The Fabulous 40 video series, hosted by VP of Product Technology Dan Stoll (@_danstoll) interviews members of the Office 365 & SharePoint community. Dan delivers a rapid fire of 40 questions that let you get to know about that things that drive and inspire the leading minds in Office 365.
Loryan shares with us his tips on how to stay up to speed with all things Office 365. As a huge promoter of Microsoft Teams, Loryan lets us in on his expert advice on migrating to Teams, managing Office 365 Groups and tapping into the value of the new functionality that's constantly coming out in Teams.
Dan: Who's this likely character. Hey mate! How you doing?
Loryan: Good! Yourself?
Dan: Yeah not bad. I haven't seen you, uh, since the (MVP) summit over in Seattle.
Loryan: Yeah. It's been a while. It's been a while.
Dan: Yeah. Did you learn anything up while you were there?
Loryan: A lot of things that unfortunately that I can't share. #NDA. All right well, you wanna go grab a beer then?
Dan: Let's grab a beer and indeed.
Loryan: All right sounds good.
Dan: Well cheers mate!
Dan: So, let's run through a few questions.
Dan: So, how many years have you been an MVP for now?
Loryan: Uh, eight years.
Dan: Aw, hell. So what's the best thing about being a Microsoft MVP?
Loryan: To be honest I think its a community. Its being part of a bunch of people who share knowledge, give a lot of knowledge away. And the other thing would be close connection with Microsoft product groups, that's just invaluable.
Dan: Now, it's not getting like cool swag from Hyperfish?
Loryan: I think I would get that even if I wasn't an MVP.
Dan: Yeah probably, yeah. You previously lived in Seattle, what was the highlight of your time living over there?
Loryan: Look we lived just outside of the CBD, so we got to see the entire town walking past every fortnight for a Seahawks game. So yeah, look I absolutely love the city, so I've now become a Seahawks fan.
Dan: Of course, like all of us right? And what's the possibility that you'd ever move back to the states?
Loryan: If it was the right role I'd absolutely snap it up and drag the family back again and be there.
Dan: Now have you got any conferences or speaking gigs coming up soon?
Loryan: I did have one in DC, but unfortunately I had to pull out because the joys of being a consultant is you can work from wherever you want but, my wife's travel didn't line up so. To be honest I think just Digital Workplace Conference Australia will be the next one, in August.
Dan: Do you have a favorite Microsoft conference you try to attend and speak at?
Loryan: It used to be Inspire, or WPC as it used to be called when I was a partner. But now, it's Ignite I absolutely love Ignite.
Dan: What was your first Microsoft technology conference?
Loryan: I think actually, it was probably WPC in like 2005.
Dan: What first got you in consulting around Microsoft technologies?
Loryan: I've lived Microsoft since I started out working in I.T. I think what got me going in consulting is that I just wanted to be broad and very busy on just a specific technology. So yeah being able to broaden the entire horizon of all of Microsoft 365 and Azure and all that, fantastic I love it.
Dan: Now you've even published an authored a book about Office 365, tell me about that and where can people actually buy it?
Loryan: You can buy it on Amazon, traditional book stores I wouldn't actually recommend you buy it at all as it's very out of date. The first edition was out of date the month it was published.
Loryan: And the second edition was out of date before we finished publishing it.
Dan: Right so any chance of an update to that?
Loryan: No, I think it’s not practical to update print version of Office 365.
Dan: Any books that you would recommend around Office 365 or just none at all? Would you recommend any podcasts or anything like that?
Loryan: Oh look shameless plug, I'd say follow REgarding 365 and all the people around that. Look I don't think it’s possible to really follow any books these days, it's really just finding the right people to follow online, and you'll find a constant stream of info.
Dan: Right, you've already founded and sold a couple of businesses in your career, have you always had that entrepreneurial bug?
Loryan: I think so, it developed a little bit late, and it's always with me but it's about managing and keeping it in check and doing it at the right time.
Dan: Right, yeah. And what do you love about being your own boss? Other than having 4:30 beers.
Loryan: Yeah 4:30 beers, the expense claim process no arguments there. I think realistically what I enjoy about it is being able to work on the stuff that interests me the most. And to be able to tell customers how it is, because I don't have to worry about you know, selling other services or blow back or anything. It's being able to be truthful.
Dan: Yeah, now your currently head up Strant Consulting what does your company specialize in now?
Loryan: The company is effectively myself and my wife. And we balance between the tech and the change management when it comes to Microsoft 365. We focus on skilling customers up to make sure that they can do as much as they can themselves.
Dan: Right, yep yep. Is there a particular Office 365 service you love helping customers with?
Loryan: Look obviously the flavor of the month is Teams. I think that has a huge change potential. But probably I'd say the other focus that I've got right now is To-do, I love To-do and I love what it can do for people.
Dan: Right yeah, I really like To-do as well and it's certainly replaced a few things for me in what I do on a day to day sort of business sense. Are you seeing much change with the To-do service over the last sort of year? I mean it's been out for a while now, it's really had a long time and same with Planner right?
Dan: It's taken a while to actually come through?
Loryan: Yeah look, To-do when it launched, wasn't really birthed well. It had a number of short comings. But in the last probably six months it has absolutely grown and is basically the first thing I recommend anybody use inside of Office 365. Once your mailbox has migrated get into To-do, fix your own time, your task management. Fix yourself before you fix teamwork.
Dan: Yep. You're a huge promoter of Microsoft Teams, any customer success stories you can share?
Loryan: Without giving names away, yeah look I've seen customer service teams use @mentions to alert their team to come out from behind the office door and come to the front desk. I've seen it change some clients in how they have work from home policies and how they can actually have more part time people because no one is a second-class citizen.
Dan: Right. Now what would be your top tip when rolling out Teams?
Loryan: Get your house in order. So migrate your files into SharePoint as with Teams. Focus on the change management and the cultural side. Teams is not just a tool you turn on it's a new way of working and people need to be really across that before you just thrust it on them.
Dan: What have you personally loved about moving from Skype for Business to Teams?
Loryan: Look I think it's more than just communications that's what I love about it. It's context-based conversations and discussions and work. Instead of just, hey here's an attachment let’s have a video call about it. It's more here's the file let’s talk about it while we edit it together. While you're working on a white board and I'm inside the document co-authoring it.
Dan: Right yeah, so you won't be sad when Skype for Business is retired?
Loryan: No, look I think it's been a great service I'm not gonna flog that horse and kick it while it's down. But no, I think the sooner we've got one less tool for people to get confused about the better.
Dan: Yeah, anything new you expect we'll see in Teams soon?
Loryan: Yes hashtag NDA. But look I think the great thing about Teams is there's a ton of people working on it, on a whole bunch of different features. So, people of all shapes and sizes and organizations are gonna be delighted in some way it's constantly evolving. I love it.
Dan: Great, that's great. Now what do you think about policies around Office 365 groups, do you think that's essential?
Loryan: Absolutely. Too many people think just turn it all on and people will figure out how to use it. And that's agility, that's let people innovate and be empowered, sure. But you've gotta have some controls behind the scenes. So you need policy, you need governance, you need compliance you need it all.
Dan: Right, so what's your top recommendation to approaching Office 365 groups?
Loryan: Figure out how you're going to manage them. And who can and can't deploy them. Whether that's self-service, whether that's champions whether it's management, whether it's I.T. Figure out a controlled way to have chaos.
Dan: Right, you are the co-founder and contributor for REgarding 365, what is REgarding 365?
Loryan: REgarding 365 is a community, not just of MVPs but of like-minded individuals who want to share experience, knowledge and tips. When it comes to everything Microsoft 365.
Dan: And how did you come up with that name?
Loryan: Look it started as REoffice 365, before we kind of expanded the scope to factor in Microsoft 365 as well as Dynamics 365. But the RE is capital so it's kind of like a reply to do with an email.
Dan: Gotcha, now hopefully I'll see Darrell (Webster) next week at DWC, any messages I should pass on?
Loryan: Have some 'fish n chips'
Dan: Well I'm gonna ask Chris Ben that same question to find out where I can get some fish n chips. Now, how can people find and stay up with REgarding 365?
Loryan: Really just go to REgarding365.com, we've got a YouTube channel, twitter feed, just follow that way. And what's good about it is we aggregate content from a variety of different sources so, you don't have to follow individuals, just follow that.
Dan: Yeah, now tell me about 365 Unplugged.
Loryan: That is a way for myself and my good friend Alistair Pugin from South Africa to speak our minds while being respectful. So the point of the show is we'll give you the down low without trying to sell you anything.
Dan: Right, now can you give me an insight on what you and Alistair will be talking about on the next episode?
Loryan: Look I think next episode, probably something to do with Teams is a fair bet. But we do stuff outside of it.
Dan: Alistair has got a fair few tattoos is there any chance of you getting some sleeves done any time soon?
Loryan: I have tattoos but they're more to do with me as opposed to the products that I work with. So no I'm not gonna get product logos, because as we know they change.
Dan: You've been talking about Sway a bunch on your latest episodes, what does everyone need to know about Sway?
Loryan: That it's not that scary, and you don't need to be a great graphic designer, just use it. I started off not understanding its points and it's something I use; I wouldn't say everyday but a lot. So just don't be afraid, it's a great tool.
Dan: In a PowerPoint versus Sway show-off, who would be the winner?
Loryan: Oh, PowerPoint without a doubt.
Loryan: But I like to advocate better together. Because one of the things I've done is, actually I do quite a lot, is I create a PowerPoint and I'll publish it in Sway. So I get the best of the design ideas of PowerPoint and the online story telling of Sway.
Dan: What inspired you to start a business helping companies to move to the cloud?
Loryan: Look I think I.T is still approaches Office 365 the same way they approach Exchange Server and SharePoint Server and every other product. So I really just wanna help people with it. But at the end of the day I've also gotta feed my family.
Dan: Yeah. You founded that business back in early 2010, how receptive were businesses to the cloud back then?
Loryan: So that was Paradigm back in 2010 and they were not receptive at all. People wanted a server under the desk they could kick. They didn't trust the cloud, they didn't want their data in APAC back then, they didn't trust Microsoft so yeah it was a really really hard slog.
Dan: So based on that what was the most exciting migration to the cloud you've completed over those sort of early years?
Loryan: Look I think we did a lot of firsts, so first not for profit, first health, first school so I think I wouldn't say there was any one that stood out. But it was just exciting to actually get people on board and see their eyes light up when they discovered what it could do.
Dan: Yep. Are you still finding that companies have these same reservations that they did in 2010?
Loryan: Yeah, absolutely. There's still a lot of reservations not just about Teams being the flavor of the month or flavor of the year, but even still about Office 365 in general, a lot of them still have that reservation.
Dan: Right. What's the number one reason you encourage companies to move off-prem?
Loryan: Because that way it becomes somebody else's problem and you get the latest and greatest features without having to do anything. No upgrades, no patches, no reboots it's just there.
Dan: Yep, you're fully correct. You're a bit of a gadget junkie, any new toys that you're loving?
Loryan: Yeah I just recently got an Amazon Echo Show in the kitchen. So a big screen with a big speaker. But the gadget that I'm hoping to get for home subject to price, is going to be a Surface Hub 2S.
Dan: Ah, great. Now I've actually been looking at some of those Amazon tools. Have you ever played with the new Amazon Echo that can also be paired and works as a smart hub for your home?
Loryan: No I've already got a lot of that stuff 'cause I've had the Echo devices for a while, I've got a Harmony Hub, I've got Echo devices in pretty much every room in the house including the car.
Dan: All right so fair to say that you, your house is pretty wired up?
Loryan: You can't say the word Alexa in that house without a device triggering.
Dan: What's that number one gadget you can't live without?
Loryan: Look I'd have to say my phone. My phone accesses everything, so if I don't have that I'm lost.
Dan: Yep that's fair, I'm pretty much the same. All right well thanks man, I'm gonna let you get back to your beer and I'm gonna drink mine and get on with the rest of the day.
Loryan: Thank you very much
Dan: Thanks bud.
Get more tips from Loryan
You can also catch Loryan's expert tips in our Guide to Org Charts in Office 365. The whitepaper explores the different ways you can create and manage organizational charts in Office 365 to help your business and employees get the most from them.