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In this Podcast, Work Together Better with Microsoft Teams, we discuss…

2:21SharePoint Sprawl
4:20Implementation Road Map
6:10User Communities

Digital Workplace Briefing


Danny: I’m here with Bruce Harple, our VP of Delivery. How are you doing, Bruce? 


Bruce: Danny, I am doing great, man. Thank you. 


Danny: Excellent. Excellent. We’re going to talk about a really important subject which has to do with Microsoft Teams, a product from Microsoft that’s just been taking off. I think you’ve recently been… you went to… I always get the Inspire and Ignite reversed or messed up, but you went to the Inspire Conference, correct? 


Bruce: Yeah, I went to Inspire and Microsoft shared that Teams is really the fastest growing application, just in the way of overall adoption by their customer base, than any application in the history of Microsoft. So if you think about the things like Word and Excel and PowerPoint, kind of the foundation of Office back in the day, Teams is growing at a faster rate than even those Office apps did when they first came to market. 


Danny: That’s great. That’s great. And for us, where we focus in on collaboration, this is great news for us. And today’s topic is about, at ThreeWill our focus is on helping teams work together better. And so, today I wanted to talk with you about sort of like what are we doing with customers now? What are we doing to help them work together better with using Microsoft Teams? So get us kicked off with this subject, Bruce. 


Bruce: Yeah. And so for those that maybe don’t know what Teams is, which might be unlikely. I mean, Teams is an application, one of the products in the Microsoft 365 or Microsoft 365 platform, that really kind of brings conversations, content, people and different tools together, right? So that your team has the one place to access and collaborate around that information, kind of in a hub. It’s kind of the way Microsoft thinks of it and talks about it. So it kind of lets you manage all those conversations, any files, any other tools or applications like SharePoint apps, lets you kind of access all that in one place. So definitely a very powerful tool for kind of that inner team collaboration. 


 And one of the things that I wanted to talk about Danny is, one of the things that’s really important when you think about leveraging Microsoft Teams. It’s really important that you really think about that implementation and that there’s kind of a method to rolling out and implementing Microsoft Teams. Because it’s not one of those things you necessarily want to just turn loose on your user community. We were talking about Danny, how back in the days when SharePoint first started, a lot of companies just did that. They’d turned SharePoint loose and you kind of had this urban brawl. There was no governance, there was no structure, and it became unwieldy and difficult for people to find information and really difficult to collaborate. It really caused a lot of pain in organizations. 


Danny: We called it the SharePoint sprawl. 


Bruce: Yeah, exactly. And with Teams, it’s a very powerful application, and the same thing can happen. So, you really do have to think about kind of overall governance, security, how does your company and the Teams within your company, I mean, how do they collaborate and communicate together kind of, what’s your culture, right? 


 And you really got to kind of understand how each user community can really benefit from using Teams because the use cases and usage scenarios within each community are going to be different. It’s not necessarily a one size fits all. So it’s really important to kind of have an overall roadmap and kind of more of a method to your madness. Because at the end of the day, you want to have a successful implementation, you want to see adoption, you want to see your organization get value out of Teams, right? So, we want to put some structure behind that, and an approach and process. You have to really begin to consume Teams in a way that you will get immediate and fast benefit and value, from that set of tools. 


Danny: So just a little … what you’re saying is there’s some benefits to instead of just growing organically and just letting the community sort of go in its own direction, is maybe just spending a little bit of time, a little foresight, a little planning around this. There’s going to be plenty of benefits from taking the time to go do that. 


Bruce: Absolutely. That’s right. 


Danny: Great. So talk me through sort of the process. Is there some something similar where like we used to create road maps for customers or what does it look like when we’re working with the customer on initially to help out with this? 


Bruce: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think ultimately we do want to get to the point where we have a roadmap and a way and process for implementing Teams. And one of the things that… and we kind of have a process that we walk customers through, right? And the first place we’d like to start, which you can imagine, in a collaborative application, is we want to start with people, right? Because that’s what it’s all about, right? It’s about people and people collaborating together. And what we like to do, because an organization can be so large too, we like to start with kind of identifying who are the core user communities within your organization. 


 Because like I was saying earlier, different user communities definitely tend to have different kind of collaboration use cases or usage scenarios, if you will. And we really want… even though there might be some use cases that are common across communities, we really want to kind of take this implementation and its roadmap, and we really want to kind of structure it by user community, because we think, , we can get you as an organization, could get greater value out of targeting the specific needs of that user community. And a good example, Danny, at ThreeWill, the way we have Teams structured and implemented for sales pursuits, and for sales Teams and the way we kind of organize that content and have conversations around that content, and the way we go through approvals and things like that is different than the way we structure Teams for our projects. And the way we deliver to customers. 


 Because the use cases are different, right? And the type of information that we are collaborating around and sharing is different. And even for, for example, with projects, right? We have internal Teams, but we also have external Teams. So we actually want to collaborate with our customers. On the sales side, you might not want to do that. But certainly on a project side, there’s a whole another use case and usage scenario. That’s pretty critical, right? Because we’re a transparent organization. We want to kind of open up and collaborate with our customers. 


Danny: So it sounds like, and I’m trying to, and I appreciate sort of examples because it sounds like these user communities are really a bit, it’s about who needs to work with who to get things done. And it can be people within the same department, it can be cross-departmental, it can be inside, outside the organization. When I see the word user community, I’m just sort of like, I’m trying to map that over, are we talking about departments? Are we talking about Teams that are set up for particular purposes? And it sounds like a part of that is sort of a now analyzing sort of like how does the organization work? How did people work together to get things done and in setting up an appropriate structure within Teams in order to enable those Teams to get work done? 


Bruce: Yep. That’s exactly right, Danny. And then one of the things that we like to do kind of with each of those communities is really begin to identify, we call them collaboration champions, or it could be a champion or champions within each community. People that you know are willing to kind of step up, and really kind of get excited and passionate about the technology in Teams and how it can really benefit their user community. Because they’re going to be the ones that got to kind of champion the usage of Teams and kind of the ongoing growth and feeding and kind of, measuring the success and value received via Teams. We kind of talk about these collaborations champions. They really, they kind of help others on their Teams succeed, and kind of some of the things we list under that is, they make others better, faster, stronger, smarter. 


 They’re kind of the more key players that can help lift the entire team. And they have the ability to multiply other people’s capacity. Because with Teams, you have a tremendous opportunity to become more effective and efficient in what you as a team does as it relates around the business processes and the activities you performed. So these collaboration champions are a key element, in kind of driving adoption and kind of measuring usage and really kind of helping to kind of refine their kind of collaboration model for their community over time as the business changes, and as more capabilities are released in Teams and other parts of Microsoft 365. 


Danny: Yeah. Boy, this reminds me a lot about sort of how we have rolled out SharePoint in the past as well, is really trying to help with that adoption and looking for different people who will initially be the people who are the innovators and who can go out and who are making things happen. It sounds like these collaboration champions are really those folks that are the first movers, and the people who sort of drive the new way of working together. 


Bruce: Yeah. And they’re the ones that if people get frustrated with how to leverage Teams effectively, or finding content, you’ll have ideas and other ways that their community can leverage Teams. They’re the ones that become kind of the focal point, right? I mean the champion for really helping that user community kind of mature and the way they collaborated in leveraging Teams to help facilitate that collaboration. 


Danny: So next step do we sort of come in and do a bit of an assessment, do we take a look at sort of where they are, or talk me through sort of the steps here. 


Bruce: Yeah, that’s exactly right Danny. Yeah. We come in and do what we call kind of a collaboration baseline assessment and it’s really done kind of via a survey that we send out to all the users within the community, or it could be within the company depending how big the company is. And really we use that to really just kind of assess kind of from a starting point, where is that community or that organization as it relates to their ability and effectiveness in collaborating with one another, communicating with one another, coordinating activities across Teams and kind of organizational boundaries. 


 So really we kind of come out with kind of a maturity level of assessment. So in this scale from basic to advanced maturity, where are you? Because we want to kind of have that baseline, because you’ll see later on in the process as we work with each user community, what we want to do is turn that dial up, and increase that maturity level over time. And we’re going to come back and reuse the same assessment to really measure, have we moved that dial? 


Danny: Nice. Nice. So within our marketing department we use carrier pigeons for communication. So that puts us probably low on the maturity level. That’s my guess, right? 


Bruce: There you have it. 


Danny: So once you have these, once you’ve started assessing, I guess you were taking a look at these different user communities, what do you do from there? 


Bruce: Yeah. So yeah, what we do once we kind of get that baseline assessment, then we kind of work with each user community, right? Kind of one at a time. Obviously there can be some overlap in that, but we want to kind of focus on a user community and we tend to kind of start with a kickoff meeting where we kind of review the results of the survey, of the assessment. So they kind of know here’s what we learned from your assessment. And then we really kind of look at, for their organization and their community, really just talk about kind of what’s the overall vision and objectives for collaboration. Really across the entire company. And then we start to drill into specifically what is it they want to accomplish within their community? 


 And then we really start talking about, when it comes to collaboration, communication, coordination, really trying to understand in that community, what are some of their key pains, their challenges, their opportunities? Because that’s kind of the low hanging fruit of what we’re going to go after when we look to implement Teams. And we define some specific goals. So we take those pains, challenges, opportunities, do some prioritization, look at kind of where there’s a greater impact for some of these opportunities versus others. And then we set specific goals for that community based on those pains, challenges and opportunities. And then we actually develop kind of what we call a community growth and action plan, which is to say how are we going to achieve those goals? Is it training, is it coaching and mentoring? Is it maybe some dashboard implementations via Teams? Is it some flow implementations via Teams? Is it some integration with some SharePoint applications via Teams? 


 There’s a lot of different ways you could begin to kind of implement functionality within Teams to help that community kind of work together better. And then you execute that plan, right? So we come up with these growth and action plans and then we execute. And again, this is where the collaboration champions play a key role, because it doesn’t really necessarily need to be ThreeWill. Executing those growth and action plans, it really, ideally it’s those collaboration champions kind of driving those growth and action plans for their community. 


Danny: Yeah. That, that makes a lot of sense. Bruce. So next, let’s talk about how do we work with each of the different user communities then? 


Bruce: Yeah. So we have a process we kind of go through with each user community. We start with a community kickoff meeting, this is where we kind of share the results of that collaboration baseline assessment that we took. So they kind of understand what do we discern from that assessment, kind of where are they from a maturity perspective as it relates to collaboration. And then we talk about what collaboration is, we talk about the collaboration champions. And who they are and what their role is. And then we really kind of get into talking about what’s the overall kind of vision for collaboration, for the company as a whole. So what’s the big picture? What’s the company trying to achieve from a collaboration perspective. 


 And then we kind of start to drill into kind of the needs of that specific user community. So what we’ll do is we’ll go in and talk about and try to understand what are their key pains their challenges, their opportunities as it relates to collaboration, communicating with one another, communicating across Teams. And then we take that, we get them to prioritize that. And really with each of those pains, challenges and opportunities, kind of weight what’s the benefit, right? If we address that pain challenge or opportunity, because we’re trying to understand where can we bring the greatest value to their community through collaboration, and through automating some of that collaboration with Microsoft Teams. And we’ll take that kind of prioritized and weighted list, and we’ll set real specific goals for that community, because we really at the end of the day want to measure success, right? 


 And measure adoption measure value. So we want to have some goals that we can come back and and measure against. And then what we do is we develop a, we call it a community growth and action plan. And that can be multiple things, Danny. It could be training, it be coaching or mentoring, it could be implementation dashboards within Teams. It could be integrating with some SharePoint applications or many more things. So what are the real specific actionable things that we can do that will now begin to start addressing some of those pain, challenges, and opportunities. 


 So we have a plan, and then we go off and execute that plan. And that’s really not a ThreeWill thing really, at this point, once we have that kind of growth and action plan, this is where we want those collaboration champions to take it and run with it. And they might bring someone like us in, ThreeWill in, for specific implementation details, but we really want them to own the plan and then execute the plan. So that’s going to be key, because we want the overall team to buy in and feel like they’re getting value and benefit from the plan that’s been developed that will hopefully address the goals they set. 


Danny: Nice. Nice. So this is really just, this is putting together something that… it almost sounds a lot like an adoption plan. Like you’re trying to talk through with them as an organization. Sort of like what you’re doing to adopt Teams to… in growth, when we’re talking about growth here, it’s really about, it’s about making sure that these different user communities are able to collaborate together to work within Teams together. And then it sounds like this isn’t, whereas a lot of our traditional projects we’re often implementing after this phase, it sounds kind of like, I often talk with these migration projects, how much communication is a key portion of this and almost coming up with a plan for how do you work with these different collaboration champions and give them a plan around how do you communicate growth within your specific user communities as well. 


Bruce: Yeah, exactly. And for us, the actual kind of growth in action plan and implementation, for us it could be more training, coaching, mentoring, kind of opportunities. Weather things that we can bring value to execution of the plan. But we don’t want to own the plan. We want that community to kind of own the plan and that collaboration champion to really drive execution of that plan. 


Danny: So then when you help out, and so there’s a, I guess like if you look at the life cycle of different projects out there, we’re now into like the implementation type of phase. Once we’re done, is next step like doing retrospectives, or what’s next after this? 


Bruce: Yeah, exactly. I mean we kind of take a play from our agile scrum playbook, right? And after a certain period of time, we want to do what we call a collaboration retrospective, right? So ultimately we’re trying to say, “Have we moved the bar? Have we moved the dial?” On our overall collaboration, communication and coordination maturity level. So has this community, are they getting better? Do they feel like they’re more effective in what they do, that they can do more than they did before. So we’re going to kind of reconduct that collaboration survey and assessment. We’re going to analyze those results, and we’re going to kind of share those results with the broader team. And we’re really going to start looking at helping them identify best practices. 


 So we think there are certainly things that Teams will do and implement that could be leveraged by other Teams within an organization. So we want to kind of share the survey results. We want to be able to show maturity growth as it relates to collaboration, communication and coordination. We want to share best practices and we want to share success stories. Because it’s all about adoption. It’s all about celebrating your successes. So we think that’s the important part of that retrospective. And then you’re kind of in that continuous life cycle. You’re continuing to look at, okay, what’s the next set of pain challenges and opportunities that we want to go after? Let’s set some goals, let’s develop a growth and action plan. And for us it’s really kind of teaching those collaboration champions to do that, and execute that life cycle, if you will, that collaboration lifecycle on their own. That’s the plan. 


Danny: We’re going to send out that survey, and we’re going to cross our fingers and hope the numbers come back better. We’re going to it’s one of those things, it’s great. It’s so important, I think with this is baselining and making sure there’s improvements. So it’s wonderful to hear that it’s built into what you guys are doing with taking that retrospective, surveying to make sure that there’s been improvement. And then yeah, just sharing with folks like what’s working within that organization. Best practices are often like… there can be ones that are specific to the type of organization that it is. And so it’s wonderful to hear that you guys sort of capture those and share them within that organization. So anything else to get us to get us wrapped up here? What’s the next step, sort of, is reaching out to us through the contact us page? Anything else people should know beyond just coming our website and going to the contact us page? 


Bruce: No, no, I think that’s it. Reach out to us via the website. And we’ll happen to come in and talk about this process and talk about, and maybe there is a specific user community we can kind of start with, to walk through this process, so they can get some experience with it and hopefully see some growth in collaboration maturity. And it really just, I mean the other thing we do want to do is kind of look at the bigger, broader picture around Teams too, related to things like governance and security, some of the things that apply to the entire usage of Teams. So there’s other things that we look at kind of in parallel with the work we’re doing with each user community. But kind of the detailed implementation, we like to kind of do it a user community at a time, but you still have the the umbrella of governance and security compliance kind of things that you want to kind of do in parallel to make sure you’re getting all that kind of structure in place as well. 


Danny: Awesome. Awesome. Bruce, thank you for taking the time to share this, and look forward to seeing plenty of these types of projects coming on. I know Teams, it has been just taken off for a lot of our clients, and I’m excited to see you guys put together a formal offering around it. Thanks for doing that. 


Bruce: Yup. Yeah, we’re excited about it. Looking forward to working with customers on it. 


Danny: Awesome. Thanks everybody for listening and have a wonderful day. Bye-bye. 




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