4 tips for easier collaboration with contractors

As written on blogs.microsoft.com.
Having independent contractors at companies of all sizes is the new normal. Busy seasons demand extra bandwidth, full-time employees take temporary leave or unique/temporary roles need to be filled.
Whatever the reason, getting support from contractors can provide scale, flexibility and specialized skills to your team—which is why their popularity continues to grow. For example, 51 percent of companies say their need for contingent workers will continue to grow within the next three to five years. Alongside, the talent pool is changing to match this trend: By 2020, 43 percent of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.
Finding the right contractor for the right job is only the first step. They’ll likely be working outside of your office, but will still need to rely on the resources your internal teams use daily. If you want to enable your contractors to do their best work, you need to ensure they have the right tools to collaborate with your internal teams.
Here are four tips to set your independent contractors up for success:

#1—streamline communication

Make it easy for your contractors to stay in touch. Set up technology that allows them to communicate with and get to know your internal teams. This can (and should) come in the form of many tools, so they can choose the ones they prefer. Enable them to send instant messages to anyone in the company. Promote the use of video conferencing and screen sharing for efficient collaboration. Not only will this increase productivity, but it will allow full-time employees and contractors to build more personal relationships with face-to-face communication.
Will your independent contractor be working across several teams or projects? If so, then you may want to consider a chat-based workspace—not just for them, but also for the rest of your team. They shouldn’t struggle to keep up with dozens of private instant messages about similar projects. Instead, get them on a threaded group chat that allows for more organized web-based collaboration.

#2—share files with ease

Depending on when and where your contractors work, coordinating across time zones and locations may be a factor in their success. Avoid a situation where a contractor is stuck waiting for a team member to come online to gain access to files. Instead, opt for cloud-based file sharing and storing. That way, contractors can get the files and documents they need around the clock to get the job done. And with permission settings, you can restrict and permit access to the specific files an independent contractor needs, and revoke access when a contract ends.

#3—stay on the same page

Enhance collaboration with the ability to co-author (edit and work) on the same online documents. It’ll prevent excessive back-and-forth on email between team members. Digital files automatically sync and update over the internet, so your team is always looking at the most up-to-date version. And since your files live in the cloud, you’ll always know who made the last edit and can review and revoke changes if you ever need to go back to an older version.

#4—secure your data

Security may not always be top of mind for your employees and contractors—but it is for you and your IT team. Strike a balance between giving your extended team what they need while retaining control over your company’s data. The file access you give to your freelancers doesn’t need to last forever. When their contract is over, simply revoke access remotely. Even if your independent contractor has used their own device to access your data, cloud-based tools can delete your company’s files from that device.
With the right technology and infrastructure, independent contractors can become an effective extension of your team. Forget disruptions, lost files or a lack of security. The right tools can solve those problems and help your teams do their best work.


Power BI Service April Update: ExpressRoute for Power BI

By Amanda Cofsky as written on powerbi.microsoft.com
We are pleased to announce that Power BI has integrated with Azure ExpressRoute. This means that companies using Power BI will be able to use ExpressRoute to establish a private, managed connection to Power BI. Additionally, we already have several improvements to recently released features like row-level security and Analyze with Excel.


ExpressRoute is an Azure service that lets you create private connections between Azure datacenters and your on-premises infrastructure, or create private connections between Azure datacenters and your colocation environment. Now with Power BI and ExpressRoute, you can create a private network connection from your organization to Power BI (or using an ISP’s colocation facility), bypassing the Internet to better secure your sensitive data and connections.
ExpressRoute delivers the benefits of the public cloud, while surpassing the network reliability and privacy of the Internet. It is a great option for companies that require premium, managed connectivity for their productivity services. You can define all aspects of your network connectivity provider’s connection from Microsoft to your users, helping ensure predictable network performance and availability. You can also use multiple ExpressRoute providers to establish ExpressRoute circuits in different geographic locations for additional redundancy and geo-resiliency. You can learn more in the Power BI and ExpressRoute documentation.
Content pack support for RLS (preview)
In the last blog we announced a preview of Row-Level Security, and this week we're announcing our first update of RLS: support for organizational content packs. With this change, if RLS is defined for those dashboards and reports that are distributed as part of a content pack, then the security rules will be respected for all instantiated content packs. This change improves this method of distributing your content by ensuring that your security rules are kept intact.


Vimeo video tile
Previously, we released a video tile that supports YouTube videos. These video tiles allow you to customize your dashboard and add a bit of personal or corporate flair. Now the video tile supports Vimeo videos too.
Add a video tile by selecting Add widget from the top right of the dashboard.

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Select the Video option and then Next.
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Enter a Vimeo URL in the Video URL text field and select Apply.

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Now the tile displays the Vimeo video.

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Note that Vimeo URLs come in several different formats, for example https://vimeo.com/originals/lumia/101557016 and https://player.vimeo.com/video/101557016. We support most, but not all of these formats. If the URL you've entered doesn’t work, try one of the alternate URLs for that video; the video ID-style URLs tend to work best. In our example above the video ID is 101557016, so try https://vimeo.com/101557016.

Analyze in Excel

Analyze in Excel available to all users
Last blog, we announced that now you can analyze your datasets in Excel. This powerful feature lets you connect your Power BI data model to Excel and create PivotTables and PivotCharts with that data. This means your data models are no longer restricted to Power BI, and now this feature is available to all users, free and Pro.
Improved multi-user account experience
Now users with multiple Power BI user accounts will have a better experience when authenticating to Power BI from Excel. Enter the credentials for the account that has the workspace where the dataset is located. If you accidentally entered in the credentials for a different account, you will get a sign-in failure message and a chance to try signing in again. To take advantage of this update, make sure the install the latest Analyze in Excel updates. You can find them under the download menu option.

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