Just Teams! Or isn’t it so easy?

Pro­fes­sional Arti­cle

The Corona cri­sis also knows win­ners. Microsoft’s 2017 com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion plat­form Teams is undoubt­edly one of them. While a vast num­ber of employ­ees world­wide have moved to the home office with­out long lead times, the ser­vice has expe­ri­enced a real boom. At the end of March 2020, the num­ber of Teams users active world­wide per day increased by 12 mil­lion to a total of 44 mil­lion within one week. Another month later, 75 mil­lion daily active users were counted. In the mean­time, about half a year after the begin­ning of the global cri­sis, the num­ber of users is likely to be much higher again.

Skype for Busi­ness, the pre­de­ces­sor of Teams, had already rev­o­lu­tion­ized the com­mu­ni­ca­tion in many com­pa­nies at that time. After the online ver­sion of this ser­vice was dis­con­tin­ued last year on 31 July 2021, Microsoft has now appar­ently hit the next bull’s eye with Teams. In addi­tion to the pos­si­bil­ity of tele­phon­ing, chat­ting or con­fer­enc­ing with col­leagues, many use­ful apps and above all the inte­gra­tion of Share­Point are now an inte­gral part of every­day work life.

The col­lab­o­ra­tive use of the var­i­ous Microsoft appli­ca­tions via the Microsoft 365 sub­scrip­tion is very easy. Users can start right away, unless Teams has been explic­itly deac­ti­vated. They can cre­ate teams, invite guests, store and share doc­u­ments as they wish. The plat­form makes work­ing together intu­itive, fast and uncom­pli­cated. All fea­tures are acti­vated by default and can be used directly by the users. And that is exactly what com­pa­nies want – isn’t it?

Many paths lead to teams

The set-​up pos­si­bil­i­ties of Microsoft Teams are as var­ied as the range of func­tions. IP Dynam­ics, as an expe­ri­enced inte­gra­tor and long-​time Microsoft Gold Part­ner, has observed three approaches that Ger­man com­pa­nies fol­low when set­ting up teams:

1. Fast and agile

Microsoft Teams is rolled out with­out much prepa­ra­tion. The users decide how they want to use the appli­ca­tion and estab­lish indi­vid­ual work­flows. The com­pany com­pletely dis­penses with bind­ing guide­lines and sets no lim­its for the employ­ees. Each team orga­nizes its struc­ture freely accord­ing to its own needs. If tech­ni­cal or orga­ni­za­tional prob­lems arise, these are dealt with in an agile man­ner.

2. cau­tious and wait-​and-​see

On the part of the com­pany it is unclear what ben­e­fits Microsoft Teams bring to its own employ­ees, whether the soft­ware would be accepted and to what extent it can advance the com­pany. The com­pany will not make a strate­gic deci­sion until it is clear what ben­e­fits are off­set by the finan­cial out­lay.

3. Struc­tured and dosed

The com­pany ana­lyzes the needs and work­flows of its own employ­ees and devel­ops a tailor-​made con­cept for set­ting up Microsoft Teams. Func­tions that are not required are deac­ti­vated or man­aged on an admin­is­tra­tive level, the users’ scope for design is sen­si­bly lim­ited. Microsoft Teams are used specif­i­cally to improve busi­ness processes. The users should not be over­whelmed.

Fast, agile, too much?

After the start of the Corona cri­sis, many com­pa­nies were forced by the rapid change in the gen­eral con­di­tions to intro­duce Microsoft Teams quickly and agilely accord­ing to the approach. In spite of this, enthu­si­asm was great in many places because the coop­er­a­tion from the home office could be real­ized quickly and eas­ily by Teams. From a consultant’s point of view, how­ever, IP Dynam­ics often had to curb the ini­tial eupho­ria. Although the desired range of func­tions can be pro­vided at the first attempt, there are a few pit­falls hid­den in the details.

As users were gen­er­ally not pre­pared for the intro­duc­tion of the new plat­form and were not trained accord­ingly, the demar­ca­tion to other tools and ser­vices remains unclear. Although every col­league par­tic­i­pates in some way, nobody really knows which ser­vice is best suited for which work. In addi­tion, employ­ees’ Out­look address books are often over­flow­ing with count­less Microsoft Teams let­ter­boxes after just a few weeks. In addi­tion, there are numer­ous teams that have only been cre­ated for test pur­poses.

Fur­ther­more, there is a risk that sen­si­tive con­tent can also be viewed by exter­nal per­sons because the mem­bers of a team are not aware of exter­nal access. Inad­e­quate data pro­tec­tion is not only a prob­lem from the point of view of inter­nal audit­ing.

Since there is usu­ally no cen­tral office to coor­di­nate the cre­ation of the teams, con­fu­sion often arises. Users lose the overview and soon no longer know which teams are rel­e­vant for them. User accep­tance suf­fers and dis­sat­is­fac­tion spreads. The col­leagues from the IT depart­ments are in turn annoyed by the loss of con­trol and the increas­ing chaos in the Azure Active Direc­tory. They lack the con­trol they need to mon­i­tor the cre­ation of teams and the own­er­ship of objects and to ensure a life cycle.

If the roll­out phase is insuf­fi­ciently pre­pared, the prob­lems asso­ci­ated with Microsoft Teams and the gen­eral dis­sat­is­fac­tion in the com­pany grow with increas­ing use.

Pru­dent roll­out leads to more joy with teams

There are three issues to con­sider so that Teams can be deployed eas­ily and prof­itably later:

  1. Scope
  2. Gov­er­nance
    a) Rules & Reg­u­la­tions
    b) Roles & Respon­si­bil­i­ties
    c) Pro­vi­sion­ing & Life Cycle
  3. Adop­tion & Change

These require­ments are basi­cally not new. How­ever, their con­sid­er­a­tion is cen­tral to the intro­duc­tion of cloud ser­vices and espe­cially to col­lab­o­ra­tion tools such as Microsoft Teams, in order to pro­vide a rich user expe­ri­ence and to com­ply with cur­rent pri­vacy reg­u­la­tions. The fol­low­ing table illus­trates the most impor­tant ques­tions that need to be con­sid­ered in the course of the intro­duc­tion of Microsoft Teams:

An expe­ri­enced IT part­ner can help to answer these and other ques­tions and derive a tailor-​made con­cept for the roll­out of Microsoft Teams. The respon­si­ble employ­ees of the com­pany con­cerned should work closely with the con­sult­ing IT part­ner through­out the entire project. In this way, work processes can be ana­lyzed together and prac­ti­cal use cases can be devel­oped.

Ide­ally, the con­sult­ing goes beyond the intro­duc­tion of Microsoft Teams. In this way, the use of Teams does not only remain a short-​term suc­cess, but also leads to more joy and suc­cess in daily coop­er­a­tion in the long term.