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

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.