Deploying the new Viva Connections App (Preview)

Earlier this year I wrote a post detailing how to deploy Microsoft Viva Connections for Desktop and in that post I described the process of creating the Viva Connections for Desktop app package using PowerShell. This was a deployment model that was cumbersome and required some PowerShell knowledge to complete. As with all things Microsoft 365, Viva Connections has moved on and the deployment of the new preview version of the app is a lot more intuitive. In this post I’ll go through the changes to the deployment process for the new version of the app.

Differences and new features

With the new version of Viva Connections, comes a host of new features and components, namely:

  • The Viva Connections Mobile Experience brings Microsoft Viva to Teams mobile
  • The Dashboard Web Part allows for a tailored dashboard containing valuable insights to be deployed to the home site
  • The Feed Web Part displays the users personalized news feed directly on the page

Configuring the app

As with the previous version, you’ll still need to have a Modern SharePoint Online Home Site, ideally with Global Navigation in place; but you no longer need any PowerShell scripts to set it up. To get started, simply navigate to the TAC (Teams Admin Center) and open up the “Teams Apps” -> “Manage Apps” page. Search for and open the “Viva Connections” app to see the details (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Open the new Viva Connections app from the TAC

By default, the preview app is blocked by publisher – this is to prevent it appearing for users before it has been configured. Click the “Actions” dropdown and select “Customize” to get started. On the slide out, all the same parameters that were available for the previous version are available to update (in a much more user-friendly way). Go through the settings and update:

  • App Name
  • Description(s)
  • Privacy Policy
  • Website
  • Terms of Use
  • Icons and Accent Color

One thing to note is that Viva Connections will automatically point at your SharePoint Home Site so there is no need to provide that when configuring the app.

When everything is in place, hit “Apply” to publish the changes. Next, change the app status to “allowed” to make it available for deployment.

Configure Policies

To deploy any app in teams, there are two policies to configure: App permission Policies define what apps a user is allowed to see and app setup policies define what apps are automatically deployed to a user. Depending on your setup, you could add the app to the Global policies to deploy for all users at once but in production environments, it’s best to get some user testing done before full deployment.

The first policy to check is the app permission policy, by default the permission policy allows all apps but in most environments, I recommend the apps that are available to users are controlled using the “Allow specific apps and block all others” setting. If you already allow all Microsoft apps, then no action is needed for your app permission policy, if you have restricted app permissions, then create a new app permission policy, allowing the new Viva Connections app as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: If required, create a new app permission policy

Next, a setup policy is needed to deploy the app automatically so users don’t have to go looking for it. Again, you could update the global policy but for a controlled rollout it’s best to create a new policy. Create an app setup policy and add in your customized Viva Connections app as both an “installed” (This installs it in the users Teams client) and “Pinned” app (This adds it to the users apps pane) as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Create a new app setup policy

When done, save the policy and don’t forget to deploy both policies to your test users.

Summary

Once the app deploys to each user (which can take a few hours for Teams client updates) they will now have access to your customized Viva Connections app in Teams in the client app for Windows, the mobile app for Android and iOS and on the web. The new deployment method for Viva Connections is much more streamlined and pain free to get up and running quickly. While this is still in preview, I have seen little to no issues with the updated app and makes Viva Connections even easier to adopt in your organization.

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