Discover a practical approach to utilising Microsoft Viva Topics to build a corporate powerhouse.

This guest post was originally published on Tech Huddle blog site, written by Asish Padhy, Senior Workplace Innovation Consultant at Professional Advantage. The content in this guest blog is for informational and educational purposes only and may contain copyrighted material from Asish Padhy or his sources.

In Part 1 of this blog series, we looked at a high level product overview of Microsoft Viva and how to set it up. In this blog, we will look at some of the common questions and challenges, and some high-level knowledge centre topic categories. In an upcoming blog, we will touch on some advantages/limitations of the tool at present.

Viva Topics Implementation Queries.

When Viva Topics was launched, I was excited as it meant we could solve a lot of business problems in Knowledge Centre that my clients have been speaking about for some time. But when I poised Viva Topics as a solution to my clients, instead of an overwhelming “Yes!”, I got a “Wait!” reply. The decision was made with practical, business sensical, and legitimate reasoning: there are still mysteries about how Viva Topics would work, so businesses would rather wait and see.

So, in this blog, let us look at some of the more common queries that clients had, and the answers we have at present. Hopefully, the below information will also resolve some queries in your mind. And if you or your team have any not mentioned below, please put them in the comment section and we will answer them for you.

  1. How easy is it to set it up? Does it need a millions 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 now mean that 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.


Viva Topics: Is it quick to start using it?

It is not clear how the notion came to be 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 pre-requisite.

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 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 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 published a 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, although it will evolve to other locations soon; see below for more information).

Suggested Topics.

Suggested topics is where Viva Topics becomes a more powerful tool by suggesting topics for building the corporate knowledge base, without knowledge managers or SMEs needing to invest time and effort. 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!

The topics are suggested to knowledge managers based on occurrence, and they 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 can then be published to all.

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


If topics are rejected or removed, they will not be visible to users anymore.

Viva Topics: who we need and how much planning?

When planning Viva Topics, there are few important points you need know about:

  1. Viva Topics is not only a technology implementation but also a business implementation. In other words, we need equivalent involvement from the business team such as Knowledge Managers or SMEs of the organisation to set it up correctly. Hence, involving the right people is key, particularly knowledge managers and topic curators.

    To note, even though Topics creation can be provided to all users of an organisation, for better governance and consistency it is advised to limit the Topics creation and management to selected representatives of teams (who are knowledge managers/SMEs). If the workload increases, 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 that topics don’t need to be curated for everything that is going on in the organisation. The focus should be on Topics that are mostly used within a team / sub-group such as:
    – Long term strategy initiatives.
    – Common policies and procedures.
    – Organisational IP (Intellectual Property), solutions delivered, or products generated.
    – Organisational assets such as regional hubs or divisions.

    Below is a sample from Services offering for a consulting firm showing how to get the details based on technology groups from Microsoft’s line up.
  1. The final important thing to remember is that not all content is relevant for all users, so don’t overwhelm them with too much information. Additionally, there may be information in the organisation that could be considered sensitive, so would subsequently be better excluded.

To exclude topics from Viva Topics, please create a .csv file as shown in the screenshot and import to exclude topics.

Conclusion.

We have looked at some of the important and 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 in the effort, we will not be able to see the full benefit of it.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog where we will look at the other remaining queries above, we will further build on the previous blog, and will also look at more practical approaches to start your Microsoft Viva Topics journey.

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