It’s easy to get lost in MS Teams: Here’s the way out

  • Posted on September 19, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Choice is good. Too many choices, however, can be confusing, even paralyzing. 
That’s the way some executives feel when they think about adopting Microsoft Teams. No wonder, given the vast range of capabilities exposed through Teams: chat, meeting, call, share, publish, co-author, integration of applications, BOTs and more. Teams surfaces considerable capabilities from Microsoft 365, including what was previously found in Skype for Business, SharePoint, Outlook and Yammer, all shorn of their product silos and now working together as though bestowed with new DNA. It’s almost like having Twitch, Discord, Reddit, and Messenger for business, all integrated into one place with a content engine. 
What are you—and your organization—supposed to do with all of that? 
You can start to answer that question by thinking of Teams as a canvas upon which your employees can paint the particular solutions that meet their needs. At the simple end, Teams supports the employee who simply wants a better, more integrated upgrade to Skype for Business. Teams supports those who want an easy way to run projects and work with colleagues across the world. It even supports Modern Workplace proponents who wish to "work out loud" in virtual groups. And Teams can do all this at once, so there’s no reason to limit your organization to a single type of Teams implementation. 
Teams’ flexibility works for you in another way, too: by supporting employees and teams with more functionality as their maturity level for collaboration grows. Typically, we see users new to Teams start by leveraging Teams for discrete functionality such as collaboration access to SharePoint sites for document sharing, team persistent chat, project discussion sites, or as a meeting tool. Since Teams became available in Office 365 more than two years ago, we’ve seen an increasing number of organizations adopting Teams to enable their Modern Workplace journey.  
As a leader in your organization, you need to be aware of the differing levels of collaboration maturity among your employees. Even more, you need to coach and lead those employees toward the new behaviors and culture of which Teams can be a part. Need guidance on that? To get things started, we sometimes engage clients with a Teams Template Definition Workshop using tools such as design-led thinking to help them become more explicit in the ways they aspire to collaborate.  
For many companies, it’s easiest to start by using persistent-based communications to help with communications across time zones. Natural next steps are to adopt the transcription of chats to native languages, then real-time translation services within meetings. As the active user community for Teams continues to grow, many companies ensure that employees can use the technology where and how they want by ensuring a consistent experience across a range of devices, operating systems and browsers. 
You can use Teams out of the box for instant productivity. But in an important sense, Teams is more than what you get out of the box – because you can use it in ways that go far beyond its out-of-the-box features. For instance: 
  • You can compose customized tabs and channels with third party addons or solution components that you develop much as you would Excel macros or applications that don’t require heavy application development. Microsoft has smoothed your way for this by,  supporting scripted automation capabilities with tools like Flow, creating a Marketplace for prebuilt 3rd party connectors, and making simple, easy ways to extend Teams with Tabs (which have many prebuilt content types such as documents, project planning or video content) along with Activity Feeds notifications 
  • You can further tailor Teams to build applications that integrate with Teams and inherit its chat, communications and collaboration capabilities. There Are easy to use extensions to make Teams work the way you want with Adaptive Cards, Personal Apps and Messaging extensions, along with quick to build / deploy PowerApps that you can share with others. Nor are you limited to adding only software from Microsoft; third parties also provide automation tools, workflow orchestration engines and other addons that integrate with Teams. 
  • Your in-house developers can use the programming model that underpins not just Teams but Office 365 via the Graph API—enabling you to enrich both B2B and B2C apps with collaboration capabilities. Popular applications here include BOTS, which take advantage of a Bot development framework to make your work easier. 
What roadmap is best for you? Download our Microsoft Teams Guide or consider Avanade’s popular Microsoft Teams Adoption Workshop, which helps organizations unpack their questions around Teams adoption and develop the roadmap that’s best for them. And let us know in the comments if you’d like more articles like this.


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