Our Groups Rollout (part 2)

Silver Contributor

So we have really started rolling Groups out, gave some feedback when we first started evaluating/piloting (here) and now i've got some more feedback to share based on direct business user and real life scenarios.


We are marketing this as "collaboration in a box" -- thats what makes the most sense to business end-users.  We are not even considering Teams at this point in time, and since everything is a Group anyways, we want to get a firm grasp, foundation with Groups first before evaluation the things that sit on top of it.


Our setup

  • Groups creation is locked down to IT
  • We are focusing of formal business workgroups and teams that already exist, and organizational/project teams based on special request
  • We have a request process that goes through IT
  • We are manually creating all groups with this format:
    • Name:  GROUP - Group Name
    • Email:   group_acryonym@company.com
  • We also did group categories: Workgroup, Sub-Team, Team, Project, Organization, Group, Sales
  • Subscribe users automatically (by default)
  • Planner notifications turned on (by default)
  • I started out trying to handle migrations myself (just powershell scripts and so on), but in the end it got too difficult and unwieldy and we decided to invest in a migration tool - ShareGate - which is making everything a breeze.
  • I wrote up my own user guide that shows what each "tool" as part of Groups is and some basics for accomplishing every day tasks, and a new group day 1 guide (showing them how to favorite it in outlook, follow the sp site, add it to S4B, sync files/onenote, etc)
  • We created a web part that shows which Groups a member is part of and links to each group tool (here), and we've been using that are our defacto "front door" to groups, training them you can get there from a million different entry points, but when in doubt, go to our intranet homepage and get what you are looking for


The good:

  • Our business users love the mobile access to the data, and how they can access it from Outlook, web, or mobile app
  • How everything is interconnected - they are grasping this and its value so much easier than just getting a SharePoint site, and not always knowing what to do with it
    • We are actually advertising how you don't even have to use the site, most groups are collaborating with just the surfaced workloads, whether they know it is sharepoint or not
  • Our business users are really liking the exposure some of the existing tools that they didnt necessarily know about (like OneNote)
  • Planner - they love planner, we have traditionally use SharePoint task lists, its simple and make sense, and they understand some of the coming features that will address their near team wants
  • Overwhelmingly they are viewing this as a "fix" to the negative perceptions of SharePoint collaboration in general (a nice somewhat unexpected reaction)


The bad:

  • Notification hell - This is the biggie.  We have started with the firehose wide open approach, and will probably be changing that immediately.   The regular conversations is one thing, but the Planner notifications is just WAY too much.  (between the emails, the app push notifications, the notifications pop up in O365 interface, and so on).
    • We had a major workgroup just complete, so they went in to start loading in action items, and I wish I had told the facilitator to turn off notifications before doing it, but everyone just got bombarded by like 100 emails
    • I think this has to start taking priority - i think it is the last remaining impediment to really gaining user adoption IMO - they are loving the features, but this is a big turn off
    • I worry if they start to unsubscribe and turn off all the notifications, then they'll stop "going" to the Groups, and start backsliding into old ways of doing things.
  • "Modern" Sub-sites - We are migrating existing content to the Group sharepoint site on their behalf (leveraging ShareGate), but subsites are just "wonky" in a Group site at this point -- I don't know a better way to describe it at this point - its like everything is built for just the top level site, and subsites are an afterthought at this point
  • SP News - ya, its a shiny toy in the sharepoint sites, but most of our users so far have been like, "meh..."
  • Calendar invites - maybe not a big deal, but it just adds to the notification hell, need better ways to create events without inviting/notifying everyone (here)
  • Files Tab - lots of confused users trying to upload files to the "Files" tab and not knowing how to get it in the right folder that they use to analyze their data. 
    • We are marketing this as one view is for "recent activity" (and "please dont upload anything here") and one view is for uploading.
    • I'm finding this takes direct explanation to the business users, otherwise they are not really grasping where all of their folders went.
    • I've not been a big fan of this feature, but I do get it (here)
4 Replies

Brent THANK YOU so much for taking the time to share your journey as well as what's working and what we can improve. I've circulated your feedback internally to the respective Outlook, SharePoint and Planner teams and we might reach out to learn more about pain points that we can improve.

Simiar experience to us. As a minimum "files" should be "recent files" or similiar. Another missing minimum feature is automatic IT access to group sites without being owners. We let staff create their own but it's very hard to manage. The sooner soft delete is implemented, the better.

I echo the sentiment - thank you for taking the time to share this with the community!

Thanks for sharing this @Brent Ellis its very valuable indeed.