Connections V7: Create a Community With Microsoft Teams

A community in HCL Connections V7

Join Felix when he is tasked with creating a Connections community for employees returning to work after months of working from their home offices. Thankfully, Felix has HCL Connections V7 and Microsoft Teams! “What?!?!” I hear you say. Read on!

Felix works in the company Woodburn Financial. They have branches all over the world. After seven months, their employees are coming back to the office. The challenge is to have them return to the office in a safe way, minimizing health risks. Felix is asked by his superiors to enable two-way employee communication for reliable information regarding this. All the communication between stakeholders must also be coordinated.

Woodburn use Microsoft Teams so Felix asks for advice from other locations around the world who have already been through this. Rene Schimmer replies and gives him the link to a community that he has created for the Auckland offices:

Reply in Teams chat

Felix clicks on the link and is taken to that community:

A community in HCL Connections V7

He looks around, and clicks on a question in the Q & A Forums widget to the left:

Forum widget in HCL Connections

As you can see, he can easily reply to this, without leaving the community front page.

Felix closes that window and scrolls down the community and finds a lot of useful widgets. Among them is a widget containing folders and files from a SharePoint library in Office 365:

SharePoint library in HCL Connections

The top menu in the community is always visible, no matter how far down he scrolls. So he decides to click on Wiki:

HCL Connections V7 wiki

The wiki is a handbook on how to practice social distancing at work, and on how you should behave to minimize the risk for spreading, or catching, Covid-19.

Felix thinks this community is just what he needs, so he decides to create a new community for his location. He does this from the community page where he can see all his communities:

Create new community in V7

The new and improved workflow form for creating communities in V7 pops up:

Create community form in HCL Connections V7

He gives the community a name and a description and clicks Next:

Template selection for community in HCL Connections V7

He can now choose to use a template. These templates are already pre-populated with widgets, applications, postings and functions. You can create your own communities and then turn them into templates, so that people can set up their own version in just a few minutes. HCL will also deliver Connections V7 with templates tailored for certain types of businesses.

Felix chooses the Returning to Office template in the second row of icons and clicks Next:

Add members to HCL Connections V7 community

He can now add members to the community, and give them roles. Some can be owners (administrators) and some will be just regular members. Felix decides to only add three other people as owners, because he wants to finish setting up the community before he adds more people. He then clicks Next:

Add tags to an HCL Connections V7 community

He now adds tags to the community, so that it’s even easier to find for people when searching. And now he clicks on Create and Connections then creates the community:

Ne community created from template in HCL Connections V7

The widget to the right is called Your local COVID Response Team. Felix must edit this to remove the dummy profile, and add his local response team. He clicks on it:

Editing people widget in HCL Connections V7

He removes the dummy profile, and then starts adding people from the local team:

Adding People to HCL Connections V7 widget

He clicks Save when finished. All better:

People widget in HCL Connections V7

Felix realises that the heading for the community isn’t correct. The photo is of the wrong city. As an owner of the community, he will see a button called Customize. He clicks on it. He can now customize the photo, text and other elements in the header:

Customize community i HCL Connections V7


After clicking Save he looks through the widgets and applications in the community. He decides to add a few more and clicks on Community Actions and chooses the menu item for this. He will now get to see all apps he can add to the community:

Adding Apps to a HCL Connections v7 community

He can also see a list of widgets he can add:

Widgets for community in HCL Connections V7

After closing this he can also move around existing widgets or applications via drag and drop:

Move around apps and widgets in community

Felix is now happy with the community, and feels it’s ready to be used by the organisation. Since the company uses Microsoft Teams for internal communication, Felix decides to share a link to it directly into a channel in a team!

Up in the right corner of the community in Connections, Felix clicks on this Teams icon:

Microsoft Teams icon in a HCL Connections V7 community

In the popup window that appears Felix searches for the team and channel he wants to add this community to:

Add a Connections community to Microsoft Teams

The team is now shared, with a link to it, in Teams:

Link to HCL Connections V7 community from Teams

However, Felix knows that the employees are reluctant to leave the Teams client, as they are doing a lot of work in different apps inside Teams. So he decides to add apps from the community directly into the Teams channel. 

He therefore adds a new tab to the channel:

Add a Connections app as a tab in a channel in Teams

He clicks on Connections and then have to select the community:

Select Connections community

He then chooses the app he wants to add. He decides to add the Forum app, where people can ask questions about the Covid-19 measures:

Select Connections app

He then gives the tab a name:

Giving the tab in channel in Teams a title

And clicks Save. The employees can now access the forum inside the community, without having to leave Teams. They can even reply to existing postings, as well as post new postings:

Connections forum app inside Microsoft Teams

Felix does the exact same procedure, but this time he adds the wiki app, so that the employees have direct access to the Covid-19 handbooks directly from Teams:

Connections wiki app inside Microsoft Teams

But that’s not all!

Remember that he added Lucy as an owner and part of the response team? She is also an employee of Woodburn and belongs to the RTO Frankfurt team inside Teams. This is what she sees in her stream in Teams:

Teams newsstream with Connections

She decides to click on the forums to read them:

Connections Forum in Teams

Felix asks her to check something in the cafeteria menu. She then enters the wiki, which displays just like it looks in Connections itself:

Connections Wiki inside Teams

She discovers that the menu isn’t updated. But not to worry. She can even edit and update the wiki from Teams:

Editing Connections wiki from Microsoft Teams

After saving the update, she posts inside the channel chat that the job is done:

Teams channel chat

The next day, Lucy is on her way to work. She’s a bit unsure if this is good enough as she knows that not everyone checks Connections or Teams before coming to work. So she whips out her phone, opens the Connections app and goes into the wiki:

HCL Connections wiki on mobile

With Connections V7, you can export an entire wiki to PDF! But Lucy only needs to export five pages:

Export Connections wiki to PDF

She can even choose what parts of the page she wants to print out or not. When the PDF is generated, she sends it to a printer, and pins the pages up in the lobby, so that people will see them when they arrive at work.

Speaking of which: Every morning when employees arrive, they have to do a Daily Health Check. This is done via a Domino Volt app. But the employees don’t need to open Volt. They just need to go to the Connections community to do the health check, as the Volt app is integrated like a widget/app:

Domino Volt app inside a HCL Connections team

Isn’t this awesome? To sum up. With Connections V7 you can:

  • Quickly set up a community with content and structure from a best-practices template
  • Easily customize content
  • Integrate with Microsoft and Office 365 for seamless sharing and collaboration
  • Use fast an easy community create wizards
  • Customize contents very easily
  • Remove boundaries between Connetions and other platforms
  • Instantly access SharePoint libraries from Communities
  • Seamlessly shift content between Outlook client and Connections (not shown here in this article)
  • Automatically save changes to Microsoft Office files back to Connections
  • Reduce deploymet and upgrade times via new functionality and autmoated scripts

After this demo we asked HCL about better integration with Verse and Notes (the Notes plugins are really buggy for Notes V10 and V11) and were told “it’s on the roadmap.”

Other than that, this is truly, truly an awesome solution. HCL Connections V7 should be your social intranet and collaboration platform.

You can register for a preview of Connections V7 here.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!


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