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How to Get Started with Viva Topics

How to Get Started with Viva Topics

Do you have trouble finding information on your intranet? Or spend a lot of time trying to find the right person who might have the information? Viva Topics promises to help you with these common challenges by employing AI to do the hard and time-consuming work for you. In my last blog entry, I described the components and concepts for managing your organizational knowledge using the tools available in Microsoft 365 and the Viva platform. In this blog addition, my goal is to provide a simple MVP approach to start your journey with Viva Topics.

As the Microsoft Viva platform matures, more organizations are giving it a try. I sometimes hear that a customer tried “turning it on” and did not see the results they expected. When I hear this, I think of the Zig Ziglar quote, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Like most applications, you need to put in some effort to plan and configure the application to get the results you want. Start by working through the four questions below to assemble the right people and content to position your Viva Topics launch for success.

  1. Who should manage the topics for your organization?

I recommend starting with your plan to manage your topics. If you have an intranet team and/or knowledge management team, they will be the first people you will want to get involved to help you implement Viva Topics. These groups should be given permission to manage topics or create and edit topics in the topic center. Then, agree on a process for reviewing suggested topics and publishing them.

  1. What sites should be included in topics discovery?

When you setup Viva Topics, I recommend choosing “All sites” or “All, except selected sites” and being judicious about the sites you exclude. The more sites and content, especially documents, that are included in discovery, the more work the AI will do for you. However, I know from experience that in many SharePoint implementations there are sites that are security trimmed to a small number of people. As an administrator and topics manager, you may see topics that appear to have a strong use case but will have very little accessible content for most users since content is still security trimmed within topic pages. To get the best results from the AI, try to first manage these situations through Viva Topics rather than excluding them altogether.

  1. What topics should users see?

At first, I recommend preventing topic viewers from seeing suggested topics. This will prevent users from being overwhelmed by irrelevant topics and jumping to the conclusion that Viva Topics is not useful. To do this, you will need to go into the Advanced Settings on the Topic Discovery tab and choose “No suggested topics” under the “Control if AI suggested topics are visible to users” options. After Viva has had a chance to reason over your content and start suggesting good topics, and users have experience with Topics, then you can change this back to allow users to view and vote on suggested topics.

The other side of overwhelming users with too many suggested topics is not having enough topics. A great way to ensure that your launch of Viva Topics covers some of the most relevant, useful, and interesting topics for users across your organization is to use your SharePoint taxonomy terms. If you already have a robust taxonomy in your Term Store, great! If not, I recommend the next step in building your Viva Topics MVP is to create a taxonomy. Start by looking at your current intranet sites, navigation, recent news and announcements, and common search terms. Or, you can get robust, industry specific taxonomies from a provider like Wand to help you get started. Then, pick a handful of terms, or topics, relevant to each of your organizational divisions and add them to your Term Store. From the Term Store, you can simply request topic creation for the terms in your taxonomy.

(If even the word “taxonomy” scares you, don’t let this hold you up. For your MVP, you are just looking to seed topics that will be widely useful to your organization. You can also create the topics manually in the Topic Center if you prefer, but I find putting the topics into a hierarchal outline helps you focus on the best topics and using the Term Store to manage them will be a useful tool later in your SharePoint intranet and Viva Topics journey.)

  1. How will users access Topics?

I recommend adding the Viva Topics app to your SharePoint pages and Teams. Don’t rely on users going to the Topic Center. Before Viva Topics, I would manually implement custom search scopes and create topic pages by pulling together links to resources and people. Links to these resources usually resided on the intranet home page and department or division site landing pages. Similarly, the Viva Topics app and topic links will only add value to these pages.

Finally, before you enable Viva Topics for everyone in your organization, review your suggested and confirmed topics, and make sure the best topics are published and displayed in the Viva Topics app. Now you are ready to start your Viva Topics MVP launch!

If you have any questions or need help on your Viva Topics journey, contact us today!

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