New Microsoft 365 Groups governance content

Microsoft recently refreshed its Microsoft 365 Groups governance content on docs.microsoft.com – something that was very timely as the amount of confusion that still exists around Groups.

I was engaged to review a bunch of the content and make suggestions/recommendations on where it might need to be corrected or updated, but additionally I authored a couple of docs that are now available.

End of lifecycle options for Microsoft 365 Groups

The first one is around a topic that is not fully understood by many, especially end users: your options when it’s time for the Group to be put to rest.

There are a number of services associated with Groups – not just a Team with its channels or SharePoint site with its document library. I often hear horror stories from users and IT pros who deleted a Team or Group and too late realised that there was something in the Planner that they wanted to refer to, a results in a Form that needed to be shared. Depending when the Group was deleted, options at this point are limited.

Writing this doc was quite cathartic, as it allowed me to really explain a topic as well as research some of the areas I wasn’t as familiar with (such as Project). Initially it was supposed to be 1,500 words but ended up being about 3,000 because there was just so much to cover.

You can view it online here.

The interaction between Microsoft 365 workloads and Groups

Building on the previous section, how various Microsoft 365 workloads interact with Microsoft 365 Groups is mind-boggling. This too was a cathartic process as it allowed me to explain an even more misunderstood topic.

Matt Wade has a fantastic guide to Groups that I refer to (with attribution) on a regular basis, however there’s still some gaps and products that aren’t referred to.

Similarly to the previous doc, this too was supposed to be 1,500 words but ended up being 4,000 words!

You can view it online here.

Authors note: a product feature changed a week after this was accepted and put into the publishing machine, so needs to be updated.

Giving Microsoft To-Do another try

Initially when To-Do was launched I was underwhelmed. It was touted as the replacement to Wunderlist (bought some time ago by Microsoft for a lot of money), yet was missing a considerable number of features.

What was good about To-Do was that it provided a nicer front-end to Outlook tasks than Outlook itself, as well as a mobile-friendly interface. Unfortunately for me that wasn’t enough, and so I set it aside.

My daily role is that of an individual contributor – I work for myself and consult to a number of Office 365 clients, partners, and vendors; so managing tasks is paramount.

Without going into detail about how I manage my tasks for my projects, I want to focus on why I’ve decided to start using To-Do again as my daily task management tool.

Generally as individuals we have two sides of us in the workplace: the individual contributor, and the team member. This is where choice in Office 365 is a good thing; we have Planner for group tasks and To-Do for individual tasks. I recently wrote a short post positioning the difference between them which may help mentally visualise it.

Changing my habits

One of the ways I would historically remind myself after-hours to do things the next day was to send myself an email. This way it would sit in my inbox until it was done. Simple task management really!

When looking at To-Do again, I thought I’d be smart and create a Flow to take those emails and put them into the relevant task list based on a prefix in the subject. As I started to create the Flow I was hit with an idea: what if I put the To-Do app on the front app page on my phone? That way I can create the task in the right place, assign it to the next day, and add any notes.

I’ve also pinned the To-Do app to the traybar on my Windows devices for quick and easy access as well. Now I simply keep the To-Do app open most of the day, and when I have moments of ‘focus time’ I simply look at the list and what I’ve prioritised for the day. Not ground-breaking I know, but a simple change in behaviour that has yielded considerable improvements in productivity.

What brought me back

The two main things that brought me back to To-Do were the recent addition of “steps” and task list sharing, the former being more important to me because not every task is a single action.

Personally I would prefer if steps was just called “sub-tasks” or “checklist” (like it is in Planner) as “steps” to me indicates an order of events. While the steps feature does allow you to order them, the naming just doesn’t sit right with me.

The list sharing is a very handy feature, because from time to time I work with other people on a project. Sometimes the use of Office 365 Groups or Microsoft Teams is overkill, and similarly so is Planner; we just want a simple list of tasks to work through, and task list sharing fits this purpose nicely.

What stops me from fully embracing it

Alexa integration

Previously my wife and I used Wunderlist for shared task lists such as groceries, chores, school holiday activities, trip planning/packing, etc. We switched over to Todoist when I introduced Alexa into the house, as Wunderlist does not offer any integration; and we wanted the ability to add items to the shopping list without having to use our phone (when you’re making breakfast and talking to your kids, this distraction of looking at your phone is actually not a good thing for either of you).

Account selection

To-Do only allows you to sign in with either work or personal accounts; not both at the same time. This means for me to use the app on the phone I have to make the decision which is more important to me, because switching accounts (signing out and back in manually) is not practical. So I continue to use Todoist for personal tasks and To-Do for work tasks.

I’d love to see Microsoft give the ability for you to be signed in simultaneous to both accounts at the same time, so when adding a task I can choose which persona & list it needs to go under. The reality is the border between our personal and working lives is blurred. We do work at home, and personal things at work. I think for To-Do to really succeed it needs to support this way of working.