In my previous blog, I talked about the elements of collaboration and how working in teams benefits the organization. Microsoft Teams provides a platform that facilitates each of these elements of collaboration. Teams is a collaboration space that gives the collaborator access to all the teams he’s a member of and where he can quickly and easily get up to speed on the latest developments. Let’s have a look.
It's easy to create a Team, provided your organization allows all staff to create one. This is a setting you choose in your tenancy. Having IT Help Desk, for example, manage the creation of Teams will give you better control over what kinds of Teams are created, how the membership is managed, and what kind of content is available in a Team. However, there is a risk you may slow adoption if you limit the ability of users to spin up Teams when they wish. If you decide to allow all staff to create their own Teams, you can set expiration dates on Teams, requiring their owners to periodically “renew” the Team which can help manage the proliferation of zombie Teams.
A Microsoft Team can be built from scratch or copied from an existing Office 365 group or Team. If you have a recurring need for a certain type of Team, you can create one as a template and clone it each time you need another instance.
Lastly, you need to decide whether your Team will be private, that is, all conversations and content strictly limited to the members of your Team, or whether the Team will be public and staff can join as they wish.
It’s simple and easy to add members to the Team. Teams automatically draws from your tenancy and gives you the ability to add external participants (guests) as well should you choose to allow it.
Each Microsoft Team is composed of Channels. This example has four Channels: General, Customer Positioning, Post-Award, and Proposal. The General Channel is automatically provisioned when the Team is created. Channels are topics around which you expect to converse and share content. You can add them as you go so you needn’t sort out all your Channels when spinning up the Team.
Each Channel has its own Conversation, its own Files and its own collection of applications as you provision them. In this example, we’re in the Customer Positioning channel. You can use the (+) to add applications to your Team and enhance the Team’s collaboration experience.
Microsoft provides a rich ecosystem of applications that can be integrated into your Channel’s landing page.
Teams provides visual cues alerting team members when new content has been added or when they have been @mentioned which enhances participation. An email can also be generated letting the team member know they have been @mentioned which can help draw their conversations out of email and into Teams conversations.
Like any collaboration space or community of interest, it’s generally most successful when a member of the team helps to moderate and drive collaboration. In my experience, people are generally happy to collaborate in this kind of space but need to be nudged into it and reminded to participate. Posing questions for collaborators to address, moving conversations to the collaboration space, migrating file content into the collaboration space: these all help to drive participation in the platform.
Collaboration in Microsoft Teams represents a shift in work style for the organization. The assumption is that you are going to spend your work day in Teams, conversing with Team members, chatting via IM, and sharing content.
This link provides an excellent overview of Teams features: https://youtu.be/CH2seLS5Wb0
As you consider a Teams rollout, at Enabling Technologies we believe it’s wise to consider the following:
- What areas in your organization might benefit from a collaborative effort? Consider cross-organizational initiatives underway or that are planned.
- What experience have you had with Office 365 Groups? How has that worked out for you? Where are opportunities for improvement?
- Which people in your organization are best suited to pilot collaboration efforts? Your early adopters can drive usage into Teams pretty quickly.
If you have any questions or options you’d like to explore, respond to this blog or contact Enabling Technologies CIO Advisory Services Practice at firstname.lastname@example.org.