Don’t Just Search – Office Delve Delivers Relevant Information to You

Microsoft published Delve as part of the Office 365 package in September. By spring 2015, also those organizations that are not using the Office First Release option will have it in use. Now is the perfect time to get to know what Delve is all about.

Delve uses Office Graph to find out who and what you’re working with and based on that information, shows you the most relevant content. Office Graph uses advanced machine learning techniques to analyze the actions of the people in your work network. For example, editing a document and collaborating on a document count as actions. Delve shows a different view for every user according to their personal interests, actions and user rights. The goal of Delve is not just to help you search for information: it aims to bring the relevant information to you and make the search function unnecessary. The more you and your colleagues work and collaborate together by viewing, editing and sharing files, the more beneficial Delve is for all of you.

Office Delve

Office Delve connects people with relevant files and data.

A search-oriented user might think that Delve offers nothing new, as all the search features work so well nowadays. That’s partly true, but imagine a situation, when you can’t remember the location a file is saved, let alone the name or title of the file. If you, for example, were in a meeting with your colleague and he showed you a PowerPoint presentation, which you now want to review. You don’t know, where that file is stored and you can’t even be certain if the presentation was originally compiled by your colleague. Office Graph recognizes that you two were in the same meeting and that your colleague showed you a presentation. Thus, this presentation can be found in Delve under Presented to Me. Currently Delve incorporates content from OneDrive, SharePoint and Yammer, but later other Microsoft products, such as OneNote, Lync and Outlook e-mail attachments, will be included as well. Office Graph indexes content also from e-mails, even though e-mails as such are not shown in Delve yet.

The idea of Delve is to connect data to the people you’re working with. For instance, let’s say your colleague Lisa has showed you a file that has to do with learning. If you do a search with the keyword “learning”, you’ll get a huge amount of search results. In Delve, you can look for files that Lisa has worked with. Just click on Lisa’s name and you’ll see all the files and people in Lisa’s work network. You don’t have to pay too much attention to the metadata or remember the location of the file; you can just simply link files to people. It’s much easier to remember a person’s name than the name of the file or what kind of metadata is linked to the file. When everyone in a team uses Delve, the need to send files as e-mail attachments or have status meetings decreases, and people don’t constantly have to ask for help for locating the relevant files.

I can already see in my Delve all our blog posts that our marketing saves in OneDrive before publishing them. I can’t wait for the time when it’s not necessary for me to send customer service response time reports to my supervisor by e-mail, as he can see the new reports in his own Delve. These examples decrease the need to send e-mails and the need for manual internal communications. From now on, I will always keep track of all the information that’s relevant to me.

Read more about Delve:

Make Team Management Easier With SharePoint Team Sites

Anu NevalainenI’m a member of the Board of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Animal Protection Association, which is the second largest member association of the National Animal Protection Association of Finland. There’s a huge amount of tasks and responsibilities, both big and small, a Board member has to deal with. In order to stay organized and remember all the tasks at hand, we need loads of files, practices, lists and a shared place for all the information. In a volunteer-based non-profit, it’s not possible to demand as strong and time-consuming commitment from the chairperson as would be the case in paid work. I already revealed in my earlier blog post that we’re now using SharePoint team sites to make our work easier and remove some of the management burden. Thanks to donation from Microsoft, we can even use SharePoint for free. In her blog post Anna told about her experiences in leading volunteers. I will now give a few concrete examples of how SharePoint team sites can benefit your association.

Our team site has a SharePoint library, where we keep all our Board agendas, meeting minutes and possible attachments. The files of a certain meeting are easy and fast to find, as every single file contains the meeting date and the participants as metadata.

We also have a calendar in our team site, and we use it to save all our events. Earlier, the events we participated in were only mentioned in the Board’s meeting minutes. Now all the events are listed in one place and the calendar fields tell us, who was in charge of the event and which volunteers were there to help out. Our webmaster can always pick up the most interesting events and publish them on our website. It’s now much easier to report your actions, and compared to our old way of work, the improvement is significant.

The task list helps me to remember my current tasks, as I log in to the team site, I can instantly check, what I should do and when the deadline is. We update the task list during Board meetings and whenever something urgent comes up. Earlier we might have just forgotten to finish certain smaller tasks, if the person responsible didn’t remember to do the task. The task list makes management and the work of the chairperson a lot easier, when you can share the responsibilities and you don’t have too many balls in the air at the same time. Work becomes more autonomous and the chairperson doesn’t have to remind of pending tasks all the time.

The Excel spreadsheet listing all our volunteer animal care shelters was transformed into a SharePoint list and the column headings became the metadata fields. We’re now able to use filters to find the currently active shelters; if the shelter is passive for a certain time period – the family is on holiday, for instance –, we can input this information to the list as well. This way we don’t have to bother the volunteers with additional inquiries, because the filtered views in SharePoint handle all automatically.

There’s also a list for all the homeless animals we take care of: what animal is it, who the contact person is, when the animal was handed over to us, which animal shelter the animal is now at, what veterinary treatments have been taken so far and where we found new home for the animal. When we are writing our annual report, it’s easy to count, how many animals we took care of and what species they were. We can easily examine all the other history data as well.

We use the lists to cross-link data. For example in Animals Handed Over to Us list, you’re only allowed to choose a shelter that is registered in the Shelters list. In the Meeting Minutes and Agendas library, you can only choose meeting dates that are already in the events calendar. This practice minimizes mistakes and the information will be consistent. The search features are more advanced in the SharePoint list than Excel, and we can collaborate smoothly, as everyone can edit the rows at their own pace. The different devices we’re using do not cause problems anymore, and the lack of Office software or the wrong software version won’t prevent collaboration. It’s also very easy to export the lists to Excel, if you want to draw graphs or print the listing.

The writer is in love with SharePoint, OneNote and all the other Office productivity tools. She’s also Cloudriven’s Head of Customer Service and Chief Trainer, who bakes the most delicious cakes.

SharePoint Team Sites Fit Every Situation

It’s so normal for me to use SharePoint that when I start in any team or project I have a need to get SharePoint team sites into use. The latest example is me getting into the board of trustees of society for the prevention of cruelty to animals last year. I tried to keep up with all the e-mail conversations and attachments, but was soon dreaming about SharePoint. There we could save all the necessary files from meeting invites and minutes to pet foster home agreements. It would be so much easier to use discussion board instead of a lot of e-mails, create a calendar where all the board meetings and events are marked, manage a to-do list, pet foster home list, list of all the animals that our society is taking care of and the list goes on. As a new board member I didn’t have any means to read previous e-mail discussions whereas discussion board in SharePoint would have offered me also all the past discussions as well.

A need before that is dated a little over a year back when we purchased a house that needed a massive renovation. All of the sudden we were in a situation where we needed to plan the timetable, budget, look at the pictures, graphs, floor plan, contractors contact information and download files of the renovation project. My partner understood to use a SharePoint team site for the project and now all the needed files, pictures, timetable and budget are saved there as well as next tasks in prioritized order and several contact information.

My favorite child in business world is the team site that I designed for managing trainings. The first picture shows the original team site designed for SharePoint 2010. I didn’t create the whole in one session, but I have added features little by little when needs occur. This in my opinion is the key factor in designing team sites: first one needs to figure out the needs – why is the team site needed, what could it be used for, what’s the challenge that is set out to solve. I myself had two main challenges which I wanted to tackle with the training team site: where can one find the needed training material and where have I been sold to train (when, where, what, who?).

Training workspace in SharePoint 2010

Training workspace in SharePoint 2010

The first challenge was easily solved. I created a library where I downloaded all the existing training materials (nearly one hundred files). I thought carefully what information do I need of each file and what would be the easiest way to find the right material. This lead to noteworthy amount of different columns, i.e. metadata, and the front page only shows the most important ones. Now if I need to find a certain material, I find it with just a few filtering clicks on the columns. Later on I created a library for customer-tailored material and one for our organizations internal training material. Sure all these could be saved in one library as specific content types. Separate libraries make it possible to create different user rights for the libraries and share something in the extranet in the future. I wouldn’t want to share our internal training material for everybody!

The other challenge was a bit harder. How do I make the sales people to use my team site and write down the sold/agreed trainings there? Technically it wasn’t a big challenge. I created a custom list in the site and created just the columns/fields that were needed when I go to a training (for example who was the sales person, what are the names of the customer and the contact person, what’s the address etc.). It was just that the button “Add new item” was not so noticeable so the usability in the eyes of the sales people wasn’t so good. I came up with the solution to add a big button “Add new training” in the front page and copied the hyperlink from “Add new item”. That way the big button opens a new create item form. All I had to do was to explain to the sales people that you need to click on the big button and fill out the form.

For finishing touch I created a workflow for the training calendar that sends an e-mail to the assigned trainer every time someone edits a field in that list. This way neither me nor any other trainer has to check the site every once in a while; the info in the form is delivered directly in one’s inbox. Taking possible newbie trainers into account I added a page where the entire training process from selling the training into analyzing the feedback is explained thoroughly. I created that schema with MS Visio. This way even the ones who train seldom remember to do the necessary things before and after training. Later on I added one more metadata to the training material library, link list, information about the contact person of the site (that’s me of course), commenting feature etc. Even Rome wasn’t built in a day.

I just finished updating my training team site into SharePoint 2013 era. The whole idea of the team site was created for SharePoint 2010 so it was a bit outdated. The last spark to do this were the tips given by well-known WonderLaura and Jennifer Ann Mason at the Las Vegas SharePoint conference. As you compare the pictures of the team site in SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 you may notice that I added some visual elements in the front page with picture links, changed the layout to Oslo (left navigation is up so more room for content) and changed the commenting feature into Yammer-feed of training group. What do you think of the changes?

Training workspace in SharePoint 2013

Training team site in SharePoint 2013


P.S. You’ll never guess how fast it was to get the number of trainings held last year for my boss!

SharePoint Concept Based on Habit One of the Finalists at the European SharePoint Community Awards

Gravity is based on Cloudriven's Habit

Get to know Gravity by clicking the image

Cloudriven’s trusted partner and one of the best SharePoint experts in Europe, Peaches Industries, is among the finalists of the European SharePoint Community Awards. The Gravity concept by Peaches is nominated in the Best Social Strategy category.

Gravity is based on Cloudriven’s gamified Habit solution. Gravity will help you to learn how to use SharePoint fast and you’ll adopt the benefits of the system quickly. Getting employees to use SharePoint productively is a challenge in many organizations and one of the reasons is the lack of training after the deployment of the system; users are not well aware of the versatile features and benefits of SharePoint. Gravity guides, instructs and encourages employees to find out the most meaningful and useful tools and features of SharePoint regarding their own work. Gravity transforms SharePoint use into an exhilarating and ascending journey!

The father of the concept is Jussi Mori from Peaches, SharePoint MVP (Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional), whose ideas you can read more about in his earlier blog post SharePoint Smooth Onboarding and User Adoption with Gamification.


Only Used Information Systems Are Productive

In the previous blog post by Anu the meaning of motivation in learning was addressed and gamification was offered as a solution for motivation. In this article, the issue of motivating different types of learners is discussed. By different types of learners here we don’t mean the traditional classification of learning styles (auditory, kinesthetic, etc.) which Anu has already issued in her prior blog post. When game elements are used to motivate learners, one first needs to find out what kind of people will “play the game”. From Richard Bartle’s classic player types Andrzej Marczewski has derived four different user types that are an asset when trying to find out ways to increase motivation with gamification.

  • Achiever wants to compete and battle against other players and he is motivated by mastery
  • For Free Spirit it is important to discover new territories and places and create new things. He’s motivated by autonomy.
  • Socialiser wants to socialise rather than play the game itself. It is important for him to interact with other players and he’s motivated by relatedness.
  • Philanthropist wants to help and offer unselfishly his help and even points to other players. He is motivated by purpose.

In order to make the information system as useful as possible and into active use, one must take into consideration the different motivation factors of different user types. This has to be done both when taking the system into use and when the system is in production use.

This is how you maximize the benefits of your information system by engaging users

This is how you maximize the benefits of your information system by engaging users (see also Yu-Kai Chou’s 4 Phases of Player’s Journey)

Traditionally on-site training is held in order to get the personnel to use the purchased system and to make sure they use it right. With the traditional training the maximum benefits for the organization or personnel are not usually gained. When the system has been taken into use and trainings have taken place, the user should be lead to the path of constant self-learning by motivating her.  Little by little the user gains confidence, new skills and eventually knows how to apply the things she learned into different needs.

The user’s journey towards the complete mastery of the system goes through four steps (see picture above). First the user needs to know what is expected of her (Discovery). Is she using the system for doing her everyday tasks? How much time does the usage of the system take and what benefits are there of the use of the system from the point of view of the employee’s work? In the second phase the user has to study how to use the system in order for her to complete the tasks that are required of her (Onboarding). How to update the customer data? Where can the HR instructions be found? How to save a new deal into the system?

In the third phase the user is already engaged in using the system in a productive way as part of her own work (Productivity). Using the system fits in naturally into my work routines, it is easy and offers me benefits all the time! In the fourth and last phase the user is able to apply her know-how, help others and develop the system (Mastery). I understand how the advanced features of the system work and other employees ask help from me.

In the first two cases users can be motivated with extrinsic motivators like rewards and points, but in order to reach the productive level, the user has to find the system meaningful to herself. This can be attained by using intrinsic motivation factors, like offering meaningful challenges, a sense of control or the possibility to boost the user’s status.

For example SharePoint’s default features make it possible to bring simple game elements into the use of, for example, intranet (see also Jussi’s blog post). From usage reports it is easy to look who visits the site most and rewarding that motivates players of the achiever type. Encouraging people to discuss, update their own personal information, commenting as well as adding tags and rewarding those motivate the socialiser player. Philanthropists enjoy forums where end-users can ask questions and everyone are free to answer to other people’s questions. Solving shared problems increase team spirit among personnel. Community site with all its default features (points, badges, scoreboard etc.) is often a place where, in addition to philanthropist, also achiever feels like at home. For the free spirit it pays off to give her the opportunity to create new content. Also it might be a good idea to follow the visits in different sites from usage reports and reward those who explore sites carefully and visit places where the hastiest people don’t bother to visit. Perhaps it would be a good idea to “hide” a chance to win movie tickets into a site. Free spirit is sure to acknowledge that as motivating.

However, in addition to basic features one needs also more effective ways to keep the system usage rate high after the initial launch. With the help of different game elements the use of, for example, intranet can be merged into a motivating and meaningful part of user’s every-day work tasks. Of course the ultimate goal is that working with the system is meaningful, productive, instructive and even fun for all the users. Game elements only work, if they are built using different people’s motivational perspectives. That’s why you should find out what player type you represent with Marczewski’s test 🙂

Winter regards

Free spirit Anu and Achiever Jukka

P.s. Are you struggling with system implementations or user training? Our Habit gamification platform offers an easy tool to maximize the profit of your system investment.