Effective Use of Microsoft Teams

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I talked the other day about the need for something more than active use when assessing how a product in Office 365 is actually being used and advanced the idea of “effective use” as a better measure of the quality of adoption. I offered an example from the world of PowerPoint for the quality of usage, and while acknowledging the scale was coarse and unrefined, suggested three buckets: low effectiveness, medium effectiveness, and high effectiveness.

Interestingly, on the same day, Tony Redmond posted on Petri on The Joys of Managing Large Microsoft Teams. As I had just written my own blog post on effective use, I read Tony’s blog post with interest through that lens. In the table below, I have taken Tony’s ideas for managing large teams and grouped them into low, medium and high effectiveness.

 

 

Low Effectiveness Medium Effectiveness High Effectiveness
 Adding Team Members Add team members manually one at a time. Import a distribution list or use PowerShell to extract membership information from another source. [Option 1] Use a joining code for the team, enabling self-joining. [Option 2] Use dynamic teams in Azure AD, which uses a query against Azure AD to manage team membership based on particular criteria (e.g., department name).
Reviewing Team Membership Use the Teams client (desktop or browser), which lacks sortable columns and search facets. Reviewing team membership in the Teams Admin Center (rights permitting), because columns are sortable.
General Channel Open access for starting conversations, by any team member. Preference to use another channel for conversations, but use the General channel if you don’t know where to start. Restrict the use of the General channel for managing the team and announcing information that's of relevance to everyone in the team.
Channel Design Make no attempt to develop the right channels before releasing a new team. Develop some channels, but don’t keep channels in line with the work of the team. Guide conversations to the right channels, by pre-designing the conversation space.
Etiquette Make no attempt to define etiquette or discuss and explore the collaboration practices that make Microsoft Teams flourish. Define etiquette but do nothing to model or practice it. Have a one-time conversation with no follow-through. Describe, model and practice team etiquette, such as starting new topics with a title, and replying to existing topics rather than spawning anarchy in the conversation space.
Tool Selection Use Microsoft Teams for all teams and discussions, because this is what “the cool kids” across the world are doing. Evaluate using Yammer instead of Teams for very large teams and company-wide discussions, because this is what Yammer is supposedly best at in Office 365.

On reviewing the above table, it’s not hard to imagine that:

  • Microsoft has some holes to fill. For example, Microsoft Teams should offer much better tools to team owners for reviewing current team members.
  • The organisational team responsible for the successful adoption of Microsoft Teams in your organisation needs to set the context for successful adoption, through guidance on team etiquette, conversation space design, and tool selection.
  • New team owners could be taken through a training course to explore and explain how to use Microsoft Teams in a way that pushes on the ideas in the high effectiveness column.
  • A qualitative assessment tool could be developed for team owners to regularly review the use of Microsoft Teams, highlighting areas of improvement.
  • A quantitative assessment tool could be developed to look at events such as general channel misuse, number of topics without titles, and replies that spawn new topics rather than appending to existing topics.

The above table could be complemented with a whole range of additional ideas and signals; this is merely a starting place.

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