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:
a) Rules & Regulations
b) Roles & Responsibilities
c) Provisioning & Life Cycle
- 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.