In the last six months, Microsoft Teams has been rapidly adopted by many organizations around the globe. In fact, Satya Nadella recently announced that Microsoft Teams now has 75 million daily active users. And Microsoft also said it hosted 200 million meeting participants in Microsoft Teams in a single day during April 2020, which is why it is vital to know how to build a team in Microsoft Teams!
But with the rapid adoption of new technology, it’s likely that many people are now running into problems – creating duplicate teams, sharing files in multiple locations and still sending documents as attachments in Outlook.
With this in mind we invited Ulrika Hedlund, founder of Storyals a productivity advisory service, to talk about how to get the most out of Microsoft Teams in 10 simple steps at our recent 24 hour ValoFest.
In her talk, she uses the analogy of a house to explain Microsoft Teams. She says if you think of Microsoft Teams as your house and the different channels as rooms within that house it will make understanding what goes where and what to use when a lot easier.
Here she’s shared her top tips for getting your Microsoft Teams house in order.
Step 1: Create the blueprint for your house
Your team can either be a departmental team such as “marketing” or “sales” or a project-based team that includes people from across different departments as well as external support. You need to have some rules and guidelines in place such as naming convention and whether you’re going to have an open house policy (public) or restrict who has access to which team (private).
A public house is visible to everyone in the organization, and anyone who wants can join. A private team, on the other hand, requires someone to let you in.
A word of caution here. Making all teams public can be tricky. When you share files within a team, everyone, by default will have access to those files. Not only read access, but also editing access. It might be better to set up a structure where you have private teams, and you invite people from different departments to collaborate with one another, even if they’re not actively working in that team.
Step 2. Furnish your house with what you need
If you’re a start-up, or if you’re just starting to use Microsoft 365, you’ll have the luxury of starting from scratch. But for many organizations, this is not the case.
In this instance, when you create a team in Microsoft Teams, you can link back to an existing Microsoft 365 group and keep using the SharePoint library that you’re already using.
But note, the structure within Teams is a little bit different. Files get organized per channel. Each channel gets their own folder in the folder structure. It might be easier to start a team from scratch and then just move some of your documents over.
Step 3. Create rooms to allow you to do your work
Next you need to start thinking about which channels or what rooms you need to have to support your work. If you’re a very small team, then perhaps just using the general channel is a good start. But if you’re larger team, and have different work streams, you might want to start out with having different channels for those different work-related streams.
Step 4. Set up some private rooms
Create a dedicated private room or private channel for management issues and one to one communication. A one to one communication channel is best suited for messages that aren’t time-sensitive.
Here, you have a place where you can discuss things with the benefit of having it in a channel is also that you can see it in your activity feed, just like your other conversations.
Step 5. Create a floor plan for your house
The floor plan of your house corresponds to an overview tab in Teams. In the General team, I recommend adding a tab called “About this Team”. And for each channel an “About This Channel” tab.
If you’re using the out of the box Team’s template, each channel comes with a “Wiki” that you can use for this. Rename the wiki ‘About this Channel’ and underneath say who and what the channel is for. Describe what work is carried out in that channel along with guidelines such as – what information goes where. Where to have a conversation etc.
Step 6: Pin things of importance to the walls aka “tabs”
Once you’ve built your house, and you’ve created your different rooms where you will do your work. Now it’s time to make these rooms functional.
You can pin tabs to the top of your Team or Channel such as your strategy or your goals or how you’re progressing towards those goals. Put up frequently used files and other questions that people might need to get answers to often.
These tabs aren’t just limited to showing documents. Something I can recommend is to use the Microsoft Planner. Planner is like a bulletin board of tasks that you can easily move around. You can assign tasks to different people. And then you can see a visual representation of the status of those different tasks. You can also pin third-party applications, perhaps your sales teams using a CRM system that they need to access to or your support team needs to access incidents or service rescue requests reports. So, look through the many available apps and add the relevant ones to the walls of your room.
Step 7. Understand the file structure
Each channel within a team will get its own Files tab, where files are stored in a folder in the SharePoint document library that belongs to the whole team. This might not be the way that your team is used to organizing files. But this is the way that the team structure is built up.
The beauty is of Microsoft Teams is you’re actually storing documents in the cloud in a SharePoint Document Library. This enables co-authoring and the ability to access your documents from anywhere, on any device.
One of the downsides with this setup is that as soon as someone attaches a file to a post in the channels, that file gets added to the root of the document library.
You don’t have the choice of where to place those documents. So if you really need to have a structured approach for your documents, what I recommend that you can do is that you can set up a separate SharePoint library that you then attach as a tab into your team.
Step 8. Make communication easier by tagging people
If you have a small company, you can easily mention people by name using the @-symbol. But if you’re in a large organization this is a pretty cumbersome way to communicate.
In this scenario, you need to label or tag people into groups or departments. This way, instead of having to call people out individually, you can just call the group using tags. This really simplifies communication.
Step 9. Design a smart house
There are so many apps and connectors that you can install to really automate and work smarter. Don’t make the mistake of copying manual processes into Teams. Look at new ways of how you can automate things. There are many pre-built apps to choose from.
But, if you can’t find the app that suits your business needs, then you can ask your IT team to create one for you using Power Apps and power automate. These are really powerful tools that enable you to build quick and easy to use apps that your users can access right from within Microsoft Teams, as the Valo Intranet, Valo Teamwork and Valo Ideas will soon be!
Step 10. Set some house rules
Before you let your teams loose in your newly created house, you need to set some house rules on how people should behave. For example, teach people how to use @-mentions to communicate, and how to structure work in different channels.
Plus set some ground rules such as committing to not using email for internal communication, and how to use Teams communicate and be engaged with one another.
If Microsoft Teams is new to you, that a lot of this might feel quite overwhelming. All I can say is that once you get used to this new way of working, you will never want to go back to using email and attached files anymore.
The transparency, knowledge sharing, and also the fun way of working will be a huge benefit that you will not want to be without.
To continue this topic and get even a deeper dive to the features of Microsoft Teams, our Product Marketing Manager and Microsoft MVP & RD, Gokan Ozcifici, has written an excellent eBook for you to download, for free: How to become a Microsoft Teams Rockstar