Collaborating as a ‘Team’ Using Microsoft Teams

In March 2020, companies were forced to swiftly adapt to a new reality. While offices emptied out seemingly overnight, an entire workforce adjusted to working remotely for the foreseeable future. Despite most organizations having a disaster recovery playbook to fall back on, many still relied on teams being co-located, usually with a skeleton crew working from an additional temporary office space. Clearly, those presumptions were challenged, as suddenly, living rooms became offices, conference rooms, lunch spots, as well as break room, all in-one, with a need to keep business going on as usual.

Understandably, remote work requires us to have the correct communication tools at our fingertips. Enter Microsoft Teams, a business communication platform that is part of the Microsoft 365 family of products. Microsoft Teams offers workspace chat and videoconferencing, file storage, and application integration utilizing the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite of applications.

Improved Collaboration

Lack of collaboration negatively impacts the organization, making people feel disengaged and demotivated, ultimately affecting employee morale and cohesiveness across the board. Collaboration tools enable team members to seamlessly cooperate with one another, allowing users to share information and communicate all in one centralized place. Typically, a conversation with a coworker starts as an impromptu chat, whether in-person or remote via a collaboration tool. They discuss new product features, which may in turn, develop into a larger discussion utilizing a phone call or even a video call, potentially looping in broader product teams to continue strategizing.

Within Microsoft Teams, Users can work together within the same document, seeing others’ contributions in real-time, while elaborating on ideas, either via the ‘posts’ functionality or using the Teams conference channel. Additionally, Users can leverage a ‘chat’ feature to share links to external sources, or even render diagrams from embedded PowerBI reports, directly into a collaboration channel. The embedded search functionality allows for fast retrieval of documents, conversations, and guarantees that Users are only served with results for the Teams that they are Members or Owners of.

Internally at Strive Consulting

Our organization started utilizing Microsoft Teams in 2019, and the tool was adopted eagerly across Strive. Without formal governance guidelines or training in place, it became apparent that action needed to be taken to ensure long term success of this companywide collaboration tool.

Objective: Improve cross-departmental and market utilization of Microsoft Teams and facilitate increased collaboration, by providing guidance and training materials, with key outcomes being:

  • Improve usage of Teams by providing governance guidelines for using the tool, help users decide when to use Teams versus Channels, and provide guidance for the team’s lifecycle (initiation, active use, and sunsetting)
  • Migrate critical artifacts from Microsoft SharePoint to ensure those can be accessed directly in Teams
  • Provide Users with quick role-based access to searchable content across the Teams platform
  • Reduce e-mail threads leveraging Teams conversations and facilitate online collaboration within OneNote or any of the Microsoft Office 365 tools

The project started with an in-depth assessment of Strive’s entire Microsoft Teams inventory, interviewing the respective Team Owners across all departments and markets. Through analyzing content of said Teams and Channels, we quickly found that a third of our existing Teams could be eliminated, and another third could be moved into other higher-level Teams, significantly reducing the time Users spend navigating to relevant content.

MS Teams make teams work

Irrespective of the size of an organization, optimizing collaboration within and across teams will be beneficial to your company. Diverse teams, spread across continents and time zones, can collaborate on joint projects, communicate effectively, and focus on specific deliverables rather than wasting precious time reading through email chains or searching for message threads.

Embracing Microsoft Teams has helped Project, Product, Sales, and Marketing teams adjust to the new normal, allowing for seamless collaboration on various concurrent projects, whilst keeping stakeholders and leadership abreast of progress, opportunities, and pitfalls. For development-focused teams, especially those in technological advanced organizations, integration of Microsoft Teams with the Microsoft Azure platform unlocks a whole new level of collaboration, not only between the developers, but the broader project team, including project managers, testers, and end-users.

So, what’s next?

As companies continue to adapt to this new hybrid model of conducting business, a plethora of applications and tools will be utilized by both in-office and remote workers. Ultimately, the locale from where team members collaborate will be eclipsed by the efficiency and availability of the tools that allow for maximized hybrid teamwork. Unlock potential by deliberately planning and governing upfront, while continuing to add to your collaboration roadmap throughout its lifecycle. Microsoft Teams has the hallmarks allowing for successful collaboration within and across teams, ultimately allowing organizations to deliver for their clients, customers, and internal employees alike.

Is your organization working to collaborate more effectively?

Strive Consulting continues to innovate and grow through modern and ever-changing times. A shared collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams allows us to collaborate, enable trust, and deliver results to our clients and colleagues alike. Strive is here to provide guidance and assist in any way we can – drop us a note to see how we can be your partner, committed to success.