As more and more businesses adopt a flexible working policy or turn to contractual hires, the number of remote workers increases with each passing day. Physical office spaces are no longer mandatory, and employees have the option to work wherever they please. In response to this rising open office trend, software giant Microsoft has come up with Microsoft Teams—the perfect avenue for an organization’s team to connect and communicate online.
If you’ve ever used Slack or similar multi-channel chat platforms, then you’ll no doubt be familiar with how Microsoft Teams functions. On top of improving workplace productivity, it offers a handful of new features and capabilities that can improve your different business operations.
Even if you’re no stranger to Teams, we highly recommend you go through and reacquaint yourself. The constant release of updates and the recent overhaul has transformed the application into a faster, more flexible tool that can greatly benefit businesses when properly optimized.
WHAT IS MICROSOFT TEAMS?
At its base level, Microsoft Teams is a cloud-based collaboration software that offers both chat and hub services for businesses—very similar to applications like Atlassian’s HipChat or Slack. For businesses with remote workers or global offices, Teams has a variety of features that make it an extremely useful tool for bolstering in-office productivity.
Users can set up multiple group chat rooms (called channels) within a Team—a hub for said group chats and other collaborative services. Conversations are threaded and flow from top to bottom, making them easy to follow. Notifications can be set according to each user, so that they’re pinged every time someone replies, every time someone uploads a file, every time they’re specifically mentioned, and so on.
As a Microsoft service, Teams is directly integrated with Skype. Users who need to communicate directly can instantly bring up Skype voice or video chats with other members of the channel.
Microsoft Teams is more than just a multi-chat platform. Aside from Skype, this Microsoft application is integrated with other popular Office 365 productivity suite services like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. It also includes SharePoint, Microsoft’s cloud storage and sharing solution. With this feature, users can easily upload documents and share them with other Teams members.
Microsoft Teams is also set up in such a way that every member has access to the latest version of all uploaded files i.e., spreadsheets, documents, presentations, etc. It does this by keeping a copy of the file on OneDrive (for cloud storage) and the Team’s local SharePoint environment. Every change made to the document is subsequently synchronized with the stored copy and automatically updated. This makes collaborative real-time editing possible.
DEPLOYING MICROSOFT TEAMS
Transitioning over to Microsoft Teams is relatively risk-free. However, for businesses that are used to using a different platform, it does have a relatively high learning curve. It can be especially difficult for businesses that might not have any experience using Office 365 as a whole. Regardless of whatever category your business falls under, it always helps to properly prep your organization for migration.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure successful deployment.
1. Determine Technical Readiness
Moving to a new platform will generate a lot of digital traffic, which will significantly slow down operations. You’ll have to account for traffic between your Office 365 environment and Microsoft Teams client, standard peer-to-peer communication, and conferencing traffic. This will likewise demand a certain amount of bandwidth, so you also need to make sure you have sufficient capacity. Take a moment to also verify the legal aspect, such as your licensing agreement and compatibility, identity and authentication models, and your Office 365 domain.
2. Prepare a Change Management Strategy
The unfamiliarity of Microsoft Teams can prove to be one of the biggest obstacles for many of your employees. Coupled with the time it takes to technically migrate and the average time it will take everyone to learn how to use the new platform, your business risks losing efficiency or slowing (or stopping) production completely.
A change management strategy involves offering procedures such as pre-deployment training, on-boarding sessions, and trail simulations to better prep your team. Explaining the benefits and advantages can also warm people up to the idea of using the new software.
For reference, here are a couple objectives your change management strategy should fulfill:
- Create enthusiasm towards the new application
- Identify current business challenges and illustrate how Teams can provide viable solutions
- Ensure ample training and support for all users
- Encourage feedback and act on it accordingly
3. Determine Teams and Organize Channels
As mentioned, multiple group chats can exist in one Team. You can also create multiple Teams in the application—an ideal solution for businesses with a lot of employees residing in a lot of different departments. To ensure optimal effectiveness, decide how you wish to set up different teams and channels according to your organizations internal structure. For instance, will each department have their own team? Their own channel? Will some departments share a channel? Should everyone have the same notification settings?
And so on.
Here are some tips to organizing Teams for your team:
- Determine how closely your Teams structure will mimic your internal structure
- Start small, and then scale upwards
- Determine roles, permissions, administrators, etc. before the migration
- Set business objectives
Microsoft Teams is an advanced multi-chat, multi-service platform that is proving to be a huge help to businesses worldwide. It offers dozens of benefits for any organization—most of which we’ll cover in the second part. But to ensure that your business actually profits from implementing Teams, you need to optimize its use value through proper understanding and deployment.
See Part 2 of this blog by clicking here! >> A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO USING MICROSOFT TEAMS PART 2: BENEFITS & BEST PRACTICES