The Viva Realist

Did you attend the Microsoft 365 User Group on 8th December 2021? Lesley Crook (Twitter Linked In) & I presented “Microsoft Viva: The Pitch, The Use, The Config”.

Whilst Lesley is the Viva Visionary, I’m the Viva Realist, presenting the current state of the Viva tools as well as how to configure the Viva modules. You can get details of the Viva Vision (the pitch and purpose) from Lesley’s own blog here.

You’ll find more of my articles on Microsoft Viva, by clicking on the Viva link at the top of this page.

Viva Connections

Connections brings your SharePoint based Intranet into Teams. With the use of the SharePoint Global Nav Bar and Viva Connections Dashboard & Feed webparts it can bring the whole of your SharePoint into Teams whilst simplifying the navigation process for users and integrating Yammer as well as custom tools to give a holistic approach to communication.  The Viva Connections Feed combines SharePoint news with Yammer community announcements whilst the Dashboard uses cards to include other apps and tools, such as tasks, holiday booking apps, shift management, etc.

This is what Viva Connection in the desktop and web version of Teams looks like for me today:

Viva Connections with App icon highlighted in Teams side rail

Clicking onto the Viva Connections icon a second time brings up the SharePoint Global Navigation bar.

Global Navigation menu showing curated navigation, followed sites and news with Viva Connections app icon highlighted in Teams side rail

On mobile the first tab shown is the dashboard

Then you can pull up the feed, from the second tab

And the final tab give the resources or the SharePoint Global Navigation Bar

Setting up Viva Connections

To implement Viva Connections you need to:

1.Have an intranet in SharePoint

2.Make your Intranet site the “Home Site” Set a site as your home site – SharePoint in Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Docs

3.Set up SharePoint Global Navigation Use the new SharePoint app bar and set up global navigation – SharePoint in Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Docs

4.Deploy the Viva Connections App into Teams for your users  (via Teams Admin Center)

What you get out of Viva Connections depends upon the use made of SharePoint intranet and Yammer.  To bring Yammer into Viva Connections we use the Viva Connections Feed or Yammer web parts on your SharePoint Home Site. For details on creating a Home Site for use with Viva Connections use this article.

To make the most of Microsoft Viva you need to configure a dashboard, this is essential for your mobile users as they land on the dashboard first. You may also want to consider which cards go on the dashboard. We’ve added the SharePoint Intranet homepage as a card, so it’s available from the landing tab for mobile users. Your desktop users will also need the feed and dashboard so do add those as web parts to your home page.

Viva Connections is included in all Microsoft 365 plans which include SharePoint with no additional licensing requirements. At present there are no additional features available when purchasing the Viva suite but the suite will unlock integration between modules going forward.

With a brief step into the role of the Viva Visionary, the future promises more cards for the dashboard and further integrations with more of Office 365. Don’t forget you get the full visionary details from this presentation in Lesley’s own blog here.

Viva Topics

Viva Topics is about unlocking the knowledge trapped inside your Microsoft 365 silos. There must be millions of files which get created, used one and never see the light of day again, yet contain many gems of information. Viva topics is about using the power of AI plus human oversight to discover topics from this information and surface the knowledge to users in the natural flow of their work.

At present Viva topics ONLY surfaces in SharePoint pages.

The Topic Center, from where topics are managed is not the most exciting looking SharePoint site, but its the topic pages themselves which are most interesting. Click the thumbnail below to see a full topic page example from my tenant.

Topic Center
SharePoint Page showing highlighted topic & topic card

Viva Topics is not suitable for all organisations, there is a minimum amount of data and activity that you need before it can work as designed.

That said Viva topics is working in my tenant which is primarily a one user tenant, though it does have 20 years of training content in it and the files are in regular use including updating and reworking.

Set up Viva Topics

For more detailed information, view my blog on setting up Viva Topics.

Viva topics is not included in any Office or Microsoft 365 plan. Full details on Viva licensing is available here.

With a brief step into the role of the Viva Visionary, the future roadmap for Viva Topics is congested. Not just more places where topics will surface (Teams messages, Office documents and emails), but also controls for editing and creating topics, integration with SharePoint Managed Metadata, Sensitivity Labels and Yammer Q&A. Don’t forget you get the full visionary details from this presentation in Lesley’s own blog here.

Viva Learning

Viva Learning today is working nicely on desktop, mobile and web editions of Microsoft Teams and is properly the Viva module attracting the most attention today. Though it is worth while noting that Viva Learning on mobile is a simplified user experience compared to web and desktop.

Setting up Viva Learning without integrating your own resources, requires only verifying the options in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center under Settings -> Org Settings -> Services -> Viva Learning then approving & deploying the app from the Teams Admin Center. Remember you will need to approve the app in App Settings, then ensure the app is approved for your users from the App Permission Policies and finally add to the appropriate App Set Up Policies if you want to automatically add to teams for users.

If you are going to add your own content to Viva Learning then you need to determine where you want to host the list of content to be added to Viva Learning. This site must be accessible to ALL users on your tenant, with at least read permissions. The content does not need to be held in that same site. Currently only 1 SharePoint site per organisation is supported.

When you add the site to Viva Learning config in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center under Settings -> Org Settings -> Services -> Viva Learning then a new list is added to that site called Learning App Content Repository. To this list you add the URL of folders which contain the learning materials. Viva Learning users will see all content included in the list but only be able to access the content they have permissions to.

To find out more about Viva Learning for admins see Here comes Viva Learning – The Teams Queen Blog and for users see First Steps Using Viva Learning – The Teams Queen Blog

The basic edition of Viva Learning is included in every paid Office 365 plan which includes Microsoft Teams. However full functionality is only available with paid licenses.

You should also note that recommending learning is NOT the same as assigning learning. Assigned learning refers to a feature that is only available with LMS (learning Management System) integration and depends on the LMS supporting such integration.

With a brief step into the role of the Viva Visionary, please do note the future integrations available with the Viva Suite license. Microsoft are promising many more such integrations in the future which will only be available with the suite license, not the individual add-ons. Don’t forget you get the full visionary details from this presentation in Lesley’s own blog here.

Viva Insights

Viva Insights (personal) does not require much set up at all. It is, in fact, on by default within your tenant and the Teams app is approved and available by default too. You can configure the insights emails and Outlook add in in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center under Settings -> Org Settings -> Services -> Viva Insights.

Setting up the Manager & Organisation insights is a very different matter. This uses the Workplace Analytics functionality and is only available with the paid plan. For more details on setting up the paid plan see Setting Up Viva Insights With Per User Plan – The Teams Queen Blog

Privacy is a key principle to consider with Viva Insights and is hard coded into the product. The image below shows Viva Insights My Organisation view when the company is below 10 users. A minimum of 10 users are required in each category before the metrics are even populated! Personal insights are only available to the individual and very few metrics are available for managers of teams under 10 people. All to ensure the privacy of the individuals about whom the data is collected.

You can learn more about privacy in Viva Insights from these resources:

As already mentioned, Viva Insights has included and paid tiers. The ‘free’ version is included with paid plans that include Exchange Online. This version gives primarily personal insights. The Teams and Organisation insights are unlocked with the paid plan and so are “Premium Personal Insights”, which has not yet been fully defined by Microsoft.

With a brief step into the role of the Viva Visionary, personally I am looking forward to the delay delivery options for chat messages in Teams; Scheduling Quiet Time (like focus time currently) but muting all notification from the account on all devices and the extension of focus time to include productivity timers and music. Don’t forget you get the full visionary details from this presentation in Lesley’s own blog here.

Published by sfennah

I am a freelance learning professional with over 22 years’ experience including holding 30+ Microsoft certifications and Microsoft Certified Trainer status since 2008.

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