What is Microsoft Viva and how to configure it part #1: Viva Connections, Insights, Learning, and Topics

Microsoft has been promoting Viva for nearly 2 years now as ‘an employee experience platform that brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights in the flow of work.’ Maybe it’s just me, but this description doesn’t really explain what Microsoft Viva is, and what to expect from it. That’s why I dived into this subject to give you a straightforward description of Viva, admin to admin.

Understand and configure Microsoft Viva: na admin's perspective

It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s Microsoft Viva!

Essentially, Viva encompasses seven apps (add-ins, modules) for Microsoft 365 (mostly Microsoft Teams) that provide content and services aimed at helping users work more efficiently & develop professionally.

Because each Viva module is a separate story that requires an amount of text, I’ve decided to split all I know about it in two different articles. If you cannot find the Viva app that interests you below, go to this article instead.

Here’s what the first four Viva modules are and what they do:

  • Viva Connections – a SharePoint-style intranet home page with company news & info, simple forms, tasks, etc. you can access directly in Teams.
  • Viva Insights – data-driven insights, tips, and features to help you work productively & healthily (e.g. avoid burnout or stress) delivered in Teams as an interactive page and via emails.
  • Viva Learning – training courses and learning content from Microsoft and external vendors delivered via Teams.
  • Viva Topics – company-wide hub presenting specialized knowledge (projects) in a Wikipedia-like style along with company experts on those projects, plus providing references to the knowledge across Microsoft 365 (in SharePoint, Teams, Outlook, Word, etc.).

To get the exhaustive information about each app, we recommend reading Microsoft’s documentation for Connections, Insights, Learning, and Topics.

Microsoft Viva licensing and prices

Microsoft Viva licensing varies from app to app. For example, Connections is available to any user who is licensed with a Microsoft 365 enterprise license, while Topics always requires you to buy a separate license. Below you’ll find detailed information on which license is required to use each Viva app and what’s the price per user:

Viva appLicense requiredCost per user*
ConnectionsAny Microsoft 365 plan for enterprise. Learn moreFree
InsightsAny Microsoft 365 plan for enterprise + separate app license to access all features$4.00 user/month
LearningAny Microsoft 365 plan for enterprise + separate app license to access all features$4.00 user/month
TopicsAny Microsoft 365 plan for enterprise + separate app license$4.00 user/month

*Costs were taken from Microsoft’s website at the time of writing. There is no guarantee the cost or requirements will stay the same later on. It’s a good idea to double-check pricing pages before buying Viva licenses.

The prices above apply to the annual subscription. Also, if you want to use all the 4 apps in your tenant, you might be interested in choosing a more cost-effective offering called Microsoft Viva suite, which lets you use all the goodness of Microsoft Viva for $9.00 user/month.

To learn more about Viva pricing, visit this website.

How to configure Microsoft Viva

As an admin, you would be probably most interested in getting to know how to deploy the Viva apps in your organization. The configuration differs largely from app to app. In this section, we’ll also show how to disable Microsoft Viva features, which might be handy if you (and your users) conclude that the solution is not designed specifically for you.

Essentially, to perform all the tasks below, you need to have the Microsoft 365 global admin role because each Viva app has its own requirements regarding admin roles. In case of Viva Learning and Viva Topics, which require a lot of management effort, you can optionally assign a Knowledge Administrator (Learning) or a Knowledge manager (Topics) role to let someone else configure those modules.

Viva Connections

To start configuring Viva Connections, you need to meet certain prerequisites: have the SharePoint home site and global navigation. If you already have these sorted out, you can proceed to the actual Viva Connections configuration. If not, you can follow these instructions or use a home page template offered by Microsoft.

  1. Start from planning what you would like to include on your Viva Connections home page. Essentially, it should include 3 main sections: Resources (SharePoint navigation), Feed (internal news), and the Dashboard (interactive cards). Learn more
  2. Go to your home page in SharePoint, click the gear icon (in the top right corner) and choose Set up Viva Connections.
Starting Viva Connections dashboard configuration
  1. Then click the View Dashboard button – you’ll see your Dashboard design. We’ve already have some cards added but, in your case, the Dashboard will most likely be empty. Click Edit to enter the editing mode.
Entering Viva Connections dashboard editing mode
  1. Now customize the Dashboard section of your Viva Connections experience. You can do it by adding interactive cards that let you and your users quickly check important information, complete simple tasks, launch an app, etc. To add a card, click Add a card and choose the predefined card type that you want to add. You can also select Card designer to enjoy more granular options of card’s personalization.
Adding a new Dashboard card
  1. To display card’s settings pane, click the card and the pencil icon. In the pane, you can usually select only card size and groups of users (Audiences to target) for whom the card will be displayed and actionable. The core settings, such as shift information or assigned tasks are configured separately in respective Teams apps like Shifts, Tasks, etc.
Configuring Viva Connections card settings
  1. Using the top menu, you can preview your dashboard, save it as draft, publish it and so on. To save your changes, click Publish/Republish.
Dashboard top menu
  1. Now that your Viva Connections experience is ready, you need to make it available in Teams for your users. To do it, log in to the Microsoft Teams admin center, go to Teams apps > Manage apps, find the Viva Connections app on the list (or better use the search box), and click it. Set the status to Allowed. Optionally, you can customize other app aspects, e.g. name, description or icon.
Enabling Viva Connections app in Teams
  1. Now, when your users pin the Connections app in Teams and click it, they’ll access the experience you’ve designed for them.
Viva Connections app in Teams

To disable the Viva Connections app, simply change its status from Allowed to Blocked (see step 7 above). And if you want to get rid of the home site, log in to the SharePoint admin center, go to Sites > Active sites, click your current home site, and choose Change home site. Once you change the home site, you will be able to delete the former home site associated with Viva Connections.

Changing home site in the SharePoint admin center

Viva Insights

Viva Insights includes several solutions your users might want to interact with:

To enable or disable the first item globally, log in to the Microsoft Teams admin center, go to Teams apps > Manage apps, find the Viva Insights app on the list (or better use the search box), and click it. Set the status to Allowed. To disable the app, choose Blocked instead of Allowed.

The next three items can be globally enabled or disabled in the Microsoft 365 admin center. To do it, access the Services page by clicking this link. Locate Microsoft Viva Insights on the list and click it. In the pane that opens, select these Viva Insights elements that you want to enable for all your users and click Save.

Enabling selected Viva Insights features

For Briefing emails, repeat the same procedure as above, but choose Briefing‎ email from ‎Microsoft Viva‎ on the list instead. If you select the checkbox, all the users in your organization will receive briefing emails.

Enabling Briefing emails from Viva Insights

If you want to enable or disable selected Viva Insights features, e.g., turn off Briefing emails, or disable Viva Insights completely for selected users (groups of users), you need to use PowerShell. For detailed instructions, see this Microsoft help article.

Viva Learning

This app is enabled by default. To disable it in Teams globally, log in to the Microsoft Teams admin center, go to Teams apps > Manage apps, find the Viva Learning app on the list (or better use the search box), and click it. Set the status to Blocked.

Additionally, you can control which sources of learning are available to your users. To this end, access the Services page in the Microsoft 365 admin center by clicking this link. Locate Viva Learning on the list and click it. In the pane that opens, select these sources that you have access to and want to be available for your users in the Viva Learning App in Teams.

Viva Learning courses sources selection

As you can see in the picture above, you can also create your own learning repository on SharePoint. For detailed instructions, go to this help page.

Viva Topics

Topics is the only app in the Viva suite that requires a separate user license to work. That’s why you should start with assigning licenses to your users on the Active users page in the Microsoft 365 admin center. You can do it by selecting people on the list and clicking Manage product licenses just above the list.

Once you’re done with licenses, it’s time to run the initial configuration wizard for Viva Topics. To do it, go to Setup > Files and content > Connect people to knowledge with ‎Viva Topics in the Microsoft 365 admin center. ‎

Viva Topics launching configuration wizard

The wizard is rather self-explanatory, allowing you to decide:

  • which SharePoint sites AI is supposed to analyze in search of topics,
  • who can use Viva Topics features (e.g. highlighted topics on SharePoint, topic cards, topic pages, etc.),
  • who can create and modify topics,
  • how to name the topic center site and what its location should be.

There’s a nice video from Microsoft that clearly explains how to use the wizard.

To get a reliable analysis and the actual topics on the topic center site, you need to let the AI analyze your organization’s content for about two weeks. In the meantime, you can access the topic center site you’ve set up on SharePoint, and add topics manually on your own by clicking New topic page.

The Viva Topics Center site

There you can define a topic description, topic experts in your org, related files & sites, or create a map of related topics (if you’ve already have created them). Once you’re OK with all the settings, you can publish your topic page by clicking Publish.

Apart from creating your own topics, you can also manage the topics curated by AI and fine-tune them to make well-described topics out of them. To do it, go to the Manage topics tab. There, on another tab, Suggested, you’ll find the list of all the topics the AI has detected for you. You can confirm them for later review (Confirm), remove false positives (Remove), and review plus publish them (Review and publish). You’ll most likely use the last option most often.

Viva AI curated topics management

Once you publish your topics manually or based on the AI findings, these will appear on the topic center Home page where the allowed users will be able to discover them. Viva Topics will also automatically generate underlined links to particular topics across Microsoft 365 platform, e.g. on SharePoint sites, in Word’s Search feature, and so on.

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