With the consistent evolution of Microsoft Viva, it’s hard to keep track of every tool and its capabilities. But if you’re looking into maximizing the power of your intranet with employee engagement, this episode of Office 365 Hours will help you dive deep into the capabilities of Viva Connections.
Our host, Norman Young, spoke with Daniel Glenn, Senior Director of Hybrid Office in US Operations at Creospark and 7-time Microsoft Apps and Services MVP, to explore how organizations can utilize Viva Connections to boost intranet engagement.
Watch the full session below or read our summary of the key points they addressed during our latest episode.
What is Viva Connections?
Viva Connections is the first app announced on the Viva platform. It’s a Teams app where you can connect your organization’s news and resources available to your users in one place.
In essence, it brings your intranet right into your users’ workspace and enables the actual practice of marrying engagement and collaboration together by bringing your content and intranet into Teams by having a single, unified experience.
How to boost engagement using Viva Connections
Engagement starts when you start to unify your employee experience. This can be done in two ways:
1. Personalize employee experience
With Viva Connections, you can deliver a modern, tailored experience by bringing together relevant content, news, or resources to your target users in one place—empowering a more meaningful way for them to access and interact with information.
2. Improve and simplify the employee experience
By utilizing the Viva dashboard, you can use ACES—also called adaptive cards—to customize your navigation panes, home site appearance, and more.
You can also integrate Viva Connections with other systems to boost engagement even more beyond your Microsoft 365 content. For example, you can integrate information such as stocks and weather forecasts as well as vacation or holiday schedules.
Lastly, you can even build your apps for whatever business case you need! And then, along the way, you can continue to grow and tailor your content and improve users’ navigation experience as you grow.
Rolling out your SharePoint intranet vs deploying Viva Connections
Getting started with Viva Connections is similar to planning and launching a SharePoint intranet – you plan your navigation, content, home site design, and so on.
Eventually, your SharePoint intranet is what you will surface in your Teams environment, so carefully planning for the two is equally critical. Once your intranet is launched, that’s when you can deploy Viva Connections. Now that you have your content in your intranet, you can now personalize that content to your target users with Viva Connections.
In the end, improve your intranet experience with Viva Connections by planning your news, links, announcements, and content in your intranet first and then boost your employee engagement and foster communities with Viva Connections.
The role of governance
Whether you’re planning to roll out your intranet or ideating how to deploy your Viva Connections, make sure to implement a solid governance strategy.
Governance is more than the “rules”. It is about answering the questions of who, what, when, where, and why. With these answers, you’ll find out the right content, know your people, learn how to bridge the two with your intranet, and eventually enrich the engagement with Viva Connections.
Knowing this will help you settle any challenges at the beginning of your launch as well as ground you to address any challenges you face throughout your deployment.
To make that happen, go beyond giving IT the sole ownership of your intranet. For your employee engagement to be successful, find the right people who know what content is needed, who your people are, as well as how to best deliver the content to them.
The IT team should be the enabler, but in the end, it is the teamwork between IT and your organization’s other departments as well as having the right governance in place for processes and approvals that will make this project successful.
Common pitfalls when trying to deploy Viva Connections
We’ve talked about Viva Connections’ features and benefits, but what about the common pitfalls you might encounter when you’re deploying it?
Here are some common ones you should avoid:
- Not having governance. Without a governance policy, you can lose sight of your goals and processes, which may lead to information sprawl or an entirely unengaging intranet.
- Setting and forgetting it. The deployment doesn’t end when you first launch Viva Connections. Content can quickly become stale, and if you don’t update it regularly your users will forget about it – which leads to poor adoption.
- Thinking it’s something more than what it is. Again, Microsoft has multiple tools for multiple business use cases. The key to maximizing the power of Viva Connections to boost employee engagement is to find meaning in the capabilities it can bring to your organization.
- Not working with experts. Launching an intranet to boost your engagement will require input from multiple teams and key stakeholders. Work with trusted partners who can help set you up for success from the very beginning.
Get started with Viva Connections
Does this all seem daunting? Don’t let perfect be an enemy of the good. You can always test your project with a small group first and then iterate based on their feedback as you continue your rollout.
Here are more resources to get you started:
- Joining a community (e.g. the Nashville Microsoft 365 and SharePoint users group) and going to workshops (e.g. Microsoft 365 Conference)
- Explore Microsoft Learn
- Connect with Daniel Glenn at his weekly podcast, The 365 Message Center Show.