In Part 1 of this blog series, we looked at high level product overview of Microsoft Viva and how to get it setup. In this blog, we will look at some of the common questions and challenges, high level knowledge center topics categories. In upcoming blog, we will touch upon some advantages/limitations of the tool at present. Now there is no set date of release/plan from Microsoft but hopefully more of the needed features are not too far.

Viva Topics Implementation Queries

When Viva Topics was launched, I was excited right away as we will be able to now easily solve a lot of business problems that my clients have been speaking to me about Knowledge centers for some time now. But when I poised Viva Topics as a solution to my clients, instead of an overwhelming – Yes, I got reply – Wait !! The decision was very practical, business sensical and legitimate reasoning because there is just so many mysteries about how Viva Topics would work and function that businesses would decide to wait and see.

So, in this blog, let us look at some of the more common queries that customers had, and answers for those we have at present. Hopefully, the below answers will also answer some queries in your mind. And if you/your team have some more too (not mentioned below), please put in comment section, and will answer them/find them.

  • 1. How easy is it to set it up? Does it need a zillion of files and data to able to make Viva Topics work?
  • 2. What planning does a corporate team need to do to get Viva Topics usable for us as a Corporate Knowledge repository?
  • 3. What if I don’t have only SharePoint and my main data is residing in File Shares or other locations?*
  • 4. Does it mean now all corporate information is exposed to all, even the secure ones?*
  • 5. How is it different from Search or Tags?*
  • … and much more.

*will be answered in upcoming blog

The above are some high level and most common queries but there are about another 10-15 questions which could be listed but then who has the time to read all :). So, please feel free to comment and ask any other ones you got.

In this blog, I will try to answer some of them in the following sections. There is also another great blog out there with some of the questions/answers, please find it here. Also, because of the length of this blog, Questions 3,4,5 will be answered in another blog of this series..

Viva topics: is it quick to start using it?

In this section, we will look at an explanation for the first question from above list. Firstly, it is not clear how the notion came to known that Viva needs an exceptionally large number of files/sites to be setup and start using it but that is not the case. There is a dependency of Viva Topics on files/pages to smartly suggest topics and provide recommendations but that is not a prerequisite

So there are three main ways Topics can be setup for use

  • 1. Published Topics
  • 2. Suggested Files and Pages
  • 3. Suggested Topics
  • The first two above topics categories are easy to setup and will only take couple of days depending on the scale of work.

Published Topics

Published topics are topics that are curated by the knowledge managers with regards to terms, topics, keywords, and corporate know-how that users most likely look for.

These topics can be very generic such as the corporate policies or procedures, or extremely specific such as term projects or initiatives running in a business unit such as a project or product rollout.

Suggested Files and Pages

After having a published topic, Viva will try to populate documents and files with that topic from matches and terms in files and pages available from the Pinned sites or any other SharePoint site (at present, will evolve to other locations soon, see below for more information)

Suggested Topics

Suggested topics is where Viva Topics really becomes a more powerfull tool by suggesting topics for building the corporate knowledge base, without spending a lot of time and effort from knowledge managers or SMEs. In other words, the knowledge managers from each team spend time creating topics and pinning files/pages but suggested topics makes the work much easier to just approving topics.

The topics are suggested to knowledge managers based on occuranc who can then decide which of the suggested topics are relevant to become the part of the Knowledge house. The confirmed topics section shows the topics that have been confirmed from the suggested topics section and then can be published to all.

Also, there is another way to confirm topics using votes which I mayn’t be able to confirm as haven’t been able to try it out yet

If topics are rejected/removed, they will not be visible to users anymore set aside whichever state they are on

Viva Topics: who we need and how much planning?

Regarding planning, there are few important points to know about as below:

  • 1. Viva Topics is not only a technology implementation but also a business implementation. In other words, we need equivalent involvement from business team such as Knowledge Managers / SMEs of the organization to set it up correctly. Hence, involving the right people is the key, especially knowledge managers and topic curators.
  • To note that, even though Topics creation can be provided to all users of an organisation but for better governance and consistency it will be advised to limit the Topics creation and management to selected representatives of teams (who are knowledge managers/SMEs). If the workload, becomes more then retrospectivily expand the knowledge management team accordingly.
  • More information about roles of Knowledge managers and other roles can be found here.
  • 2. Next it is important to understand the topics doesn’t need to be curated for everything that is going on in the organization. The focus should be on Topics that is mostly used within a team / sub-group such as
  • a. Long term strategy initiatives,
  • b. Common policies and procedures,
  • c. Organizational IP (Intellectual Property),
  • d. Solutions Delivered or Products generated
  • e. Organizational assets such as regional hubs, divisions
  • .. and more in similar lines
  • Below is a sample from Services offering for a consulting firm and how to get the details based on technology groups from MS lineup.

3. The final important thing to remember is that not all content is relevant for users, so let us not overwhelm them with too much information. Additionally, there could be information in the organization that can be considered as sensitive so would better be excluded for any terms search too.

To exclude topics from Viva Topics, please create a csv file as in the below screenshot and import to exclude topics. More details available here.

Conclusion

In this blog, we looked at some of the important and more common queries that users might have in adopting Microsoft Viva and making it useful for them. However, with every new initiative there are always hurdles and blockers so until we have put the effort we will not be able to see the fruit benefit of it.

In the upcoming blog, we will look at the other remaining queries from above and we will build on the previous blog Part 1, while looking at more practical approach to start the Microsoft Viva Topics Journey

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