Kevin McDonnell

Information & Communications Technology

Office 365 Office 365 SharePoint Productivity SharePoint Azure Functions Microsoft Search Cognitive Services

Sevenoaks, England, United Kingdom

Kevin McDonnell

Solution Architect, CPS

When a project builds, tests, deploys and notifies a client that their latest request is ready and they reply that it's exactly what they envisioned if they couldn't fully articulate it, that's the perfect day for Kevin. After starting as a graduate in the infrastructure side of a UK Investment Bank, Kevin built on the ASP and VB spaghetti code that he taught himself at university to build out a well rounded approach to development. Taking roles on the Microsoft 365 side has not stopped him wanting to develop properly and he retains solid understanding of Agile and DevOps processes alongside the technical side of cloud infrastructures.

For a day job, Kevin works as a Solutions Architect at CPS, delivering solutions across the Microsoft 365 and Power Platform stack. This love continues into speaker at many conferences and user groups and getting involved in the wider community. This includes being a Microsoft MVP in Office Apps and Services and co-hosting the fortnightly podcast GreyHatBeard as well as desperately trying to inspire the Cub Pack he leads with IoT devices to get them coding.

Current sessions

Building a culture of knowledge sharing with Viva Topics

Project Cortex is now out in the wide world as SharePoint Syntex and Viva Topics but was does that mean to your organisation? Will it be unloved and unused as siloed remain and rigid structures with mile high walls remain?

This session will arm you with ways of creating a culture of learning and sharing that can make the benefit of tools like Viva Topics to improve the employee experience, reduce the key person risks and ultimately create a better performing and more productive organisation.

The GreyHatBeard Panel on the etiquette of Microsoft 365

The GreyHatBeard regulars (Al Eardley, Garry Trinder and Kevin McDonnell) will be joined by some special guests to challenge each other on the best tips around the etiquette of using Microsoft 365 services. When should you use Hub Sites? Should you @mention a channel? When to use Planner vs ToDo vs Excel? When should you use Teams Wikis? - obvs never on that one!

All set up like a panel show with a spectacular finish with the two “winners” squaring off to defend the indefensible

An introduction to knowledge management with Viva Topics

When Project Cortex was announced at Ignite 2019, there was a huge level of excitement about the transformation it could make to an organisation’s ability to use knowledge. However, many didn’t consider what they would need to plan ahead for so that they could get the most from services like SharePoint Syntex and Viva Topics. This session will follow on from my knowledge management series at to talk through finding your knowledge, organising it, making it available with Viva Topics and how you can build a culture of knowledge within your organisation

“Hello, can you hear me?” - Running a remote workshop on Microsoft Teams

Whether your are housebound due to the current global pandemic or you are an international organisation with staff all round the world, there are times that you can’t run a workshop with everyone in the same room. It could be for gathering requirements of a new project or working out the vision and strategy for a team but there are certain ways to be as effective as you can be to keep everyone focused and engages so that you get the most from the time.

“Hello, can anyone hear me?” - The etiquette of meetings in Microsoft Teams

With the current global pandemic, organisations are moving to far more meetings held online and for many of those, Microsoft Teams is the place to go for that. However, for many people, this is either the first time that they have run online meetings or the sheer number of them is greatly increased. People are not aware of the ways that Teams can be used to help support them in keeping attendees engaged and how to make sure that everyone behaves in similar ways.

The etiquette of meetings in Microsoft Teams will help both meeting hosts and attendees with useful tips on making the most effective meetings, whether they be a short daily stand up or a full day workshop. It will run through how to prepare, how to share, how to run and how to engage in a way that helps make the most wherever people are.

Knowing Me, Knowing You - using Facial Recognition in Power Apps

Don't you just love the way that Windows Hello recognises you by face and logs you straight in. Just imagine if Power Apps could do that and show content in an App based on recognising a face. Actually it can.

This session will take you through the steps for integrating Azure Cognitive Services to your app to show the tweets for a recognised person. Even better, you didn't need any more expensive licenses as none of the connectors are premium, you just need to pay for the limited Face service costs - and don't worry, I'll cover that too!

Microsoft Search - the what, the why and the how

Heard about Microsoft Search but not quite sure where it fits in? Unsure how you can use the search on your own pages? Wondering if you can bring in other content? Let me guide you through what can done now and what is coming soon, balancing the different types of search.

Covering how Microsoft Search and SharePoint Search live harmoniously together (if treated right), this session will show all the benefits of having all your search in one place can give that feeling of consistency to end users and demonstrate that you don't have to lose functionality to do it.

Robot Rock - starting your Bot journey in Microsoft 365

You get an email. Perhaps from a customer (internal or external), perhaps from your boss.
Caller: "We need to make a Bot"
You: "Great, what should it do?"
Caller: "Make it easier for someone"
You (getting nervous): "Easier to do what?"
Caller: "Not sure yet, make the Bot and we'll work that out"

You might have done a little dev but really that was just a half finished JavaScript or C# course plus some awesome macros you recorded and tweaked (and you probably still have to support years later) but you really don't think you're a developer. Maybe there’s options for Power Users?

This session will take you through the thought process of building up the requirements for a Bot, the design processes to step through, how to implement in Power Virtual Agents and when to consider that you might need a little more customisation than that by showing you could use the Bot Framework Composer too

Driving Microsoft Teams adoption with gamification using the Where On Earth Bot

Have you ever looked at the daily background on Bing or the version on your desktop? Did you stop and wonder where that beautiful landscape or haunting castle is? It happened at one organisation and soon became a daily challenge for the whole place. This convinced me to create the Daily Bing Challenge Bot as a way to drive adoption with Microsoft Teams, connecting people with what is possible in Teams through the challenge and inspiring them to use Teams for even more collaboration.
This talk will demonstrate the Bot itself and show how it can be used to gamify the adoption in an organisation.

Microsoft Viva - what it is and why you really should care about it

Employees, huh? What are they good for? Well, actually, everything for your organisation and that is why employee experience is such a big topic at the moment. The global coronavirus pandemic has accelerated changes in ways of working that were already taking place but the toll that this change has had on your staff is not always thought about.

Microsoft Viva is the new employee experience platform from Microsoft but the great news is that it is built into all those services that most of you are already using like Teams, SharePoint and the wider Microsoft 365. This session will explore what Viva actually is and how you can use it in your own organisation to support plans to improve life for your employees.

Building engagement with custom dashboard webparts in Viva Connections

The power of Viva Connections is that it makes it easier for organisations to surface data and content from other services into a single page in Teams, providing that personalised hub for employees. Empowering employees to be able to be more focused and productive helps bring about better connections to what they need to do.

This session will show what you can do with Viva Connections to bring other systems like Salesforce, Project Online or even your own bespoke apps to front and centre of your employee experience without making everyone remember lots of different URLs.