It's been such a crazy week! But with a slither of room to breathe I took time to look at Vesa Nopanen's blog on loop components this morning and decided I wanted to have a bit of a play. You see, Vesa is one of my best mates in IT and we practically talk every day. We organize Teams Nation together. We speak on the circuit together. We have a lot of the same thoughts and interests in the same kind of areas. So this blog really is a follow up to his. I am not going to retrace his steps in this piece, but I am going to start out from where loop components are stored, which is OneDrive. Now, the fact that it is stored in OneDrive makes sense because the loop components in Teams are only available on private chats. This makes me think that when loop components emerge for channels, the .fluid file will be housed in SharePoint. This would be consistent with Teams Meeting Recordings. Yet the fact that they are housed in OneDrive means that we can start using flows and automation with them. That's right. Let's create some flows with loop components, or to coin a portmanteau, let's go 'flooping'. This is a completely experimental blog and there's probably going to be loads of roadblocks. But let's see a few things we can come up with. Just for fun. I'll bet you by the time I have got to the end of this I would have built a flow right to the very end and it didn't work on the very last action.
The TV is on. The Euro 2020 finals between England and Italy has just kicked off. But Sunday nights are blog nights: and so trying to get the best of both worlds I will be writing a short blog about a granular but useful addition to functionality which came along for the approvals app this week. This is the ability to use generic links. Up until this point, we've had the ability to upload documents from a local machine; we've had the ability to add a document from OneDrive. But nothing regarding SharePoint; nothing about something other than a document. Now, we know that support for SharePoint - here meaning a dedicated option within the approvals app along with a site and file picker, is on its way. This is within the item on the Microsoft 365 roadmap - RID 70787. However, being able to use a generic link we don't have to wait for that. Indeed, generic links are really flexible insofar that we can start to review and approve anything which has a URL. This opens up some interesting scenarios
approvals using Adobe Sign. Adobe Sign, an eSignature application like Docusign or Hellosign is designed to let people sign documents online instead of using the traditional pen and paper. In other words, when a signer signs an online document wilfully and intentionally it’s considered an eSignature. It constitutes the same as a handwritten or “wet” signature and is a system of agreement which is legally binding as recognised by the US, the UK, the European Union and many other countries in many other parts of the world. The value of having an eSignature app for your organisation is easily describable and typically follows a standard set of narratives such as time as in the ability to do business faster, geography as in the ability to sign from anywhere on any device, the environment or the elimination of manual costs as well as the use of paper, and security and compliance since data is encrypted and the apps are designed to meet industry standards such as SOC and ISO27001 (ISMS). It is a great type of app for our hub for teamwork, but some will no doubt ask - and it's a legitimate question, why use a third party app at all since we have the approvals application? Two reasons here. Number one is there may be times when you need something approved and recorded with more formal attestation, and adding signatures to the approval process is necessary. Secondly we return to the prior point of signing being something intentional and thought out instead of a button click. Now in time the approvals app will support several eSignature applications. For example it's pretty well known that DocuSign has been demoed in sessions run by Microsoft. Yet Adobe Sign is the only one integrated into Teams today and at the time of writing its currently within Public Preview meaning a user needs to be set up for the public preview in the Teams Admin Centre. Like the previous blog on templates, my good friend Vesa Nopanen did a blog on this a while back so I am very much doing this for completeness and pretty much in the event I ever need to jump in and do eSign during our Art of Approvals session which we running on the speaking circuit. I am going to take a slightly different tack from Vesa and do this end to end, from scratch. I'll certainly be using it in real life
With Microsoft Build in the books you would think it high time to decompress, let off some steam and take some time out especially after the madness that was Teams Nation. Unfortunately, we've arrived at that time of the year. The summer circuit is underway; and yesterday I had the privilege of speaking alongside Vesa Nopanen at SharePoint Saturday Cologne: one of my favourite events which is run by my community friends Raphael Kollner and Jennifer Eimertenbrink. Cologne - Köln - is the fourth largest city in Germany, the largest on the Rhine and famous for, amongst other things, the Kölner Dom and Kölsch beer. Having been to Düsseldorf earlier in my career on business but never having made it out of the city or the Bolkerstraße Cologne is definitely one of the places I am sure I will visit to speak when things open back up. But yesterday was all about virtual, and the session Vesku and I did was on Approvals in Microsoft Teams. Now, earlier in the year I did a few blogs on the Approvals app: a few were on Approval flows using Power Automate and Microsoft 365 apps such as one using Forms, Lists and Yammer. Another focussed on Parallel Approvals. Since our session featured it yesterday as part of a roadmap update on what's coming for the app, I thought I would just knock one out about Approval Templates which I think significantly adds to what it is rapidly becoming one of those really strong apps for Teams now it's broken out of Power Automate. Vesku wrote one earlier this month but I thought I would also do one - for completeness and the opportunity to get hands on and get into the nuts and bolts. Based on Microsoft Forms, I don't really need to articulate and evangelise the business value of templates too much simply because templates are templates: they are designed to save time, effort, execution is quicker, repeatable. They help inexperienced users and ensure consistency across an organisation that uses them
Having just got back from 3 days at the MCT Connect and MCT RL conference, I am looking forward to the conference season. Sounds weird to say it like that. But I guess what I am trying to articulate is that after having had good fun at Ignite, MVP Summit and MCT - all large multi day events, I am looking forward to getting back to speaking at singular day events and user groups where you can kind of rock up, do a nice session, and exit stage left, maybe catching one or two other sessions in the process. Transactional. Light. I am sure many circuit speakers understand where I am coming from. Now, for me, the 2021 conference season kicks off with a trip back to the Reactor where I'll be speaking with Vesa Nopanen on approvals. We've got a lot of demo lined up and we need to try it out for Marathon the week after. But when I was stitching the session together I thought of an idea that I wanted to explore a few months back when I was doing blogs on approvals but never got around to, which was parallel approvals. You see, if you are like me who operates across departments or support multiple business units within a group, parallel approvals are important because approval needs to come from multiple independent stakeholders. Imagine this scenario, I used to be Head of Professional Services where I worked, and when I was designing and developing new Professional Services items I used to need technical, financial and commercial sign off. They wouldn't make the decision together because they are all independent, and so before an item could be released all the stakeholders would need to evaluate it based on their respective reviews before it could go to market. I know, I know, I still have that blog on Viva Connections to do and that's probably more relevant and in vogue, but hey I have an approvals session on Tuesday and the completionist in me hates leaving things I meant to cover previously