4 tips for using Microsoft Teams

The last few months have been pretty turbulent and challenging for any kind of company. Working from home has suddenly become the norm, meaning that a lot of people had to make drastic changes in their way of working. One way of making this change easier was finding the right tools to help people structure their projects and making collaboration with colleagues from home as smooth as possible. Microsoft Teams, a collaboration app focused on communication and file sharing, is one of those tools that helped shape our new way of working. Here are a few things we love about Teams, and some tips on how to implement Microsoft Teams in your company. 

It’s a great tool to keep your work organized and focused 

Microsoft Teams can help digitally structure your work, and even your entire company, through Teams and Channels. Of course, how you structure your Teams is entirely dependent on your own company or even the sector your company is active in. For us, a company that focuses on project-based work, setting up different Teams for different projects and adding only the relevant people to that Team is a great way of keeping it all organized.  

It’s a fully integrated Office 365 product 

Although this is pretty straight forward, its implications are an important part as to why Microsoft Teams is a great product. At the moment, some of the core apps of Microsoft are Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive, Word and other apps such as SharePoint and Yammer. All these apps and services seamlessly integrate within Microsoft Teams, meaning you get a great all-in-one experience using Microsoft Teams. Your Outlook Calendar and your Microsoft Teams calendar always match, and files stored in Teams are automatically stored in SharePoint – structured according to your Teams and Channels setup.  

File sharing capabilities 

One major problem in a lot of projects is the fact that everyone has their own local files on their laptop, with every person working individually on their documents. People constantly have to ask for a specific document, looking through their Outlook to see if they already got it somewhere… With Microsoft Teams, gone are the days where everyone has their separate excel files, meeting minutes and other documents – just have one general file per topic within your Team or Channel where everyone can work on simultaneously. This way, everyone will always have the most up to date documents at all times.  

The opportunity for closer collaboration with your customers 

Another great feature of Microsoft Teams is the ability to invite people from outside your organization as Members. This way, you can invite certain key users of the project to your Team, making your whole project a lot more dynamic. By inviting customers to your Teams an open discussion about topics within the project can be held at a faster and more informal way than your traditional e-mailing would. This open communication, combined with your customers always being able to consult the most recent files will allow for a more transparent way of working, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.   

The enormous amount of apps 

Probably one of the coolest Microsoft Teams features is that every Team and Channel can be completely customized using different apps depending on your project needs. Both Microsoft 365 apps, such as OneNote, Excel, Word, Planner or a specific SharePoint page, as well as hundreds of third-party apps are available to make each Team unique. Some fan favorite third-party apps like Polly, JIRA and MURAL are but a few of the go to apps for lots of projects.  

Our 4 tips 

So with all that in mind, here are a few general tips you need to keep in mind when making the switch to Microsoft Teams or when you just started using Teams.  

Tip #1 – First off, as is the case with any new software, analyze and define the needs of your organization and look at how Microsoft Teams could fulfill these needs. Why do you need Microsoft Teams? How can it help your company forward? What specific functionalities do you require from Microsoft Teams? A good implementation starts with a clear view of what you need, so you can focus on these requirements when making the switch.  

Tip #2 – It’s also best to identify a few key users within your organization who can then serve as pilots in your Microsoft Teams implementation and later on serve as the go-to people in your organization if people have questions around Microsoft Teams. When people have specific Teams questions, these key users need to be given the responsibility and freedom to explore the possibilities within Teams, who can set the new way of working for the rest of the company.  

Tip #3 – Another tip is to set up a few general best practices and guidelines within Teams. One guideline for example, can be made around Teams vs Channels. When do you create a Team, and when do you create a Channel? As a general rule of thumb, a new Team can be set up every time a unique group of people need a common place to discuss/share files around a certain topic. This can be for an external or internal project, a department or even an organization wide Team. Channels, on the other hand, are ways of keeping your topics organized within a Team. A great analogy we found is that a Team can be seen as a house where a certain group of people lives in. This house is then divided into a number of rooms with its specific functions – which can be seen as the Channels.  

Tip #4 – Our last tip – and maybe the most important one – is to create an environment of collaboration and exploration when it comes to new software. Not everyone will want to use all available features within Teams, and that’s completely fine. However, with hundreds of third-party apps and different features, it’s important to give everyone a chance to play around with Teams. You’ll be surprised at the cool new ideas and features everyone comes up with. This bottom-up approach, combined with the top-down approach from key users, will ensure you get the most out of everything Microsoft Teams has to offer.  

If you’re already using Skype for Business, you shouldn’t fear the switch to Microsoft Teams. Teams can be seen as Skype for Business’ big brother, expanding the communication functionalities with file sharing capabilities and lots of cool apps. With over 75 million active daily users, Teams has already established itself as a collaboration app with the right tools to lift company productivity and communication to the next level. So go ahead, get Teaming, and explore the possibilities!