Are you curious about Microsoft Loop? For the last couple of months our senior developer, Owen Harvey, has been previewing Microsoft’s latest product launch.
Microsoft Loop is designed to simplify collaboration and co-creation. But warns Owen, early adoption could be a bit like the Wild West in terms of governance and control.
So, let’s dive into Owen’s experience using Loop and explore potential use cases for your organization.
What is Microsoft loop?
Here’s Microsoft Loop’s official definition:
“Loop is a transformative co-creation experience that brings together teams, content and tasks across your tools and devices. It combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across applications — enabling teams to think, plan, and create together.”
The three elements of Loop
There are three elements to Loop, which are currently supported in Teams, Outlook, Word for the web, and Whiteboard.
- Loop components – portable pieces of content that stay in sync across all the places they are shared be that in Teams chat, email, meetings, or documents. Collaborate on lists, tables, notes, working with the latest information in your preferred app.
- Loop pages – flexible canvases in the Loop app where you can bring together people and all your components, links, tasks, and data. Loop pages give you the space to grow your ideas and can be shared across M365 apps as a link or as an embedded Loop component.
- Loop workspaces – shared spaces that allow you and your team to see and group everything important to your project, making it easy for you to catch up on what everyone is working on and track progress toward shared goals.
Find out more about getting started with Microsoft Loop.
Taking a deeper dive in, let’s find out what these definitions mean in practice. Read on as Owen gives us his low down…
How can we use Microsoft Loop?
Owen: The way that I view it, and the way that I’ve enjoyed using it so far, is it’s a really good collaboration tool. It is kind of like a hybrid between Microsoft OneNote and co-authoring in SharePoint in that it allows for a space for multiple people to collaborate and share ideas, live together in a single area.
How have you been using Microsoft Loop?
Owen: The way that I’ve been using it is to keep track of meeting notes, ideas, and project tasks and putting together project plans.
Now, I don’t see it as a replacement for Microsoft Project or Planner, but it’s an extremely lightweight, ad hoc solution that anyone on the team can spin up a Loop page or component and collaborate within seconds.
And because it’s built within Microsoft 365, Tasks assigned to me show up in Tasks by Planner and To Do in Microsoft Teams.
It’s essentially a blank slate for gathering all your ideas in one place together and keeping it up to date for everybody at the same time.
Is Microsoft Loop like any other products on the market?
Owen: As I’ve mentioned, it’s really like Microsoft OneNote – a place for you to record all your thoughts and whatever you want, so you can reference it later.
Yet Loop seems like the next iteration – you can do everything you can in OneNote, but in Loop you can tag people so they can contribute to same document, and work on it together with you live.
But there are more complex features too. Inside of every page, you can create what are called “Loop components”, which are like sections of a page.
You can also invite people or tag people on an individual Loop component, which automatically makes them a member of that Loop.
Once you invite other people to the workspace, and once they’re there, everybody can add comments, components and pages.
Is content in a Loop searchable?
Owen: Yes. I keep coming back and comparing it to OneNote. But it’s basically just a better OneNote. You can search at the top of your workspace, and it’ll look for everything in the workspace, pages, and components and give you back results.
What are the use cases for Microsoft Loop?
Meeting notes hub
Owen: The most obvious use case for it is to take your meeting notes. You can create a Loop page for everyone to use during a meeting. Everyone can see the most up to date notes. Plus, the content is searchable after the meeting.
Loop components also allow you to add built in tasks, so live in your meeting you can just start building out next steps, deliverables, who’s assigned to what, to make sure no one misses anything.
You can leave all the content in the Loop or copy the Loop component into a summary email that goes out to everyone in that meeting. The clever thing is, the content in the Loop, even if it is added to at a later date, will stay up to date for everyone in that email.
In fact, recipients don’t have to navigate away from Outlook to comment or respond to the information in the Loop. They can add additional content right in Loop within the email, staying in the flow of work.
Owen: You can create a workspace for a team. Say for example, a product team can use it for product release versioning.
It can be a place to brainstorm ideas for the next feature. Or somewhere to collect everyone’s thoughts and plans for each version. You can start tasking it out, getting feedback from testers as they happen.
Owen: Older versions of SharePoint had enterprise Wikis, where centralized and standardized information or knowledge within the company lived and where people could find, reference, and search easily. Some early use cases of Loop are that it could potentially replace the Wiki…
Why use Loop rather than Microsoft Teams?
Owen: Teams is more of a communication tool, where you can store files. It’s very much like a conversational tool. But, in my mind, Teams isn’t the kind of place to say, ‘let’s hop on and collaborate on this’.
The problem with Teams is that conversations had there are not really encapsulated anywhere. Yes, you can type ideas back and forth in a chat. But later on, when you want to find that information, there’s no way of searching for it.
With Loop, you can label content, and search for key words relating to the topic and it will find the content that has all the information, comments, and people in one place.
However, Loop and Teams are not competing tools, rather they work together to complement each other.
Who has access to Loop?
Owen: The way it works from a permission standpoint is, if you’re not invited to it, you can’t see it. If you have been invited to it, you can see everything and do everything in it.
IT admins can restrict access to Loop, only giving permissions to certain users.
Who controls Loop, where does it live?
Owen: So, the technology of where it lives is a little bit complicated. It lives in what’s essentially a SharePoint site, in Microsoft 365.
Every time you create what’s called a ‘Loop workspace’ a SharePoint site is created in the background. And the person who created the Loop page, owns it.
But the moment that you invite people to the Loop, anybody can change anything. It’s kind of the Wild West in that respect.
How do you govern Loop?
Owen: Once you turn it on and give people access to it, there’s nothing keeping people from creating all the workspaces they want. So, I can foresee a lot of workspaces being created, which might cause a problem for users at a later date.
Also, from a governance standpoint, I can’t see a Loop admin center yet. So, there maybe data governance concerns around the sharing of sensitive information within workspaces looming too.
How can we start using Loop?
Owen: Anybody can preview it right now, but it’s not there by default. An admin will need to enable Microsoft Loop in your Microsoft 365 tenant. Once enabled, anyone can use it or alternatively for a more cautious approach, IT can restrict permissions.
Complete directions on how to set up your own Loop workspaces, pages, or components can be found here: Manage Loop experiences (Loop app and Loop components) in SharePoint – SharePoint in Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Learn
Ready to harness the power of Microsoft Loop? Contact us today to explore how Loop can revolutionize collaboration and co-creation in your organization.