Viva Connections – Get Connected Today

Viva connections, available now in GA to all with Microsoft 365 licensing, is the next step in Microsoft’s promise of a holistic, digital workspace. But what does that actually mean? In this post we’ll break down everything that’s available in Viva Connections today, how you can get started, and answer the top questions our clients are asking. 

What is Viva Connections? 

Microsoft describes Viva Connections as, “A curated, company-branded experience that brings together relevant news, conversations, and resources in the apps and devices you use every day.” But what does this actually mean in practice today? Connections is currently made up of two facets: a Viva Connections Desktop App and a Dashboard.  

Viva Connections Desktop  

With Viva Connections Desktop—formerly known as the Home Site App—you can surface your SharePoint intranet homepage in a Teams tab, removing frustrating context switching and empowering your team to consume intranet content in their flow of work. 


Viva Connections Dashboard
 

The dashboard allows the organization to display a series of cards that show snippets of high-value content to users. There are several OOTB cards available that require no code to get started, but a developer can extend these to make highly effective custom cards as well. Plus, all cards can be targeted to the user with audience targeting. 

Why should I care? What’s in it for me?

Context switching is one of the most common complaints and a menace to productivity. With Viva Connections Desktop, you enable your team to consume important company information without leaving the flow of work in Teams.  

The Dashboard also brings relevant information in quick consumable cards to help move people’s day along. Examples always help me truly see the value. Here are a few card concepts we are recommending to clients today:   

  • Required Training Reminder/Registration 
  • Request Time off 
  • Approve Time off requests 
  • Log Time 
  • Schedule a desk or conference room 
  • Validate proof of vaccination

What does it cost?  
Viva Connections licensing is currently free as part of your Microsoft 365 license. 

Who can set it up?  
You must have SharePoint Global Admin permissions to set up the homesite, and you need a site editor or higher of the home site to create or edit dashboard.

How do I set it up? 
Setting up Viva Connections is not a difficult feat, and can be done quite quickly. Here’s a simple checklist to follow:

1) Set up your Home Site
While technically you can use any Modern Communication site as your Viva Connections site, Microsoft recommends using a home site. The dashboard can only be loaded on your home site and the home site must be on the communication site. Because Viva connections will only display modern SharePoint pages in Teams, you must have a modern SharePoint homesite to fully leverage Connections.

2) Set up the Global Navigation

You can either use the hub navigation or the home site navigation as the global nav in Teams and the SharePoint App bar. To configure, you must be an owner of the home site.

3) Set up your Dashboard

From the gear in the Microsoft 365 ribbon, select ‘set up Viva Connections.

4) Add Viva Connections Desktop – there’s a Teams UI now!– before you had to generate this via code, but you can do it all through Teams.

    • Note: If you had originally installed this through Powershell when it first came out, your users may need to manually remove it.
    • Pin the Viva Connections Desktop app to the Teams App Bar. In the Teams app go to set up policies –> global policies and can pin it where you need.

What features are available today? 

Okay, this sounds interesting, but what can I actually do with Viva Connections today? Here are the current features available: 

Viva Connections Desktop, Formerly known as the Teams Home Site App 

The Microsoft Teams app brings your intranet home page into Teams. As of now, you can only display your home page, but we hope that in the future they will enable multiple home sites and/or ways to add different teams sites. This feature continues to validate our belief that teams will eventually become the OS of your digital workspace, allowing you to bring in your digital tools into a single pane.  

Viva Connections Mobile App 

The new Viva Connections Mobile experience displays three main tabs that allow you to consume your intranet content more easily on your mobile device. The Dashboard brings cards with concise snippets of actionable information right at your fingertips, The Feed pulls in relevant news, and the Resources tab displays the global navigation from your intranet, making it easy to navigate the site from your phone.  

Home Site 
A way to label a particular site in SharePoint as your intranet home.  

Dashboard  

The dashboard acts as a landing page with concise, actionable cards. Your organization can set specific cards and even create custom cards that display personalized snippets of critical information like how much vacation time an individual has left or if a task has been recently assigned to you.  

ACE Cards  
Cards that display snippets of information designed for quick access to vital info, built with mobile in mind. 

Corresponding webparts are in public preview as well: 

    • Feed webpart – brings in content, video, news, conversations into one feed for you to see.  
    • Dashboard webpart – you can surface up to 4 cards that you have access to and you can audience target the Viva ACE cards.  

Frequently Asked Questions 

Inquiring minds want to know… 

1. Why do I need a home site?
Because it’s currently the only way to surface the Viva Connections Dashboard. However, Microsoft has said they are investigating this could be opened up down the road.

2. Why does my home site have to be a Communication Site?

Your home site must be a communication site in order for Viva Connections to properly display your intranet in Teams.

3. Can you undo a homesite setting?

Yes

4. How do I set my home site?

You can now assign a homesite in SharePoint admin Center.

5. I don’t see the Viva Dashboard option?

The dashboard is now generally available, if you’re not seeing it, contact your SharePoint admin.

6. Can you create custom cards?

Yes! We see huge value in the ability to create custom cards. If you want to learn more about creating custom components that span across Microsoft 365, check out Vesa Juvonen’s session from Microsoft Build, Build solutions that span across Microsoft Teams, Viva Connections and SharePoint.

7. Can you have the Dashboard without the Teams App?
Yes! With the Teams app or not, you can still have a dashboard created and vice versa.8. Can an individual create their own cards?

8. Can an Individual create their own cards?

Not at the moment. Cards must be created by an Admin of the dashboard.

9. Can I use my classic sites with Viva Connections?

No. Classic sites will not display with Viva Connections.

10. Do I need Viva Connections right now?

Like most things, ‘it depends.’ Our recommendation is to start by building your use case(s), then pilot and test. We see the promise of what Viva Connections will become, but at the moment the capabilities are limited.

Viva Connections offers great promise for helping organizations streamline communications and collaboration tools. Want to see this in action? Join us for a free webinar on November 11, 2021 where our President will walk you through what’s possible with all Viva modules right now. Register today!  

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