Editor’s Note: Two additional learning resources to consider:
- Operational Governance in Office 365 on-demand webinar featuring Matt Wade and John Peluso.
- Connecting Firstline/Field Workers in Office 365 featuring Dux Raymond Sy and Microsoft’s Zahid Saeed on May 21st.
Moving to the cloud means you no longer control the upgrade, patching, and feature rollout schedule of your enterprise systems. To be the best Office 365 owner you can be, you’re going to have to stay current on everything that’s going on in the ecosystem. It’s hard to know which sources to use, so the below listing gives you a starting point of official Microsoft resources and individuals.
An infographic version is shown first and this post finishes with a spreadsheet linking to each app or service’s specific blog, roadmap, feedback area, community forum, and Twitter presence.
Check out some reasons why IT admins can no longer think in a siloed fashion with this blog.
Admin Message Center
Office.com > Admin Center > Message Center
The admin’s source for specific feature rollouts, service outages, and requests for action within Office 365. Messages are specific to your tenant. Message Center content is only available to Office 365 admins and some other service admins (e.g., SharePoint Online, Exchange Online) and there is no public listing of the messages going out by tenant or data center. Notifications are also available through the iOS and Android apps.
This is the place to find out which (usually major) features are on the drawing board and when they’re planned to be released. The Roadmap can be filtered by features and services and is updated regularly. Its content is useful for inclusion in an organization’s strategic and governance planning for Office 365. Beware: delivery dates are generally only accurate to the level of a calendar year quarter (range of three months).
A combination of blogs and discussion forum, all of which are organized and separated by Office 365 app or service. Tech Community announcements generally fill the details gap in the Office Blogs and provide interaction with the more technical authors. Discussion forums are available for help, guidance, and technical support, made possible through community interaction between Microsoft representatives, Microsoft MVPs, topic experts, and users across the globe.
You can find major, big-picture announcements on Office blogs. Generally written by high-level VPs at Microsoft, this blog will announce new applications, major integration upgrades, or reshuffling of services (e.g., introduction of Microsoft 365). Content will be less detailed and less technical than the Tech Community, though this can be helpful when a digestible version of upcoming changes is needed for upper management or the C-suite.
You’ll get a deluge of information after some Microsoft-led events. The annual Microsoft Ignite conference (usually in September) and—for the last couple years—a SharePoint update event (usually in May) will come with many news items, some major. Smaller events sometimes reveal incremental updates and feature rollouts to various Office 365 apps. Inspire, Tech Summits, and Build should be on your pay-attention calendar as well.
There’s no better way to stay in the know than by attending industry events like SPTechCon, SharePoint Fest, and European SharePoint Conference, among many other good ones. SharePoint/Office 365 Saturdays—free, one-day mini-conferences held in cities around the world—and local user groups help foster strong communities.
Microsoft continually upgrades Office 365 based on constructive feedback, garnered through systems like UserVoice and the PowerUsers Community. The community votes on User-provided feature requests, functionality suggestions, and bug reports. While higher-voted items generally get more visibility (and are more likely to be worked), less popular but still important items are regularly incorporated as well.
Microsoft has two useful YouTube channels that provide updates and best practices. They’re the Office 365 channel’s monthly updates playlist and Microsoft Mechanic’s Office playlist. Aimed more at admins than users, these videos can be useful viewing for anyone with an organizational oversight role of an Office 365 app or service. To stay most informed, enable YouTube notifications to know when these videos are published.
Twitter has become a powerful communication tool for Microsoft to announce updates, changes, and new feature rollouts (including minor ones that may not warrant blog posts). Most apps and services have their own official account and each generally has one or a few individuals who play the role of the face of the team behind the app or service. Find a list of recommended accounts to follow or simply subscribe to the Twitter list linked above.
Below is a complete listing of all resources available for each Office 365 app or service. That includes blogs, community forums, roadmaps, feedback mechanisms, and useful Twitter handles. You can also view this via direct link. If you think something is missing, let me know and I’ll update it.