Viva Connections is almost here. Microsoft has released some preliminary documentation which describes the steps to activate it once it becomes generally available. Reading the documentation, you will see that using Viva Connections is a completely opt-in experience and requires specific actions by a global administrator. According to published documentation, the PowerShell script will be available on March 31st, 2021. However, there are a number of steps you can do to get ready.
What will Viva Connections look like?
Viva Connections brings your SharePoint Home Site to Microsoft Teams as a first-class experience. This will allow you to experience your Intranet from an easy to find icon in the Teams left rail navigation. This means it will be a lot easier to navigate and find content from your Intranet in Teams. Many of you might have pinned your Intranet site in a Teams channel, but this is really taking it to the next level. You’ll be able to find your Intranet in Teams regardless of what channel you are in.
Set up a SharePoint home site
SharePoint home sites have been around for years now, but I don’t think a lot of people ever used them. It was hard to understand what they actually did. Now, at a minimum, they give you a “Home” icon in the SharePoint mobile app. While you don’t have to use a home site in Viva Connections, it’s recommended as it serves are your landing experience. You’ll typically set this to your Intranet’s home page which in many orgs is the root URL of the SharePoint tenant.
Enable global navigation
Microsoft recommends you have global navigation enabled. The support article is a bit confusing with this one since it then goes on to to say it’s recommended. I think you are going to want it though. Many organizations have been using Hub Site navigation for this purpose though and you may need to rethink some of that. I currently don’t see global navigation available on any of my tenants yet, but I am guessing we should see it soon.
Enabling Viva Connections after March 31st
Viva Connections is effectively a Teams app package that you build and sideload onto you Tenant. Since Viva Connection uses the underlying foundation of a Teams app, you will need to provide a number of parameters. The PowerShell script (available on March 31st) will prompt you for these parameters to build that custom package. It’s best if you get together the values for these now. Of the parameters you need to provide, the Name of the package is especially important because this is how it will show up in the Teams app bar. You may want to put some thought into the short description and long description fields as well. However, I am not sure that they will be visible to the user anywhere unless they saw Viva Connections in the Teams app store.
Get your icons ready!
This one could slow you down so I recommend gathering these now. You will need to provide an icon that is 192×192 and 32×32 (in monochrome). That last part is important since Teams icons only use a single color in the left rail navigation so that they can support high contract and dark modes. Get these together now, so that you are ready to go when the script becomes available.
Upload the package and make the app available
After you have gathered everything together, you can upload the package to the Teams admin center. Microsoft recommends you pin the app by default so that all users can discover it. However, if you want to roll it out to a subset of users you can do this by using policies. In reality, I don’t think it will be a huge adoption hurdle as users will likely just view it as another entry point to get to their SharePoint Intranet.
Will my existing SharePoint customizations work in Viva Connections?
While I haven’t seen anything specific to this around SPFx based customizations, my guess is yes. I suspect your web parts and application customizers should work without change since they work today when pinning a SharePoint site to a tab. The only way to know for sure is to try it out when Viva Connections reaches general availability.
Be sure to read the step by step guide from Microsoft to be sure you are ready to go with Viva Connections.