The case for Microsoft Teams

I’m known for being blunt and straighttothepoint, which is why I believe employees under the age of 35 will move to Microsoft Teamsas soon as they understand how it works.  

Millennials live in chat apps, making work more natural (and mobile-friendly) to them while encouraging connectivity in the face of rising remote work trends. Teams is made for collaborative conversation threading (complete with gifs and emojis) and does it in an easytoread way that Outlook never could. 

A better way to collaborate 

Microsoft Teams isn’t a new way to communicate, it’s a better way to collaborate, streamlining the way its users communicate. Throughout my 15 years in consulting leading teams of IT companies of all sizes about organizational strategy and growth, it has been my experience that the number one factor that determines the success or failure when implementing new software is the company’s willingness to change. True change requires leadership buyin and the entire organization’s willingness to embrace it. 

Usage and adoption aren’t just decisions made by leadership teamsthey must become a priority and directive that flows from the top down. Otherwiseno matter the investment of time or expense, the tool and the implementation of it will fail. Microsoft Teams is no different; however, the investment Microsoft has made into the continuous development and improvements of Teams continues to make it one of the best-kept secrets in O365. 

In January 2019, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella communicated the following during the FY 2019 Q2 Earnings Call: 

Teams is the only enterprise-grade solution that brings together messaging, meetings, video conferencing, as well as document collaborationand, as of this quarter, enhanced voice capabilities like group call forwarding, delegation and location-based routing. [They] are all being brought into Teams.

He’s right, and noted the company has seen rapid adoption of Teams among more than 420,000 organizations of all sizes and 89 of the Fortune 100, including Pfizer, which uses Teams for its 115,000 employees. 

Joining the Team

When Teams was announced and released in March 2017, I had just accepted a position as Vice President of Strategic Projects and telecommuting for a company located in Silicon Valley. My role focused on managing all project teams working with clients who had purchased O365 and MS Azure software and services as part of their digital transformation to the cloud. 

My role and responsibilities required constant communication to the 100% remote project teams, and as I watched my new CEO via a remote session install O365 on my tablet, I remember interrupting his stream of thought the moment I saw Teams being installed. As he added me to each Project Team with a simple “@Rebecca,” I immediately knew this was something I had not seen or used before in the O365 suite. 

I spent that day and night reading the communications thread on the Teams General Tab—then consuming each Channel and their tabs relating to each Project currently open. By the beginning of the next day, I had created a summary and current snapshot of each project, its status and my understanding of its current state related to profitability. 

I spent almost no time reading email threads and communications across distribution lists. 

Matt Wade, vice president of client engagement at H3, explains the benefits of Microsoft Teams in a recent LinkedIn article: 

When someone joins the Team, they gain access to the conversations. All the past conversations. Talk about ease of onboarding. No more email dumps that are only as helpful as the emails one person decides to forward. MS Teams give the newbie clean, organic conversation to review and use to get acclimated. 

All of your problems, solved 

I have found over my two years learning, using, reselling and implementing Teams for enterprise clients that two main areas of confusion exist: 

  1. Data and document location. For example: where do I collaborate and locate documents? SharePoint, One Drive, Teams? 
  2. User Groups and Teams setup, specifically Teams and Channels and when and what determines their creation. 

The below infographic below provides a great visual for clarification and better understanding, showing the differences between the different programs and their purposes. OneDrive serves as a personal storage space for files, whereas SharePoint encapsulates all of the programs that comprise Office 365. Teams is integrated with SharePoint and allows your team to collaborate by sharing files internally, replacing old department file shares and programs like Dropbox and Google Drive.

File storage differences

Teams InfographicOffice 365 Groups allow an organization to “group” users together based on how the group communicatesOffice 365 has taken communication collaboration and siloed it into three types:  

  1. Yammer Feeds (social) 
  2. Outlook Groups (distribution groups) 
  3. Team Groups (Teams) 

The infographic on the right (click to download) provides clarity in understanding of the value of creating Groups and their importance in configuring Teams aligned to the strategic vision and governance when moving an organization to the cloud and Office 365. 

INNOVA helps business find success as they transform their enterprise using technology. Whether your organization wants to streamline core processes or improve internal communication, we can help implement the IT structure that’s right for your organization while ensuring a smooth transition. 

Stay tuned for part two of this series: exploring tips and tricks of Microsoft Teams usage. 

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