8 hacks to up your M365 game

Whether you’re a specialist in Azure, DevOps, Power Platform, SharePoint or SharePoint Framework we could all do with a little extra inspiration from time to time. So, as a gift to you, in our 10th anniversary week, we picked the brains of our talented team, who have shared the following eight M365 hacks.

1. Instantly improve your employee experience today with Viva Connections

“Using Viva Connections, you can quickly bring your employee intranet into Microsoft Teams to serve as the focal point for an inclusive hybrid workplace. Deliver a branded experience, directly in the flow of work, that focuses on the content that matters most for your employees. From important news and calendars to other resources, your entire organization will stay informed and engaged with what’s happening.

“Built on the Microsoft 365 platform, Viva Connections provides a personalized and unique experience for each and every employee. Immediately improving efficiency by bringing together calendars, tasks, news, and more! Keeping security top of mind, Viva Connections only shows users the information they currently have been granted access to.

“Easily extend Viva Connections with SharePoint Framework (SPFx) using Adaptive Card Extensions (ACEs) to further integrate your business applications and deliver the most complete and engaging experience.”

Pat McGown, Chief Executive Officer, Cloudwell

2. Use Outlook’s ‘Actionable Messages’ to improve your organization’s efficiency

“In large organizations, it can be difficult to collect feedback or information from remote employees or other audiences. Sometimes, a quick decision needs to be made and which should automatically result in a change in an external system. Other times, an employee may be away from their desk and ignore an email that requires them to click an external link. Perhaps it’s because it’s time consuming, or difficult to deal with additional apps and logins.

With Actionable Messages, users can receive an email message to their mobile or desktop Outlook app, then complete an action using adaptive cards without ever leaving their inbox. That action can then trigger an update in another system automatically, all without compromising security.

Chris Alechko

“Most people are used to seeing Actionable Messages in the form of an approval task from Power Automate. They receive an approval email, then use the buttons in the email to approve, reject or leave a comment.

“This is a basic example of an Actionable Message, but with a little additional work, developers can check out the Actionable Message Designer where you can build your own customized adaptive cards. Once you have the basic functionality working in the designer, you can use Power Automate or other mechanisms to send actionable messages with dynamic data and forms to users. You can then wire up actions so that user responses can be fed back into line-of-business systems.”

Chris Alechko, Chief Technology Officer, Cloudwell

3. Use Power Automate to connect Office 365 email to SharePoint site

“My personal expertise is in process automation. We use Power Automate to monitor email to an Office 365 email account. It uses information from the email to find the SharePoint site that the email pertains to and automatically route the message, including any attachments, to that site.”

Troy Palacino, Director of Product Development, Cloudwell 

4. Simplify Power Automate flow run’s history

“Individuals that use Power Automate likely know the frustration of sifting through several instances in a run flow’s history. Microsoft recently released a feature that allows users to add additional columns from the flow trigger input. This can be incredibly helpful in identifying which flow run you’d like to troubleshoot or review. To use this feature, open the Power Automate flow you’d like to edit and click the “Edit columns” button in the 28-day run history.”

Owen Harvey, Software Developer, Cloudwell 

5. Sync data to SharePoint without additional licenses using Power Automate Flow

“One thing we always keep in mind is how we can help clients get the most value from their Microsoft Licenses. For example, we were able to avoid using Premium Connectors in a PowerApps that needed to expose on-premise Oracle data, by developing a custom Power Automate Flow that syncs the data to SharePoint, where it can be accessed from PowerApps without additional licenses.”

Logan Stern, Senior Software Developer, Cloudwell 

6. Create a Gallery in PowerApps for built-in repeating section functionality

“PowerApps does not come with the built-in repeating section functionality that InfoPath has, so we need to get creative to come up with a comparable capability. One effective way to do this is to create a Gallery, with all of the fields of your repeating rows along with a key to tie the row to the parent form, and then send these values to a separate SharePoint list when you save your form.

“The trick is to track the state of each unique row. This way you know whether it is a new item, an existing item that has been modified, or if it is an existing item that needs to be deleted. Tracking that information allows you to perform the correct action when sending it to the child list, using the Patch, Collect, or Remove functions as appropriate.”

John Becher, Cloud Developer, Cloudwell 

7. Reduce long VS code lines by using plugin

“In recent project I found that the enforced code formatting standards weren’t including line breaks where I would typically prefer them to be, leading to long lines on the screen in VS Code. To get around this you can bind your own custom formatting plugin like ‘Prettier’ to a keyboard shortcut to clean things up easily. The project’s standards will still be enforced on save, making sure you still have compliant, but cleaner, code.”

Zachary Reece, Cloud Developer, Cloudwell 

8. Create site columns to ensure consistency of metadata across SharePoint sites & lists

 ”SharePoint allows users to create site columns, which are reusable column definitions, that can be used and assigned to multiple lists across the SharePoint sites and their sub-sites.  Site columns will ensure consistency of metadata across SharePoint sites and lists. This reduces overall work once initially created.”

Daniel Yi, Software Developer, Cloudwell 

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