Right now, many individuals and companies are grappling with transitioning to remote work and are looking for guidance on successfully navigating this new way of working and collaborating. There are many questions around staying connected, continuing effective and efficient collaboration, sharing information and documents, and keeping this information/content secure. Another important factor to consider, especially given the suddenness of many organization’s transitions to remote work due to the rapid spread of COVID-19, is ease of adoption. Microsoft Teams has you covered.
Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform that allows users to virtually chat, use and share files, hold meetings and much more all from the same window. Teams is a part of Office 365, so if your organization is licensed for Office 365, you already have it. If you don’t have it, Microsoft is currently offering a 6 month free trial of their Office 365 E1 license.
Teams was designed to make it easy for groups of users (teams) to work collaboratively. Within each team, channels can be created for subgroups to hold chats, meetings and share files. It only takes a few clicks to create teams and channels and start collaborating. The user interface is user-friendly and intuitive, and Microsoft offers comprehensive, but easy to follow and short, training videos to get users started.
That means you have access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, SharePoint and OneDrive all from within Teams. You can create, use, co-author, and share files; check your calendar; and schedule meetings without ever leaving Teams. In addition, there are hundreds of connectors available for other apps that you use in your business operations (Salesforce, Trello, MailChimp, Smartsheet, etc.). Connectors make it easy to access these external apps right within Teams as well.
With so many options, staying connected to your team(s) is quick and easy. One click is all it takes to make a voice/video call to a colleague, and it doesn’t take much more to start a meeting with your team. You can hold personal chats with one or more users or start a conversation with the whole team by posting to a team channel. Team chats are easily organized as responses can be kept in-line, and @mentions make it easy to call attention to your posts. There are also stickers, giphys, emojis and praise available to add to your chats to keep things exciting.
I think the thing that makes Teams so great is that it takes a very complex process with lots of moving pieces (collaborating in teams) pulls it all together, organizes it, and presents it in a neat and easy to use package. Give it a try, I guarantee you will find it quite useful.
Now I know all you IT folks are saying, that’s all well and good, but what about governance, administration, and most importantly, is it secure?
From a governance point of view, some of the things you will need to think about are who should be allowed to create teams and the guidelines for creating them, naming conventions for teams, if/when to allow external access to teams, and if/when to allow connectors to external apps. If you decide to allow everyone to create teams, I recommend providing clear guidelines for the creation of teams prior to launch to avoid the ever-dreaded sprawl. Creating a naming convention is important because Teams doesn’t let you know when a team with this name already exists, instead it will append the name with a number. The team name becomes the URL for the associated SharePoint site, so you can imagine that can make it difficult for navigation. Some organizations may be inclined to not allow external access to teams, but I would encourage you to make that decision on a team by team basis. Some teams should certainly be kept internal, but there are many use cases for teams that would benefit from including individuals from outside of your organization. The same goes for connecting to external apps. You may not want your employees to be able to tweet intellectual property to the world, but you may want your sales team to be able to access Salesforce.
As for administration, Microsoft makes it easy by offering a Microsoft Teams Admin Center where users assigned the Teams Service Administrator role can manage the service. This includes settings, policies, teams, users, analytics and reporting. For more detailed information on managing Teams, check the Microsoft docs. As an administrator, you will want to implement a policy for “cleaning up” teams that are no longer being used. You may want to work with your governance committee to come up with a policy that determines a time frame and procedure to follow for teams that have gone dormant.
Last, but certainly not least, Teams is a secure option for your team collaboration. Microsoft features two-factor authentication, single-sign on through Active Directory, and encryption of data in transit and at rest. Files are stored in SharePoint and backed by SharePoint encryption. Advanced Threat Protection is also available. To read more about security, check the
We can probably all agree that team collaboration is a tricky road to navigate. Add the variable of working remotely, and it might just seem insurmountable for some. However, as we’ve learned, Microsoft navigated the road and produced a product that is not only easy to use, but it also will help your team stay connected and continue to be productive all while keeping your content secure. Don’t wait any longer, get your team started today with training specifically designed for each role in Microsoft Teams.