Accessing Microsoft Partner Pre-Sales Support


This short post is aimed squarely at the Microsoft Partner community. It details how eligible partners can request pre-sales assistance to help with things like technical questions and architectural guidance. Although not shown in the video, the service also provides deployment consultations. The great thing about this partner benefit is that it covers Modern Work, BizzApps and Azure.

If you are a Microsoft Partner and you want to check out your eligibility and the details of what you are entitled to, take a look at the Technical Partner and Deployment Service web page.

In the video I show you how to use the form at aka.ms.tpdmsform to raise a pre-sales request. In my example it’s for a voice solution but you’ll see you can ask for help on a multitude of technology areas.

If you are a Microsoft Partner and you’ve not used this service before, my recommendation is to take it for a test drive!


Adding the Human Touch to a Viva Topic


By default Viva uses AI to add content and associate people to Topics it discovers for an organisation. Often, this is good enough and end users save time and effort by accessing these automatically generated Topics within the flow of their everyday jobs.

However, there might be times when a subject matter expert will want to ensure specific information about a Topic stands out. They might even want to create the Topic themselves and ensure their page is engaging. To do this Topic administrators will use standard SharePoint Web Parts and the AI can then add additional suggested content to help improve upon and maintain the subject covered.

If you are not familiar with Web Parts they are easy to use building blocks you can use to customise a SharePoint page.

The following video provides a short overview of how easy it is to customise Topics pages to highlight important documents, links, videos and tools.


Viva Elevator Discussion



I created this short 4 minute video for my colleagues and partners. It’s a high level overview of the Employee Experience Platform (EXP) and a description of the four pillars of Microsoft Viva, which are: Connections, Insights, Topics and Learning.

For more details check of some of my other Viva posts.

Viva Connections Dashboard Public Preview



The Viva Connections Dashboard is now in public preview. This new experience lets you create “out of the box” or fully customised Adaptive Cards and surface these in SharePoint and in Microsoft Teams. Different groups of users can be configured to see different card views. The idea behind the Connections Dashboard is to allow employees to easily access the information and Apps they need to better engage with their organisation, or do their day jobs.

In the video you will see an example of a “demo” SharePoint Framework 1.13 created card, the public preview Viva Connections Dashboard in SharePoint and the associated Microsoft Teams App. At the end of the video you’ll see an example of the Dashboard’s Teams mobile experience.

Note: At the time of posting (October 2021) this content is in Public Preview so could be subject to change up to General Availability.

Viva Insights Ways of Working Assessment



Viva Insights is a powerful workplace analytics tool that provides organisations the ability to better understand their collaboration culture and employee engagement. The service provides different levels of reporting including personal, manager, leader and analyst views. The personal, manager and leader dashboards are surfaced in Microsoft Teams as an App experience.

One key point to note is that at all times an individual’s identity is protected and any insights provided are designed to ensure the anonymity of employees. The details of how this is achieved can be found in the privacy and data protection section of the product documentation.

From an analyst’s perspective a good place to start looking at the general collaboration “health” of the company is via the Ways of Working Power BI template. This is one of the 8 predefined dashboards that ships with Viva Insights. An analyst can also generate custom queries, review business processes and create remedial plans.

The short video below shows how to create a Ways of Working Assessment and begin using it to drill down into the organisation’s collaboration behaviour.

Viva Connections Dashboard Introduction



The Viva Connections Dashboard feature, which at the time of writing has just gone into public preview, allows you to present adaptive cards to groups of end users within SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.

The video below provides a quick introduction to the new Dashboard and highlights some of the “out of the box” cards an admin can easily create. Fully customised cards can be coded using SharePoint Framework 1.13, which supports ACE (Adaptive Card Extensions).

Note: ACE is not covered in the video.

Note: For a deeper dive in to Viva Connections Adaptive cards check out this excellent video presented by Microsoft engineering.

Microsoft Teams 1:1 PSTN Recording



Microsoft Teams 1:1 PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) recording does what it says on the tin!

At the time of testing the recordings are placed in the user’s OneDrive “Recordings” folder as a MP4 file. As I mention in the video below this allows the recording to be easily shared, marked for retention or even be linked to a Power Automate flow.

This feature is is intended to support user initiated On Demand use cases, for Compliance recording Teams provides robust Policy Based Recording functionality.

Check out this 90 second video that shows 1:1 PSTN recording in action:

Note: 1:1 PSTN Recording is not on by default and has to be enabled via the Microsoft Teams PowerShell module. The command I used to enable recording for my demo tenant’s Global calling policy was:

Set-CsTeamsCallingPolicy -Identity Global -AllowCloudRecordingForCalls $True