Microsoft Teams Best Practices: The Full Benefits of Collaboration Apps

Written by: Unify Square

Max Collaboration Benefits by Avoiding These Top 4 IT Deployment Blunders of Microsoft Teams Best Practices

The popularity of Microsoft Teams continues to rise. In fact, as of spring 2019, the workstream collaboration platform boasts more than 500,000 organizations. Combined with the growth of workstream collaboration, more and more companies are opting to deploy Teams to tap into the benefits of collaboration in the digital workplace.

There’s no denying that setting up Microsoft Teams involves a number of technical challenges. From setting up direct routing or navigating interoperability between Teams and an existing Skype for Business deployment, the hurdles are numerous. However, the technical aspect of a Microsoft Teams deployment is only one piece of what’s necessary for successful user adoption. When it comes to Microsoft Teams best practices, no IT department wants to invest incredible amounts of effort into setting up a new platform and ironing out any bugs, only to have it sit empty and unused. With Microsoft Teams especially, getting end users to engage with the platform is a challenge not taken lightly. There are a number of common (and avoidable) mistakes we see that make user adoption an uphill battle.

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Blunder #1: Treating Microsoft Teams as an IT Pet Project

Microsoft Teams Best Practices: Avoid Treating Teams as an IT Pet Project

If there’s a new piece of technology, IT wants to own it from investigation to deployment to internal support. However, implementing Microsoft Teams requires a multidisciplinary approach. Often, Teams replaces other platforms users are already familiar with, and so they feel little incentive to make the switch. Users must be convinced, and this requires support from other departments.

Microsoft Teams best practices suggest that one key to adoption is getting executive buy-in early. Pressure from above can go a long way when it comes to pushing users onto Teams. As an example, executives can host “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) sessions on the platform which encourage employees to adopt. HR can also be a valuable resource as some policies within Microsoft Teams likely require their input.

Gain a simultaneous, panoramic view of all collaboration and communications platforms, expediting responses to service interruptions and threats.

Another often-ignored aspect of Teams adoption is how usage differs significantly between lines of business. Frontline workers will probably use the mobile app very often and file sharing a lot less, while remote developers might use the persistent conversation space to stay up to date on team priorities. Gather compelling use cases across different departments so that users understand how Microsoft Teams can specifically help them fulfill their jobs better.

Blunder #2: Build It and They Will Come

Best practice: avoid the build it and they will come mentality

Many IT departments take a deploy and dash approach to Microsoft Teams. If it’s up and working, they view their part as done. Unfortunately, that secret Slack cohort that no one wants to talk about is not going to migrate automatically to Teams just because it’s there and serves a similar purpose. Assuming users will flock to Microsoft Teams is a grave error. There are a number of ways IT can take an active role in promoting end-user adoption. Following Microsoft Teams best practices, gather a large and diverse group of people to sing the benefits of collaboration with Teams throughout the company. These “champions” are more connected to their respective departments and their use of it forces the people that they work closely with onto the platform.

It’s also important to celebrate wins early and often. Did operations improve a process by putting relevant decision makers into one workspace? Was quality control able to catch an error because of the newly centralized files in Teams? Internal newsletters or CEO shout-outs are a great way to let everyone else know. Proper training for end users is also essential, and it should include key features and advice on Microsoft Teams notifications, as this can be a major area of burnout and frustration. Lastly, an important tenet of adoption is living a Microsoft Teams-first mentality. One way to do this is encouraging answers via Teams today, while in parallel waiting a day before responding to emails.

Blunder #3: Having Only Vague Policies and Limited Governance

Microsoft Teams Best Practice: Don't have vague policies

After deployment, setting up policies and governance feels like an afterthought that can be completed further down the line. However, users who log in and are greeted with a blank slate and little guidance end up in two camps:

  1. They quickly browse around and then log off never to return; or
  2. They create some experimental teams, play around, and rather than delete unused teams, they let them sit and contribute to workspace sprawl.

Both of these behaviors are problematic for user adoption. To avoid this pitfall, create some teams and channels before users flock to the platform. Set user expectations before that critical first login: how often should they be going to Teams, for what purposes should they be using it, and when is it appropriate to create a new team or channel?

Similarly with governance, it’s hard to undo initial damage. Clear naming conventions should be set up front, and policy on which third-party applications are allowed must be decided. While the gut reaction might be to shut down apps entirely, consider allowing those that have clear business use as interactions with these apps often draw end-users onto the platform. Risk versus utility must also be weighed with guest access. The ability to interact with users outside the company is a key feature of Microsoft Teams, especially important for consultants or contractors. Conversely, external users can pose a security threat if not properly managed, so having proper governance in place is vital.

Blunder #4: Failing to Measure Usage and Adoption

Measuring Usage and Adoption is critical

How do you know your organization is reaping the benefits of collaboration with your new Microsoft Teams rollout if you don’t have the data to back it up? Maybe there are some positive stories, but it’s important to have a holistic picture. Setting clear adoption goals with timelines at the outset is important for accountability. Benchmarking your organization’s adoption against a successful rollout offers further insight, as does comparing adoption between departments. Knowing which areas of a company are struggling with Microsoft Teams best practices allows IT to dedicate extra attention towards more personalized initiatives, including connecting a champion that shares network commonalities with the group.

While native out-of-the-box reporting can provide basic insights, third-party management, and analytics tools will provide the granularity needed. With Unify Square’s PowerSuite software, IT teams can not only identify champions but also easily track usage and adoption for Microsoft Teams, as well as other workstream collaboration platforms. IT can quickly view adoption trends broken down by different teams, type of usage, as well as geography. PowerSuite can be incredibly useful for IT teams managing multiple workstream collaboration platforms so that usage and adoption can be compared through a single pane of glass. Or, let our experts guide you through the Microsoft Teams adoption journey with our signature consulting services or managed service teams.

User adoption is essential to a successful Microsoft Teams deployment, and avoiding these common pitfalls will help you ensure a positive Teams experience for end users.

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