hisThe integration of Microsoft Teams to streamline OVPUE’s communication, organization, and file sharing is well underway.
In October, Director of Information Technology Anesu Chaora introduced Teams on the blog including instructions for finding your files after the Box Entrusted migration and this two-minute video outlining Teams’ capabilities.
How to get started and get comfortable
Associate Director of Information Technology Clinton McKay held a live demonstration about getting started with Microsoft Teams in November. The recording can be found here and covers:
- Step-by-step instructions for navigating the Teams interface for day-to-day communication and file organization
- The benefits of Teams within OVPUE’s context
- An overview of plugins and integrations that can optimize your workflow and reduce the need to have multiple platforms open at once
- User tips to shorten the learning curve of the platform (like how to customize your left-menu or filter your searches)
- Audience questions and answers from OVPUE staff
- Examples of what has worked well for IT such as channel names and Notes tabs
Individuals or groups that would like additional guidance implementing Teams into their workflow can submit a help ticket or reach out to Clinton on Teams.
What advantages does Microsoft Teams offer?
Learning a new platform takes time and energy, so it’s motivating to know that the investment will bring returns by improving work, saving time, and eliminating hassle. The following are just a handful of the many advantages Teams offers compared to similar applications.
Tidier communication with coworkers
Teams’ chat function is similar to Skype for Business in that a user can chat directly with one or more people and then hop directly onto a phone call or video conference if desired (video calls can be recorded, like with Zoom). However, instead of losing a chat thread and any exchanged files to the archives after the conversation ends, Teams keeps it right there in your chat history to come back to later or search by keywords if you need to retrieve a file or message. This reduces the need for long email chains among your teammates and saves you from having to sort through email folders for that one quote or document you’re looking for.
Since Teams is a Microsoft product, it offers close integration with all Microsoft Office products. When you add a file like a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint into a channel, multiple people can work on it at the same time and it autosaves along the way. If you store project files in the appropriate project channel, everyone who works on the project will have access to the file, be able to search for it, and be able to collaborate on it. This means there’s no need to convert formats in order to have real-time collaboration (like Google Drive) and no need to worry about someone selecting an old version of a file by accident (like Box or network drives).
Organization and simplicity
Thanks to its native functions plus its many integrations with other applications, Teams really can be a one-stop-shop for most purposes. What might have previously required each of these applications to be open at once for the average OVPUE team member:
- Skype for Business or Slack
- Shared network drive
- Box/Box Entrusted or Google Drive
- Database or project management application
- Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, or Excel
can now be managed entirely within the one Teams application. (You can even check the weather and news within Teams!)
File storage and sharing
Teams automatically integrates with Microsoft OneDrive which can replace individual and shared network drives, making it easier to access your stored files when you’re not physically in the office. As always, data sensitivity protocols should be followed at all times. Microsoft Teams offers “Secure” Team spaces which, like Box Entrusted, can house critical data if needed. Please request support if you are ever unsure about data compliance within Teams or while working remotely.
The fun stuff
Beyond just the business side, Teams offers a few bonus features that can liven up day-to-day work communications:
- “Polls” let you quickly survey your team for input.
- The “Praise” function allows you to send kudos to one or more people with a tag like Problem Solving, Team Player, or just plain Awesome. (The IT Team keeps a whole channel called Kudos specifically for this purpose).
- Teams has an entire database of GIFs to spice up less-formal exchanges in both chats and posts and replies.
How the transition is going within OVPUE
The IT Team has been using Teams as its primary communication and collaboration interface for several months now with widely positive feedback. Several other units across OVPUE have begun using Teams for day-to-day chatting and project collaboration. Recently, Advance College Project transitioned to OneDrive and Teams for all of its file storage and sharing functions.
Future posts will continue to break down the functionalities of Microsoft Teams and its relationship to other Office 365 programs.