Teams Real Simple with Pictures: Getting Hands on with Bulletins

This blog is part of a series on Teams. For more articles, check back often

Written: 14/02/2021 | Updated: 15/03/2021

Happy Valentines Day! It’s been a busy few weeks. I am in the middle of this tour called the Microsoft Teams Winter Tour. It’s ten conferences I am speaking at chained together throughout at the course of January and February in the run up to Microsoft Ignite. At the time of writing I have done seven. So three more to go – and all three come a week from today on the 19th in a triple header that’ll see me speak in France, Italy and Nigeria all on the same day. To be fair its been incredible – but it’s also been hard to keep up with all the new stuff coming out in Teams too – and there has been a lot. A lot of news and a lot of developments. So in the period between now and Ignite I am going to try and step back up and I’ll start with something which seemed to fly under the radar which is Bulletins. This is an app which appeared sometime last week (early February) and what interests me particularly about this is that its a Power App, one whose data is stored within Dataverse. Now Power Apps in Teams has massive potential we all know this – we’ve all known this a very long time. However, Power Apps were previously designed by Microsoft as either Teams Templates, or Power Apps Templates which meant you would need to customise and install them yourself as Custom Apps: in other words they weren’t already available out of the box from the Teams App store. Is this a new direction? Have Microsoft seen the best way to get into Power Apps is to actually go from the position of using them then customising them? Well, yes. Read the description below – ‘it’s then easy for an org to go on and extend the core functionality’. Clever Microsoft. Oh I see you. But let’s talk about Bulletins. It’s an app that’s designed to keep Team Members informed in terms of broadcasts and announcements. FAQ’s also. Now I can only imagine some within the Yammer community are going to have something to say here – but before we go to Defcon 1 in regards to apps duping functionality, let’s have a walkthrough and deploy this and see how we go. Personally, from the description I think this could be real good.

This blog will cover

  • How to setup bulletins
  • Deployment Notes
  • How to share Bulletins with colleagues inside and outside the Team
  • How to add Bulletins as a Personal App to the App Rail
  • Managing Categories for Bulletins, FAQ’s and Links
  • How to Add, Remove or Unpublish a Bulletin
  • How to Add or Remove an FAQ
  • How to Add or Remove a Link or Contact
  • Removing Bulletins
  • Renaming Bulletins
  • How to extend Bulletins
  • Concluding Thoughts

In the latest update (14/03/2021) I have added about the ability to share Bulletins with those inside and outside of the team, add Bulletins as a Personal App to the App Rail and how to rename Bulletins

Pre-requisites

  • Teams licence/Power Apps licence (In an Office/Microsoft 365 Subscription)
  • App Permissions to install apps in the Team (and Bulletins to be installable via the Teams Admin Centre)

HOW TO SETUP BULLETINS

1.) I have setup my Team ready to go. In the channel I select Add (+)

2.) Search for and select Bulletins

3.) Select Add

4.) Select Save

5.) Bulletins begins to install. The install may take some time (15 minutes in my own experience). You don’t need to wait around on the page and can continue to work and come back if you so choose. You will be notified when the Bulletins app has finished installing

6.) Bulletins will now be deployed as two Power apps as represented by two tabs – Bulletins (the app which users will use) and Manage Bulletins (the app for managing Bulletins)

DEPLOYMENT NOTES

A few observations about this deployment

  • Bulletins can only be deployed as tabs within Teams, it cannot be deployed as a personal app – although it can be used as a personal app and pinned to the app rail once it is deployed – see section below
  • Deploying Bulletins into another team will deploy a second instance of the app in a second environment – however the app can be shared with others outside the Team – see section below
  • You cannot add Bulletins into Private Channels currently. It errors.
  • When deploying, both the bulletins tab and the manage bulletins tab are visible to all members of the Team. There is no ability to restrict this to show just the bulletins tab (and not to management tab) to other members of the team. Two workarounds here are 1.) Have just the bulletins tab in a much used channel (removing the manage bulletins tab) or 2.) Have the Bulletins app with both tabs in a Team where all users are admins and then share it with others who add it as a personal app
  • When you deploy the app an environment is created at https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com. This is where the two Power Apps are housed – in Dataverse for Teams


HOW TO SHARE BULLETINS WITH COLLEAGUES INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE TEAM

By default, no one will have permissions to use Bulletins apart from the person who has deployed Bulletins. We need to therefore share it with the Team, or share it with others outside of the Team. For example, any other Team member will see this

1.) Let’s start with those inside the Team. Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

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3.) Select Build, then the Environment Bulletins is in (Name of the Team), then select Share with colleagues (top right)

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4.) Enter the Microsoft 365 Group linked to the Team you deployed the app in, use the sliders to share Bulletins or both Bulletins and Manage Bulletins and then select Save

5.) Other members in the Team can now access and use Bulletins

6.) Now lets move on to two other scenarios. People outside the Team, or Simply a group of administrators who will manage the bulletins app who are not in the Team. In the M365 Admin Centre add a Security Group for Bulletins with members who you want to use the app

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7.) Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

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8.) Select Build, then the Environment Bulletins is in (Name of the Team), then select Share with colleagues (top right)

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9.) Enter the Security Group created, use the sliders to share Bulletins and then select Save

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10.) The green bar confirms those in the security group can now use Bulletins. The users or the admins outside of the Team can now open Bulletins as a personal app (see section directly below)

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However they will not be able to use the app until you assign the correct Table permissions which are set to none by default. In order to do that, see this blog how to apply table permissions to the security group

HOW TO ADD BULLETINS AS A PERSONAL APP TO THE APP RAIL

Anyone with permissions on the Bulletins app can open it as a personal app once it has been deployed – people within the Team or outside the Team across the organisation

1.) Select Apps (The App Store) on the app rail

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2.) Select Built for (Your Organisation)

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3.) Select Bulletins

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4.) Select Add

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5.) Bulletins is now added as a personal app to the app rail and can be pinned like other personal apps

MANAGING CATEGORIES FOR BULLETINS, FAQ’S AND LINKS/CONTACTS

This is what the admin sees when they first deploy. The bulletins app has three tabs – Bulletins, FAQ’s and Links and Contacts. Content is organised by categories which you can think of as containers or buckets for that content

1.) Select the Manage Bulletins Tab and then Cog at the top right

2.) Select Add Category underneath Bulletins, FAQ’s or Categories

3.) Type in the category name and Tick once done

4.) If you want to remove one select bin next to the category name then Update. Tick I Understand and select Delete

5.) You can now go on to arrange your categories for your Bulletins, FAQ’s and Links/Contacts as you wish. This shot shows that I have arranged them how I want moving forward

HOW TO ADD, REMOVE OR UNPUBLISH A BULLETIN

1.) In the Manage Bulletins tab under Bulletins select New Bulletin

2.) Complete the required information including and once done select Save

  • Category (from categories set earlier)
  • Featured (if required)
  • Schedule (if required)
  • Cover Image, Video URL (if required)
  • Title, Subtitle and Body
  • Button, Website Link and Author (if required)

3.) Once saved, select Publish

4.) The bulletin is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

5.) To unpublish or remove a bulletin, in the manage bulletins tab select the bulletin and then select Unpublish or Delete. If you delete you will be asked to confirm

HOW TO ADD OR REMOVE AN FAQ

1.) In the Manage Bulletins tab under FAQ select New FAQ

2.) Complete the required information including and once done select Save

  • Category (from categories set earlier)
  • Question
  • Answer

3.) Once saved, select Approve

4.) The question and answer is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

5.) To remove the question, in the manage bulletins tab select the question and then select Delete. If you delete you will be asked to confirm

HOW TO ADD OR REMOVE A LINK OR CONTACT

1.) In the Manage Bulletins tab under Links and Contacts select Add Link

2.) Complete the required information including and once done select Save

  • Title and Description
  • Category (as set earlier)
  • URL

3.) The link is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

4.) Rinse and Repeat for Contacts. In the Manage Bulletins tab under Links and Contacts select Add Contact

5.) Complete the required information and once done select Save

  • If the user is an office user
  • Category (As set earlier)
  • Name, Description and Email

6.) The contact is now published as shown in the manage bulletins tab, and as shown in the Bulletins app

7.) To remove the link or contact is a similar process – in the manage bulletins tab select the link or the contact and then select Delete. If you delete you will be asked to confirm

REMOVING BULLETINS

Removing Bulletins is not a straightforward process of removing the tab

You cannot remove it from the app store

1.) Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

2.) Select Build

3.) Select Installed Apps

4.) Select More Options (…) and then Delete

RENAMING BULLETINS

We may want to distinguish this app from others, especially if we plan to deploy multiple instances of the Bulletins app across our organisation

1.) Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

2.) Select Build then Installed apps and then click on the name of the app. This will open it in Power App Studio

3.) Click on the name of the app and rename

4.) Select Publish to Teams

5.) Add the channels in the Team where new tabs should be and select Save and close

6.) Clean up any old Tabs in the Team

7.) The app is renamed throughout Teams including in the App Store

HOW TO EXTEND BULLETINS

1.) Select Power Apps within Teams – either through the app rail or via a Tab

2.) You may see it within Recent Apps

3.) If not select Build

4.) Select Installed Apps and then select one of the Power Apps to customise it

5.) This will open Power Apps Studio where you can begin customising your app

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Our job here is done

I think Bulletins has a lot of potential. It’s simple and easy for bringing news, answers to common questions, links and contacts together – all things which a Team needs. A few adds which would be good to see in future versions

  • The Manage Bulletins Tab only being visible to the users who manage the app (however there is a workaround here)
  • Power Automate integration (I.e. new bulletin triggers a notification/activity/post etc)
  • Contacts need phone numbers not just email/message – would be awesome to trigger a call from the Bulletins app

In the coming months I am sure I’ll return to Bulletins to continue to look at such things such as video and whether it goes beyond YouTube to leverage video housed within SPO/ODB. From my understanding, I believe Microsoft do intend to actively develop and refine this alongside the other new Power app templates

Regarding Yammer, as mentioned in the intro about duplicating functionality – this is aimed squarely at the Team so there isn’t any sort of challenge here, and whilst you could install it on an Org Wide Team, or share and pin across the whole org based on an org wide security group it doesn’t have functionality such as threads, you can’t ask questions, or define topics – it doesn’t do what Yammer does so it’s not going to compete. Let’s call it what it is: a light customisable app that may be handy for a team to keep up to date with what’s going on, a small knowledgebase and common set of contacts

In terms of storage, anyone who installs this has to realise this is two Power Apps and is designed to leverage dataverse in Teams, installed into an environment linked to the Team. The environment can be found at https://admin.powerplatform.microsoft.com. In other words, data storage is 2 GB and according to Docs Dataverse for Teams cannot be upgraded to Dataverse yet. So storage has to be monitored. If 80% of the storage is used then notifications will be sent out, however, storage will be used quicker if multiple Power Apps are used within the same Team. In other words, it’s not just something we can use indefinitely and not think about whatsoever