Recently, Microsoft released a preview feature, making meeting notes collaborative using MS Loop. As part of the M365 newsletter subscription I offered a deep dive into the eDiscovery implications of the tool and how it works, but there was more I wanted to say about the functionality of it outside of that. Hence, I’m writing a blog post about how I looked at these notes as a trainer and leader as opposed to how I looked at them as an eDiscovery professional.
Paid subscribers can get that whole story in the latest issue.
For the rest of you, let’s talk about these notes and loop components in general because I think there are a lot of interesting things going on there. There are also some things I wish were better.
First, let’s get familiar with starting a meeting with collaborative notes.
You can read some of the official introduction to it here – https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-teams-blog/now-in-public-preview-collaborative-notes-in-microsoft-teams/ba-p/3848533
First, let’s acknowledge something right off the bat. Sending an agenda ahead of the meeting and letting everyone make notes can make for a much more efficient meeting. Any technical feature that encourages that is a beautiful thing in my book.
The fact that you can only do this from the Teams calendar interface, on the other hand, is meh. Let’s be honest, how many meetings are you scheduling from the Teams calendar versus Outlook? Still, the Teams interface does have Scheduling Assistant, so you could make that change to your workflow if you wanted to. It will be better if they make it available from Outlook though.
Once the meeting started, it was wonderfully easy for anyone in the meeting to start adding notes, and creating follow-up tasks. The ability to not only create follow-up tasks but assign them to users is another area that I think can create some real efficiencies when it comes to our meetings. Imagine all of your meetings having a defined agenda beforehand so everyone comes prepared and then everyone walks away with clearly defined and assigned tasks. How lovely that could be, and here Microsoft is providing a tool to make it easy. (The will to focus on these things might be another question, but it’s good to have tools that make it easy.)
Of course, since the notes remain well after the meeting ends, this collaboration space remains as well. Anyone on the meeting invite will be able to update notes after the fact and mark off completed tasks. It can become the go-to place to make sure your meetings are getting the results you want from them.
The notes also keep track of who added, or last edited, any part of the notes. Clicking on any part of the file will display the profile icon of whoever edited it.
This is all good, but what about the not-so-good?
Well, a couple of things are in the comments of that post I linked to above. Recurring meetings don’t have one set of meeting notes. Each recurrence creates a new meeting notes page. To work around that you could create a shared Loop workspace in lieu of meeting notes, but that’s going to force everyone into another location, so while the idea is a good one, there is an extra step involved. It also can’t be enabled during an ad-hoc meeting or call, only when you schedule them and create the agenda ahead of time. Hopefully, Microsoft will make some adjustments to fill in those gaps.
Looking at these types of notes as a trainer, I was drawn to the possibility of sharing these in multiple places while only updating them once.
This was a bit more of a mixed bag. Yes, I could grab the meeting notes using the option to copy the component and paste it into a Word document. The other meeting attendees could open that Word document and work with the meeting notes from that interface. What I was hoping for was the ability to share that Word document with other people who were not part of the meeting, and that’s where we started running into permission issues. Using my own account and Adele’s account, the notes appeared just like they did in the loop viewer and could be edited. Edits, of course, showed up in both places. Other users, however, did not see the notes when the Word document was shared with them. They needed to be given access to the loop file first. They also needed to be given edit permissions to see it in the Word file. With view-only permissions, they would only see a placeholder image linked to the loop file. They had to click the link to open the loop in view-only mode.
Of course, someone with access to the Word document only would see that same placeholder link but would not be able to access to loop file.
There went my dream of being able to use these loop components for creating documentation. In my ideal world, these meeting notes could be shared in a Word document and even turned into a PDF to be shared publicly without giving access to edit them to everyone. Unfortunately, that’s not the way any of this works. That loop content is tied to the permissions in M365. When it is used in Word or Outlook (Coming soon to Onenote!), it is only a frame that displays the loop content. The content is not added to the document. Thus, viewing it is tied back to being able to edit it.
In the end, is this a significantly useful collaboration tool? Absolutely. Could it be even more and compete with tools like Confluence for those of us who have to create and update documentation? Yes, it could, but at the moment, it’s not there. Likely because the security gets a lot more complicated. I will keep hoping though.
As I work on content for the newsletter, I hope to be able to share some extras here, but if you want all the testing results, deep dives, and the latest interesting M365 news from an oldhead in the eDiscovery industry, you should consider subscribing.