Categories
Microsoft 365

Handle templates for Office 365

This is topic has always been a headache. You have your corporate Office-templates hidden away on some on-prem file-share which only a few people have access to. This makes it a bit tricky when we are in world where your devices might not be on-prem anymore, both physically and where they are managed. This gets even more painful when you want to get the templates out to Mac devices.

Of course, there are ways to make use of the old settings where you point out a file share, which could theoretically also live in an Azure blob.

I came from this in the mindset “there has to be something better and cloud ready”. Lo and behold, there is something native to SharePoint we could use!

This concept is more based around the logged in user in the Office suit rather than specific settings on the device. This means that you could also provide unmanaged/external devices with your templates if you have contractors or similar who are using their own devices.

You can read more here about the concept and the limitations (Microsoft Docs).

SharePoint organization assets library

What I found was the organization assets library feature in SharePoint which you can utilize to point out your assets like templates but also images.

This whole setup is based around document libraries on a SharePoint site which you give all your employees reading access to. You can then give restricted access on certain folders if not everyone should see all templates (it’s basic SharePoint access management on folders). This also make it possible for you to assign higher access to people who are responsible for producing templates and they could potentially manage this them self.

One thing which is important to take notice of is that this will create the asset library tenant wide meaning all your users will have this showing up in the Office suite.

Step one – SharePoint site

Create a document library on a new or existing SharePoint site which you will use as your asset repository. My Document Library is called “Office Templates”

Add “Everyone except external” to the visitors access group on your library and give them “Read only” access.

Add some folders and/or templates to your SharePoint library, make sure that they are in a .dotx/.potx/.xltx to work as proper template.

Step two – Configure library

First step is to install the SharePoint Online Management Shell in PowerShell. Detailed information can be found here. In order to invoke this part you will need to be at least a tenant administrator in your Office 365 environment.

Open an elevated PowerShell session and run:

Install-Module -Name Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell

To connect to your SharePoint Online infrastructure you will need to run this command where you replace [tenant] with the name of your tenant:

Connect-SPOService -Url https://[tennant]-admin.sharepoint.com

Next up is to specify the asset library:

Add-SPOOrgAssetsLibrary -LibraryUrl  https://[tenant].sharepoint.com/sites/[Site name]/[Document library name] -OrgAssetType OfficeTemplateLibrary -CdnType Private

When you have successfully executed those few PowerShell lines, you are done and within a few minutes the templates will show up in your users Office clients.

Categories
Microsoft 365 Modern Workplace

Use your webcam!

We are about a year in to Covid-19 and remote work has been introduced to a whole lot more people. It has also proven that remote work is possible even for people who were really sceptic about the concept pre-covid.

One thing that has really blossomed during this pandemic is remote meetings, using tools such as Microsoft Teams. Many of you were pretty used to having online-meetings even before this pandemic, but not to the extent we see today.

Enhance your meetings

Given that you are by now probably quite used to online meetings, it’s time to take the next step in your meeting experience and turn on that webcam.

For some strange reason, it seems like we in IT are particular hesitant towards using the webcam during meetings. We are the ones that should lead by example, and we probably encourage others to use their webcam during meetings.

By turning on your webcam you will increase the experience not only for you, but for everyone in the meeting. The feeling of presence will increase and getting a face on whom ever is speaking is making it a lot easier to follow along and will decrease the interruptions.

What if your hair is not on point?

My hair is not on point either, but if you are dressed you are good to go! It’s okay to not be comfortable with how you look today, but imaging that you are at the office, then you would meet people non the less.

Also, we are all in the same situation at the moment.

But the room I’m sitting in is such a mess!

If you are using Teams (or Zoom for that matter) you can use custom backgrounds or just blur the background. It’s perfect for situations when your background is not on point. I regularly use it if I’m sitting at a café or such, to not get people walking behind me. One of my favourite background to use is however the Ollivianders store background from Harry Potter.

My point is…

What is the point I’m trying to get at?

Make the effort to show up to meetings using the webcam. I do that all the time. Sometimes I’m the only one with my webcam on, but I leave it on. It also makes others turn on their camera (without asking).

Let’s all make it a custom to turn on that webcam when we join a meeting to increase the experience for everyone!

Categories
Microsoft 365 Modern Workplace

The road to productivity

Since you read my blog, my guess is that you are in the Microsoft ecosystem. That could be running a Windows computer, using Microsoft 365, or administrating 35 000 devices in Microsoft Endpoint Manager.

But let’s talk about Microsoft 365, or Office 365 as we can also call it. Because this post will focus more on productivity tools rather than devices.

Transitioning to modern tools

My hope is that you are already today using the Office 365 suite, which could be Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. I hope all of you are already made the transition over to Teams or have at least planned what your journey will look like moving away from Skype for Business. But Office 365 contains so much more than just these six usual suspects. Office 365 is a suite packed with a lot of different productivity and collaboration tools.

What you can access depends of course on what licenses you have bought, but you will have a tool for basically every situation.

File sharing – OneDrive for Business. Collaboration – SharePoint. Project management – Projects. Kanban boards – Planner. Corporate videos – Stream. Big all company meetings – Teams Live Event. Note taking – OneNote. Digital whiteboards – Whiteboard. Personal to-do lists – To Do.

You get the point. There are a lot of often unknown and unused potential in your Office 365 suite. Microsoft provides a bunch of modern tools which becomes disposable for you and your users when you adopt Office 365, providing you with modern tools from the same eco system.

Spread awareness

I way to often stumble across customers, friends and even co-workers who are not aware of the power of Office 365. Instead they turn to well-known consumer products, e.g. Trello or DropBox which lives completely outside the corporate sphere. Not only does corporate data live in a place you don’t control, the free-to-use service does usually only apply for consumer usage, which means that you could be asked to pay for a corporate license for your rouge users.

Historically, these have been quite common as a solution on the problem that the employer does not provide sufficient tools. But that is no longer the case if you have the Microsoft 365 services. The problem might be that your users does not know this yet. Or simply doesn’t care, that is absolutely a possibility as well.

Since you are already paying for the Office 365 suite and Microsoft 365 services, you should really encourage your users to do and use the right things. Spread awareness about all the great tools that they have at their disposal!

Conclusion

If you have spent the time and money to move to Office 365, make sure that you make the most out of it. You invested a lot in the transition, but that doesn’t mean that the work stops there. The Microsoft services are constantly evolving, and you need make sure you keep up in some way or another and keep deploying new tools and services to your users.

Another aspect of this is securing your corporate data. If you use tools within the product suite you have decided to work with, this applies not only to the Microsoft world, the data will live in a place which you control and govern. If you start using other services, especially consumer services, that data might not be yours anymore and you can’t apply retention policies and data leak prevention policies to that service nor data. This is a big problem when your corporate data lives on places it shouldn’t. However, that’s a completely different topic which I could dedicate a complete post to.

But I hope you get where I’m coming from and there are a few takeaways from this.

  1. Make the most of the productivity suite you have bought
  2. Don’t use consumer versions for corporate use
  3. Protect the data by keeping it within the corporate sphere

Given the development Microsoft have done with the Office 365 suite the last couple of years, most of the tools you need for productivity can be found there. Make sure you tell your users and make the most of the investment you have already made!

And to be clear, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t go buy other productivty tools. But before you do, make sure you don’t already have what your users are asking for within your exisiting tools.

Categories
Microsoft 365 Modern Workplace

Key take-aways from Ignite 2020

Ignite 2020 was a bit different from previous Ignite to say non the less. Instead of having an in-person event in New Orleans, the experience this year was a 100% digital.

It was as always, a bit overwhelming with a lot of interesting sessions, but you didn’t have to walk between sessions. Oh, and the coffee was really good this year!

Looking at what was covered from the modern workplace at Ignite this year there was one common theme. Remote working and the new normal that Covid-19 creates. There was a lot of talk about how the world has changed the playing field for remote work and that we might never go back completely to how it was before. Something that I find very intriguing since this is an areas I’m passionate about.

If you would only watch two of the sessions from Ignite 2020, I would really recommend that you watch Satya Nadella’s keynote on Building Digital Resilience and Jared Spataro’s keynote on The Future of Work. Those two were really good!

This was a year for refinements from device management. New options for what you can do during Windows Autopilot and Co-management/tenant attach. A lot of new things which will help a lot of companies on the road to transition from traditional management to modern management! If you want to geek out, here are all the Endpoint Manager related sessions, all the Teams sessions and all the Office 365 sessions.

Microsoft Tunnel

On of the things that really cought my eye on an early stage was Microsoft Tunnel, which is a Microsoft VPN solution without the need for any third party licenses. I think this will be very beneficial for scenarios where you are utilizing Microsoft solutions for VPN for Windows and don’t want to invest in additional services for your mobile devices.

Microsoft Tunnel is in public preview and is available on iOS and Android. You can read all about it here.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft has been pushing the new Edge for a while now, and for a good reason too!

It’s a really good browser, built on Chromium but with Microsoft integrations. I’ve been using this browser since it first came out, and it’s really good now.

Microsoft is pushing it even more now and was also highlighting the Internet Explorer compatibility mode.

BUT the big thing for Ignite was Application Management for Edge on Windows 10 which brings the Application Protection Policy features from the mobile platforms to the desktop Edge browser. This means that you can manage just the application instead of the whole device. Additionally, Microsoft Edge will support the new Microsoft Endpoint Data Loss Prevention (DLP) service which will be launched in October from day one.

There were a bunch of other improvements to Edge presented as well, you can read all about it here.

Microsoft Teams

If you think there were a lot of new improvements introduced for Microsoft Endpoint Manager, it was nothing compared to Microsoft Teams.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Microsoft Teams should not be considered a product, it’s a platform.

There were so many new things ranging from power platform and low-code solution for automated workflows to improved meeting experiences and wellbeing.

A few of the highlights that caught my attention were:

  • Breakout sessions
  • Custom layouts and new together scenes
  • Wellbeing and productivity insights
  • Improved first-line workers functionallity

You can read more in details here.

Categories
Microsoft 365 Tips & Tricks

Make better looking PowerPoint presentations

Okay, so this isn’t a new feature in PowerPoint but it doesn’t make is less useful! (And I don’t think everyone knows about it).

There is a feature in PowerPoint called Design Ideas which helps you create better looking slides. It will give you several suggestions based on the content of you slide, like if you have bullet points you can show them in a more visually attractive way.

What I also really like, is that it will adapt to the template I user, like this one created with a corporate template. It will match the color scheme and not go to crazy with its suggestions.

The feature is called Design Ideas and you need to enable it in the ribbon. I use it quite frequently to make the PPTs a little more fun.

If you are not using a template, it will list some suggestions for you with more creative ideas then if you are using a corporate template.

What is your best PowerPoint tip? Share it in the comments!

Bonus…

However, sometimes you get weird suggestions like this GIF of water I got on a new slide. I´m guessing this is NOT what Microsoft meant by fluid framework…