Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.
Microsoft 365 Best Practices
Too Many Choices Can Be Paralyzing
The Microsoft 365 suite of services is an incredible arsenal of tools for collaborating within and externally to your organization. At ThreeWill, we are considered experts in building collaborative solutions and even we struggle with making good collaboration choices within the wide array of options within the Microsoft 365 suite.
I thought I would share with you some of the guidelines we have used within our company to increase our effectiveness when collaborating together and sharing our knowledge. Below is not an exhaustive set of guidelines, but should get you going in the right direction. Would love to hear from you on what you find are good practices with the suite of collaboration options in Microsoft 365.
Lync is for Realtime Communication
Lync is a great way to have real-time communication that can start as IM (Instant Messaging) and then transition to a phone call or a web conference. Note that with presence integration with your calendar, you can have your presence status automatically updated so you are not bothered with IMs during a meeting.
Consider Lync in these following cases:
- Communication that needs timely turnaround
- When you need to have concurrent conversations (versus a phone call that is more single threaded)
- Conversations where you need to leverage web conferencing (sharing your desktop and/or bringing in multiple people into a voice conversation)
Tip: You can federate between your company and other companies to allow for Lync messages with your partners, customers and vendors. This takes 2 minutes to setup within your Microsoft 365 tenant and can be a great way to strengthen communication between two companies.
Yammer is for Open Communication
Use Yammer for open communications where you would like to internally crowdsource around a need. With Yammer, you typically can not depend on a post being seen or read, but it is a way to tap into the brain trust of employees that are looking to take a break from the normal routine tasks of the day. Note that you would typically not use Yammer if you want to ensure that the information is consumed and can be easily found weeks or months later.
Consider Yammer in these following cases:
- Voluntary, short term group decisions (i.e. you are trying to answer a question that might be readily available from a colleague in your company)
- Polling the entire company or groups within a company (i.e. What venue should we us for our Christmas Party?)
- Questions that would benefit from the collective knowledge of the company or group (note that if the knowledge gained from feedback is useful long term, that knowledge should be curated into the appropriate SharePoint Site)
- For raising awareness of your company’s knowledge assets (creating posts to key wikis, documents, templates, policies in SharePoint sites that would benefit from better awareness)
Tip: Note that if you want to make sure a particular person(s) is (are) aware of something you put on Yammer, be sure to mention them (@username). This will send them an email and if they like to track todos in their email, this is a great way to get onto their todo list.
SharePoint Sites are for Records
For enterprise content that needs to be readily available for reference or updates over time, SharePoint (aka Microsoft 365 Sites) is the best place to share and curate content.
Consider SharePoint Sites in these following cases:
- Content that you revisit from time to time or on a frequent basis (i.e. meeting notes or a company policy document)
- Content that has rich text formating and editing capabilities (wikis and Office documents are best managed in SharePoint)
- Content that needs structured processes around creating document content (including workflow and check in and out of documents)
Tip: Note that Office documents can be coauthored through the web or client versions of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). This is a powerful feature that is underutilized by enterprises today.
OneDrive is for Working Documents
Your OneDrive in Microsoft 365 (technically it is called OneDrive for Business) is becoming the hub to get to your personal documents, documents that are shared with you from your colleague’s OneDrive and the place to navigate into document libraries within SharePoint Sites you follow (aka Site Folders).
Consider OneDrive for Business in these following cases:
- Documents that you would normally store in your “My Documents” desktop folder
- Documents that are “work in progress” before they have a permanent home in a SharePoint Site
- Documents that you own and do not have a logical home in a SharePoint Site but would benefit others in your company
Tip: Note that most Microsoft 365 Tenants come with unlimited storage for OneDrive for Business, so you can use OneDrive in place of local documents and/or your entire personal drive on your company network share.
Email is for Controlled Communication
Email is the most common mechanism people use for collaboration. It can be easily abused because we have grown accustomed to email as our our only communication tool, and it becomes our fallback to most communication we have in our daily work.
Consider Email in these following cases:
- You need to communicate to people outside of your organization
- You need to control the communication to a limited distribution (sometimes open communication in places like Yammer can be a distraction)
- Communication that is confidential in natural (email is easier to specify who gets the information and you can setup policies in email to keep the email from being forwarded)
Tip: We all suffer from email overload. If you have a very important email that you are sending to a very busy person, try sending that email at 7am to get in the top of that person’s email queue. If you are not a morning person, you can schedule the email to be sent at that time.
What are your Best Practices?
Note that these are suggested guidelines and examples that help you decide the optimal place in Microsoft 365 to collaborate. I would be interested to see if this resonates with your current practices. Please feel free to comment on this post on what has worked well for you.