For many organizations just getting started with Office 365, there is typically some excitement about rolling out Skype for Business in order to enable better collaboration between individuals. Unfortunately, many are disappointed to learn that Skype for Business is not available to them any longer. Back in late 2018, Microsoft tapered access for Skype for Business and forced the new collaboration platform “Teams” for any tenant that newly signed up with less than 500 users. In November, Microsoft started to offer automated migration to Teams for tenants that already had Skype for Business. The message was clear – the move to Teams was inevitable.
All is not lost! Microsoft Teams is really a feature-rich communication platform that can be leveraged for much more than just one-to-one communications and meetings. There are some similarities in the functionality with Slack, and if you use SharePoint, there are several integration points where you can present information within the Teams’ interface. Because of the many ways Teams can be utilized, it is wise to plan a Teams implementation before letting the organization loose on the platform.
When moving to Teams (or planning an initial implementation), there are a few things to consider:
· Teams is more than just a replacement for Skype for Business – it is a messaging and collaboration platform. It is recommended to have an open mind and explore ways other organizations approached the implementation.
· There is a ton of functionality in teams – we barely scratch the surface in this blog.
· Teams takes a team (group of individuals) and channel (focus/sub-group) approach to messaging.
· Establishing parameters such as who can create teams, defining organization-wide teams and training for teams is best defined before the roll-out.
There are many ways to approach a roll-out of Teams. I’ve found that establishing a couple of organization-wide teams is a great way to get employees engaged and using teams for getting information, then establishing channels within each team to focus on certain content. Microsoft describes how to create an organization wide team in this link, click here.
Since Microsoft Teams uses channels, it would be wise to understand the differences and synergies between teams and channels in this link, click here.
There has been great success with establishing an IT Department team to get the IT folks using Teams so they can evangelize its benefits. A successful structure I’ve seen deployed looks like this:
Team Name: IT Department
- General: This is a channel that only the CIO or leader can post to that outlines announcements, etc.
- Infrastructure: Channel for the infrastructure team that may contain file repositories, charts, diagrams, SharePoint lists, etc. that may be helpful to the infrastructure group within IT.
- Help Desk: Channel for the Help Desk folks that contain collaborative conversations on issues, wiki’s, procedures documents, etc.
- InfoSec: Channel for various awareness items, statuses of remediation, information about vulnerabilities, etc.
Other departments may need assistance in understanding how Teams should be architected and can use the IT Department example as a template. A Team should be built with groups of individuals in mind that collaborate. You can also allow individuals to create Teams for specific projects, so that all of the project artifacts reside in one location for the entire team to access – especially if information repositories exist in multiple places such as an excel file for tracking, SharePoint list for responsibilities, and a OneDrive folder as a repository for files – these can all be linked into the Team for easy access, and also be accessed individually through the respective application. An info-graphic below shows the many default apps available, with many more available in an app store.
As you can see, you can structure your Microsoft Teams environment many ways. Within each team, there are many options available to enhance the collaborative nature of the team by including channels for focused information, and then tabs within each channel that can contain information, file repositories, and other apps as described above.
Stay tuned for future blogs where we will explore more of the many aspects of Microsoft Teams that weren’t covered here. With some effort put into defining the structure of Microsoft Teams, it can redefine collaboration for your organization. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about how you can benefit from a strategic Teams implementation in your organization!