If you’ve come across this blog post, it’s likely that you and your team are in the process of migrating from Microsoft Stream (Classic) to Stream (on SharePoint) or preparing for it. Microsoft will be ending support for Stream (Classic) in 2024. Today, we’ll share the history of Microsoft Stream, updates to the platform, information about the Microsoft Stream Migration Tool and tips to help fix common issues.
Read the full blog to make sure you’re ready for your Microsoft Stream migration.
History of Microsoft Stream
If you’re not yet aware of this unexpected migration, let’s take a moment to catch you up.
In 2017, Microsoft released Microsoft Stream (Classic), replacing Office 365 Video. It offered features like speech-to-text transcribed audio, face detection, linked time codes, and M365 interoperability. Although it was part of the M365 suite, it wasn’t well understood or heavily adopted by the community. During the 6 years since its release, several enhancements were made to improve the app’s experience, but it became clear over time that the architecture wasn’t as scalable as it needed to be. The community still hadn’t fully accepted it as a video streaming service, beyond automatically recorded meetings and the occasional town hall. Accessibility features were lacking and more importantly, Teams development was rapidly accelerating, and increased interoperability was a key focus.
Microsoft went back to the drawing board and in September of 2020 they announced their plans to transition away from the current Stream architecture to a new one, with SharePoint at the center of it versus unique containers to Stream.
In October of 2022, Microsoft Stream (on SharePoint) was released.
In that announcement, Microsoft shared details about new features to expect in addition to the efforts that would go into the migration. Every M365 team around the world realized they had an unscheduled migration project on their hands as a result of this evolution.
The good news is Microsoft did a lot of preparation to help the community make it through this process. That said, there’s no longer a wide gap between the development lifecycle for Stream and the latest releases. This means the Microsoft community is now contributing to the evolution of Stream a bit more by reporting issues and sharing experiences. A similar process occurred when Teams was released in 2017. Microsoft started small and deployed enhancements, many of which were a direct result of community feedback.
After Microsoft released Stream (on SharePoint) last year, they began the enhancements phase for the migration tool, inventory report, and the Power BI dashboard that comes with it. Along the way, there have been many “gotchas” we’ve observed and are ready to share with you to save you headache and time. No, you’re not crazy. That “one button” is actually missing! But first, let’s cover the basics.
Microsoft Stream Today: What you should know right now
Now that the migration is in full swing, standard and government tenants (GCC) have access to the tools offered by Microsoft for the migration. For a brief time, GCC tenants didn’t yet have access. That’s usually the case with enhancements and updates due to diligence and security requirements for government tenants.
Firstly, we strongly recommend you bookmark the retirement timeline, migration tool release notes, and web part transition timeline to understand where we’ve been and where we’re going. Those pages include details for standard and GCC tenants. Microsoft’s technical guide for Stream is now very extensive so we also recommend familiarizing yourself with the structure of their guide to make your life a bit easier.
Standard Tenants Timeline
February 15, 2023
On this day, the migration tool was made available for standard tenants. Since then, a few notable enhancements were made that are exclusive to standard tenants, and we’ll review those later in this blog post.
May 15, 2023
This was the first major milestone date, when no new videos could be uploaded to Stream (Classic) unless an admin took action to push that date back.
October 15, 2023
Now that May 15 has passed, the next milestone date to keep your eye on is this coming October 15, when users will no longer be able to access or use Stream (Classic) unless an admin takes action to push that date back. This change can be delayed until April 15, 2024.
April 15, 2024
At this time, Stream (Classic) will be fully retired & automatically disabled, users & admins will no longer be able to access or use Stream (Classic), and any remaining content in Stream (Classic) that wasn’t migrated will be deleted.
GCC Tenants Timeline
July 30, 2023
On this day, the Microsoft Stream migration tool was made available to GCC tenants.
October 30, 2023
After this day, no new videos will be allowed to be uploaded to Stream (Classic) unless an admin takes action to push the date back. This can be delayed until January 30, 2024.
January 30, 2024
After this day, no new videos can be uploaded to Stream (Classic) for any customers and this date cannot be deferred.
March 30, 2024
Users will no longer be able to access or use Stream (Classic) unless an admin takes action to push this date back. This change can be delayed until July 30, 2024.
July 30, 2024
Microsoft Stream (Classic) will be fully retired & automatically disabled, users & admins will no longer be able to access or use Stream (Classic), and any remaining content in Stream (Classic) that wasn’t migrated will be deleted.
Now that we’ve covered the bigger milestone dates, let’s cover some of the finer details.
What’s changing in Microsoft Stream?
It can be a challenge to summarize every single upcoming change in Stream so our goal is to bring your attention to the bullet points that will save you time and thought energy, especially if you’re struggling to understand it or explain what’s happening to your team and leaders. There are three main points to understand.
Stream’s storage wasn’t very tangible compared to files in SharePoint Online or OneDrive, for example. So, Microsoft decided to use SharePoint Online to store Stream videos. It makes sense, right? Why continue investing in a separate storage architecture that’s not easily accessible or understood when you’ve got one already?
The main thing to know about this is that storage capacity for Stream videos wasn’t as much of a concern until now. Now that SharePoint Online is the platform for video storage, you’ll need to keep an eye on your storage utilization in the SharePoint Admin center to make sure you don’t exceed your licensed capacity.
Not all videos will migrate into SharePoint. Some videos may go into OneDrive, as well. This will be a decision you may have to make multiple times during the Microsoft Stream migration process. The default destination for Teams meeting recordings is the video owner’s OneDrive storage. (Reminder: every user in OneDrive is allotted 1TB of personal storage space.) You have the option to change this destination during the migration.
- You can find out more about the future state of videos once they’re migrated HERE.
- And you’ll find a full breakdown of how Stream will affect your SharePoint storage HERE.
2. Stream (Classic) Web Part
The classic Stream web part is being deprecated during this transition. If you’re using the classic Stream web part on any of your SharePoint pages, you may want to start gaining a deeper understanding of how frequently it’s being used so you can estimate your workload to replace it. What is replacing the classic web part? There are actually multiple web parts that can now interact with videos because they are stored in SharePoint Online. The main candidates include the File and Media, Highlighted Content, and Hero web parts.
- You can read more about the web part transition HERE.
- You can review the FAQs Microsoft has prepared for questions you may already have.
3. Stream Playlists
This is a relatively new concept because now you can store Stream playlists as standard SharePoint lists in any site. It takes some adjusting, but you may find yourself feeling a bit freer to display videos anywhere in SharePoint with this new concept. Microsoft intends to release their own version of this type of page in the future, but Quisitive wants to help you now. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need help with customizations like this.
- You can find all the details about creating Stream playlists HERE.
- One of our own consultants, Steve Corey, has published a video on YouTube demonstrating how to set up a hub of videos using the Highlighted Content web part and PnP search.
Now that you have these high-level details, let’s dive into the mechanics of the migration.
Microsoft Stream Migration Tool
With the recent enhancements Microsoft added to the tool, there are some options we didn’t have just a month ago. Your strategy options changed for the better, as a result.
Where is the Microsoft Stream migration tool?
You can access to the tool in your tenant by going to the following URL: https://admin.microsoft.com/Adminportal/Home?source=applauncher#/featureexplorer/migration/StreamMigration
You can navigate there as well by going to your M365 admin center > Settings > Migrations > Microsoft Stream.
How do I use the migration tool?
Since Microsoft has done an outstanding job of documenting the process and features of the tool, I’m going to point you straight to their Microsoft Stream migration tool knowledge base. They cover every detail and have an FAQ page for it, as well.
How do I know which videos to migrate?
You have two options for collecting video data to determine which videos should be migrated and which should be left behind. A lot of your choices may be unique to your business based on how Stream has been adopted so far.
You might find that you have only 5 video containers and a total of only 20 videos. I’ve personally seen some tenants with upwards of 300 containers and 3500 videos. Even then, the video count isn’t your main focus.
You’ll likely find meeting recordings more than anything else. Most of those will automatically be mapped for you to the owner’s OneDrive storage account. But there will be others that aren’t as easy to determine.
We recommend you first run the scan on your Stream containers to get a high-level estimate of the work ahead. You’ll know almost instantly if your Stream service was adopted heavily or not just by the number of containers in your Stream service. If you see very few containers, you’re one of the lucky ones! You may not need to do much digging to determine the most appropriate destination, and you could skip straight to the migration phase. But you can still go with the second, more detailed option if you prefer.
If Stream is heavily adopted in your organization and you see thousands of videos inside hundreds of containers after running your high-level scan inside the tool, we recommend you run the Stream inventory report. That report comes with a dashboard that will help you understand your videos in greater detail.
Which approach is best?
The answer to this question depends on what you find when you scan your videos. Microsoft has outlined 3 different approaches and a checklist that might best meet your needs.
Quisitive recommends focusing your attention on videos that aren’t automatically mapped to users’ OneDrive storage accounts. Those automatically mapped videos are the “low hanging fruit” you might find easiest to migrate without much discussion. But other videos that belong to teams or groups need some extra care to make sure they go to the right place.
What do the recent enhancements do?
The two most impactful enhancements made to the migration tool allow you to filter videos based on certain meta data and discover orphaned videos. An orphaned video has no owner. Without an owner, the tool doesn’t know where to send them. So, now it’s up to you to decide where those videos go.
Note: these enhancements may not yet be available to GCC tenants by the time this blog is published.
1. Filter videos in the Microsoft Stream migration tool
You can now filter videos by content type, publish date, last view date, and view count. There are three content types to choose from. They include Video on demand, Teams meeting recording, and live event.
- Read more HERE to understand when and where to set those filters.
2. Discover and migrate orphaned videos
When the author of a video leaves an organization, there video doesn’t leave with them. That video remains where it is but now has no owner. This enhancement allows you to find the orphaned videos and migrate them. Because they have no owner, the decisions for these might be more complex than the rest.
- You can read more about this enhancement HERE.
What are the available destinations?
There are only two destinations available during the migration – SharePoint Online or OneDrive.
What do I do when I’m done migrating my videos?
Make sure to close the loop on your migration efforts by selecting the options in the Stream Admin center to switch over to Stream (on SharePoint). You must be a designated Stream admin to perform this task. Once you’re at the Stream Admin settings page, select the radio buttons to save videos on Stream and disable Stream (Classic) for users.
Now that we’ve covered the basics with the tool, let’s go over the “gotchas” Quisitive has discovered along the way.
Common Issues and How to Address Them
As with any new tool, there are bound to be bugs and issues encountered along the learning curve. Here are some “gotchas” to keep in mind when moving around inside the Microsoft Stream migration tool and working with your videos.
1. Settings button is missing
It was reported by one of our clients that the new “Settings” button that appears in the Microsoft Stream migration tool doesn’t appear. After thoroughly testing, Quisitive found that the migration “Settings” button doesn’t appear in Microsoft Edge, but it does appear in Google Chrome.
This is important because these settings are directly related to the new filtering enhancement. If you don’t see this button in Edge, try out Google Chrome and it should appear for you. We’ve reported this to Microsoft but there is likely not enough data to support any fixes for it yet. So, if you experience it, let Microsoft know!
2. Stream doesn’t connect inside the migration tool
When you visit the Stream migration tool for the first time, there will be a small graphic in the upper right indicating that you are connected to the Stream service and database.
We’ve gotten reports from some clients that it takes a while for this page to finally load. Up to 20 minutes for one of them. Our recommendation is to leave this page open for an extended period of time to see if it connects successfully. If not, make sure you’ve configured your network firewall to allow the following URLs:
This Microsoft support page explains this symptom in more detail. If you’ve taken this step already, opening a case with Microsoft is the best next step.
3. The tool showed failed migrations temporarily
We’ve observed some margin of error when it comes to the reporting during a migration. On the migration page, you will see a status bar that looks like this:
We’ve gotten reports that the count of failed videos or containers disappears as soon as the job is finished. We can only infer this is related to the error checking process in the background. It’s possible the output to the screen is delayed, as well. We consider those false positives.
Focus on the count of failures once all videos in the migration job are finished moving. If there are no jobs running in the tool, and you still see failed videos, it’s accurate and you should address those failures as you observe them.
4. Users are reporting that videos aren’t playing after the migration
If you move a video to a new location after it’s been migrated, it will not play correctly. This is due to the fact that each migrated video has a redirect URL that will break if moved. That URL is set during the migration as metadata in the video file and when the file is moved, that redirect URL becomes invalid. Not all is lost if that happens, however. You can remigrate a video to the desired destination, if needed. But for your own peace of mind, we recommend being certain that the destination you’ve chosen is the final one. The official note from Microsoft:
Without a comprehensive understanding of the choices ahead about your Stream migration, you might struggle more than you need to on your own. And the rapid evolution of Stream and the migration tool presents a unique challenge. But it’s also a unique opportunity to be on the ground floor of Microsoft’s plans for Stream. Afterall, Teams didn’t start strong, but look at it now. Teams has become Microsoft’s flagship suite for productivity and conferencing. It’s exciting to think about where Stream will be in a few years. Will it look like YouTube? Who knows, but Quisitive will be here for it.
Get help with your Microsoft Stream migration
If you find yourself or your team struggling to understand this migration process or you don’t have the time to invest, Quisitive can help so you can focus on the projects you planned for. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We understand that this migration effort was a surprise for a lot of IT teams, but we’ve got you covered.
Who should read this article?
If you’re a business owner, leader, or decision-maker looking to mature your business with Microsoft’s M365 cloud services and SharePoint Online, you might be thinking about analyzing how your employees use these tools to maximize their value and boost adoption and engagement. This article is for you.
What are analytics?
Web analytics about user behavior can be interpreted to drive adoption and engagement in a front-facing system like a public website or a company intranet like SharePoint Online. The data collected often includes information about search results, page views, unique viewers, click-through rate, most popular pages, peak usage hours, and much more.
Analytics create potential for a deeper understanding of employee adoption. Without knowing how your employees use SharePoint Online and M365, you may be missing opportunities for engagement and increased adoption of new tools. The best analytics solution for your organization depends on your business needs. Some analytics tools are more generic in nature and are applicable to wider audience. Oftentimes, free options like Google Analytics are attractive because your budget is limited, or the procurement process takes too long. But there is more to consider that could shift your focus to a hidden cost that isn’t always immediately observed.
So, let’s review all options before discussing one of the more popular free options, Google Analytics.
What are my analytics options for SharePoint Online?
There are several options to collect analytics, but if you do a quick search you might find results like Google Analytics, tyGraph (AvePoint), CardioLog, Netwrix, Microsoft Adoption Content Pack, Syskit Point, and ShareGate Desktop.
The audience differs for each solution. For example, Syskit, Netwrix, and ShareGate are aimed at administrators and are usually used for auditing and governance. But others are more geared toward employee focused groups like Marketing, Human Resources, or Communications for the purpose of employee engagement. tyGraph, for example, has focused their attention on a smoother experience of interpreting the data, making it more user friendly. Quisitive is a tyGraph (AvePoint) partner because it integrates with more than just SharePoint Online and we support all aspects of the M365 suite including OneDrive, Teams, and the Viva Suite.
Of course, Microsoft offers their own analytics engine inside of the M365 admin center and a separate Power BI dashboard kit. Without question, both add tremendous value in lieu of a third-party tool. Microsoft has made great strides in the last few years with their analytics, but the scope of the data collected is limited. If you’re not in a position to fund the purchase of a third-party tool, the M365 Usage report is an excellent choice and requires little effort to understand and use.
Factors to consider when choosing an analytics tool may include:
- Initial cost and cost of implementation, maintenance, upgrades, and retirement
- Interoperability with enterprise systems and devices
- Security and privacy
- Skill set required to implement and use it
- Adaptability to new systems in the future without losing funcionality
- Data source compatibility – from which systems can I pull data, even if not interoperable
Google Analytics in SharePoint Online
One of the most popular free alternatives is Google Analytics. Let’s review the pros and cons.
Pros of Google Analytics in SharePoint Online
- Compatible with SharePoint Online
- Low initial cost if total number of hits remains below 10 million per month
- You get to skip the procurement process
- User friendly (post-installation)
- Learning curve is reasonable, albeit a bit technical
- More granular than limited native M365 analytics
- Mobile devices are supported
- Most organizations use mobile devices for productivity so that base is covered
Cons of Google Analytics in SharePoint Online
- Google just released Google Analytics v4 and a migration/upgrade may be in your near and long-term future
- Setup process isn’t as straightforward as competitors
- Tagging pages for analytics was never simple and remains that way, even in the latest Google Analytics 4. You must be familiar with SharePoint Online administration to install.
- Personally identifiable information is prohibited. “[Google Analytics] prohibits sending personally identifiable information (PII) to Analytics (such as names, social security numbers, email addresses, or any similar data), or data that permanently identifies a particular device…”
- Support options are limited without a partner relationship
- Google is a large company and typically hands support tasks to its qualified Partners.
- Lack of M365 native interoperability
- Only page data is collected, document usage isn’t collected. There is relevant data to collect outside of SharePoint Online when influencing employees to adopt multiple M365 applications. Google does not offer documentation explaining which data isn’t collected
- You will be charged if total hits exceed 10 million in a month
- Anyone who has access to the Google Analytics account has access to all SharePoint analytics data
- There isn’t a way to keep the analytics data private and segregate roles. Other tools offer role-based security (viewers vs admins).
- Privacy isn’t a guarantee
- You’ll want to read the fine print before choosing Google Analytics since they often use customer information for targeted ads and predictive search results.
Which tool is best for my organization?
Now that you are aware of the pros and cons, let’s put it all into context.
One of the most common reactions to a paid solution is aversion due to the perception of excessive cost. But just because a tool is free doesn’t mean it won’t cost you anything and may simply be the wrong tool for your business. Security is also concern that might be ignored in favor of a free tool. What good is a free tool if it doesn’t truly meet your needs?
Your organization may in fact already be using Google Analytics and wondering whether to stay with it or move to a new solution. But the decision remains the same because your business is going to change, and your solutions should be agile enough to change with it. Is Google Analytics agile enough to keep up with M365? Google is focused on a wider audience, mostly public websites, and especially online retail. Metrics meant for retail and public websites simply can’t be used in SharePoint Online because the data point isn’t available.
With that in mind, it’s safe to say that the cost of an analytics solution is relative. Not just compared to other solutions, free or paid, but relative to the potential consequences of using the wrong solution, costing you time and energy when you likely revisit this decision in the future as your business matures beyond the free solution’s limitations.
You might think ROI isn’t a factor while implementing Google Analytics because the solution is free. The reality is that if you choose an analytics solution that isn’t right for your business, you could find yourself collecting irrelevant data or more likely end up in an information deficit – behavioral information that could help you motivate your employees to use the tools that organically boost efficiency and output and shift your company culture in a positive direction.
The financial cost of an incomplete understanding how your employees work is difficult to quantify but it’s easily observed in common day-to-day pain points and high turnover. Both could be addressed by leadership who are armed with the added context the behavioral data offers.
The ultimate goal of an analytics solution is to boost productivity but like any business goal, the underlying objective is financial. Increased productivity usually equates to greater cost savings and ideally leads to increased revenue, covering the cost of the solution that enabled your business to mature and succeed. In theory, a paid tool could pay for itself eventually.
If your goal is to mature your business by using an analytics solution for M365 and SharePoint Online, the question you might ask yourself when choosing a product is:
“Can we afford the cost associated with the risk of an information deficit?”
If you’ve exhausted your options for funding and have no alternative outside of the native M365 analytics, Google Analytics will suffice, especially with a tight timeline.
But if you have any wiggle room in your budget and timeline to obtain a paid solution that integrates with M365, you may end up covering the cost with the boost in productivity from increased adoption down the road. It’s a win-win scenario, if done right. You should still take your time to do your diligence and make a confident decision.
Whether your goal is to simply go paperless or to implement complex solutions for big ideas inside SharePoint Online and M365, Google Analytics is a fine starting point and may suffice long-term. However, if you’re expecting ongoing organizational change alongside adoption of new M365 tools, you may better serve your organization by choosing a solution that fully integrates with M365 applications, in anticipation of the future business needs.
Remember, you likely won’t stop adopting M365 at SharePoint Online and might eventually introduce Teams, OneDrive, and the Viva Suite to your employees. You may need a more comprehensive report of usage across them all to make sure your business is headed in the right direction.
Looking for additional assistance with SharePoint Online?
Quisitive offers a team of experts that can help you create a strategy for implementation, manage adoption, build your SharePoint instance, or optimize your current instance.
How to Apply Multi-Select Filters in Power Apps
Power Apps with Combo Box
In this step-by-step tutorial video, we will learn how to build multi select filters in Power Apps. We will apply multiple filters to PowerApps Gallery including multiple item selections using combo box, multi-select checkboxes and multi select buttons.
We will build these gallery filters keeping delegation in mind (No delegation warning) & work with multiple data sources like Dataverse & SharePoint.
I will showcase how to filter a multi select choice column based on a multi select combo box control.
Trick is to go around the IN non-delegable Operator and use Equals (=) which is a delegable function. I will also cover a new function called “Index” in Power Apps.
This video covers the following:
- Multiple Item Selection based Filters
- Combo box control to filter Gallery for SharePoint List & Dataverse
- Multi select checkbox-based filtering
- Multi select button-based Gallery Filter
- Multi Select Filter on Multi Select Choice Column
- Reset filters
- Delegation Workaround
- Index function
Looking for additional assistance with Power Apps?
Microsoft Announces Copilot in SharePoint
On May 2nd 2023, Microsoft 365 Copilot in SharePoint was added to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap for SharePoint.
Microsoft emphasizes that Copilot in SharePoint “combines the power of Large Language Models (LLMs), your data in the Microsoft Graph, and best practices to create engaging web content. Use a brief prompt to generate custom sites and pages with content hierarchy, design, and sample content that aligns with user needs. And all within our existing commitments to data security and privacy in the enterprise.”
So what does this mean for you?
Copilot in SharePoint is really going to empower users to create content easier than they were able to before with much richer automation techniques. With natural language, users will be able to ask Copilot to create a new site based on a PowerPoint presentation. Microsoft 365 Copilot will then take over and create the content, whether that’s a site, a page, etc.
What is Microsoft 365 Copilot?
Microsoft 365 Copilot is a new technology that Microsoft has rolled out. It’s an AI tool based on GPT4. GPT4 may sound familiar to you because ChatGPT is also based off of GPT4.
Microsoft 365 Copilot is going to be rolled out across the Microsoft 365 stack in everything from Word and Excel to Teams, SharePoint and more. It’s going to use the power of AI to do the work for you to get information you need to shorten the amount of effort that it takes to do normal things. Whether it’s creating content in Word, SharePoint, Teams, it’s going to integrate with Outlook as well and the Viva Suite.
Here’s an example video Microsoft has provided where somebody is asking Microsoft 365 Copilot to create an employee onboarding site for product managers and use this onboarding PowerPoint to get started. With just a simple sentence and an uploaded PowerPoint file, Copilot is able to create a new site and start populating it with information.
From what I can tell, if you’re not good at page design, that won’t matter anymore because Copilot will be able to come up with pretty nice looking designs. So there’s going to be a lot of benefits to this technology, especially when we have Copilot in SharePoint later this year.
Copilot in SharePoint Roll Out
According to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, the Copilot in SharePoint roll out will begin in November 2023.
My own personal tenant is running on the targeted release so it should get things sooner than the majority of production environments which would typically be on the standard release. As soon as it’s available in my tenant, I’m definitely going to be trying this out and posting more videos on what I can do with it.
With this being rolled out to desktop applications as well as the Enterprise Suite like Teams, Viva, and SharePoint, users are going to get a lot of exposure to this. You should be familiar with this so you can answer questions they may have and help them because this is going to be a large amount of functionality that’s added that users will definitely be trying out this technology.
To support this new interface that Copilot is going to be sitting in, the edit layout for SharePoint pages is changing as well, moving all of your authoring tools off to the side so that you can quickly get to what you need I think it’s a much needed improvement over the old editing layout.
As more information comes out I’m going to keep putting out update videos on these topics to keep you informed are you excited to try out Microsoft 365 Copilot when it rolls out to your tenant.
- SharePoint in the AI Era
- SharePoint Roadmap
- Introducing Microsoft 365 Copilot
- Frequently asked questions about AI and Microsoft 365 Copilot
Looking for additional assistance with SharePoint?
In the first blog in this series, I noted that there are five stages to the lifecycle of each M365 Group: Ideation, Request, Creation, Monitoring, and Archival.
Today, I’ll expand on the first stage, Ideation. This is the point at which someone has an idea for a place to accomplish some kind of work. We need to fully understand several issues that may come up during phase, so let us review them.
- Does an M365 Group already exist for this purpose?
- How can you create a directory of M365 Groups?
- Is an M365 Group the best way to solve your problem?
- What template should the M365 Group use?
- What are your next steps?
Does an M365 Group Already Exist?
One major issue that organizations face is that when they allow M365 Groups to be created, there is an explosion of groups that are duplicates of each other. We saw this in Yammer, where it was so easy to create a new community that users would often create one before determining if one already existed.
Ensuring that users check to see if an M365 Group already exists for their proposed use is step one in controlling your M365 Group environment. The question is, how do we accomplish this?
The first step should be to train our users to always look for an existing group before they create one. Unfortunately, this is more challenging than you think. When a user has an idea for a Group, they want to get working on it right away, and any delay in our process is likely to drive them into using another tool that offers them immediate gratification.
For example, a user wants to chat and collaborate with their team on a project. This is a quintessential ad hoc collaboration example that Microsoft designed M365 Groups to address. However, if we force users to enter a request and it takes hours or days to create their workspace, they might just create a Group Chat in Teams with everyone on the project team and use the Files tab in the chat to collaborate in their various OneDrive accounts.
This is not the best practice for using Microsoft Teams. We should provide guidance for users on the proper behavior. It underscores how important it is to not place roadblocks to creating M365 Groups.
If we want our users to see if an M365 Group already exists, then we are going to have to help them as the out-of-the-box experience is lacking. Let us take as an example a user who wants to create a Microsoft Team workspace for a demo. For this example, I have created three Teams workspaces. Demo Public Team, Public Demo Team, and Demo Private Team.
For our purposes, either would be a duplicate of our example user’s new proposed Team. They go to the “Join or create a team” link and click it. They are presented with a list of public teams that they might want to join.
You can see the first problem here. Where is the Demo Public Team? It is not suggested to the user for some reason that only Microsoft truly knows. We can search for it, so our example user will type in Demo and see if they find anything.
In this case, the user sees the public team that starts with Demo, but not the private team, or the team Public Demo Team because it only looks for Teams that start with your search term. We can see that if we search for “public” we get these results.
As for private teams, that is even harder to locate. So, how do we solve this problem?
Creating a Directory of M365 Groups
We will need to create our directory of M365 Groups. This is not necessarily difficult but keeping it up to date is tedious and requires us to automate a process that runs on some schedule. We can use PowerShell to accomplish this. There is a PowerShell cmdlet called Get-AzureAdGroup that returns every AzureAD Group. It is part of the AzureAD module, and it will return the following:
This could be used to create a directory, but it does not tell us much about the M365 Group. We could use Get-SPOSite instead which gives us much more information, including Site Collections that are not M365 Groups, which might be valuable to us. We could also go to the SharePoint Admin center and export the list of Active Sites to a CSV file:
Here you will get a list of all the sites with everything that you might need.
If you want the list up to date, then you will either need to re-run the PowerShell or the export and then save the data someplace like a SharePoint list that you can use for your directory. Keeping that directory up to date either requires a job to run daily or forcing every new site to be created through a process that updates this directory as part of its process. We will talk about that in Part 3 where we discuss Requesting a new M365 Group.
Is an M365 Group the Best Way to Solve this Problem?
This is a tricky question to address technologically, but from a Governance perspective, it is one that we need to address. There are reasons that an organization might want users to work in specific ways. For example, there might be a process to create a project workspace when D365 reaches a specific point in the opportunity lifecycle. Thus, we do not want users to request or create a site for a project since it will happen as part of an ERP workflow.
This training and communications issue should be part of our Governance process even though there is not a technological solution for it. We might prevent users from seeing the project workspace template, but that will not stop them from requesting say a generic M365 Group and customizing it. We need to monitor that, as well as educate our users on how to create these groups.
Select the Right Template for the M365 Group
Like the directory that we will need to create, each M365 Group should be based on a template. These should be designed to guide users to which template they would request based on the problem they are trying to solve. For example, if a user is looking for a place to collaborate and communicate around a set of documents for a presentation, creating a Teams workspace makes sense. If they are working on a process like loan origination, then it might make more sense to create a channel in an existing Teams workspace or add a folder to a SharePoint site.
Another advantage of templates is that they can be used to customize the content, the features, the look and feel, and more of an M365 Group when it is created. Take as an example a new project workspace. We might want to include the template for the project charter, as well as a risk register, and the templates for requirements and design documents. That way we can ensure that the correct documents are used without the users having to search for them.
Putting It All Together
Our goal here is to allow our end users to easily create sites when they need them with minimal disruption or delay. To accomplish this, we need to ensure that they can quickly and easily find M365 Groups that already exist, even if they do not have access to them to prevent duplication. If we do not do this now, then during the approval or creation step someone else will need to validate that a group does not already exist, or we will have duplicate groups that will require merging.
This is the time to prevent that, but to do so we must have a searchable list of all the groups. Yes, you can still hide some groups that might be secure in nature. We call those hidden groups that do not appear in the directory.
The Ideation phase of M365 Group Lifecycle is focused on aligning users with the best options using M365 Groups to address their issues. We also need to ensure that they don’t duplicate existing sites. This means that we need a directory of sites that users can search prior to creating a site. The Out of the Box tools for this aren’t great, but with some PowerShell and time you can enable this searchable list for your users. This is the point that we should expose users to the potential list of group templates that exist so that they can select what works for them. This means we need to identify and create these templates that are linked to use cases that we have identified.
In the next article in this series, we will talk about the Request phase of M365 Group lifecycle.
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Summary: In this blog, I will explore common challenges to knowledge management, knowledge sharing and employee collaboration in organizations today and how Microsoft Viva Topics can mitigate these issues with the help of AI and machine learning.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to any of us now that the workplace has changed, is changing and will continue to change as both society and technology evolve. Workers that stay with one organization for years, acquire knowledge about the business, and then pass on that knowledge through personal associations and long-term relationships are becoming the exception rather than the rule.
It’s not just that people don’t stay at one organization as long, but that people also change jobs within organizations to meet changing business needs and keep up with technological changes. Teams are also spread out geographically more than ever before, making it challenging to get together and learn or ask for help.
These new realities of our workplace make it particularly challenging to build, document, update and share up-to-date domain knowledge in many areas. Let’s talk about how Microsoft Viva Topics can help address these challenges.
Microsoft Viva Topics is a knowledge management tool built upon years of work around Content Search and Machine Learning algorithms that helps organizations manage and surface relevant information for employees. This information can include definitions of documents, videos, images, meetings, audio transcripts, and people involved with or related to specific programs, products or subjects.
Common business use cases for Microsoft Viva Topics include:
The creation of Topics pages helps organizations centralize and categorize information, making it easier for employees to find and access relevant information. In the past, organizations have used shared folders, formal product and program guides, training manuals, and even “tribal” or institutional knowledge to collect this information. Creating these resources is a time-consuming process for the people in your organization that usually have the least time to spare: your experts.
Microsoft Viva Topics helps by using AI capabilities to read all content and organize it based on contextual connections, creating “Topics” pages that can then be reviewed, approved, refined and curated by experts. These are built quickly by machines, saving time and effort.
Information is linked to creation topics, enhancing search capabilities within Microsoft Teams and other M365 services like SharePoint online. This improves search and makes it easier for employees to find the information they need. The search results are also more rewarding because the search feature offers the capability to provide “micro-learning” opportunities in the user’s flow of work.
Viva Topics doesn’t just collect relevant documents; it also supplies definitions and connects users to the people and other Topics related to the Topic they are viewing to help them understand the context.
Organized and consolidated repositories of knowledge and experience as well as relationships between knowledge centers can be used to give new employees access to relevant information, helping to streamline the onboarding process. Topics can be linked to specific roles in an organization and links to Topics can be embedded into emails, IM’s, training plans and many other tools to ensure that new employees have what they need to get started quickly.
Relationships between Topics discovered during the Topic creation process enhances the team’s ability to collaborate on projects and initiatives by making them aware of opportunities to share information, documents, and best practices.
Microsoft Viva Topics can uncover relationships between programs or products that may not be clear to the organization by connecting people and content with shared context.
Individual learning can be enhanced as Topics can provide employees with personalized recommendations for learning and development resources based on their interests and job responsibilities.
The ability to edit and enhance Topic Pages makes it easy for employees to share their knowledge and expertise with others in the organization, promoting a culture of continuous learning and improvement. This knowledge can be shared in many ways using the communication tools available in M365, Teams, Office, Outlook SharePoint, Viva Connect and Adaptive Cards.
Policy and Procedure Management
Published Topics can be used to manage and distribute policies, procedures, and other important organizational information.
Turning content into knowledge
Most AI (Artificial Intelligence) models are trained from a generic, open-source set of parameters. Using these models effectively within your organization often involves teaching them, or tuning the “taught” model, about your specific domain of expertise. Viva Topics and tools like Microsoft Syntex can be used to organize and categorize or label information used to tune ChatGPT or any other AI-powered digital assistant.
By creating topics and subtopics, Viva Topics can help structure and categorize the organization-specific information that ChatGPT has access to, making it easier for users to find the information they need and easier to tailor a general GPT model to your specific organization. Additionally, Viva Topics can help ensure that information is up-to-date and correct by enabling organizations to manage the information and content that ChatGPT provides.
Why You Should Use Microsoft Viva Topics
The short answer to the question “Why should you use Viva Topics?” is that it makes the very difficult job of knowledge management much easier by having a well-built AI algorithm do much of the heavy lifting.
In the next section, we’ll talk about some of the activities humans need to do.
Deploying Microsoft Viva Topics
Deploying Viva Topics isn’t without its challenges, the AI doesn’t do all the work for you however, it gets much of the heavy lifting done when it comes to getting past the traditional documentation problem of the “blank page” by preparing Topics to review and edit. Actual Topics prepared for our own organization and our customers by the AI have been consistently correct and have needed minimal edits prior to publication. Things to think about when deploying Viva Topics include:
- Migrate Content into Modern SharePoint repository so it can be used for knowledge search
- Use Graph-based content connectors for remote content
- Syntex can be used to enrich content security and context using labeling and metadata
- Admins identify content to be indexed for Viva Topics, assign user licenses, and set up a topic center. Provision & assign E3 type licenses first before provisioning premium Topics licenses.
- Viva AI indexes selected content and builds Topic pages.
- Knowledge managers review and approve topics in the topic center.
- Experts curate topic pages
- Employees find topic cards in SharePoint, Microsoft Search, Office, Teams, Outlook, Yammer, and Answers in Viva (coming soon).
- Topic identification improves when more content is available.
- Topic highlights appear on modern SharePoint sites today, and will be in more places shorly.
- The security, privacy, and location of your data is preserved.
- Users need a license to view topic experiences
- Suggested and confirmed topics are rendered when accessed; published topics have static URLs in the Pages library
- There is one Topic Center per tenant
- Viva AI is supported in English today
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Microsoft Editor: What is it and how does it work? February 22, 2023 What is Microsoft Editor? Microsoft Editor is an AI-powered service that checks for grammar and spelling mistakes in more than twenty languages while making recommendations to improve your writing through more formal and concise language. Additionally, Editor can be configured to use three writing style formats: Formal, Casual, and Professional. Microsoft Editor is accessible at […] Get in touch
What is Microsoft Editor?
Microsoft Editor is an AI-powered service that checks for grammar and spelling mistakes in more than twenty languages while making recommendations to improve your writing through more formal and concise language. Additionally, Editor can be configured to use three writing style formats: Formal, Casual, and Professional. Microsoft Editor is accessible at the application level (Word and Outlook) or from the browser as an extension in Edge and Chrome.
It is free for checking basic spelling, and when linked to a Microsoft 365 account, authors get refinements beyond the basics with advanced grammar and style refinements like clarity, conciseness, formality, vocabulary suggestions, and more. This removes the need for a third-party application such as Grammarly, WhiteSmoke, or Ginger.
How does it work?
Microsoft Editor in Your Web Browser
Microsoft Editor can easily be added as a browser extension for Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. However, it requires signing in with a Microsoft account. When active, Editor helps authors achieve their best writing on web platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, and LinkedIn.
Once the extension is added to either browser, the Editor icon will appear in the extension section of the browser. If the Editor icon grayed out, this means that you need to sign in to your Microsoft 365 account. It is important to note that browser extensions are disabled by default in a private browsing session. This can be changed in your browser settings if desired.
Microsoft Editor Browser Extension in Chrome
Microsoft Editor Browser Extension in Edge
Editor settings let you adjust what it will check for, including the language, and can be deactivated for specific websites.
Microsoft Editor for browsers runs in textboxes where spellcheck may not be supported by websites.
When authoring content on a web page, the extension will recognize a potential correction and will underline it to suggest adjusting the spelling, grammar, or style suggestions. You can then select the underlined word or phrase to accept or ignore the suggestion.
Microsoft Editor in Microsoft Apps
Editor is also accessible in the Windows version of Word for Microsoft 365, Outlook on the web, and Outlook.com when an author is signed in with their Microsoft 365 Account.
Microsoft Editor in In Outlook.com and Outlook on the Web
You can use the Editor Settings panel to customize your Editor preferences, including the proofreading language. Editor is accessible when drafting an email. From the ribbon, select the (…) menu, and then select Editor > Editor Settings.
The number of editing suggestions appears below the email composition section when clicking on the icon will bring up the Editor panel. Learn more.
Microsoft Editor in Word for Microsoft 365
You can access Editor from the ribbon Home > Editor. This will bring up the Editor panel, where the user can get an understanding of the areas that need to be corrected for the document. Learn more
What does it do?
The following list outlines the capabilities of Microsoft Editor.
1. Add to Dictionary
When Editor identifies a potential issue with spelling it provides the choice of adding the word to the custom dictionary that is built into your Microsoft 365 apps via “Add to dictionary”.
2. Check for Similarity
This function checks for originality by checking content that matches text that is found online, it then points at the sections of the document that can be revised to either insert a citation or rephrase the paragraph. Learn more.
3. Document Stats
In Word on the web, Editor provides statistics about your document including word count, time to read, to speak, and the total of Editor suggestions.
Editor can help authors with clarity, formality, inclusiveness, punctuation, and sensitive geopolitical references.
Get expert guidance on your Modern Workplace Journey.
Learn more about how we support our clients on their modern workplace journey by exploring our Digital Workplace Managed Services program. Learn More
A limited-time preview of Microsoft Syntex’s document processing models is now available in Commercial tenants where you can take advantage of the unstructured document processing models available at no cost. This will be useful to assess usage and estimate costs for a future pay-as-you-go license.
With this preview, any users will be able to apply an unstructured document processing or prebuilt document processing model to a SharePoint library.
Use cases include the automatic classification of documents and extraction of information, while an example of an unstructured document could be a contract renewal letter or a contract.
What do you have to do?
To activate the preview, navigate to your Microsoft 365 admin center > Setup > Files and content > Use content AI with Microsoft Syntex.
Prerequisites include an Azure subscription, an Azure resource group in that subscription, and an Azure Storage Account in the same subscription to create usage reports.
When will this happen?
This preview will expire in February 2023. After this, the new Microsoft Syntex license will be required.
Why would you want this?
This is a great opportunity to “try before you buy” Microsoft Syntex. Take advantage of this preview to understand how Syntex can improve search, automation, and compliance in your organization.
Get expert guidance on your Modern Workplace Journey.
Learn more about how we support our clients on their modern workplace journey by exploring our Digital Workplace Managed Services program.
In this blog, we will share all updates to Microsoft 365 over the last month. For any questions, we encourage you to reach out to your Quisitive account manager or fill out a contact form on our website.
Internet Explorer 11 Hard Block
Microsoft has been talking about the end of support for Internet Explorer in their Web apps and services since December 2020. Beginning mid-January 2023, access to SharePoint Online and OneDrive from Internet Explorer 11 and Edge IE will be hard-blocked.
Empowering Your Employees to Learn with Viva Learning
Microsoft Viva Learning makes it easier to empower your employees to find relevant training and gain access to it via Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft 365 Group Lifecycle
Understand Microsoft 365 Groups and establish proper governance in your organization by exploring the five lifecycle stages of a Group.
Microsoft Digital Whiteboard to the Rescue for Digital Collaboration
Learn all about the features of Microsoft Whiteboard, a digital whiteboard that facilitates remote or hybrid collaboration for teams.
Microsoft Whiteboard App: A Whiteboard in Your Pocket
Microsoft’s digital whiteboard app goes mobile. Learn how you can access your whiteboards from anywhere with this blog.
SharePoint App Bar: Temporary Window to Disable Has Been Extended
The SharePoint app bar cannot be disabled permanently. However, it can be suppressed with PowerShell until March 31, 2023.
New SharePoint Site Templates
In November, Microsoft began rolling out three new Sharepoint site templates targeted for HR (Human Resources), Events, and Contract Management.
How to Delete Chats in Microsoft Teams
In December 2022, Microsoft rolled out functionality to all tenants that allows users to delete chats in Microsoft Teams.
How to Add Microsoft Stream Videos to SharePoint Hero Web Part
Learn how to add Microsoft Stream videos to a SharePoint Hero web part so users can view the video inline within the web part.
Video + Blog: How to Change Your SharePoint Domain Name and More in Microsoft 365
Microsoft has now made it possible to change your SharePoint domain name. Based on the lessons learned, Microsoft has made this capability public for specific tenant types that meet certain criteria. Read about a few things to consider before
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Quisitive’s team of digital workplace experts can help you manage your Microsoft 365 environment and ensure you’re getting the most out of your technology stack.
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I have been a consultant in the SharePoint space for a decade. Every year I had at least one client asking if it’s possible to change your SharePoint domain name due to a merger, rebranding acquisition, etc. Until recently the answer has always been “No.”
Over the past two years, Microsoft has been vetting the process with organizations that have volunteered their environment as a test bed. In that time, we have helped a handful of clients navigate those rough waters.
Based on the lessons learned, Microsoft has made this capability public for specific tenant types that meet certain criteria. Before you get too excited and jump headlong into it, there are things you must consider. Fortunately, Microsoft has provided some valuable documentation to help you identify any hazards ahead.
An important clarification to get out of the way is that this only affects SharePoint and OneDrive URLs (tenantname.sharepoint.com and tenantname-my.sharepoint.com). Additionally, this action automatically creates a redirect from your old URL for you, but it will only last for one year.
Before you jump ahead to the “How” portion of this blog, here are the key limiters that Microsoft has put in place.
You CANNOT proceed if:
- The domain name you want to use is already in use.
- If you own the name and want to use it, you must delete it in Azure AD. This can take up to 3 days.
- You have a multi-geo configuration.
- Your organization uses a special cloud such as GCC, GCC High, DoD etc.
- If you have more than 10,000 total SharePoint sites and OneDrive accounts COMBINED.
- If you have old SharePoint public sites.
- If you have a vanity domain configuration (teams.quisitive.com vs quisitive.sharepoint.com).
- If you have already completed a rename (why would you be reading this?).
- You can’t change back to a previous name (again, you have done this already right?!).
Aside from these limitations, you need to plan for other issues that will arise from this name change. I have listed many below that have affected our clients, but the full list can be found in this recent post from Microsoft: Change Your SharePoint Domain Name.
Things to Consider When You Change Your SharePoint Domain Name
- You will need to re-register your hubs and reassociate sites to the hub
- Any sites deleted before the change can’t be restored
- If you are planning to run a SPOSiteSwap to change your root site, do it before or after the name change.
- Add-ins may need to be republished depending on app configurations in Azure AD to point to the new domain name
- Any absolute URL in navigation, 3rd Party apps, or custom web parts/extensions must be manually updated
- SharePoint 2013 Workflows in flight will be orphaned
- Search results will point to the old domain until the index is complete and this could take some time
- Navigation elements such as Global Navigation, Hub Navigation, Site Navigation, Quick Links etc. with URL that contain absolute URLs will need to be updated manually.
- Users will receive a sync error during the changeover and should be informed of this to avoid confusion and needless Help Desk tickets
- Quick access links will not work after the changeover
- Document libraries added as a tab will need to be re-added.
- Meeting notes can take up to 72 hours to display after the change is completed
- The first time someone tries to access the Files tab for a team or private channel, they’ll receive an error. The tab will work for all users after that.
- Personal Wikis won’t work
- Flows that use SharePoint as a connection must be removed and re-created.
- Request sign-off flows that use SharePoint as a connection must be removed and re-created
- During the change over users may experience errors when saving Office files that are located in OneDrive
- eDiscovery holds can’t be removed until you update hold URLs to the new domain name
- URLS at https://www.office.com can take 24 hours to be updated
After reviewing all the limitations and planning for all the strangeness that comes from the name change you can kick off the process by following Microsoft’s Change your SharePoint Domain name instructions.
I highly recommend that you complete this over a weekend. Even a long weekend. As described above, there are many moving pieces, and some of the actions take time to complete. As complex as this process is, it is still easier than migrating to a new tenant.