How to avoid icebergs in Office 365 – session from Microsoft Ignite 2019

Recently at Microsoft Ignite, I co-presented with my wife Megan Strant on some of the challenges we’ve come across over our many years working with Office 365 across hundreds of customers of all sizes, industries, and countries.

You can catch the audio-only recording of our 20 minute theatre session online as well as download the slides here:

AvePoint provided a great writeup of the session here:

What I would say is that a lot of the points we cover may seem obvious, but I am personally alarmed on a regular basis how many times I come across organisations that fit into many of the covered topics.


Microsoft Forms now supports attachment uploads!

Rolling out slowly and without much fanfare is a feature I’ve been asked a lot by clients – the ability to upload files into Microsoft Forms.

To date when people have asked about that I’ve said it wasn’t possible, and that they should build a PowerApp to achieve the functionality. However as of today I now have that functionality in my tenant, and am told it is rolling out slowly.

I haven’t actually seen this in the Microsoft 365 roadmap or the Message Center – but am happy to be corrected.

In any case, here’s a brief walk-through of the functionality.

Creating a question

A file upload is like any normal question type, other than we specify the “File upload” type:

The default looks like this:

If you hit the ellipsis in the bottom right corner, you have the ability to be more specific about types of files you upload (for example if you want to restrict it to be a document, or a picture, etc.):

We have the ability to allow up to 10 file uploads:

And it supports files up to 1GB in size!!!!!

Where the files are stored

If the Form is a personal form (ie. not attached to an Office 365 Group), the creator will be prompted to store the uploaded files in their OneDrive:

Within moments of selecting “Yes” to this, I saw the following folder appear:

Going down the rabbit hole of folders, this is where the actual files for the question are shown up, and you can also see the name of the responder (me) has been appended to the file name:

File storage for Group-related Forms

When I moved the Form to an Office 365 Group, the applicable folder was then created in the document library:

However the files itself were not moved across:

I hope this is an oversight or bug that will be addressed shortly.

Creating a Form in a Group

Ideally when people create a Form they should think about its application. While it’s perfectly valid to create a Form under your own account and move it, as we can see from above the files may not come across.

But, much like a conversation thread we want to start or document we want to create, so too should we with Forms. Before hitting the button to create a new form, we should pause first and see if we are creating it in the right location – much like sending an email vs. starting a conversation in Yammer or a channel in Teams, or creating a document in a SharePoint site or Team channel, rather than our own OneDrive.

In this scenario I created a Form directly connected to an Office 365 Group, and instead of the previous prompt of a OneDrive folder creation I now see a prompt for a SharePoint folder creation:

The same structure applies as previously seen for OneDrive:

Accessing files from within the Form

While I’ve shown that the files are stored within OneDrive and SharePoint subject to the context of which Form is actually created (ie. individual or Group-connected), the files are easily accessible directly from the result of the Form itself. Clicking on the link opens the files directly, so there’s less clicks for end users to worry about.

Use cases

The use cases for this are virtually unlimited. In its most basic form (pardon the pun) it can be used to replace where emails might be sent in to shared mailboxes or distribution lists requesting action – as now they can go through the Form where instructions can be more carefully extracted as well as any required documentation being supplied. This can then be connected to a workflow that issues a ticket, creates an automated response, adds to a Planner, or anything else really.