Taking Microsoft Teams to the Next Level – Part 1

This is the first part in a two-part series that helps us use Microsoft Teams and maximise its functions to meet our business needs. Here, you will learn the different strategies to determine a vast approach for projects and workgroups in Teams and how to design and set up those projects and workgroups for optimal workspace. 
Step 1: Assess your needs

The first step to determining the best strategy is to assess your team’s needs. How? Ask yourself the following questions, and include your entire team in this process. Keep in mind that you can add more questions that might be relevant to your company culture or industry. 

What kind of team do you have?

There are so many possibilities. You could have a project team with a beginning and an end or an ongoing process team like an operational team. There are program management teams, event planning, social networking, and maybe just an information team. You may think of more team types based on how your organisation operates. 

What are the core attributes of your team?

You will want to document what the core attributes of your team are. Do you have many different departments involved? Is your team global, or do they work against deadlines? Maybe you have many moving parts like budgeting and scheduling, or perhaps you have processes that depend on other functions. 

What obstacles does your team face today while they’re working together?

Then you’ll want to take a look at what obstacles your team faces today when they’re working together so that you can create a workspace that considers those situations. For example, do they collaborate on content and have issues with managing the version control? Or do they have lots of branching conversations and chats and lack team visibility? Do they tend to work in silos or have difficulty connecting because of time zones? You can address these issues when you set up their workspace. 

What are the team’s requirements for success?

Finally, what does your team need to succeed? Are there specific applications they use to plan or budget? Do they need praise and inspiration to keep the program on track? Or do they require a central workspace for collaboration and team alignment? This information will help you define a robust workspace for your team. 

Benefits and Considerations

Before we get started into the implementation phase, let’s talk about some benefits and considerations. Using teams can provide team transparency, stay organised and centralised throughout a team’s life cycle, and keep in sync and on track. But there are always considerations with new processes. Employees might become overwhelmed if they have too many teams or chats. Go slow. You can always add later. And when you create a team, channels can sometimes get out of hand. Consider channels specifically for a specific process or a workspace for a particular group of people who need that workspace. 

Step 2: Implement your approach

Let’s take the following scenarios as examples to help us see how this might work. 

Scenario 1

We have a team working on a couple of deliverables. They ultimately need a client presentation and a statement of work. There are five team members, and each one has a different role in contributing to the deliverable. They live in various time zones across the globe, and they only have two months to get ready for this RFP. Finally, they have some specific research and data they need to review and incorporate into the presentation. 

This team will benefit more from a chat with an associated meeting, mainly due to the size and scope of the project. Creating teams and channels might be overkill since there are only two deliverables and five members who don’t need specific workspaces. Especially when your organisation is large and has around 100,000 people, creating a team and channel for a simple, small project might offer a trend of creating lots of teams and channels and overwhelming your employees. But if your organisation has around 50 people in it, and five of them are on this team, then a team and channel might be more warranted. Remember that it depends on your organisation’s current alignment, culture and processes. Check out how this workgroup looks in Teams: 6:10-10:24.

Microsoft Teams

Scenario 2

This operational team manages global delivery for their instructor-led and virtual instructor-led classrooms. They have 80 people on this team, plus the training managers who make requests for their new virtual or classroom sessions. They manage six processes across five different departments, and each team has between 10 to 25 people. This is an ongoing internal process for their organisation, and they use multiple applications to manage their processes. Some of those are Microsoft applications, and some are not. They also work across many different time zones. 

This is most definitely a Team since there’s a lot of complexity in this group. You still can create a well-designed chat for them if you wish, but the complexity here seems to align better with a team and channel environment. Let’s see how it plays out in Teams: 11:55-15:48.

Microsoft Teams


Scenario 3

This is an event planning team, and all the members are in the same time zone. They do an event every quarter for their local work community, and they have around 1,000 attendees. They have a lot going on at each event. They have keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and award ceremonies, like a funny awards ceremony. They do some audience polling for entertainment, and they have food and beverage for the lunch break. Finally, they have a happy hour that they organise for the team. This is a Plus One project, so they’re volunteering to make sure their community has an opportunity to interact and network. They use a lot of files and applications to make sure this event is well-planned each quarter. 

This is a team and channel setup because of the rolling deadlines. Again, this could be handled in a chat and meeting setup, but the use of Planner will make the project much easier to carry out, and Planner is more applicable in the team and channel environment. Let’s see how they work in this Team: 17:06-18:06.

Microsoft Teams


There are many reasons to choose one setup over another, but remember to be conscientious of employees having too many teams and channels or chats to work in. Make sure to engage your employees in their experience to learn what is working for them and what isn’t. Make adjustments, tweak, and then check in on them again. Like anything new and cool, it can become challenging to work with it if it’s not tweaked and managed. Having an agile and continuous improvement mindset will definitely help. 

Step 3: Manage the team

This is where we refine the workspace to what the workgroup needs, but this phase may not happen until the workgroup is underway. Once working together, stopping to define what is missing, applications, connectors, maybe even people and other resources, will give you a chance to realign and adjust before you’re too far down the road. When working on a new and flexible communication tool, this agile and continuous mindset will serve you best in terms of efficiency and effectiveness and the overall experience for the users. 

Does your team need to set up a team meeting? If yes, do they need to have it more frequently or less frequently than how they have it set up today? Do they need connectors or different or more applications? As the team moves through different phases of their processes, their needs might change. And we must know how to anticipate that and ready the workspace for them. 

Scenario 1

Back to The Refrigerators. They have set up a group chat, and they had a regularly scheduled meeting with the recordings. They had their deliverable files set up on the tab line, and they also had a link to data that they could get to. We could add other industry links to help them or add a connector that gives them more regular information on what they’re reporting. Over time, what they’re using may also need to change as they progress through their project. 

Scenario 2

Now let’s recall the Learn and Development Delivery Team. They had their intake forms set up, and their event planning processes managed pretty well. But it looked like their last process, the evaluation and reporting and certification team, needed to add in a few more forms applications for the different kinds of surveys and assessments they required. They also need something to manage a certification process and a Power BI application to manage the report-out of that certification and evaluation, so they are ready to do remediation as necessary to their training. 

Scenario 3

Let’s go back to the Community Quarterly Event Planning Team. They had a scheduled meeting, a process and a plan for the current and future. They will need something to manage their vendors. They can also add a link to source new and catchy polling questions, trivia-type stuff or something along those lines. This means they can use more source information and connectors. 

Personal Productivity

We have gone through learning how we can help workgroups become super productive, but we still have to manage our work. Here’s an excellent tip and trick on setting up your personal productivity space. With this idea, you can start by organising your to-do list. You can document your processes, manage your projects, or create a nice workspace that’s just for you. Let’s take a look at an example: 22:53-24:47.

Microsoft Teams


Now that we have learned how to assess our team’s needs, create workspaces for them, use teams to increase our productivity, and determine Microsoft Teams best practices, the next step is to learn different tips for taking Teams to the next level part two. As early as now, you can jump right in and assess your team to determine the best setup. Also, always include your team in the approach to the architecture. Go ahead and create a team and channel or a chat workspace and get started. You can also contact us so we can help you set up Teams successfully.

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