Find this Podcast “ThreeWill’s Modern Digital Workplace with Pete Skelly” on the ThreeWill Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.


Transcript

Danny:Hello and welcome to the Two Bald Brothers and A Microphone podcast. This is one of the Bald Brothers, Danny, and I am here with Pete. You’re also bald, right? Last time I checked, you’re bald, right?

 

Yes.

 

Pete:Yes, you are. All right. You’re a tall bald brother too. You’ve got some height on us as well.

 

Danny:Mm-hmm (affirmative), yep.

 

Pete:Uh-huh (affirmative). You sure do. Today I wanted to get together with you and talk about something that we are doing internally at ThreeWill with regards to digital workplaces and some of the things where I always joke around and say the cobblers children have no shoes, but I also want to make sure that we are able to utilize the technologies that are in front of us and apply some of the things that we do with our clients to us and try to take the situations where … We’re a specific type of organization and Microsoft 365 has these things to offer and sort of cater it to what we should be doing as an organization. You and I have been working on that, which has been fun.

 

Danny:Yeah-

 

Pete:Go ahead.

 

Danny:… Just I think internally we’re having a lot of customers ask for these things. We’ve worked with customers on kind of modernizing things and so it’s a pretty revealing exercise to go through that internally, given that we’ve done very similar things to customers. We migrated from 2007 to 2010 on prem and then 2010 to 2013, 2013 to the cloud. We’ve got the same baggage that everybody else has. It’s kind of a good way to go through a learning exercise and put ourselves in the customer shoes.

 

Pete:Yeah. And for us we’ve even done things where we’ve migrated off of different platforms. At one point we were using Atlassian’s Confluence and then at one point we were using Jive’s softwares product and moved off of that. There’s been some history around all of this stuff as well. I think for us it’s been looking at what Microsoft offerings are out there and what … We sat down and sort of talked through what some of the goals were of doing this and I think one of the key things that came out of that was there’s certain technologies that we want people to be able to play around with, but don’t do that on our main tenant. Let’s keep gov environments off of this.

 

Danny:I know we all wanna kick the tires, I think is typically what the site that we create that we just go in and mess around with, but I think one of the things that we’re recognizing as well is that we need to control this. That comes into the governance piece of this as well where we wanna control … This is an important asset inside of our organization. I think you and I are recognizing that we need to put some additional controls around this.

 

Absolutely.

 

Pete:I think that’s another good thing that’s coming out of this as well. Let’s talk some of the nuts and bolts of things that we’re looking at doing. I know one of the things you did an inventory of all the site collections that were out there and then you and I created a spreadsheet where we’re going through and sort of doing this filtering of what are the ones that we can go ahead and clean up and get rid of? Then some of the ones that maybe I think we made this move from before, there was like portals and then there was sites and now we’re using teams pretty extensively. We need to go through and make sure we’ve moved everything forward and that we’re not leaving anything behind and also that there’s not two places for the marketing department or there’s two places for different things. I know we’re sort of evaluating what we have internally and making sure that we’re consolidating things and putting things in the right place. That spreadsheet was very helpful.

 

Danny:Yeah. That spreadsheet really came from the P and P tools GitHub repo. One of the tools that the P and P project and SharePoint P and P team really has … I don’t think they’ve done a great job of marketing, to be honest, but this is relatively new. There’s even a UI scanner and coming soon some transformation capabilities as well. They’ve got a lot of YouTube videos, so the community calls have gone through some of these things. Yeah, the SharePoint modernization scanner is what I ran. That very recently, as of June 1st, got an update to actually provide some Excel outputs for group connection readiness. So kind of groupifying sites and then page transformation readiness.

 

Pete:One of the things that is gonna change very soon is you used to not be able to groupify an old team site, site collection. That’s actually changing, so one of the things you and I are working on after the inventory, which really tells you an incredible amount of information. Things like what can and can’t be modernized, a bunch of output files as far as web scans and site scans. It tells you really if a site’s gonna be ready for groupify, whether or not you can actually do that, what blockers you might have. Does a site already have a 365 group? Is publishing enabled? Or whatever the case may be. Other warnings, permission warnings.

 

So one of the big things with modernization and being able to use Microsoft 365 groups and take advantage of teams and planner and stream and all of those things is having a group, an Microsoft 365 group back that particular feature. If you already have a group, that’s not a stopper but it’s okay. I’ve already got the group, who do I wire up those other features? Or can I even associate this with a group because I have really deep nested sub-webs and I have broken permission inheritance all over the place? It tells you a whole lot of information, just at the top level, and then you can dive into some of the additional files for web-scans and tell do I have custom master pages? Do I have alternate CSS? Some other things that might trip you up trying to modernize your site.

 

When you’re saying modernize, is that … I’m looking at that like we’re using the new modern pages that are responsive, that look good in a mobile device and has, I guess, a new set of web parts that you can use and it’s just a much cleaner interface as well?

 

Danny:Yeah. So modernization, modernizing … I’m trying to think of what their exact terminology is, but it’s modern sites. So modern Microsoft 365 group connected site, whether that’s a team site or a communication site. All the functionality you get with mobile first, being able to see those pages and have them function in the SharePoint mobile app, being able to take advantage of the new SharePoint framework solutions and the new modern web parts. All of those types of things that in an old team site … For example, with the new hub sites, team sites that are based on the old team sites without a modern landing page, you won’t see the hub site navigation. So you can actually join the hub, but you lose some of the functionality of the hub unless that site’s modernized.

 

Pete:Then, so I know as part of this overall thing as well you’re talking about hub sites was … I think we identified a couple of key use cases. For us, we talked about accounts, where we’re gonna have a hub site for accounts and that broaches all the way through marketing sales to delivery so that we’re all on the same page. We identified certain types of sites that we know we wanna have and where they would roll up underneath a hub site. I thought that was … I think we maybe had like five or six different types of sites that we knew we wanted to be a part of this.

 

Danny:Yeah, and I think that speaks to a larger discussion that a lot of our customers are trying to grapple with as well. It forces you to think governance again, that word nobody likes. If you’re gonna choose to modernize and make changes to support modernization, you wanna do things like flatten your site collection hierarchy. If you’re in Microsoft 365 and you’ve got deep sub-webs and you’ve got a hierarchy of sub-webs, you wanna rethink how are you doing that? Why are you doing that? You’re not gonna be able to take advantage of certain things, but that conversation should … it begs the question of what are my key use cases? So it goes back to what … a governance discussion. What business value am I trying to get out of this?

 

Pete:For us, you and I had the discussion about, well we’ve got some internal things with private groups or teams that are private and then that flows nicely into that corporate intranet mentality. There’s a departments use case for us. Obviously as a consulting company, we have sales, so there’s that sales use case. Collaboration over sales documents and collateral, et cetera, and then projects. We have our internal practices of improvement over time for those particular practices. We kind of, you and I, just to kind of be very explicit to folks listening, we discussed what are our key use cases and that cobbler shoes argument. We gotta go back to square one just like we do with our customers and say, “Where do we start from a value perspective?” And sort of build up from there. It means you gotta do the work, then you gotta clean up things that are old and you don’t need around, especially with GDPR. Should we keep data around? Does that data have anything in there we shouldn’t be storing, et cetera. It’s just a good practice to take a step back and clean up over time.

 

I know you’d love to talk about GDPR right now, right?

 

Danny:No, I don’t. This week has been horrible. So for those that have not dealt with it, May 25th was GDPR’s effective date, so now every … I’m sure everyone got all the privacy updates and agreements and email bombarded with those. Please read my privacy statement, but that means signing deals with clients and terms of how to deal with data that we deal with when we do migrations, for example. It’s been very fun this week.

 

Pete:So out of this I know we’ve been coming up with a list, and I’ve actually tomorrow in the company meeting I’ll run through sort of what the high level tasks are for this that we went through earlier this week. It sounds like our implementation of this is doing some of the clean up and it’s running some … I guess we’re gonna be modernizing some of the sites and moving some of the content around to the appropriate place. Then, I think the end goal of this is there is … I joke around with Tommy and I said, “I feel like we’ve got 10 different home pages. I don’t know which home page is the home page.” But just more of, we have one place that people go that’s a hub for the departments but then you can branch down into seeing all the accounts and seeing the hub for the accounts. Just a lot, I guess a cleaner environment and something that hopefully will make more sense to folks as well.

 

Danny:Yeah, and I think it goes back to we’re doing the digital workplace workshops with customers now, and I think it goes back to what’s the definition of that dig workplace, right? If its intention is to be that … and I’m doing air quotes on the radio. If it’s mean to be that virtual equivalent to a physical workplace, in our workplace as I mentioned we sat down and sort of mapped out what are the physical or the conceptual. What’s our conceptual workplace? And we had those key use places. You kind of have to take a step back and do that and then what are we trying to accomplish? Well, if we’re trying to lay that structure out and make it easy for people to get work done, that means finding information has to be easy. Engaging with that information, collaboration with other folks. We’re trying to find a way.

 

Pete:We’re all in on teams at ThreeWill, so I live in teams pretty much all day but I still have email with customers, I still have content that sits in SharePoint and those types of things. So how do we make it so I can use the SharePoint mobile app or the teams mobile app and make really good sense of how we’re organizing this stuff no matter where I am, no matter what tool I’m using?

 

I think it’s interesting as well that we’re applying these technologies and looking at the size of an organization and how we like to collaborate. About a year ago we decided we were gonna go all in on teams. It was about a year ago. It was a little more than a year ago. Right away we took a liking to it and there was instantly this overlap of what could go on in teams and what could go on on Yammer and we made a decision, “Hey guys, for internal use let’s just stick to teams.” I still use Yammer every once in a while for some external collaboration, but I think it’s just been good for us to take a look at who we are as an organization. And I also put this in the goals for our project, which was we’re not building out our clients type of intranet for ThreeWill because we don’t have that money. We don’t have the time. That’s not what we’re trying to do here. What we’re trying to do is leverage what Microsoft has and apply it to a small organization like ThreeWill.

 

Danny:Yeah. I think that’s really important for any organization that starts to look at well how do I … I look at it in the last six or eight months we’ve done a lot of migrations. We’ve had huge success with migrating some really large customers from on prem to Microsoft 365. We’re starting to see that watershed moment of I’m int the cloud, now what? So now people have to figure out, “Well, how do I modernize? What am I not taking advantage of? How do I get teams?” The kind of marketing behind some of these things is finally catching up with customers where they’re ina position to take advantage of them and in our situation, like you said, we kind of do have that cobbler shoes issue all the time, but how can we get to really use the tools the way we wanna work?

 

Pete:For our customers, it’s answering the same question. It’s not gonna be the same for everybody. That governance question is not a one size fits all question. The answer to it definitely is not one size fits all. For us, provisioning things is pretty much a one time activity, except for projects. Our project processes are automated, but pretty much everything else isn’t. Well, in a large organization, that’s not gonna work. You get somebody with … We just migrated someone to 365 that had more than 5000 site collections. Well, that’s not gonna work. They provision probably 20 a day and they’re also de-provisioning or archiving roughly the equivalent over time. They’ve gotta look at their situation and say, “How do I take advantage of these modern capabilities, but how do I also make sure that I’m managing that environment well in the same vein? How do I get rid of things at the same time? Or how do I archive?” Or whatever the case may be.

 

Well, this has been fun working with you on this. I’m looking forward to maybe we’ll do a wrap up when we get to a good version one of moving everything over and modernizing it. Maybe do a follow up for next quarter of what we actually did. That’d be fun to do.

 

Danny:I think step one is some healthy deletions that folks are already aware are coming. The 20 … what did I say? The 29th of June? So there’s about 50 or 60 site collections that are just gonna disappear on the 29th of June. I think it was a Friday, so that’s step one. Step two will be how do we start modernizing some of these things. That’ll be interesting, see how can we convert those pages? The existing pages. And there’s some good guidance out there from Microsoft at this point as well.

 

Pete:Very nice. Well thanks for taking the time to do this Pete, and it’s been great working with you. It’s sort of like the business person who I have no idea how to go implement this stuff, but you just make it happen magically. All you need is a couple power shell scripts, right?

 

Danny:Yeah. That’s it. That’s the [inaudible 00:18:24].

 

Pete:Thanks everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Take care, bye-bye.

 

Danny:Bye.

 

Pete:

 

 

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