Introduction to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams was released almost a year ago and is shaking up team-based workspace ideology.

Centralising Office 365 collaboration tools in one space, as well as integrating external applications, it helps to organise teams and gain efficiencies by having relevant content at their fingertips.

From our experience with implementing intranets and workspaces, two of the key reasons for moving to the Office 365 platform and indeed to Microsoft Teams, are disjointed information and ineffective search tools.

With many companies opting to use the Office 365 platform for these two reasons, it made sense for Microsoft to take the chat collaboration platform to the next level, to bring together the many different apps they have developed to deliver this functionality.

If you're interested in learning more about Microsoft Teams, as either an end-user or owner of a team, then this article is intended to serve as a useful introduction, and to help you become familiar with this exciting new functionality.

 

Overview

Microsoft Teams is separated into logical areas, these consist of the following; Activity, Chat, Teams, Meetings and Files.

Activity

The activity section represents activities happening throughout the Teams that you are a member of. With the ability to click into recent conversations and being able to interact, it is a great way to keep up to date with all happening across your designated teams.

Chat

The Chat section of Teams represents the conversations you have been apart of, as well as offering Skype for Business integration. You can participate in private chat with individuals, as well as up 9 people in a group chat.

Included in Chat, is the T-Bot, an interactive Microsoft AI Bot that is integrated into Microsoft Teams Help. As well as T-Bot, there is also a specific Help tab, along with FAQ and Videos to get your Team up to speed.

Teams

The Teams tab represents your different allocated workspaces. You have the ability to add your Team to favourites, so that you can always keep your most worked on Teams front and centre.

Each Team has a workspace, as well as the ability to add additional Channels within the Team. Real-life scenarios where this would provide tangible benefit, is when you have a particular Client or Department, that has multiple projects running, and you want the distinction for each with it's own document repository, tasks, and conversation threads.

Here is a breakdown of the Tabs within the Teams section:

  • Conversations
    • Team-based chat window
    • Visible to all Team members
  • Files
    • SharePoint document library
  • Notes
    • OneNote Notebook for this Team to collaborate in
  • Additional Tabs
    • Excel / Word / PowerPoint
      • Add a tab for a specific Office document to be collaborated on and be easily accessible by the team
    • OneNote
      • Add an additional OneNote Notebook
    • Planner
      • Create a Team Plan that can be used to manage tasks (Planner Tasks can be integrated into Outlook)
    • Power BI
      • Integrate a Power BI Report for easy access
    • SharePoint
      • Link in additional SharePoint Document Libraries directly into the Team, with it's own tab
    • Connectors (Channels)
      • There are various Connectors that can be linked into your Team Channel conversation screen, so that live updates are available to your team. There is also a level of interaction in certain Connectors, that provide 2-way synchronisation
        • Examples
          • Dynamics 365 Account Activity
          • Send and Receive Tweets
          • Manage contacts and send email messages to subscribers via the Mailchimp Connector

Files

Microsoft Teams centralises your files that are present across your different Teams, as well as giving you access to your OneDrive. The Recent section, gives you an overview of documents you have been working on across the different sources.

Meetings

The meetings section of Microsoft Teams integrate with your Exchange Calendar, as well as differentiating between regular meeting, Skype for Business Meetings, and Microsoft Teams meetings.

    Team members are able to schedule as a new Team Meeting directly in the Meetings tab, allowing the meeting to utilise the full benefits of Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams integration.

    If your staff are used to Skype or Business, then the Microsoft Teams meeting window will feel very familiar:

    Integration

    Integrating various Office 365 apps into each Team Workspace area, allows you to include relevant content and integrate where necessary. Being able to centralise the different areas of Office 365 that you use to manage your team and day-to-day business will help to increase productivity and help to ease the confusion on where different pieces of data live.

    Planner

    In the need for a Team-based task management tool? Look no further than Planner integration. Create a new Plan through the Team add in menu, and also receive the benefits of having an Office 365 Group created.

    SharePoint

    The ability to target a SharePoint site allows you to add multiple Document Libraries into your Team Workspace. The selected SharePoint document library becomes available and usable in the tab that is added.

    Power BI

    With the growing need for data analytics and real-time reporting, Power BI can provide the medium for capturing and displaying data with drill-down capability.

     

    Summary

    Microsoft Teams will drive efficiencies in your company through Teams-based collaboration and communication, as well as centralising the many tools that make projects a success.

    It sits neatly between informal methods of communication such as email, Yammer and Slack, and more formal methods of storing content such as SharePoint document storage.

    We believe Microsoft Teams helps drive greater end-user adoption, leading to improved collaboration across businesses and better re-use of information.

    Not only will this encourage a unified workforce, it will also help to drive adoption of the Office 365 platform by showcasing the many integrated apps that are now available.