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Q3 Newsletter Out Now! Covering Microsoft 365, Project Online Updates and More!

 

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Microsoft Announces Office 365 is now Microsoft 365

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Recently at Microsoft Inspire, Satya Nadella unveiled Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security, delivering a complete, intelligent and secure solution to empower employees. It represents a fundamental shift in how we will design, build and go to market to address our customers’ needs for a modern workplace.

Microsoft states “the workplace is transforming—from changing employee expectations, to more diverse and globally distributed teams, to an increasingly complex threat landscape. From these trends, we are seeing a new culture of work emerging. Our customers are telling us they are looking to empower their people with innovative technology to embrace this modern culture of work.
With more than 100 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365, and more than 500 million Windows 10 devices in use, Microsoft is in a unique position to help companies empower their employees, unlocking business growth and innovation.”

I really support this change in branding. So many existing and potential customers were confused by the concept of “Office 365” as they assumed it meant only traditional Microsoft Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.). With “Microsoft 365” it indicates you are accessing a store of products. This is very similar to how people buy applications for their phone. You go to the appropriate store (Google Play, Apple App store, etc.) and select what you want. Now, if you are looking for licenses for Project, OneDrive, Visio and many other products, you simply access Microsoft 365.

I’m also happy to announce that I am able to help customers buy their software from a Microsoft Certified Provider as an alternative to directly purchasing from Microsoft. This allows the customer to choose more personal and premium support as an alternative to the standard Microsoft support queue. Current customers have the option to switch to a certified provider as well. Personally, I have chosen this approach as it ensures I still get the same quality Microsoft products, but my business contact is just a different organization. I’m happy to answer questions about this approach.

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Project Online Update July 2017

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An important note for users of the Project client connecting to Project Online — as you will need a ‘2016’ level client to connect starting at the end of June 2017!

This is very relevant for customers who own a desktop client. I know the Microsoft website initially indicated this would happen at the end of June, but I didn’t notice this impacting customers till the second week of July. If you own a subscription version of Project “Project Online Professional” or “Project Online Premium” you have nothing to worry about as you already have the latest version of the desktop client as part of this subscription.

For the last several years, the option to force a specific version was left up to the organization based on a version number restriction. Now I see that this has changed for Project Online users. My personal feeling is that a number of support issues will be solved immediately by eliminating issues with the wrong version connecting. In discussions with clients who still purchase desktop software by a traditional license agreement with Microsoft, they have discovered that they can upgrade to the 2016 client at no additional charge.

Users of project desktop will notice only minor differences in their user experience when switching from 2013 to 2016. I frequently teach classes with students using 2010, 2013, 2016, and Project Online subscription users, all in the same classroom without any difficulties.

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TIP CORNER: How to Disable Auto Brightness on Windows 8

Throughout the workday and based on your background lighting, Windows 8 automatically adjusts the brightness of your laptop. Initially you might think this is your eyes getting tired, but it actually might be the screen brightness dimming. It is very frustrating when it dims and you don’t want it to. I found this useful tip and am so happy I changed my laptop!

1. Head to the Desktop of your PC by pushing Windows Key + D or clicking on the Desktop icon in the Start Menu.
2. On the bottom right of the screen, locate the battery icon.
3. Right click the battery icon and select More Power Options.
4. Select Change Plan Settings on the currently selected profile (by default it’s set to Balanced).
5. Click the Advanced Power Settings link.
6. Scroll down to Display > Enable Adaptive Brightness.
7. Change it to Off for either or both “Plugged In” and “On Battery”.

Source: https://theunlockr.com/2012/04/20/how-to-disable-auto-brightness-in-windows-8/

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Cindy 3 PMI 12-12-16

Where in the World is….. Cindy Lewis?

Sept. 27 – WMPMI (West Michigan Project Management Institute) Professional Development Day (Sponsor)
Oct. 20 – PMI-GLC (Project Management International Great Lakes Chapter) Professional Development Day (MPUG Booth)

Follow me on Twitter to Stay Up to Date!
@LewisCindy

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There’s a lot to Love about Skype!

In Skype for Business, a PSTN conference – commonly known as a dial-in conference – is any conference in which at least one participant dials in to the audio portion by using a PSTN (public switched telephone network) phone. The ability to use a phone to access a meeting is useful for individuals who are on the road or otherwise cannot attend a meeting using a mobile device or PC. Using a phone also can be a better option in other scenarios, such as when internet connectivity is limited or when a meeting is audio only.

The default SKYPE for Business calling uses your internet line for both the screen sharing and the voice sharing, but I’ve found this is sometimes problematic. If someone is at a location where the Internet goes out, the individual has no way to stay engaged in the meeting if you do not offer a dial-in number. Sometimes people are traveling during the meeting and need to join by phone until they are able to get to their computer and participate in screen sharing. I have personally decided to purchase the PSTN conferencing option so every time I hold a SKYPE meeting individuals can choose to join with a computer headset or with their cell phone or conference phone. It’s only about $4 a month, and I do not have to worry about the costs associated with international charges as the system provides alternative numbers based on the country of the attendee. This has saved my meetings and training engagements numerous times when the person who was disconnected by their computer could dial-in by phone and let us know they would be back online soon!

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I’d Love To Hear From You!

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The Inside Scoop on Being a Microsoft MVP – From a 5-Year (and counting) MVP – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 of this post, I gave you some insight into what the Microsoft MVP award is and how it is awarded. This post will focus on the unique benefits to actually being an MVP.

Quick Answers to Tech Questions

Being an MVP means I can get answers to technical issues almost instantly from the community.

I can pick up the phone and call another MVP or even participate in a private forum to see if someone else around the world has experienced the same issue. Clients are often amazed that I can get the answer they need faster than their own IT departments!

As an MVP, I have had the opportunity to create a mental rolodex of the most qualified tech professionals in business today.

Access to Microsoft

Being an MVP means I share what I hear directly from clients to individuals at Microsoft who can truly make a difference.

Recently, while at an MVP feedback meeting, and with my client’s consent, I was able to show someone at Microsoft my automotive client’s instance, describing what they wanted to do and their pain points with the software. Microsoft was eager to receive this feedback as they continue to improve their products.

Another example is that of one of my retail clients, who was having an issue with a specific Project Online resource feature. I was able to reach out to someone at Microsoft who was involved in the development of this feature. My contact suggested that I have the client submit a proposed change to Microsoft backed by a business case. The feature was reviewed by Microsoft, which then decided to make a change to the software. With the power of Project Online, the customer was able to see the change within a few months of it being rolled out.

Serious Network Benefits

Being an MVP means I know the best of the best around the world. It’s a real kick when a customer says they read an article from another MVP, and I can often comment that I know the individual personally and that we recently chatted on the phone or participated in an event together.

An MVP might call me about a challenging timesheet/task update question, while I might call another MVP to get advice about integration with another Microsoft product. As an MVP, not only can I call people in my software area of expertise, but I can get connected to other MVPs in other areas when needed. This is very powerful and gives me a huge network of resources across all Microsoft products.

Also, MVPs in my software specialty have become friends for life. Sometimes in our forums we share stories about weddings, babies and life-changing events like floods, terrorist attacks, and even war. This is not a news report, this is someone sharing personal feelings of things they are experiencing right now, and I’m honored to be there for them when they need me.

Nonstop Learning & Sharing

Being an MVP means I am passionate about what I do and helping others get more from their software.

Being a frequent (okay….constant) traveler, I get to meet lots of people all over the country at all levels of ability and in all industries. I learn from them all. Novices help me to see pitfalls to software usability and experts help me to see the range of ways technology can be used. My head and my heart are in this business together because every time I travel I feel grateful for my unique opportunity to learn, grow and share.

One thing an MVP is not, is someone who knows the answer to every question. However, I continue to learn and gain knowledge every day and customers help me in that growth.

Are you interested in becoming an MVP? Or do you need the kind of help only an MVP can provide, specifically for Microsoft Project or Project Online? Please feel free to contact me to start the conversation!

 

 

Photo Credit http://www.motophotoknappscorner.com/

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The Inside Scoop on Being an MVP – From a 5-Year (and counting) MVP – Part 1 of 2

Five years. Half a decade. So much can happen in that amount of time yet it often feels like it was just yesterday. At a recent event I was asked by a friend about my Microsoft MVP status and when I told her I’d been honored for the fifth consecutive year, I realized I might be able to offer my readers some education about my MVP journey.

What is the MVP Award?

Microsoft describes the award as their way of saying “Thanks!” to outstanding community leaders. The contributions MVPs make to the community, ranging from speaking engagements, to social media posts, to writing books, to helping others in online communities, have incredible impact. Key benefits to MVPs include early access to Microsoft products, direct communication channels with our product teams and an invitation to the Global MVP Summit, an exclusive annual event hosted in our global HQ in Redmond. They also have a very close relationship with the local Microsoft teams in their area, who are there to support and empower MVPs to address needs and opportunities in the local ecosystem.

There are only about 4,000 MVP’s worldwide. The MVP award is active for only one year. As a Quora poster informally describes, “It’s a private club…It allows you to have tons of connections with people resolving problems with their technologies.”

How is it Awarded?

There is no “one path” to achieving MVP status. There isn’t a test to take, a course to attend, or a how-to guide to become an MVP. Proving yourself worthy isn’t a solitary endeavor, nor can it be done quickly. Microsoft lists a few qualifiers on their site. These include:

  • Contributing code to projects
  • In-person speaking
  • Helping others
  • Creating content
  • Providing feedback

Based on my experience of being an MVP for five years running, there are three phases of becoming an MVP: being identified, demonstrating your worthiness, and being able to document everything.

Identified

MVP’s must be nominated by a current MVP or by a Microsoft employee. You are able to nominate yourself as well, but based on my own and others’ experiences, it seems to hold more weight if the nomination comes from another.

Demonstrated

In the letter I received announcing my award, the phrase “willingness to help others” was used more than once. I believe the fact that I’m consistent and active in the Microsoft community has helped to prove my commitment to education and learning.

Documented

After the nomination process, candidates for the award must provide documentation to help the decision panel evaluate your worthiness. This might be social profiles, articles you’ve written, excerpts from topics you’ve presented at conferences, etc. I’ve always included anything that will help illustrate the positive impact I make upon technical audiences at all levels.

What it Means to Me

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog, where I’ll break down the unique benefits of why it’s so special to be an MVP. Believe me, it’s well worth the effort!

Are you interested in becoming an MVP? Or do you need the kind of help only an MVP can provide, specifically for Microsoft Project or Project Online? Please feel free to contact me to start the conversation!

Photo Credit http://www.motophotoknappscorner.com/

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MVP Community Connection in Dallas

One of the coolest things about being a Microsoft MVP is the invitations to attend exclusive events. For me, that was recently spending some time in Dallas for the MVP Community Connection. Attendees from all over the state of Texas as well as Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and many more were there to represent the Central Region. I can summarize my time there with 4 themes: connect, learn, engage and fun!

Connect

At the event, we had a variety of speakers from Microsoft and MVPs in attendance. A nice surprise was to meet a few students in technology.

I had the valuable opportunity to meet my official MVP Central Region representative and learned about some updates and developments within the MVP program. They announced only 4,000 MVPs currently in the world and I’m grateful to be part of this elite group for the 5th year in a row.

Learn

Topics discussed included Leadership, Technical Presentations, Community User Groups, and Special Focus Breakout Sessions. What added a lot of depth to the topics was the ability to hear about others’ experiences and share my own. For example, I was honored to share my experience as an educator working with Davenport University and the challenges the students and teachers face when talking about technology.

Engage

By far my favorite presentation was on Imposter Syndrome by Mindy Curnutt, MVP. This was a new concept to me and wildly fascinating.

In short, a person with Imposter Syndrome is someone who is highly qualified – think doctor, lawyer, or MVP – but he doesn’t believe in his own qualifications.

He might talk himself out of making contributions because deep down there is a fear that it’s not “good enough.” For instance, he might feel he’s not “good enough to present at this conference” or to “share his experience” with a team.

Surprisingly, Imposter Syndrome strikes those you would least expect; multi-award winning actors, expert bloggers with millions of readers, and best-selling authors. Individuals with Imposter Syndrome often show up early, stay late, and do way more than anyone else would expect them to do.

The opposite of this is Dunning-Kreuger Effect. Individuals in this category don’t know how incompetent they are, but think they are superior to others and brag about their success. Dunning-Kreuger is the yin to Imposter Syndrome’s yang.

For our audience, we all fell in the Imposter category. We shared some ideas to help ourselves which included, keeping a “compliments” file and asking a friend to dispute your “I’m a fraud” thought process. It was tough to hear all the things people in the room turned down or walked away from just because they didn’t think they were good enough to be selected.

Fun

Don’t worry, it wasn’t all classrooms and serious learning! One way we were able to utilize our creative side was our play dough activity. It was a great way to loosen up and laugh together.

We also got together for a social on Friday evening. Getting to know my fellow tech professionals better is one of the highlights of all of my travel.

Overall, I was super energized from this event and made some great connections from the attendees. Looking forward to my next event as a MVP!

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Recap of “Office 365 Grand Rapids” Event

I am really excited to tell you about a cool event I attended recently. Held on Saturday April 1st at Davenport University, it was a free workshop for any attendee who wanted to learn more about Office 365 including Word, Excel, Access, Power BI and more.

The event was organized by Microsoft MVP Andy Tabisz of WorkSmart Database Masters.

Underwritten by sponsors, including Davenport University and WorkSmart, there was no cost to attend and even included lunch.

Without further ado, here are some of my takeaways from this event:

 

 

Presented by Amy BabinchakThe Art of Integration: How Do Your Programs Work Together?

  • Skype can really help your business. You can do simultaneous editing in a document during a meeting. You can simply share a document via Skype for someone to view. Even better, the document shared will follow your security policies tied to that document (e.g. hidden content, or sharing within organization only).
  • Don’t be worried about Microsoft support and your data. They can’t see your data at all even when viewing your account to solve technical issues.  The data is blurred out on the screen.
  • Every Office 365 membership has security features that might not be enabled, check your security score to see where you stand.
  • Set up your security so you can see who sees your data in your organization and where they send it.

Presented by Bethann Talsma – How to Give an Effective PowerPoint Presentation 

  • Less is always more in PPT. 
  • Your PPT deck should enhance your presentation.
  • No more than 7 down and 7 across on your items is a good rule of thumb.
  • PPT has an accessibility checker – which helps with individuals who use screen readers.
  • Personal note: Her amazing tips helps me completely refine my presentation for PMI-NEFL conference.

Presented by Corentin Cras-Meneur – Taming Outlook for Mac (and some Tips for Windows too!) 

  • While his session focused on Mac users, the Q&A section was very helpful PC users as well. 
  • Text expanders that work across programs really help with efficiency so you don’t have to retype or recreate the same information (e.g. Typinator).
  • Save common searches in your e-mail to speed up your efficiency.
  • Switch an e-mail back to unread so you know you still need to take action on it.
  • Check out Uservoice for providing suggestions to Microsoft (community issues are listed and people vote).

If you missed it, the next event will be held in Southfield, Michigan on June 6. Details are on http://www.office365day.org.

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Featured Speaker at the upcoming Northeast Florida PMI Conference!

Most of you know I’m a road warrior, with constant travel a part of my normal day-to-day as I’m heading to and from clients and conferences around the country. As I often do, I’ll be presenting at a local chapter of the Project Management Institute on April 7 – 8, and I’m really looking forward to this one!

The Northeast Florida chapter in Jacksonville has invited me to present a couple of very timely topics to their Expand Your Horizons conference attendees, held at the beautiful Jacksonville Public Library event facility.

The event seeks to enhance leadership and management skills and offer solutions to keeping up with business trends essential for all professionals, for those new to the profession and those with many years of experience. Attendees will earn 14 PDU’s and you can register up to the start of the conference.

I’m looking forward to leading two sessions at the conference. The first is “Agile in Action.” Agile is one of those methodologies that seems to make sense on the surface but does not always translate easily into real-life situations. In this session, you will participate in hands-on exercises to learn agile techniques and how to make them work for you and your organization. Attendees will learn general agile techniques and gather takeaways that may be applied to a wide variety of agile methodologies implemented by organizations.

And second, I’ll present “Best Practices in Schedule Development.” Attendees will have the opportunity to learn best practices from someone who has made scheduling a career and has worked with thousands of companies. I’ll describe how often the issue with the schedule is not your ability to provide a logical plan but your approach to the schedule. This session will answer the questions on how to know if your schedule has the right level of detail, if your task estimates are uniform, if your schedule makes sense, if you are managing resource expectations, and if you are setting up your schedule for success.

There are several other valuable sessions available led by 11 other presenters on such topics as Leadership, SharePoint, Communication, Strategy and Project Online.

Will you be at the NEFL PMI conference? I’d love to hear from you on what you most desire out of the conference. Are you curious about my sessions and want to hear more about my experience and capabilities? Contact me today to start the conversation!

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Recent Travels & New Ideas

Last month I had the pleasure of presenting at the annual meeting of PMI (Project Management Institute) Great Lakes chapter. The meeting took place at the Management Education Center in Troy, Michigan.

The topic, Agile in Action, was one that I know well, as I’ve presented it at the PMI-NEFL Oceans of Opportunity conference in September 2015 and online at the Microsoft Project Virtual Conference in February 2016.

So what does “Agile in Action” mean?  Let me ask you this first: Are you using Agile in the workplace?  Yes?! Well…maybe; well, we use it …sometimes. Agile is one of those methodologies that seems to make sense on the surface but does not always translate easily into real-life situations. This presentation took the audience from Agile ground zero to using actual Agile techniques that could be taken back to work immediately.

As part of my presentation, the following Agile topics were discussed, and included lots of hands-on exercises.

  • Agile approach versus traditional scheduling
  • What is a User Story and how is it used?
  • What is Planning Poker and how is it used?
  • Risk vs Value management
  • Advanced burndown chart interpretation

Those of you who know me well, know that I’m never in one place for long. Next I’ll be presenting Agile in Action and Best Practices in Schedule Development for the PMI Northeast Florida Conference on April 7th and 8th, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Did you see me at the PMI Great Lakes chapter event? Drop me a line and let me know what you found most valuable!

Or are you planning to attend the PMI Northeast Florida event? I’d love to hear what you most want to learn about.

 

 


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Project Licensing Changes within Office 365

At the end of the year many organizations are working on their budgets for 2017 and one of the expensive items that companies deal with is software. By choosing cloud options available within Office 365, you now have more options related to Microsoft Project and less expensive ways to add users. You may also completely eliminate buying expensive licenses that are tied to one computer. I would personally hate to spend over $1,000US for software that I would lose if my computer hard drive fails.

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Licensing graphic

With Office 365 your licensing is based on users and you can easily activate or deactivate computers that your users might be using. In fact, one of the pluses of Office 365 is you can provide each user a license for up to 5 devices. Now your users can have the same software at home that they use at work and provide even more value to your organization. You may choose to purchase these licenses on a month-to-month basis with no commitment or commit to one year for further discounts.

Here are the new options in Microsoft Project licenses:

Project Online Essentials – In conjunction with a Project Online system, this license is optimized for team members who need limited features such as completing timesheets or task updates. Since this provides web browser access, there is no limit on devices.

Project Online Professional – Contains all the features of stand-alone Project Professional but includes features related to managing projects in a Project Online system. Schedule owners and project managers are recommended individuals who need this license. Includes installation of Project Professional on up to 5 devices per user.

Project Online Premium – Contains all the features of Project Online Professional but also includes portfolio management, resource management, administrative functions, and reporting functions. Program managers, portfolio managers, administrators, and members of the project management office typically need this license. Includes installation of Project Professional on up to 5 devices per user.

View this link to see a list of all features including pricing.

https://products.office.com/en-us/project/compare-microsoft-project-management-software

Stand-alone licenses are still available if desired:

Project Standard – Desktop scheduling tool that does not have the ability to connect to Project Online and excludes advanced scheduling features.  Limited to 1 installation.

Project Professional – All the features of Project Standard plus advanced scheduling features and the ability to connect to Project Online. Limited to 1 installation.

View this link to see a list of all features including pricing.

https://products.office.com/en-us/project/compare-microsoft-project-management-software?tab=tabs-2

Don’t be surprised if you hear these new licensing choices in your organization or from messages delivered by Microsoft.

I’m happy to discuss these options in person if you have further questions. Contact me to request a personal appointment.

 

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