Categories
Microsoft Teams

How to use Notion with Microsoft Teams

In this article we’ll take a look at how you can best integrate Notion with Teams by using third-party automation services and web tabs.

Notion has soared in popularity in recent times, but there’s still no official way to integrate the service with Microsoft Teams. However, there are some ways you can consume or create Notion data from Teams.

Create Notion database items from Teams

The easiest way to create Notion database items from Teams is to integrate with a third-party platform such as Zapier or Automate.io – the latter of which Notion themselves recently acquired.

Power Automate is another alternative, but there’s no out of the box task for Notion. So while you can trigger flows from Teams or elsewhere, you’d need to write some code to call the Notion REST API yourself to create database items.

Getting started with these platforms is simple. Simply create a Notion account if you don’t have one already, and then create an account with your automation platform of choice. In the case of Automate.io, after signing in you can connect your Notion account and your Microsoft 365 account and then setup a workflow.

The workflow allows you to pick what changes in Microsoft 365 you would like to trigger a new database item in Notion. For example, you may choose the “New message in Microsoft Teams” trigger on Automate.io, and have a new database item added to Notion containing the message and the author details.

It’s worth noting that these automation platforms have limited free tiers – if you’re creating lots of triggers that are called frequently, you may need to pay for the premium tiers.

Show Notion content in Teams

If you’re looking to show Notion content within a Teams channel, your best bet is to use the custom website tabs app to embed the Notion web app.

You can use the Website app to show the Notion website in a Teams channel tab

However this comes with some significant limitations – there’s no single sign on between Teams and Notion, so you’ll need to frequently sign in to Notion.

Performance of the Notion web app can also sometimes be sub-par when used within Teams tabs.

Categories
Airtable

How to connect Airtable and WordPress

Are you looking for a way to manage your WordPress content from Airtable? In this article we’ll take a look at some of the options available.

Airpress

Great for: Showing Airtable records on WordPress sites

This free plugin is available from the WordPress plugin repository, and allows you to connect your Airtable account. You can then easily embed the content within your posts using short-codes for displaying, formatting and looping through your base’s fields.

Data is cached, helpfully allowing you to reduce the impact of Airtable’s strict API rate limits. It can also be retrieved from multiple bases.

Perhaps one of the more powerful capabilities is the ability to create virtual posts for your records.You can map a URL pattern to an Airtable table, and when a request is made that matches Airpress will attempt to retrieve the record from Airtable.

You can specify a custom template page that is used to respond to requests if a matching record is found. If no record is found that matches the URL pattern, then a 404 ‘Not Found’ error is shown.

One potential issue with this plugin is its ongoing support. The plugin hasn’t been updated in almost 2 years, and hasn’t been officially tested with the latest 3 major versions of WordPress.

Posts on the support forums are also going unanswered – so while it may work today, it’s unclear what the future holds.

Zapier

Great for: Flexible workflows between WordPress and Airtable

One of the benefits of Zapier is the large number of integrations available. In this case, the integration with WordPress means that you can create some powerful workflows between Airtable and WordPress.

This includes doing things like copying comments made on your posts on WordPress into an Airtable base, or archiving your WordPress posts into a base.

Similarly, you could create WordPress posts for new records when they are added to Airtable views.

Integromat also offers similar functionality if you’re already using it, or would prefer to not use Zapier.

Of course one of the limits you’ll run into with this integration is the cost. It can quickly add up if you’re running lots of Zapier tasks – at the time of writing, you’ll need to start paying if you are triggering more than 100 tasks per month with plans ranging from $19.99USD to $599 USD per month, billed annually.

Categories
Microsoft Teams

How to schedule messages in 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

Update March 2022: Microsoft is now working on native scheduled message support for Teams. It’s due to ship in the desktop Teams apps in July 2022.

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.