Confused by Microsoft Flow?

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Microsoft’s Office 365 platform continues to develop and there are an increasing number of tools that are often overlooked. One of these tools is Flow, which I have seen in the app list for quite some time now but never really taken any notice. Taking a look into Flow opens a significant tool that has quite a lot of functional capability. in addition, if you have a logical mind, it’s also quite straight forward to use.

 

So what does Flow actually do? Well, in simple terms Flow is a tool that allows you to create and run cross product workflows. In layman’s terms, it enables you to create a trigger in one product that then does something in another. For example, it could monitor your email and if you get an email from a certain user with a specific subject, it could record the details into an excel spreadsheet. It also has the capability to integrate with products outside the Office 365 suite, such as twitter, Facebook or your ERP system. So imagine a school wanted to visualise it’s social activity on Twitter, Flow is the perfect tool for this. Flow could monitor the Twitter account for tweets, retweets, mentions, etc. and drop all the details into a Power BI dataset and the analysis could be displayed in (almost) real time in a dashboard.

 

The possibilities of flow are quite extensive and mainly limited by your own imagination in finding an appropriate use. On first review it may feel a little like a tool looking for a job, and you will need to be careful not to just create workflows ‘because you can’. Keep it in mind though, because when you identify that need, Flow will add real value.

 

Now this capability is not new and other services, such as the web tool IFTTT, can do this just as well. However, Flow is part of the Office 365 platform and therefore included in many of the subscription packages at no additional cost. 

 

Written by Virtue Technologies Head of Operations, Will Stead

Top 3 tips for successful deployment of Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is another great tool that is delivered as part of the office 365 platform. Released back in March, many organisations are now using teams to support their collaboration activities. However, like many apps, deployment is not without its challenges and here are my top 3 tips to help your Teams deployment be as smooth as possible whilst generating as much value as possible.

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1 – Pick one function and run with it

Like many Microsoft tools, Teams is packed with features and can be rather daunting for many. With wikis, chat, file sharing, skype, tabs and connectors to a whole range of other applications, the array of features in Teams can be a quite bewildering. To ease new users into Teams, I recommend giving your Teams a purpose and try to use just one feature of Teams to achieve that.

For example, the Chat tool is the core of Teams and a great way to engage your users and improve communication on a specific project, team or business wide. Move the communication away from ‘email broadcast’ to a Team chat, get some interactivity going with company announcements, or just give people space to share ideas.

2 – Use the Microsoft Teams apps

The Teams website is great, but you can’t beat the performance and ease of access that comes with a locally installed app. So, whether it’s on your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone, download the Teams app for a much more engaging experience. In addition, your users will benefit from notifications to keep them up to date with what’s happening on your Teams, which in turn will drive more collaboration across your organisation.

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3 – Manage Sprawl

It’s so easy to create a new Team or a new channel within a Team, but if it’s not managed there will be so many places for users to engage it will just become confusing. So, keep it tight, make sure there are not too many channels within each team, or too many teams.

Presented with a great long list of Teams in the App will just confuse people and this will reduce the uptake of your Teams.  It’s better to have a smaller number of Teams and channels that are packed full of activity rather than a long list of Teams and channels with a single post in each.

 

Written by Virtue Technologies Head of Operations, Will Stead.