Microsoft Teams – it’s time to get proactive!

This year has been massive for Microsoft Teams!
Millions of new users relying on the application to keep employed during a global crisis. Of particular surprise, has been the amount of change, impact and pressure to learn on people that was met with reasonably low resistance.
We work with multiple organisations who were taking time in a long term plan to move to Microsoft Teams as part of a larger roadmap. These approaches experienced a major pivot early this year to urgently provide a platform for remote working. Slow steady approaches were shifted to urgent big-bang with rapid learning and adoption.

What did we see this year in the rapid implementations?

Many organisations have moved rapidly into Microsoft Teams, with minimal support for staff. It was a case of turn it on, give them a quick training session or video, or just direct them to online learning.

Some organisations just let people ‘get in there and give it a go’. This tends to be accompanied with the opinion “people learn to use apps and devices all the time. They can learn Microsoft Teams, its easy”. Let’s leave that opinion just there.

Much of the focus has been on business continuity which is entirely understandable. It certainly has been a tool to enable people to do their job and keep business open, rather than driving deep value.

In some cases, the Microsoft Teams client has been pushed out with minimal consideration or review of configuration and settings. This has then required remediation ongoing while an IT department learns on the job.

There are deeper long-term challenges that will arise with things like naming conventions, duplication or just ways of working that have been built on bad habits and gaps in knowledge.

Overall, many organisations will look at the data and see a high percentage in active users and assume that equals deep adoption. It’s a shame if this is the permanent view without review of things like the Productivity Score, or the Power BI dashboard to really understand ROI or adoption across the organisation.

Now just to clarify, I am not pointing fingers. I have felt the burn out this year from all the hard work to enable business continuity across many organisations. We have helped keep the lights on and where possible, or further appetite, had some very successful deeper adoption programs. I am reflecting on some patterns across this year to help people consider what to jump on quickly to turn things around and improve.

So, what happens next?

The rapid move to remote working no doubt was a light approach to get things moving and platform in place for many staff.

It is important, for those who haven’t worked through this already, to review and plan for remediation, deeper adoption and improved governance.

Why more comprehensive governance?

Working through comprehensive governance gives time to understand the interconnectivity across the Microsoft 365 platform, and to remember that there is more to teamwork than just Microsoft Teams,

Strong governance helps ensure things are configured and run in ways that benefit users and to meet compliance requirements. Understand your organisation needs with compliance, and how people need to work and how the tools work for them, then know the deep features to ensure the right decisions have been made to suit all needs.

Review the decisions that were made in a rush. For example, how much data is being lost in the meeting notes feature, or how much duplication of content is being created, and how are things are being shared, stored or transmitted.

If Microsoft Teams was enabled by a project team or partner company, have they since moved on? Their goals may have been a fast timeline or meeting budget, and perhaps they have now walked away. Even more need to review and assess.

Also, Teams doesn’t belong to one area of the business. IT can ‘turn it on’ but was that in a way that suits Internal Communications, a Project Management Office or other department needs. Review, assess and check off boxes.

Clean up sooner rather than later

It’s one thing to now complete a comprehensive review of governance. When that is done, what happens with all the mess?

You need to remove all those Teams or channels that were created on mass and no longer required. Review if documents should be in department SharePoint sites or Team file libraries, rather than all over the place.

How many Planner’s are out there? Or Forms? You cannot report on these so you need to do the work and protect business data.

Make some hard decisions, remove the noise or mess and make things clear and easier for your staff.

There is so much digital wastage out there.. Reduce!

The more crap you have, the less relevant it all becomes. The more Teams, channels, plans, sites… you get the gist.

But more so, do this to help your staff have less confusion and to protect business data.

Review organisation maturity and staff capability

When an organisation moves to Microsoft Teams it is usually not their first experience in the Microsoft ecosystem. Most likely they have been in Microsoft 365 for a period, perhaps years, and have experience with applications such as the Office suite, Skype for Business, OneDrive or SharePoint.

What we often find is, even if there has been previous attempts at learning and adoption, many users are stuck and lack foundation skills for teamwork, meetings and their daily work tasks.

Yes, there was a need to rush Microsoft Teams out across the business for business continuity, however, you still can provide staff the support to drive learning ongoing without major cost or effort. Firstly though, take time to review the skill level and pain points across your organisation. Speak to your staff, survey, run drop-in sessions and build a place online for them to ask questions, share ideas and solve challenges. Take the load off IT Service Desk. Help people know best practice and give them support to explore new ways to do things.

Chances are, things appear ok. People book and join meetings, they do some posts in Teams and the metrics show data is high, especially chat. But look closer. Explore how things are shared. Do they really understand storing, sharing, and what goes where? Where are the knowledge gaps and what could be different. In time, find opportunity for process improvement and drive a more modern workplace.

Continuing along in the current state is like having beer and pizza every day thinking I’ll join a gym soon and then lose weight. You are just making the problem bigger before you even begin to tackle it.

Get proactive – find chunks of time to consider where problems may grow and pull things back to review, assess and change before it gets out of hand.

And, good luck! It’s a complex platform but drives so much value. The more effort now drives greater gains in the long run.

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