Office 365 Consulting

Office 365 Consulting

New Peak Solutions is a Microsoft partner and has extensive experience in Office 365.  In this article we will be discussing Office 365 and some of the exciting tools that can be used in collaboration such as SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and Delve.  We have been consulting with Office 365 since its first release in 2011 and have worked with SharePoint since the 2007.


What is Office 365

Office 365 includes a whole suite of Microsoft applications and technologies. This collaborative tool-set is hosted on the cloud and allows organizations to get the best of the Microsoft products available.

It includes the typical tools such as Word, Excel etc. along with newer technologies such as Power Apps, Yammer, Delve, Sway etc.


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Office 365 and SharePoint


SharePoint has numerous uses but in the majority of our work we see it used primarily for

  1. Company Intranet and Portals
  2. Forms and Workflows
  3. Content Management and Collaboration
  4. Business Intelligence


Company Intranet and Portals

Probably the most common work we do In Office 365 and SharePoint is creating custom Intranets. Whether an SMB or a larger client, having an Intranet to access important information is the way to go. Looking for information on your benefits or 401k information? Where do I look? Like everything else! On the Intranet. With your help we can provide your users with access to just about any resource in a centralized searchable location. Branded landing pages We build out modern and professional sites that include many of the following features.

  • Custom branded navigation
  • Executive Announcements and news
  • Web parts and web apps
  • Company policies and procedures
  • Organizational announcements for areas such as Human Resources and IT
  • HR systems such as PTO, New Hires, Onboarding
  • Quick Polls and common links
  • Department Sites


An example of our Intranet Design and Branding

Microsoft Office and SharePoint Cosnsulting


Forms and Workflows

Office 365 workd greart with SharePoint for automating processes. We have worked with many clients in various industries to help improve their processes and help their bottom line.  By working togther we can overcome common challenges that many companies have.

  • Bottlenecks - the halting or slowing of a process at a some stage due to a human/machine error or difficulty.
  • Duplication of work and redundancy – inefficient processes often include sections that are unnecessary or repeated.
  • Poor accessibility to key data – management struggle to view where a processes stands, what the status is, and ability to view critical information or data.
  • Integration issues – poor or no integration with existing systems, which can cause communication gaps.


Office 365 Chicago

To improve these areas above our Office 365 consultants combine the following technologies to build out great office 365 solutions

  • Forms
    To build modern and responsive forms for the modern employee who may be working anytime and anywhere.  We use several technologies built on SharePoint and Office 365 such as React JS, Angular JS and the newish Micrososft forms technology Power Apps.
  • Workflows
    Workflows make the process run smoothly by notifying users and teams of actions they need to underatke.  Using workflows technologies like Microsoft Flow and Nintex allow our Office 365 consulting team to put these in place.
  • Dashboards
    A central repository of data that allows users, teams and executives see real time data anywhere and any time.
  • Reporting
    We create feature rich reports using technologies such as Power Pivot and Power BI.


Company Content Management (CMS) and Collaboration

SharePoint mainly originated as a content management system and it is indeed still the best CMS on the market. It lays out information that is available to employees throughout your company that can be accessed anywhere at any time. This information is stored securely where users can share, store and collaborate.

While File Shares continue to be popular, they do not offer much apart from file storage. The main advantages of using Office 365 / SharePoint as a CMS are

  • a central place for storing documents that can be tagged and contain metadata to make them easily searchable
  • because information is easy to find, employees do not need to waste time trying to find them in network shares, local drives etc.
  • workflow can help route information to the appropriate people at the appropriate time
  • check-in and check-out allows users to work securely on a document without having their changes overwritten
  • versioning allows for the restoring of documents to an older state
  • permissions can be very granular allowing different rights to different users
  • office 365 allows secure access outside VPN connections which can be cumbersome for employees
  • share data with external users such as clients and vendors


Business Intelligence

Another popular area in Office 365 and SharePoint is business intelligence.  Using SharePoint as centralized platform for BI makes a lot of sense. Integration with Office 365 applications such as Excel, Access, SQL and external data systems such as SAP or Oracle can surface all your critical content into one central area. This in turn dramatically improves the ability of key decision makers to get a full view of relevant data which in turn helps them make the right business decisions.  We use some of the following tools to build great business intelligence such as

  • Power BI
  • Power Pivot
  • PerformancePoint
  • Visio Services


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SharePoint Development
Office 365
Dynamics CRM
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Office 365 and Delve

Delve allows users to search, discover and organize data throughout Office 365 that is relevant to them. Delve is powered by Office Graph. From SharePoint to One Drive, Delve surfaces information based on what project or items you are working on and who your are collaborating with.

Office 365 Consulting Services - Delve

Some of the major benefits of Delve and Office 365 are

  • Customize your profile to display information about yourself such as profile, picture, skills and competencies, current and prior projects. This can make your employees easily searchable within your organization allowing subject matter experts to be accessible.
  • Content cards can display documents with name, recent activity and images giving relevance to the user.
  • Boards can be created for projects exposing all the relevant information needed for that project.
  • Delve for Office 365 is mobile compatible so users can work anywhere anytime.
  • It is highly secure, users can only see what they are meant to see.


Office 365 and Microsoft Teams


Microsoft teams is a great tool used for as the title suggests “Teams”. It allows teams to easily collaborate, share content in today’s modern work environment. Microsoft Teams is built as an open, digital environment that makes all project work visible, integrated and accessible—across the team—so everyone can stay in the loop.





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Delivering great customer experience


Our Office 365 consultants have expert knowledge in Office 365, SharePoint and support Microsoft technologies. Our vastly experienced team can help your organization leverage the power of Microsoft’s leading sharing and collaboration tool. Our goal is to help your company achieve continued growth and prosperity, our Office 365 team will put a plan in place to drive user adoption and continued success.

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Office 365 Development company serving clients throughout the US

Below are some of the services we offer for Office 365


Office 365 Consulting Services

Getting up and started with Office 365 can seem a little daunting. There are so many options and it can be hard to commence the process.  Our consultants can help you get on your feet by creating a road-map with short, medium and long term goals for your Office 365 implementation.  Working together we can come up with a comprehensive plan.


Office 365 implementation

From our road-map we can start building out the Office 365 infrastructure including choosing the right Office 365 licenses needed for your plans.


Office 365 customization

As discussed earlier on this page, our consulting team have expert knowledge in the customization of Office 365 and SharePoint. From building custom SharePoint Intranets, complex processes that improve your business performance and reporting so you can view important data in a centralized place we have the team to bring your Office 365 environment to the top level.


Office 365 migration

We have vast experience in migrating data from just about anywhere into Office 365 and SharePoint. This migration also gives you the chance to clean house as such. Doing an audit of all the content that need to be migrated can give you a change to archive all data and documents that are no longer in use.



Office 365 integration

Integrate other business systems with Office 365 to get a comprehensive view of all your organizations data. Our consultants have integrated with many business systems giving our clients full insight into all the information they need to make smart business decisions.


Office 365 support

We can be there for you for all steps of your Office 365 implementation including support if needed. Our full services include a strategic partnership and managed services so your organization can concentrate on your strengths and we can use ours to fully support you.


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SharePoint filters pane

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SharePoint Filters Pane 

WhiteMicrosoft continues to update user experiences and customizability in SharePoint lists and libraries and one their latest SharePoint features is metadata-driven filtering in the filters pane. The SharePoint filters pane allows filtering on one or more column values simultaneously, columns based on Managed Metadata term hierarchies, allow filtering on parent terms in addition to single terms.  Microsoft started pushing these changes out in June.SharePoint Filters PaneWhite

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SharePoint Development
Office 365
Dynamics CRM
Mobile Development
Custom Development
Cloud Services


Using the SharePoint Filters Pane


Click on the filter icon SharePoint Filterat the top right of your SharePoint list or library to open the filters pane.  Each filter is represented using a visual control related to its data type. For example, a date column is represented with a slider control.

SharePoint Filters Columns

  • The SharePoint filters pane provides a great way to filter content in modern lists and libraries.
  • Columns that were previously configured in metadata navigation settings will now appear in the filters pane automatically.
  • The filters pane uses machine learning to suggest the columns most likely to be used for filtering. 
  • A user can permanently add columns to stay in the filters pane view by clicking the options menu (“…”) next to the name of each column in the filters pane, opens a context menu that lets a user pin the column permanently to the pane.


SharePoint Pin for filtering

  •  Additional filters can be added to columns in the SharePoint Filters Pane. To add this filter column in the select the column in the document library view and then click on: Column settings –> Pin to filters pane.

SharePoint Filters Pane - Add column to pane

  • When you’ve filtered your list or library and want to go back to a blank canvas just click on the clear filter icon SharePoint Filter Pane - Clear Filter at the top right of the filter pane.
  • Views allow you to save your filter selections as a new view that you can open up again in the future with your saved filtered view.

SharePoint Filters Pane - Save View

Previously, classic document libraries using metadata navigation were used on the left side of the page for advanced filtering. However, these types are no longer compatible with modern user experiences. This updated SharePoint filters pane now makes metadata navigation compatible with modern lists and document libraries.

As mentioned earlier, metadata navigation configured in classic SharePoint lists or libraries will be automatically added to the filters pane for modern lists and libraries.


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Delivering great customer experience

Our SharePoint team have expert knowledge in SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and SharePoint Online. Our highly experienced SharePoint team will help your company leverage the power of Microsoft’s leading sharing and collaboration tool. We will help your business achieve future growth, our experts will put a plan in place to drive SharePoint user adoption and continued success.

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SharePoint Development company serving clients throughout the US


SharePoint User Adoption 2

by admin in SharePoint Comments: 0

SharePoint User Adoption

WhiteSharePoint User Adoption – Continued from Page 1.  This is part 2 of our SharePoint User Adoption article.  Please click the link above if you have not read part 1. If you have already read part 1, please follow on reading below.  Enjoy!!!White

SharePoint User Adoption





Maybe obvious, but its vital everything on your site works, whether it’s errors displaying or some other system failure but your users can lose faith quickly.

  • Make sure that the SharePoint environment works as needed on its release and it addresses the company’s major pain points.
  • Have a clear communication mechanism in place for users to report and resolve bugs and fixes.


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WhiteIt can be very beneficial to allow different departments and teams to own their sites

  • This allows them full control over their content that appears on the site, allowing them to gain as much potential growth as possible.
  • They now feel they have the power to envision other ways to use SharePoint.




  • SharePoint user adoptions can gain huge momentum when one of the top executives believes in it and the potential it brings.
  • When top management sponsor this type of project, user adoption has a much greater chance of success.


New Features

WhiteAs mentioned earlier in article, the first edition of SharePoint is just the beginning.

  • Keep rolling out new features for your user base.  These might be dashboards for projects and manufacturing, workflows for processes etc.
  • Make your users aware of the endless possibilities, your users will then end up driving increased functionality and adoption.
  • Keep training and keep communicating


Return to Page 1 of SharePoint User AdoptionWhite White

About Us – New Peak Solutions

Delivering great customer experience

Our SharePoint team has expert knowledge in SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and SharePoint Online. Our highly experienced SharePoint team will help your company leverage the power of Microsoft’s leading sharing and collaboration tool. We will help your business achieve future growth and help put in in place a plan to drive user adoption and continued success.

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SharePoint User Adoption

by admin in SharePoint Comments: 0

Getting users to adopt SharePoint

WhiteSharePoint Intranets and portals, no matter how well built can easily fail if your employees are not happy to use it. This is most noticeable when building a new SharePoint environment to the company’s users. 

People generally find the easiest way to accomplish their tasks at work and the route they take is not necessarily the best way. Two conditions must be met if you want them to use a better approach. Number one, the new method should be easier and show clear advantages over the old routine, and number two, the new approach should include training so they can fully appreciate how easy it is.

However what happens quite often, is a new model is brought in with impressive features and tools but along with a lack of planning and training.  Users will seldom take the time to learn this new functionality and in many cases, might not even be aware it exists.

This article will help explain some of the pitfalls of SharePoint implementations and the steps you can take to avoid them to encourage great SharePoint user adoption.


SharePoint User Adoption



Reasons for Using SharePoint


SharePoint at its core is an application that helps improve productivity and decision-making power of the users.  Well developed SharePoint Intranet and Portals can give invaluable help to your employees, boasting the bottom line for your business.


An Intranet should be a place where employees do most of their work such as

  • View company specific news and content (Published content)
  • Collaborate within their team and other teams
  • Manage documents
  • Manage Projects
  • View all essential content related to their jobs
  • Submit and manage requests through forms such as PTO, expense claims, open enrollment etc.
  • Search for relevant content – both internal and external to SharePoint


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SharePoint User Adoption
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SharePoint User Engagement

WhiteThis area is critical for a successful SharePoint implementation.  Time spent focusing on the following areas will help you achieve a successful SharePoint Intranet that will bring many benefits to your company and avoid an implementation that gets deemed a failure. Remember you only get one chance to make a first impression and making it successful is the name of the game. User adoption is the most important part of your SharePoint implementation. I talked to a client previously and they planned on doing a new implementation several years after their first.  Their first went so badly they asked if we could not even mention that the new implementation was SharePoint based.  Lets not put ourselves in that position.WhiteLets start looking at some of the keys steps for successful SharePoint user adoption

  • Implement SharePoint in Phases
  • Market the Solution
  • Education/Training
  • Branding
  • Functionality
  • Ownership
  • Sponsorship
  • New Features
  • Show the potentials to teams/departments


Implement SharePoint in Phases


  • Break it down into manageable phases, use “think big, start small” approach, create a plan (road-map) and implement phase by phase
  • Make it easy for your users. Too much too soon can cause adoption issues
  • Prioritize phases and roll out one by one for better SharePoint user adoption.


Market the Solution


  • Intranet Champion: Staff communications should be led by an executive at the organization – engagement by leaders is critical in achieving broad SharePoint user adoption.
  • It is beneficial to communicate and market each phase so users know whats coming.
  • By engaging the business user community early and actively focusing on the benefits to them and their role the stage will be set for broad based users adoption.
  • Encourage early adoption with prizes etc.
  • Before your implementation start with demos. Show users how it all works and increase your changes of successful SharePoint user adoption.




Training is very helpful for a successful implementation. Training does not have to be expensive. Depending on how your organization is setup you can do

  • Lunch & learns.
  • Quick 30-min workshops during the week.
  • Online training.


Also, remember, it is not just a technology change, it is a business process change as well. Make sure when you do training, you align it within the context of the users’ work scenarios/use cases for user adoption.


Training can follow different paths for different users

  • Training on the new SharePoint Intranet site and subsequent site updates/enhancements for regular users.
  • More advanced training for power users so they learn more about the product itself.




  • The main advantage of branding your intranet is to create a sense of connection and ownership among employees. It can be hard for staff to get behind the out-of-the-box look and feel of a SharePoint intranet.
  • If employees develop a strong association with your intranet, or feel a personal attachment to it, they are much more likely to use it and help you achieve great SharePoint user adoption.


Continue to next page to finish article White

About Us – New Peak Solutions


Delivering great customer experience

Our team of experts have knowledge in SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013 and SharePoint Online. Our highly experienced SharePoint team will help your company leverage the power of Microsoft’s leading sharing and collaboration tool. We will help your business achieve future growth and work with you to put a plan in place to drive SharePoint user adoption and continued success.

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SharePoint Online Managed Metadata

by Eugene Clynes in SharePoint Comments: 0

SharePoint Online Managed Metadata

Managed Metadata in SharePoint helps users tag and structure content in a more meaningful way, in essence it is information that describes information.


SharePoint Metadata Term:

Is a word or a phase that is associated with a SharePoint item. Some examples would be New Hire, Asset Tracking, Help desk etc.


SharePoint Metadata Term Set:

Is a grouping of the terms above. In our case IT would be the Term Set. There are two types of Term Sets:

  • Local: This type pertains to only one Site Collection
  • Global: Associated with one or more site collections and can cross multiple farms

Also a term set can be configured as closed or open. In a closed term set, users can’t add new terms unless they have appropriate permissions. In an open term set, users can add new terms in a column that is mapped to the term set.


Setting up the SharePoint Term Sets and Terms

Using our IT department as an example for this article let’s dig a little deeper into Managed Metadata and how it can benefit your company. In this example we’re going to track IT Assets such as laptops and who they are assigned to if anybody.


  • Go to SharePoint Admin Center and click “term store” 


    SharePoint Admin Center

  • Create a “New Group” in the Taxonomy Term Store. Let’s call this “IT”. It’s also worth noting here that you must be a member of the “Term Store Administrators” group to be able to add new terms.
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    SharePoint Metadata Taxonomy Term Store

  • Under IT we will create a Term Set call “Assets” 

    SharePoint Metadata New Term Set

  • At this stage it’s worth noting two fields in the General section called “Group Managers” and “Contributors”. These fields let you set a manager or multiple managers who can both create term stores and terms and who can also set up contributors to create term stores and terms.
  • OK, now we we will create a new Term Called “Laptops” and enter two new terms underneath that for Dell and Microsoft laptops 

    SharePoint Metadata Terms

  • Let’s go to our SharePoint List that I created called “IT Assets”. At the moment this custom list has the following fields “Title”, “Assigned To” and “Office”. 

    SharePoint List It Assets

  • Let’s add the term store entities we created to this list. To do this we need to create a new column in our list
  • Go to our SharePoint IT Assets List and create a new column.
  • Call the column “Assets” and change the type to “Managed Metadata”SharePoint Managed Metadata option
  • Further down this list type in “assets” in the “Term Set Settings” and click the find icon. Click the Assets and click OK at the bottom of the page. 

    SharePoint Metadata Term Set Settings

  • Our list now includes the new column Assets and it looks up to the term store we created earlierSharePoint AssetsI hope this post on simple SharePoint metadata is useful and I’ll soon be writing up some more complex metadata scenarios. Thanks for stopping by

InfoPath: The Road Ahead

by Nicole Spiewak in InfoPath, SharePoint Comments: 0

The Road Ahead

Photo by Paraflyer


You’ve heard the news; Microsoft has pulled the plug on InfoPath. As soon as this was formally announced, IT organizations everywhere started scrambling to find a replacement. At the SharePoint conference it was the talk of the town. I listened to conversations while standing in lines and walking the halls and they generally went like this, “we need to visit all the vendors who have an InfoPath replacement and decide on one before we go home.”

Here’s my take on the demise of InfoPath, it may be dying, but it’s not dead yet! Why bury a perfectly good tool while it’s still breathing? I know, it’s fun to buy new software and play with all of the shiny new features. I’m just as guilty of loving my new toys. However, I would argue that many of you should hold off on buying an InfoPath replacement.

Here’s why:

  • InfoPath will be supported through 2023. Why spend your precious budget dollars on an InfoPath replacement now when you still have InfoPath at your disposal? Instead, spend your budget dollars elsewhere until it’s necessary to spend it on an InfoPath replacement.
  • In Microsoft’s own words, “If you’re an InfoPath customer, we want to reassure you that we’re working on migration guidance in parallel as we’re building our next generation of forms technology.” Personally, I want to wait and see what Microsoft is going to come up with as a replacement before I rush out and spend my budget on a third-party tool.
  • Speaking of third-party tools, I think we’re going to see several new options hit the market. When I’m ready to replace InfoPath I’d rather have more options from which to choose. More importantly, I want those third-party tools to have all the bugs and kinks ironed out by other users before I sign up.

So for my money, I’m going to keep using InfoPath 2013 alongside my SharePoint 2013 environment and I’m going to spend my current budget dollars on the other tools I have on my wish list. As more third party tools are released and as Microsoft releases more information I’ll re-evaluate my position.