Tim Coalson is a Senior Consultant in the Transformation Practice at ThreeWill. Tim has been developing solutions on the SharePoint platform for over 15 years and has been a developer/consultant for over 30 years. Tim has been involved in migrating SharePoint on-premises farms to the Microsoft Cloud, Power Apps, and Power Automate (aka Flow) which are part of the Microsoft no code/low code solutions.
Collaboration is key to the success of any organization. We rely on each other, and we must be able to communicate with each other to accomplish things together. In fact, we believe this so much at ThreeWill that one of our core values is “Better Together”. Sometimes we need to share ideas with each other or communicate a decision. Sometimes we need to share data. Sometimes we need to ask a quick question to an individual or group. Sometimes we need someone to review our work to ensure it is accurate and up to proper standards. Sometimes we need to work on a document together, real time. Sometimes we need to talk and share our screens to communicate most accurately and effectively. Microsoft Teams facilitates all these communication workstreams and even more.
Here are my top three reasons why I think your organization needs Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams provides context to your collaboration, Microsoft Teams provides consistency in your collaboration and Microsoft Teams provides a complete set of tools for your collaboration.
Have you ever struggled to find a file or a conversation? What was the context of this file or conversation? Was it related to a project? Was it a conversation about practices or procedures within your department? Was it a file produced by a committee in which you participate?
Microsoft Teams provides tangible, digital containers in which to collaborate as a Company, a Project, a Department, or a Committee. These “containers” are referred to as Teams and each Team can be accessible to your entire company or limited to a small set of individuals. Within a Team, you can share messages, files, meetings and meeting recordings, project plans, and more. If you have specific workstreams or topic areas within your Team that need particular focus, you can create multiple Channels that provide some further separation of content and conversations to avoid overloading everyone with information that may not be relevant to them.
No longer do you need to search email and file shares to find the conversations and documents that pertain to your “team” (project, department, committee). Just navigate to the Microsoft Team that represents your “team” and you will find all your content and conversations in one place. And if you forget, use the Search bar within Microsoft Teams to search for content or conversations across all the Teams in which you are a member.
A collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams is a means to an end. For example, the end is the benefits document your HR department produces and is communicated to your employees via your company intranet. The end is the contract that your sales team and delivery team produce that is ultimately sent to your customer for signature. Microsoft Teams is the place where these teams collaborate to produce the end product. Employees should be focused on the end goal and not have to think about the tools they will use to accomplish this.
When Microsoft Teams becomes the standard for collaboration, the first decision a new team will determine is if a Microsoft Team already exists to support the effort or whether a new Team or new Channel in an existing Team needs to be created. Using a consistent Team naming convention will help employees find Teams as the number of Teams in an organization grows. But using the same tool (i.e. Microsoft Teams) across all the various collaboration efforts will minimize the time spent in learning a tool and increase the amount of time spent toward accomplishing the goal. And where you have similar types of teams with similar goals, you can create templates that provide yet another layer of consistency as associates navigate from one Team to another.
At ThreeWill, we try to formalize some of these commonalities into what we call a collaboration contract. A collaboration contract is not an actual contract, but merely an agreement on things such as naming conventions for Teams, what Channels should be used for similar Project Teams and Account Teams, where notes should be stored, etc. This consistency allows us to spend less time thinking about where we will collaborate to meet our goals and more time on the important things that are necessary to serve our clients.
3. Complete set of tools
Microsoft Teams has a rich set of collaboration features that should meet the needs of any team. Conversation threads are a great way to collaborate on ideas with your team or to share a decision that has been made. Chat is also available when you need to discuss something with an individual without disturbing the rest of the team. Video meetings with recordings and transcription are a great way to virtually meet “face to face” with the ability to go back and review the recording or transcript later if there are questions or to share with someone who couldn’t attend. Planner boards are a simple but effective planning tool where tasks can be captured, assigned, and tracked to ensure a project timeline is met
But maybe one of the most significant features is using SharePoint as the backend for Teams file management. With SharePoint, there are document collaboration capabilities that include versioning. You can easily go back to a previous version of a document if someone accidentally deletes content or makes changes that you prefer not to accept. And SharePoint has a recycle bin in case a file gets accidentally deleted. Recovery of a deleted file is only a couple of clicks away. Due to the tight integration with Microsoft Office products, co-authoring (multiple people editing a file at one time) in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint is supported which is great for real-time collaboration.
Another advantage of having SharePoint as the backend is the ability to leverage the lists and document libraries in conjunction with the Power Platform. Repeatable departmental processes can be automated using the UI and workflow capabilities found in Power Apps and Power Automate. Mundane activities can be removed from the daily workstream of an associate so they can focus on more strategic, value-added activities to better accomplish project goals.
I hope I have made a compelling argument about why your organization needs Microsoft Teams. Having used Microsoft Teams for the last few years, I can’t imagine working without it. I’m convinced we are “better together” as a result. And working with different clients each day, I’m more convinced than ever of the benefits an organization will receive if Microsoft Teams is deployed to their organization in a strategic way that focuses on proper training and adoption.
If you agree that your organization is “better together” and would like assistance in deploying Microsoft Teams to help your employees and organization thrive, ThreeWill has a Teams Enablement service offering that includes Microsoft Teams training to properly equip your organization to use the tool and additional support to work with your various teams to establish the collaboration contract. Learn more about our Teams Enablement service here.