bots becomes less about investing technical effort and navigating technological boundaries, and much more about understanding what our customers are trying to achieve and supporting them with the design thinking process that is necessary to deliver a successful bot scenario, and the creation of custom connectors to the services and platforms they use.  

This flexibility is a testament to how LiveTiles have made it so easy to configure a bot and connect into an enormous number of data sources – basically any that have exposed API’s. 

The wide-ranging two-day AI Spark workshop started off with a review of the underlying Microsoft bot framework and suite of AI services, followed by a detailed walkthrough of the LiveTiles Bot product, and how it overlays the technology to provide a far simpler interface for users.  

We talked about the value of bots and some of the many real-world use cases that they can help with, from HR Bots returning your leave balances, to a public facing bot that helps customers check the status of their order and answer complex questions instead of calling a dedicated support number.  

Through this process, it became apparent that the quality of data and inputs in a production scenario was something that needed to be reviewed and be given thought to spend the time working on retrieving quality data, and putting it into a format that works well for a bot interface.  

We also discussed some of the many lessons that LiveTiles have learned from working with customers to develop bots. For example, often there is a temptation to want to jump straight into building an “uber-bot” that can do everything, but typically a much more successful approach is to start by thinking about your most valuable use cases and starting with one or more simpler, targeted bots that do one thing well – this approach is quicker, more reliable and more likely to be a success. From there, we can start to build on this success and look to more advanced things like starting to combine bots’ abilities. 

We also got a sneak peek of some of the many enhancements and innovations that LiveTiles are continuing to work on to make the platform increasingly useful and powerful for users. Bots and AI are set to be a major growth area and both Microsoft and LiveTiles have made clear that this is an area they will continue to invest in heavily with native integration with different systems and an evolving language model. 

The second day of the workshop was spent rolling our sleeves up with LiveTiles Bots and getting into some rapid prototyping. We brainstormed some use cases that would be valuable internally at Engage Squared, and after settling on two examples started to build our custom bots. This was a great experience to put what we had learned into practice and get us practicing design thinking, solving problems and building our familiarity with the product and everything it can do. We’re looking forward to putting some finishing touches on our working bot prototypes and sharing them with the team back at Engage Squared! 

If you think your organisation could use a bot to help your staff, or it’s something you would like to know more about, we would love to chat to you about how bots can help to drive productivity and bridge gaps between systems and users, contact us to arrange an overview of LiveTiles bots. 

 

Written by Thomas Lalor & James Di Blasi

Banner - Yammer and Skype for Business

Yammer & Skype for Business integration

Another week, another round of Office 365 updates and of course, they’re awesome!

Recently Microsoft released the ability to open the Skype for Business chat module through Yammer. The browser based chat isn’t exactly a new feature available in Office 365, it was originally released to Outlook Online quite some time ago.

However, what is new is the ability to open the Skype for Business chat module while working in Yammer and this is fantastic news! The recent release further aids in collaboration, allowing you to connect with your colleagues in a consistent and familiar way.

 

So what does it look like?

If you receive a message whilst browsing Yammer, a pop-up display message will appear on the top right hand corner. You are then given the choice to either respond or ignore the message. By choosing to respond, the Skype for Business chat window appears as an overlay on the page.

If you click the Skype for Business icon, located on the top right hand side of the suite bar the yammer module loads, it allows you to get in contact with your colleagues and external organisations/users using Skype for Business.

The great thing about this feature is that it isn’t limited to desktop devices either, allowing for a feature rich instant message experience across mobile devices too.

Using Mobile devices

Not only does this show the commitment Microsoft have to enhancing and supporting Yammer, but this is another show of strength by Microsoft that you don’t always need a desktop computer with software installed to work out loud and collaborate effectively! Remember anywhere, any device, any time!

Go give it a try today, and let me know what you think!

Office 365 Matter Center

6 tips to deploying Office 365 Matter Centre

What a busy, and exciting time it has been over the past few weeks full of new releases into Office 365. Today, I’m focusing on something that may not be new and something that isn’t really an ‘official’ Microsoft product either. Introducing: The Office 365 Matter Center.

The Office 365 Matter Center was developed by Microsoft’s Corporate, External, Legal Affairs (CELA), it’s a SharePoint based document management tool making it easier for both Legal and Business Professionals to organize files by matter.

This blog article will focus on some of the key learning’s and top tips for deploying the Office 365 Matter Center.

 

Tip #1

Use Visual Studio 2015, by using 2017 the solution isn’t totally compatible and requires the solution to be upgraded. The results by upgrading aren’t very consistent and will most likely lead to a failed deployment. So for now, keep using Visual Studio 2015!

Tip #2

While the documentation lists the following as pre-requisites, it doesn’t really explain how to do so.

Make sure Visual Studio has the following features installed:

  • Microsoft Office Developer Tools
  • Microsoft Web Developer Tools
  • PowerShell Tools for Visual Studio

Download and Run Microsoft Web Installer

Once the Web Installer loads, ensure the following are also downloaded and installed;

 

Tip #3

Filling out the excel spreadsheet for the first time.

One of the pre-requisites to deploying Office 365 Matter Center,  is to fill out a spreadsheet that adds pages to the root tenant url, content types to the content type hub, and configuration lists to the app catalog.

 

Config

TenantURL

https://contoso.sharepoint.com
ContentTypeHubURL https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/contentTypeHub
CatalogSiteURL https://contoso.sharepoint.com/sites/apps (this is the app catalog site, make sure an app catalog has been provisioned)
TenantAdminURL https://contoso-admin.sharepoint.com

 

Client_Config tab

With the owners group and Visitors group column, add a user full name to each (example, james.diblasi@engagesq.com)

Alternatively, write NA as you cannot leave this column empty.

 

Tip #4  –

When you run the Deploy-AzureResourceGrop.ps1 you will be requested to provide a few pieces of information, these are pretty straight forward but there are some gotcha’s with names, spaces and capitalization. Below I’ve explained a few of the important bits of mandatory information.

ResourceGroupLocation – this is the location that you would like to deploy the Azure Resource Group to, for those in Australia I’ve been using “Southeast Asia”

ResourceGroupName – Obviously a simple one, but is important to get right. Choose a name with no spaces, ensure that the name you chose here is the same you choose for the next step WebAppName, completing this provides consistency.

WebAppName – The webapp name is to be the name of the web application, this will be used in the url of the Azure App, again keep this consistent with the Resource Group Name if you can.

CentralRepositoryUrl – This is the url of your app catalog, it’s not documented anywhere so this can may be confusing.

Don’t get bogged down populating the  Sample data, you can create this through the system later.

Tip #5

Not ideal, but depending on the version and when you download the package there may be a hard-coded reference to ‘Microsoft’, this does cause issues with creating matters and having matters roll up to display on the Home page. This may not be valid at the time of reading but be sure to check the createMatter.controller.js located at –

“\tree\master\cloud\src\solution\Microsoft.Legal.MatterCenter.Web\wwwroot\app\matter\createMatter.controller.js” for a hard coded Microsoft reference.

Check line 2232 if you see a reference to Microsoft, change this to cm.selectedClientName

Tip #6

I’ve only seen this happen once, but on occasion you may have an issue with provisioning matter’s and an error referring to content types. I’ve found that it’s because the content types are either not published or because the because the managed metadata fields are not mapped to a term.

If the error you are receiving is referring to managed metadata.  Browse to your content type hub, go into the site columns and make sure that each managed metadata field under the “_Matter Center” group has a term selected.

There is so much business benefit to deploying the Office 365 Matter Center, it’s definitely worthwhile the invested time to deploy.

Thanks for reading.
James Di Blasi

Office 365

How I keep up to date with Office 365

Office 365 offers a wide variety of business productivity tools and is constantly releasing new features and tools. Just in the last few months we’ve seen Teams, Flow, PowerApps, and StaffHub, all launched for general availability. This isn’t even counting the constant updates released for existing O365 tools.

With all of these releases, you might feel that it’s too hard to keep up-to-date. I’ll share a few ways I use to keep up with new Office 365 features and tools. This can be applied to other industries and topics of interest, so feel free to pick and choose what works best for you.

Follow Microsoft’s official blogs

Office Blog

Microsoft provides a wealth of knowledge in their Office Blogs, covering topics from updates, customer success stories and feature updates, to education and adoption pieces. Did you know they recently released printable Office training roadmaps? That can help save some time in creating a training plan for your team.

If you don’t want to see everything, you can filter the posts based on what tools you use, which industry you’re in, or the kinds of topics you’re interested in knowing more about.

Follow non-Microsoft blogs

While Microsoft’s blogs are a useful way to hear the official message, it’s just as important to hear from industry professionals giving insights into how they use these tools in real life scenarios. Marc D Anderson writes insightful posts on SharePoint and Office 365, with posts targeted towards end-user scenarios, best practice advice, and developer tips.

We’ll also be sharing our expertise on O365 best practice and adoption tips, so why not subscribe to our feed while you’re at it!

How to get notified about new updates (RSS feeds are your best friend)

It’s great to have a lot of blogs to follow, but I don’t like having to periodically check for new posts; I want to be able to see them all in one view. RSS feeds have been around for a while and it’s still my go-to method for staying up-to-date with topics I care about.

If you aren’t familiar with RSS feeds, you might recognise the orange wireless signal icon sites on the edges of their site. It’s a universal standard that can be used in a number of sites and apps to create a feed of the latest published news from a site.

RSS

You can group these together using different aggregators (I’m a big fan of Feedly) to make it easy to see what’s new across many sites. It’s nice just to take out my phone while I’m in line or on the bus and quickly catch-up on a few new posts.

Feedly

What about your team? What about your investment in Office 365? RSS loves Office 365 as well.

You can create a Flow that posts new updates from an RSS feed to a Yammer Group. This has been an easy way for our team to engage (slipped it in perfectly) in discussions on new updates.

Do you use Teams? You can also use the RSS connector in Microsoft Teams to send updates to your Team’s conversation feed.

Create a Twitter list

Twitter list

A Twitter list is a handy way to follow specific accounts in a single feed. I’ve added a couple of accounts I’m interested in such as Office 365, Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint, and while there is some overlap with the posts from the Office blogs, there’s enough unique content and retweets featured to make it useful.

I’ve even embedded the list to our intranet’s home page so everyone can see new tweets. Just as a side-note: to embed the list you’ll need to make it public so you should either use a company twitter account to do this or feel ok with your colleagues seeing your account.

Turn on first-release for O365 tenant

Reading about new features and updates can only take you so far – sometimes you just need to start using new features to see how they’ll best work. You can turn on First Release for your O365 tenant to receive updates early. This has helped me identify use-cases for tools/features that I might not have thought about until I’ve spent some time with it.

This is great if your organisation likes to be early adopters of new tools and features. If you like to wait until the full release, however, you can always designate individuals to receive the updates first, such as an IT team or pilot group, to make sure the new features are working as expected and provide feedback to Microsoft.

Check out the Office 365 roadmap

While most of my updates come from the methods above, I do look at the Office 365 Roadmap from time-to-time to see an overall view of planned and rolling out features. It’s also a good way to find out what happened to features that didn’t make it to general availability.

O365 Roadmap

Get involved in the community

The Microsoft Tech Community connects O365 enthusiasts and professional around the world to discuss current challenges and ideas with O365 tools.

Staff from Microsoft are on the site quite often and it’s an easy way to connect with them to clarify existing/planned functionality. They also sometimes post about new features before the accompanying full blog post is created so you can get a sneak peek.

Tech Community

There’s a lot of ways you can find out what’s new in Office 365 and at times it can get hard to keep up with everything – the important part is to pick and choose which works best for you. Even if you fall behind,  at the very least it’s good to check out the Office blogs monthly features post to see the biggest highlights.