Getting Message Center information into Teams

Recently, I wrote the following article:

Syncing M365 Message Center to Microsoft Planner

which took you through the process of getting Message Center information into Microsoft Planner. as good as that it is, the best place for that information should really be in Teams. The reason? With Teams people can ‘chat’ about the topics which adds far more value for an organisation in my opinion.

The good news is that it is very easy to not only sync messages with Microsoft Planner but also have them displayed in Microsoft Teams. It is all accomplished using Power Automate.

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Create a new Flow and use the When a new task is created trigger as shown above. You’ll then need to configure this trigger action to point to the same Microsoft Plan into which you have already set up to sync with the Microsoft Message Center.

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The next action should Get task details as shown above. You’ll need this to actually read the notes from each task, which contains the details of each item from the Message Center.

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In my case, I save the Description field from the task into a string variable using the Initialize variable action as shown. I then use a number of separate Compose actions to search and replace text inside that variable to tidy up and format the Description field for posting into a Teams chat.

For example I remove the /r/n characters and replace them with the HTML line feed tag </br> using the following expression:

replace(variables(‘description’),decodeUriComponent(‘%0D%0A’),'</br>’)

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Once I have the Description field formatted the way I want it then I use the Post a message (V3) action as seen above. The Title of the new task from Planner is the subject of the thread and the body is my now nicely formatted Description field, which is the data from the Message Center item.

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You can see the result in a channel in Microsoft Teams above. Now others can easily add their reactions, comments and generally collaborate far easier than within Microsoft Planner.

I think having the Message center information delivered to Microsoft Teams make a lot of sense since it is a place more people will be spending more of their time generally. However, getting the Message Center information into Microsoft Teams still requires the sync configuration to a Plan first. However, once that is done, Power Automate allows you to achieve just about anything!

Syncing M365 Message Center to Microsoft Planner

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If you want to stay up to date with what Microsoft is developing and implementing with Microsoft 365, then you should be paying attention to information from the Microsoft 365 Message Center. You’ll find this in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center as shown above.

One of the options with this information is to have it delivered via email. To do this, select the Preferences cog as shown above.

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Doing so will then display a number of configuration options on the right. Select the Email option from the menu at the top as shown.

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You can now select whether to deliver these messages to the original tenant admin account, which is selected by default, but also up to two email addresses, which need to be separated by a semicolon. You can then select what emails you wish to received. Be warned, there are options for all Microsoft 365 services (like Exchange, SharePoint, Teams, etc) as well as major updates and privacy. Be careful of information overload here!

Select the Save button at the bottom of this dialog to update your preferences.

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Another very handy option is to sync these messages with Microsoft Planner. To enable this option, select the Planner syncing menu item as shown above.

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A dialog will now appear on the right, as shown above, that allows you to set up this process using a wizard. Simply select the Set up syncing button at the bottom of the page to commence this process off.

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You’ll need to have a Microsoft Plan into which the Message Center will sync. If you don’t already have one, you can select the link on the page as shown to create one.

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Your destination Microsoft Plan doesn’t need to be anything special. You need at least one bucket into which all the Message Center items will end up. In this case, that bucket will be the standard ‘To-do’ bucket.

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Select the appropriate Microsoft Plan and the destination plan bucket, or select to create a new one.

Select the Next button at the bottom of the page to continue.

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Like the email option, you now need to select which messages you wish to receive.

Select the Next button at the bottom of the page to continue.

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You can now elect to import messages from a previous period i.e. messages already in the Message Center from the last X days.

Select the Next button at the bottom of the page to continue.

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Review the settings.

Select the Next button at the bottom of the page to continue.

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If you wish to set up an automatic process to sync the Message Center messages on a recurring basis, set the desired update time options and select the Create Flow with Power Automate button as shown.

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Select the Continue button.

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You’ll also need to sign in to allow access to the Message Center connector. Simply select the ‘+’ icon and the current account you are logged in with will be used. Ensure that a green check appears to the right of the Microsoft 365 message center as shown above.

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Review the configuration and automatic syncing if enabled, and select the Done button to complete the process.

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If you now visit the Power Automate service and look My Flows and Shared with me, you should see a Sync Microsoft 365 message center to Planner flow as shown above.

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If you edit that Flow, you should see it simply has a recurrence trigger and a Sync messages to planner (preview) action, as shown above. The owners of this Flow will be the group associated with the Microsoft Plan you selected as your destination as well as the user who configured this process. You can always add more owners if you wish to this Flow. The Microsoft 365 message center connection will be authorised by the account you used to set up this process. This can also be altered if needed.

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When Message Center data is synced to Planner it will look like the above, with all messages being delivered to the bucket that you nominated in the setup as individual tasks.

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If you select any of these new Message Center tasks in Planner, they will appear as shown above, with details about the notification in the Notes of the task. These can now be used as any task would be inside Microsoft Planner.

As good as delivering Message Center information to Planner is, I feel that a better destination or this is actually Microsoft Teams. I’ll be covering off how to deliver it to a Microsoft Teams channel in an upcoming post, so stay tuned for that.

CIAOPS Need to Know Microsoft 365 Webinar–August

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Capturing data electronically is key to being more productive. Businesses can achieve this using Microsoft Forms that is part of Microsoft 365.  This month I’ll show you what Microsoft Forms is, how to use it effectively and how it can help your business. I’ll also have the  the latest Microsoft Cloud updates plus open Q and A as well.

You can register for the regular monthly webinar here:

August Webinar Registrations

The details are:


CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – August 2020
Thursday 27th of August 2020
11.00am – 12.00am Sydney Time


All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.


The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron which you can do here:


http://www.ciaopspatron.com


or purchase them individually at:


http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/


Also feel free at any stage to email me directly via director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.


I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session and I look forward to seeing you there.

CIAOPS Need to Know Microsoft 365 Webinar–July

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Getting everything done in today’s modern world is a challenge, but Microsoft 365 has your back. Chief amoung the tools you can use to get organised in your business is Microsoft Planner.  This month I’ll take a deeper look at Microsoft Planner and show you how to set it all up and make best use of it as well as integrate with other task management options inside Microsoft 365. I’ll also have the  the latest Microsoft Cloud updates plus open Q and A as well.

You can register for the regular monthly webinar here:

July Webinar Registrations

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – July 2020
Friday 31st of July 2020
11.00am – 12.00am Sydney Time

All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron which you can do here:

http://www.ciaopspatron.com

or purchase them individually at:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/

Also feel free at any stage to email me directly via director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session and I look forward to seeing you there.

CIAOPS Need to Know Microsoft 365 Webinar–October

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The October webinar is here. This month we’ll take a closer look at the various options available to manage tasks in Microsoft 365. You’ll learn how tasks can be completed using SharePoint, Planner and Microsoft To-Do as well as when to use each service. There will also be the latest Microsoft Cloud news as well as Q and A plus loads more. I’d love if you’d come along and be part of this.

You can register for the regular monthly webinar here:

October Webinar Registrations

The details are:

CIAOPS Need to Know Webinar – October 2019
Thursday 31st of October  2019
10.30am – 11.30am Sydney Time

All sessions are recorded and posted to the CIAOPS Academy.

There of course will also be open Q and A so make sure you bring your questions for me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron which you can do here:

http://www.ciaopspatron.com

or purchase them individually at:

http://www.ciaopsacademy.com/

Also feel free at any stage to email me directly via director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session and I look forward to seeing you there.

Understanding Office 365 Groups and Teams

A while ago I wrote an article that detailed:

Where to put data in Office 365

and in typical fashion, technology has now moved on. This means that I need to revisit the concept of where you should be putting inside Office 365.

We of course now need to remember that we have new locations like Microsoft Teams and Staffhub, as well as improved locations like Office 365 Groups to house our business data. So let my try and broadly explain the the data locations that are currently available to you in Office 365.

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Let’s start by considering the two major types of data we have to deal with in today’s businesses. As the above slide shows, we can typically categorise data it shared and personal. Personal data is typically created and owned by a single user in the business. Personal data is also only shared between a handful of people at most. By contrast, shared data is data that is not owned by any single individual and typically needs to be seen across a wide wide audience.

You also typically tend to find that shared data is a much greater percentage of the overall amount of data as illustrated by the size of the bars above. From here on in, we’ll consider shared data locations being green and private data locations being blue. We will also consider shared data locations to be on the left while personal data locations will be on the right.

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Office 365 provides us a location into which we can store all business data, whether shared or personal. It is the box into which everything will live, both shared and personal.

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We store business data inside a number of serviceswithin Office 365. These include Exchange for emails, SharePoint for files, Planner for tasks, Yammer for social conversations and Skype for meetings.

You’ll notice that the majority of these services are designed for the storage of shared data, however both Exchange and SharePoint have the ability to store both shared and personal data. Thus, they appear twice in the above slide as locations in which we can store data.

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Into the personal data location for Exchange we place a users individual mailbox. This is designed for them to receive emails from outside the organisation and also typically from individuals inside the business. A personal mailbox is not a good location for generic email addresses like accounts@ or info@. It is designed for personal correspondence to and from an individual.

Likewise, SharePoint provides the OneDrive for Business location designed for a user’s personal files. These files are owned by the user and typically shared with a very small number of people. OneDrive for Business is NOT designed as a file server replacement, it is designed as repository for an individual users to store files they typically have on their desktop, on their local hard disk, or on an external USB drive or a home directory on a network.

Thus, Office 365, thanks to both Exchange and SharePoint, provide each and every licensed user a distinct location in which to save their own own personal information. Because that information is still within the Office 365 environment it remain secure and compliant as well as being easy to manage for the business owners.

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Now Exchange and SharePoint also provide locations to save shared data into. Exchange provides this via shared mailboxes. Best practice is for shared mailboxes to be things like info@, sales@, etc that may need to be shared between a number of people and will also persist beyond any individual currently performing that task.

Likewise, SharePoint provides Team Sites as a location to save information into that all people in the business can access. You can of course provide custom security around all shared Office 365 services as needed.

However now in this space of shared data in Office 365, you get additional locations to store your information. Services like Planner allow the organisation of tasks and schedules across a team. Yammer allows the business to get out of email and work in an enterprise social network. Not only does that reduce email overload for users but because information is shared publically, it makes it more searchable and shareable. Finally, Skype for Business allows people in the business to meet virtually. They can chat, conduct meetings, share desktops, whiteboards, files and more.

Each one of these shared locations can be used stand alone if desired. Thus, you can have a Team Site to fill a single need. Likewise, you can use Skype as a way of chatting to people. As I have written about before:

The modern way of collaboration

To get a job done these days, people need more than stand alone tools. They need all the power of the individual services that Office 365 provides but they need them rolled together in a single place that is easy to work with.

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Enter Office 365 Groups. If you combine a SharePoint Team Site, an Exchange shared mailbox, a Planner plan and a Yammer network you get an Office 365 Group. However, an Office 365 Group also provides you with an additional service, called ‘Connectors’, that allows you to bring information from services outside your business (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and more) directly into the Office 365 Group.

You can create as many Office 365 Groups as you need and when you do each one will get its own dedicated SharePoint Team Site, Exchange shared mailbox, Planner plan and Yammer network. You can also still have each service stand alone, like a stand alone Team Site, but each Office 365 Group you create automatically provisions all the individual services inside it and links them together.

Why might you still need a stand alone service like a Team Site?  Maybe you just want a single location to put all your brochures for people to sent to customers. That function might not need email or plans or chat, so you simply provision a stand alone Team Site to perform that function. However, when the people who create those brochures need to actually collaborate, then an Office 365 Group makes sense and you can mix and match as needed.

Again, it is totally up to you how and when you use these services. You may choose to only use stand alone services and no Groups. Likewise, you may choose to only use Groups. The choice if yours. That’s the flexibility Office 365 provides

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If we now take an Office 365 group and add a Rostering service we get Staffhub. So when you create a new Staffhub for your business to manage rostering and employee times you also get a dedicated SharePoint Team Site, Exchange mailbox, Planner plan, and Yammer network. Do you have to use them all? Of course not, but they are provisioned automatically for you when you create a Staffhub because chances are that you will find use for the services.

Imagine you need to create a roster for your business. You will also probably need to share documents with your staff about their duties. That’s where the SharePoint Team Site fits in. There also probably be the need for staff to chat about their work. That’s where Yammer comes in. Hopefully, you get the idea here is that when you create a Staffhub or Office 365 Group Microsoft automatically gives you a range of stand alone services integrated together because the chances are you’ll find a need for them. It’s bundling at its best!

Again, you don’t need to use them all immediately, but they are there from the start, ready for your to use, whenever you need.

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Finally, if we ingrate Skype for Business and add persistent chat to our Staffhub resources (that were a superset of Office 365 Group resources) we get a Microsoft Team.

As with Staffhub, when you create a new Microsoft Team you get everything Staffhub provided plus additional integrated services. If all you want to use is persistent chat then you can use that but again, chances are you are going to need more options down the track so they are automatically provisioned for you.

Everything in Office 365 is built on core services like Exchange for email, SharePoint for files and Skype for Business for communications. You can use each of these services stand alone or you can combine them together in an Office 365 Group, a Staffhub or Microsoft Team.

Of course, there is more planning involved than what I have laid out here when it comes to collaboration but I hope that I’ve made things a bit clearer and shown you all the options Office 365 provides you for storing your information. The trend today is certainly to provisioning something like a Microsoft Team first to give you everything you want immediately, even if you don’t use it all. However, the choice is yours. Go with a single service or go with them all. Do what makes the most sense for your business today and don’t too much about what will happen down the track as you can easily scale up into all the options that Office 365 provides, because typically, you’ll find that what you want is already provisioned thanks to Office 365 Groups, Staffhub and Microsoft Teams.