By Scott Riley, Chief Strategy Officer at GCI.
As a busy Manager of a UK-wide team who all travel extensively, it’s critical for us to be able to stay in touch on key projects. We started using Microsoft Teams around 4 months ago and, in that time, it’s enabled us to centralise our activities and enhance collaboration and so much more. Here’s just ten of the ways it helps:
1. Everyone stays updated, from anywhere: First things first, all the activity in Teams is organised into Teams and then Channels. A Team (as you might expect) represents a group of people who are working together for a common reason, although it won’t necessarily match the organisational hierarchy. A Channel is then a specific activity or project which is being worked on. This means that all conversations around projects are contained within the relevant Channel and it’s very easy for us to keep track of what’s happening and when on each project.
2.Feedback made simple: Firstly, we can engage with each other using 1:1 messaging or by having an open conversation in the Channel. It’s a really great way to get instant feedback on things, engage with the team and keep everyone updated on progress around key activities. It also lets people show their personality with GIFs, emojis and memes!
3.The value of seeing and hearing: Whilst messaging is great, it’s also important to get people on the phone or face-to-face with video. Teams makes video calling a breeze and seeing each other face-to-face helps us bond, given that we’re often on the road.
4.Meetings made easy: Every week we get together on a call hosted by Microsoft Teams. With its rich audio and HD video, it’s a fantastic way to get everyone in the same place and drive camaraderie. Not only that, but people can immediately showcase what they are working on with desktop sharing and presentation capability. The experience when joining a Teams call is just so seamless; whether you’re on a desktop or mobile device it’s just a one-click “join” option and you’re connected directly to the meeting. I forget how easy that is until I have to dial into a 3rd party conference call and type a room ID, then a PIN, then record my name and press #, then press 1 to say I’m happy with the recording…
5.We’re faster and more secure: Teams automatically creates a few resources for you when a new Teams Channel is set up; a dedicated email address, an Office 365 group and a centralised file store powered by Sharepoint Online. In the traditional world, this is something which only your IT department could do, but with Teams this freedom enables users to create Channels complete with secure online file stores in seconds. Don’t worry though, all access and auditing is tracked and monitored in the Office 365 Security Centre.
6.Waving goodbye to the email inbox: Traditionally we would email files back and forth for review, comments, tracking changes and updates as we go. Now, we can jump into a quick Teams Call and open up the same document and multiple people can edit in real time. When we’re done, a single, consolidated copy of the document is saved into the File Store and is instantly accessible to everyone in the team.
7.Add-ons add value: Every Channel supports Microsoft and 3rd Party plugins, which can integrate directly into the Teams client as part of the Channel. One I use regularly is the PowerBI plugin, which enables the entire team to review our performance against targets within the Teams portal. Again, having everything centralised here means everyone in the Team has immediate access to the same dashboards and the same performance data, as well as being continually up-to-date without having to log in to multiple applications.
8.Planning is seamless: Using Microsoft Planner, we can set up task boards for every Teams Channel. Here’s where we arrange various activities, assign tasks and owners, target dates and resources, and then track those through to completion. Team members can individually update their actions as they complete them, and the overall plan is kept up-to-date for everyone’s immediate visibility.
9.Streamlined sharing and approval processes: It’s not just Microsoft applications that plug in to Teams. We use the YouTube plugin to share video content and Adobe Sign to streamline our approval process where a digital signature is needed.
10.It’s all in one place: So, we’ve used voice and video, and have collaborated and co-authored. We’ve centralised our files, tracked our activity in Planner and our team performance in PowerBI, and booked follow-ups in the calendar…and we did it all in one app and without our email inbox. And the beauty of it is that, because it’s the same Cloud-based app experience across all my devices, I can literally hop around from mobile to tablet to desktop, both at home and on the move.
Want to learn more? Join GCI and Microsoft in Reading on the 7th June to see first-hand how technologies like Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 can improve staff productivity, security and customer service in your business. Click here to book your place!
Scott Riley is Chief Strategy Officer at GCI
Scott is an IT services professional, with strong expertise in leading technical teams to success across the UK in a number of areas. Working closely with GCI’s Pre-Sales, Project Management, Technical and Service Delivery teams, he ensures business processes and cost models are well aligned to a solution roadmap. As a champion for Cloud and Hosting services, Scott directs the design of innovative solutions to meet the challenges of GCI’s valued customers, as well as supporting the successful integration of new acquisitions into the Group.