Categories
Microsoft Teams

How to: Schedule messages Microsoft Teams

It can be challenging in Microsoft Teams to schedule messages to be sent in some point in the future, but in this post we’ll take a look at a few options available.

  1. Use Outlook
  2. Use Power Automate
  3. Use Send Later app for Microsoft Teams

Option 1: Use Outlook

If you have an Office 365 Outlook license, you can setup an automation to send an email to your Teams channel at a date and time in the future.

Note that this approach is only useful for posting new posts in channels – it can’t be used to reply to comment threads on an existing post.

1. First, copy the email address for the channel you want to send the message to. This can be found by opening the Teams app, hovering over the channel name, clicking the ‘More options menu’ (three dots) and clicking ‘Get email address’ as shown in the screenshot below

Get channel email address

2. Then login to Outlook on the web. Click ‘New message’

3. In the window that opens, paste your Teams channel email address (from step 1) into the ‘To’ field.

4. In the body of the email, type the message you want to send to your Teams channel.

5. Click the downward facing arrow next to the ‘Send’ button and click ‘Send later’.

6. Specify the time you’d like to send the email and click ‘Send’. Your message will now be sent to Teams at the time and date you specified.

Option 2: Use Power Automate

This option allows you to post messages to channels either as yourself, or as the Microsoft Flow bot.

It is also more extensible than the first approach, as it allows you to setup custom triggers for when a message is posted – such as when a file is uploaded.

You also have the option of retrieving additional information from other systems that integrate with Power Automate, and including that in the message that is posted to Teams.

1. First, login to Power Automate. If you don’t have a license, a free tier is available.

2. Click ‘Create’ and choose ‘Scheduled cloud flow’

3. Configure the time and day(s) you want to send the message on. Specify if you’d like it to be a recurring occurrence. You can edit this again later if you’re not sure now.

4. In the screen that loads, click ‘New step’ and search for ‘Post message in a chat or channel’. Click it to add it to your flow.

5. Choose whether you want the sent message to come from your Office 365 account, flow bot or Power virtual agent/chat bot.

6. Configure the rest of the step, specifying the team, channel, message and more.

7. Click ‘Save’ and your scheduled message will be ready to send. If you’d like to confirm it’s been setup correctly you can click ‘Test’ in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

Option 3: Use Send Later app for Microsoft Teams

Using the Send Later app is arguably the easiest option to setup, and the most integrated within the Teams experience. It works with both chats and channels.

Send Later application for Microsoft Teams

You can schedule messages through out the Teams app, and there’s a tab app that shows you all your upcoming messages.

Keep in mind that this is a paid application, although a free tier is available if you can stay within its limits of 2 users and 10 messages per month.

Categories
Microsoft Teams

Best Microsoft Teams help desk apps

In this post we’ll take a look at a few of the best Teams help desk apps for building a help desk on top of Teams.

For many organisations, Microsoft Teams forms the backbone for internal communications. As such, in a growing number of use cases it makes sense to look at allowing employees to manage help desk requests via Teams.

Tikit

App type: Chat

Pricing: From $75USD per month

This chat bot app allows you to easily create and manage support requests via ‘conversational ticketing’. You can easily find and manage tickets, and even contribute to a knowledge base using the conversational flow.

The knowledge base powers an AI system to avoid employees creating tickets that would be otherwise unnecessary, by redirecting them to instructions on how to resolve common problems.

After installing the app for the first time, it takes up to 3 minutes to provision a space for your organisation. Note that admin approval is required due to the permissions that are needed.

This is a great solution if you’re looking for a chat-based system to handle support requests. Publisher attestation has also been obtained. It would be great to see a tab app for Tikit too, to make it easier to manage requests in bulk.

JetDocs

App type: Tab, Chat

Pricing: Free tier, with additional paid options available starting at $64USD per month

JetDocs is primarily a tab app that offers a suite of powerful options for customers. A chat bot is also available though – unlike Tikit – the tab app is the primary mechanism for interactions.

This app offers more powerful workflow support, allowing for automations from a catalog of more than 80 templates for common business processes such as vacation leave, expense claims and more.

Multiple approvers per workflow are supported, and priority centre makes it easy to ensure the most important tickets are addressed first.

Desk365

App type: Chat

Pricing: Free tier, with additional paid options available starting at $10 per month/per agent

This is another app focused on conversational ticketing. It comes in the form of 2 chat bots – an agent bot, and a support bot.

The agent bot allows your support team to manage and respond to tickets, while the support bot allows customers or internal employees to raise requests for triaging.

A key difference between this app and Tikit is the ability of this app to act as a channel servicing external customers as well as internal employees. You can feed emails, web form submissions and more into Desk365 and respond through the chat bot.

Summary

These are just a few of the many apps now integrating with or being built upon the Teams platform. Each day, core business apps are integrating with Teams to bring enhanced functionality like timesheets, finance and more.

Categories
Microsoft Teams

Best Microsoft Teams timesheet apps

Using Microsoft Teams timesheet apps can reduce the hassle of doing timesheets. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best free and paid options available today.


Jibble (Free, paid upgrade plans)

The Jibble app consists of a chatbot that allows you to easily enter your timesheets by using a number of keywords such as IN (start time recording), OUT (end time recording) and TIMES (overview of weeks hours).

If you’re already using Jibble, then you’ll need to login and enable the Teams integration from the Jibble site first. Otherwise when you install the Teams app, you’ll be met with a blank conversation – we didn’t receive a welcome message until we sent ‘hi’, making it tricky to know what to do.

If you’re looking for a free timesheet tool, then Jibble is amongst the best available for Teams. However you won’t get access to all the features that the paid plans offer, and the app is a chatbot only – there’s no tab app available yet.


TrackingTime (free for 3 users, paid upgrade plans)

This is a tab app that is added to one of your existing Teams channels. Once added, a new ‘TrackingTime’ tab appears, and asks you to login.

From there you can easily add working hours against projects, view reports and breakdowns and more. There are also some basic project management features as well, making it useful for small agencies or businesses.

You can even use this app for absence tracking – so you might not even need one of the many absence and vacation tracking apps that are also available for Teams.

Available for free for up to 3 users, there are also paid plans available with additional features such as advanced timesheet reporting.


Klynke Time Management (Paid, free trial)

Klynke time management app for Microsoft Teams

This app allows your team to easily enter their work time and view timesheets from within the Teams application. It also integrates with other Microsoft 365 services, including Outlook, Calendar, SharePoint and Planner.

All timesheets are reported using a tab & web UI – there’s no bot integration with this app yet. It also stores all data within your own Office 365 tenant.

Once reported, timesheets can be viewed from the dashboard.

A word of caution though – we had issues trying to setup this app, with pages slow to respond. We couldn’t get it to install successfully – so your mileage may vary.

After the first month, pricing begins at $2.49 per month, per user.

Categories
Azure DevOps

Setup Azure DevOps organisational portfolio dashboards

Looking to setup Azure DevOps organisational dashboards? This is harder than it probably should be today. At present there’s no notion of cross-project widgets or organisational status views. There is a user feedback request, but it has been ‘under consideration’ for years.

In leu of that, here are some options for getting a view of how your teams are going across multiple projects.

Using PowerBI and OData

One option for creating your own reports and dashboards is to use OData support in PowerBI to import data via the Azure DevOps APIs.

While an option for the more technical-minded – at least initially during the setup phase – this is a great way to explore your DevOps data without paying a premium for a third-party solution if you already have PowerBI setup.

Cross-project queries

This is another more technical approach, but you can create queries under Azure Boards that allow you to query across multiple projects. This in turn allows you to build charts and dashboards using widgets.

With this approach though you’ll need to pick one project to host your cross-project dashboards – there’s no way to have an organisational dashboard as yet.

Portfolio overview

If you’re looking to get a view of how your portfolios are going across projects, then there is a free third-party tool available – Portfolio++.

You can upgrade to the paid PRO version to unlock additional program management functionality, but the free version allows you to create cross-project roadmaps, filter through epics and boards and more.

DevOpSmartBoard

If you need more than just cross-project portfolio management, then this plugin could be for you. It is a paid plugin (at the time of writing ~$40USD per year, per user) but it offers perhaps the most comprehensive out of the box cross-project reporting solution.

It supports organisational level reporting across boards, CI/CD pipelines and more. You can drill down into charts and even traceability reports.

If you’re after a more practical experience – ie. a developer who wants to see all pending pull requests across multiple projects, then this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re a program or portfolio manager, then there’s a lot to like here.

Categories
Microsoft Teams

Connect Twitter to Microsoft Teams

Looking for an easy way to integrate Twitter with Microsoft Teams? In this article, we’ll look at some options now that Microsoft has removed the Twitter connector.

Power Automate (Free tier, 1st party)

If you’re looking for a way to integrate Twitter without paying for a third-party tool and you’ve already got a Power Automate license, then this is your best bet. By using Power Automate, you can do things like:

Zapier

Similar to Power Automate, Zapier allows you to setup workflows to post messages on your behalf into channels in your Teams workspace.

In fact, the most popular Zapier Microsoft Teams/Twitter integration is that which posts messages into a channel containing a mention. You can also readily customise the workflows to suit your needs.

MailClark (Paid, 3rd party)

This app is available from App Source, and allows you to quickly connect multiple Twitter accounts to Teams and monitor them. You can be notified almost immediately when someone responds or tweets your accounts.

You can also use MailClark to quickly triage issues & ping the right people from your team to investigate customer enquiries faster. Pricing starts at $5 per active user, per month.

Twitter connector (now deprecated)

This connector used to allow you to connect Twitter and Teams directly, and was provided by Microsoft.

However, it has since been removed as Microsoft decided to no longer continue supporting and maintaining the connector.

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Categories
Microsoft Teams

Best Microsoft Teams vacation calendar

Are you looking for an easy way to share your teams vacation calendar on Microsoft Teams? We’ve rounded up the best ways to do this for you.

Microsoft Shifts (free)

If you’re using a licensed version of Microsoft Teams (and not the free personal edition) then you’ll have access to Microsoft’s rostering app called Shifts. If you can’t see it in your ‘Apps’, check with your Office 365 administrator to ensure the app has been enabled in the Teams admin portal.

Within Shifts you can setup rosters that show when someone is available, on vacation or away ill. Amanda Sterner goes into more detail here about how you can best use Shifts for vacation tracking.

Vacation Tracker (paid)

Vacation Tracker is a third-party app available in the Microsoft Teams app store, but is designed to be a one-stop shop for managing vacations and leave requests.

It features a bot to help create leave requests, as well as a tab page to show leave calendars, leave statistics and more.

You can check it out here.

Leave Request by LTAPPs (paid)

This app is also a paid third-party app from App Source, but it too allows you to setup and manage leave requests and more. This one also has integration with SharePoint, with all data persisted in a SharePoint site.

Leave Request also supports email notifications, reporting, exporting to Excel and Word and more.

You can install the app here.

Channel Calendar app (free)

If you’re looking for a free alternative, and don’t have access to Shifts then using the in-built Channel Calendar app can be useful. While you don’t get the more advanced leave request tracking you get with the paid apps, you can use the free Calendar app to “book out” leave for people within your team. This can be done by creating a meeting during the time that an individual is away.

There are a couple of downsides to this app however. While the app shows as a tab in your channel, each event (or leave request) generates a Microsoft Teams meeting and also gets posted back to your Teams channel when created. The form for creating the event cannot be modified either, so those requesting leave will feel like they’re creating a new meeting.