Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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A Deep Dive Into the Evolution of Microsoft Lists w/ Anj Cerbolles

In today’s episode of #O365 Hours, we’re joined by Microsoft MVP Anj Cerbolles to discuss how Microsoft Lists has shaken up the game, how users can get the most out of the app, and when to use Lists vs. other tools like ToDo and Planner. Watch our discussion below or read the full transcript at your convenience!

Guest: Anj Cerbolles, a Business Applications MVP, and a Productivity Analyst focused on Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform (visit her website here)

Questions Covered:

  1. What is the background on Microsoft Lists, and how did you get started?
  2. How much does a person need to know about Power Platform and PnP to get the most out of Microsoft Lists?
  3. What are some of the common scenarios that you see for customers using Microsoft Lists?
  4. When should you use Microsoft Lists versus Planner versus ToDo, and other tools?
  5. What are some of your favorite features for Microsoft Lists? And are there any features on the roadmap that you’re excited to see upcoming?


Christian Buckley: Hello and welcome to another Office 365 Hours. My name is Christian Buckley. I’m the Microsoft Go-to-Market Director at AvePoint a Microsoft MVP and a regional director. And I’m joined today by Anj Cerbolles, a Business Applications MVP, and a productivity analyst focused on Microsoft 365 and the Power Platform. Good morning!

Anj Cerbolles: Morning and good evening to you.

CB: Yeah, it’s very early morning for you. Thanks for getting up early. Maybe you’re an early riser. I don’t know, but it’s early. Today we’re discussing the topic of the evolution of Microsoft Lists. And so I see a lot of questions that about Microsoft Lists through my, ask me anything panel discussions. So a lot of questions that come through, I’m interested to hear your perspective on where we’ve been where we’re going with Lists. And so why don’t we get started with the first question? So what is the background? What is the history of Microsoft Lists and how did you get started in it?

AC: How did I get started up? It was back in 2012 after I graduated. I jumped in into my first job working as a I think I’m a predictor a developer at that time, but I don’t consider myself as a developer. So what I did is my Matt, my previous manager told me to study SharePoint and I don’t know about SharePoint at that time. And I start configuring SharePoint server and build some forms using InfoPath. And then that’s how I fell in love with SharePoint. And so previously, when you want to customize a specific form in SharePoint list, you needed inject a JavaScript on that one, or it could use InfoPath to customize it. And it’s either customize it InfoPath or open it in a SharePoint designer and do some scripting there. So it was difficult at that time, but now the Microsoft List evolution has made it easy and flexible to customize things.

CB: Well, it just, I mean, just for your history. So, a lot of the people that I know that are very involved with and passionate about Microsoft Lists have a very similar background where they come through the SharePoint ranks and they started doing that. And it’s kind of everything it’s going to, the fundamentals of SharePoint. Everything is either a list or around a document. So LR a library. And, but you have a lot of people that had kind of come up, came up through those ranks, similar to that. But how much does a person really need to know about your SharePoint in the backend or Power Platform and the patterns of practices? Like how much do you really have to be on the technical side of things to get the most out of Microsoft List? Or do you, can you be a business user and brand new to the space and be functional and get value out of using Microsoft Lists?

AC: Yeah. Previously, yes, it need to be technical, but now everyone is everyone. Even the business users can easily create their own list within there. It’s only for a simple tracking, they can do it on their own, or if they want to share it with where the team it’s so much easier now compared to previously. And when it comes to customizing the forums, just show or hide a certain field, it was it now it’s easy and all her friends it’s because all the information is already in online, especially adopt in doc and learns. It’s easy for the business users now to kind of search the things that they want to as well. So, yeah,

CB: Well, now that if I want to learn how to do anything, the first place I go to look to find instructions is YouTube. Is there a video that of somebody walking through, but there’s tons of that kind of content. I mean, from yourself and other experts that are out MVPs that are in, you know, out in the community that are creating content that walked through those basic scenarios. But I have to say that one of the things that I loved about when the List launch happened again, I was using SharePoint lists, but when the Microsoft Lists launched, I’m a big teams, user and advocate where the templates, so to go and get started. One of the first questions that I heard though, is people say, well, wait a second, but I’m limited. I could only use kind of these like, well, no, it’s just an example. It’s a template. You can build whatever you need, but, but I love that Microsoft with their new product launch, you know, went out, live with a lot of that documentation and those templates.

AC: Yes. Also, it’s when building the Microsoft List. Now it’s not only starting from the blank template, but it also already has a template that they can use. There’s one for asset management events, itinerary, employee onboarding, and everything that’s already there in the Microsoft List. And then you just select the template that you want. And from there, it’s already has the schema that you need, where you can modify it afterwards. It’s it doesn’t much your business needs, but at least you have already a starting point to the building your Microsoft List.

CB: Oh, of course you can always go and build it from scratch. If you, if you’ve had some experience, if you know what you’re trying to build. But I mean, I, I’m one of those people that, you know, the way that I learn, I, I much prefer seeing a working example and then go in kind of look under the covers. You know, I’d look at the backend, how’s this working, how’s this functioning, I want to tweak this. I want to change something I want to add to it. And so it’s, you know, 75% of what’s already there, but I want to make it unique. And that’s the first thing that I did with those, those templates and just going out and experimenting.

AC: Yes, that’s right.

CB: So, what are some of the common scenarios that you see being power people, leveraging Microsoft, Microsoft Lists today in your interactions with your customers?

AC: Currently in my current in my most, my experience is more on the asset management where they check, if this laptop is already expired or not, or is it already time to upgrade? That’s, that’s the common scenarios that I have or sometimes checking. I think I just implemented previously the more on checking machine, if it’s time to go to the supplier or not, or is it it’s more of an approval process?

CB: I think we’ve all built something just like that with a, with an intake form or to add the information in ownership of that, to get reminders you know, to get notifications also to send out when an asset, when it’s lived its life cycle and the employee is eligible to go and swap out a laptop, for example, get a newer laptop you know, things like that, you know, every company has that. So yeah, that’s a very common scenario.

AC: Yeah. Our it cast farms, regrettably, a request form, something like that. Yeah.

CB: Well, another way people are doing that, some of the first uses are, well, let me, let me back up. So I, so I came up through the ranks. I got involved with SharePoint through project and portfolio management. So that was kind of my way I’ve been involved with developing portals and things, but collaboration technology, my entrance was really through project and portfolio management. And you know, the number one project management tracking tool in the world is still Microsoft Excel.

CB: They use Excel for that, but they know, so one of the first questions is the ongoing joke about Excel. People then wanted to go in and and utilize Microsoft Lists for doing that kind of project management tracking, but then that begs the question of what the purpose of having a planner is, or when you would use Lists versus Planner. And of course, Planner has the integration with To-Do. So you want to have that capability. So when do you use which tool? I guess it’s a question of “which tool to use when.”

AC: I think To-Do is more on a person, our task, a checklist, and then the Planner is more a Teams, collaboration task, but then once he completed the task, it can’t see it anymore. And I mean, it’s completed. It’s like, okay, you don’t have any more tracking, but if you’re going to have like a tracking more in shopping information that you want to be in one specific single source, I will probably use a Microsoft Lists to track all the information, then more in approval process and you can do modification with the views and something like that. So, yeah,

CB: That also answers the, one of the questions people have asked about planner. And I don’t know, I’m not up to speed entirely on what’s happening with the roadmap on planner, but like repeatable projects. And so that’s another thing where you can go, it’s easy to go and duplicate a list and the data from the list. So you’ve got co because you have that historical view of things. So you can track progress of that, but not lose sight of the history there of that, of that plan. But that’s especially important if you have like, okay, you complete that project and then start again on the next project, following the same structure, work breakdown, structure, and Liz. Good for that.

AC: Okay.

CB: Well, very cool. Well, so, so what are some of your other features? So I know you present on it, you know, you, you talk a lot about Microsoft Lists. What are some of the features that you’re most passionate about or that you love showing people that you can do with lists?

AC: My favorite feature in the list is customizing the views of the list, especially the gallery one, the card, that card thing. It’s so cute. I don’t know. It’s a cool, and then, and then, because it’s on it you can customize the view as well as the form of the list. So I usually tend to check the, get hub PNP visit. They already have an existing template for that that you could use in the form or interview, which is creative, fun, or colorful sometimes, which it makes the business users as well, to get more excited about in opening the list, especially if they’re in their whole day, they’re just looking to this blank data information.

So now you can customize it. And then the other one is showing the, the show and hide in the forums. Like, it’s just a simple, if there’s status field, for example, as to reject that or getting silly, hide it or not something like that, which the business user can easily do it compare previously. And then yeah, that’s it’s the coolest thing that I’ve seen in, in the Microsoft listed and happy about it.

CB: It’s, I, I know there’s a lot of stuff that’s happening. We have a ignite coming up and there will likely be a lot of you know, new announcements around it. I know we’re going to have later this year, we’re going to have mark Cashman on talking about, you know, kind of post ignite. Is there anything on the public roadmap that you’re aware of that you’re looking forward to, or are you following that along with what, what is on that list or do you deal more in the what’s real today?

AC: I am more into what are you up today? Because there’s a lot going on in the Microsoft uses me, which sometimes it just suddenly like, oh, is this a feature Z? This is new. Is something like that. Yeah. And

CB: It it’s, you know, you can get caught up in that whole world of what could be coming down. And, and I know it was MVP, so it, and as some people that aren’t aware, so we, we do have some view into what’s coming. We have regular calls with Microsoft, and we learn about things before they’re announced in generally available. But the danger there is that, you know, one, when people ask questions, if I’m falling too close on that, I have to remember, what can I talk about? What can I talk about what’s actually what’s public versus what did I just learn about in that NDA call? So we have to be very careful about that because we won’t what’s coming down the, from the roadmap, but we have to be very careful. So I tend to also deal with just, what’s generally available. What’s out there, and I will try to not pay as much attention unless it’s a feature or group of features that specifically impact my world. I try to you know, I, I try to, you know,

AC: Correct.

CB: Correct. So we’ll, we’ll excellent. Well, anything else that you’d like to share about Lists? Anything else that people like people want to find out more about, you know, Microsoft Lists kind of, where do you generally point them to go get started?

AC: I usually go to H M S A slash lists; everything is in there. You can see the adoption guide, how to get started some templates as well. If you want to do some customizing with the views, our forums, just go way down the MP get hub. And yeah, just from there, you can start.

CB: Excellent. Well, thank you much, so, so much for taking the time out your early morning for joining us and on your weekend. Well, thank you so much.

CB: It’s always fun doing these in one, getting to know other people without in the community, out in the community, but also to, to learn more about, you know, other aspects of the Microsoft 365 platform that I’m not focusing on so much, you know, myself individually, but to learn more about that. So thank you so much, Andrew, for joining me this morning. And of course, to all the users that are watching, please subscribe office hours that you’ll get the notifications. Will you subscribe? It means that you’ll get notifications reminders about the broadcast, which happened on the first and third, Wednesday mornings at 11:00 AM Eastern. There’ll be out there and be on demand as well. And then a couple of days later, you’ll see a blog post out on the app point blog. So go take a look and all of our past recordings, be sure to subscribe out on YouTube and hopefully we’ll see you at the next, on the next episode.

AC: Okay. Thanks Christian. Thanks everyone.

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Christian Buckley
Christian Buckleyhttp://buckleyplanet.com
An Office Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, Christian Buckley is an internationally recognized author and speaker and runs the community-focused CollabTalk blog, podcast, and tweetjam series.

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