Have you ever sat at your computer, just incredibly frustrated with how SharePoint does what it does… or, likely better described as doesn’t do what you want it to do? Yeah, we’ve all been there. And it can be really annoying.
Sometimes it’s a change that would make your specific experience better, but sometimes it’s something that just seems like “duh, why doesn’t it do this?” If you can’t think of an example of the latter, I’ll give you one: Considering the number of times I’ve heard “Oh, and the SharePoint calendars can be connected, right?”, it makes sense to me that SharePoint calendars should have an option to connect so if you input an event in one calendar, it can propagate to, say, four other calendars of your choice. Same would go for changes.
You know, that kind of thing.
Well, rather than stew at your desk for hours just downright hating the software, why not make your frustration known to the people that make SharePoint and other Office 365 tools? You can, actually, and if your idea is good enough, you can actually affect positive change. Here’s how.
Make your case
Anyone—from the beginner SharePointer to the veteran SharePoint admin—can provide suggestions to Microsoft for changes and improvements to SharePoint and Office 365 via the UserVoice forums. From there these UserVoice posts can be up-voted by other users who believe in the cause, giving Microsoft an idea of what should or shouldn’t be looked into.
Hit up the appropriate UserVoice page (links below) and sign in using your Facebook or Google account (easiest) or create a new UserVoice account (kind of annoying). Take a look at the open requests and vote on the ones you think are most important.
You get ten votes to start and can submit one, two, or three votes per submission. When the submission is closed (either successfully or unsuccessfully) you get those votes back. So you need to spend your votes wisely. If you see a submission that’s more important to you than one you already voted on, you can decrease the number of votes you spent on the other post or you can remove your votes altogether to get some votes back that you can spend on this newly found submission.
You can also comment on a submission so your voice is added to the original post. This is helpful if you have a similar request but don’t want to waste votes if it’s already being looked into. The comments also let you show how important this change is to you without having to use too many votes if you prefer to save them.
Get your message out there
One thing you have to keep in mind is the Microsoft admins won’t take much notice of your post unless you’re getting some serious votes (maybe 100+ or more). So just posting isn’t going to get you anywhere if you don’t spread the word that you have a post out there. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook groups devoted to the software you’re trying to fix will have to be informed and you’ll have to make your case in a succinct, convincing way, with a link to the post.
Once Microsoft thinks it’s something worth investigating, they’ll mark the post with tags like “working on it”, “thinking about it”, “tell us more”, and the like. They usually share some insight into their thought process, like why the change would be really intensive on their end for potentially minimal gain on your end, or how you’re using the tool in a way that’s surprising to them.
Okay, where do I go now?
Suggestions can be made here:
- SharePoint UserVoice: https://sharepoint.uservoice.com/
- Office 365 UserVoice: https://office365.uservoice.com/
- OneDrive UserVoice:* https://onedrive.uservoice.com/
- Office Video Portal UserVoice: https://office365video.uservoice.com/
- Microsoft Planner: https://planner.uservoice.com/
- Word UserVoice: http://word.uservoice.com/
- Excel UserVoice: https://excel.uservoice.com/
- PowerPoint UserVoice: https://powerpoint.uservoice.com/
- OneNote UserVoice: https://onenote.uservoice.com/
- Access UserVoice: http://access.uservoice.com/
- Yammer: As Microsoft’s black sheep of a child, Yammer doesn’t get a UserVoice, but it does offer a link to Yammer research.
So, what is UserVoice?
It’s a website that takes in comments for a whole slew of products and applications. In this case, Microsoft contracts with them (I presume) to use UserVoice as the one place for software improvement requests.
Any way to get more votes? Actually, you probably could if you cared to make a bunch of Facebook and Google accounts. It’s not the most ethical thing, but it’s also not like UserVoice needs to be as rock solid as a national voting system either. I don’t condone working around the system like this, but it definitely seems possible.
Are there any posts I should look at?
Absolutely. If you’re looking to spend your first vote, I’ve got one for you. I recently submitted this post requesting that Access Requests in SharePoint (you know, those emails that get sent when someone finds your site but doesn’t have access, so they click “request access” and include a message?) go to the Owners group of that site rather than an individual email.
If you have any Owner experience in SharePoint, and you’re not already aware of this “glitch” (my word, not anyone else’s), you probably have wondered why those emails would go to only one person. What if they’re out of the office? What if they leave their job? That’s the point of groups: change the membership in one place and no worries going forward. But for some reason, that Access Request field is a text field and only accepts one email address. It’s awful.
So, if you agree with me on that (more detail in the actual submission), feel free to give it a vote or two. I’d very much appreciate it and I’m sure others in the SharePoint world will too, even if they’re not yet aware that it’s a problem.
*It appears the OneDrive UserVoice is for both OneDrive consumer and OneDrive for Business, which is both confusing and annoying, but so is the lack of differentiation within that brand identity itself.