At the start of 2020, when working from home became a necessity, applications such as Skype, Zoom and GoogleMeet were saviours for implementing quick, on-demand solutions that were there when we needed them. But, as we embrace long-term remote working, businesses need to look for sustainable, flexible and fully integrated tools that better serve their needs in a more secure way.
To ensure working remotely works for your business, you need a solution that does more than just calendar invites and video meetings. You and your employees need to collaborate in the way you used to, better in fact, sometimes on the fly, sometimes in large numbers and sometimes with customers.
Many people have and pay for Microsoft 365 plans to access emails without realising that Teams is even part of that subscription. This means you are potentially missing out on a powerful tool that will help your teams and business thrive.
As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Green Duck has successfully rolled out Microsoft Teams across the Green Duck Family with 50 members of staff all working remotely, so there is no better case study than ourselves. But before we begin…
What is Microsoft Teams
Microsoft describes Teams as Chat-based workspace in Office 365 – a hub for teamwork. In practice, Teams is a single point for all collaboration needs which houses your Microsoft 365 tools.
Microsoft 365 is a packaged business solution for the modern – and remote – workplace. Teams glues together the suite of Microsoft productivity applications – Office apps, SharePoint, telephony – to facilitate seamless business performance, while harnessing the power of Cloud storage, real-time updating and maintaining high levels of data security.
Why Microsoft Teams
The Microsoft Teams application is an essential communication and collaboration tool which is critical for successfully managing a long-term working from home strategy. It enables businesses to form teams for different departments or regions in which to establish different conversation streams and collaborative working on projects using SharePoint for document sharing and real-time editing – all of which can be saved indefinitely. Not forgetting the all-important audio and video calling and meetings with anyone inside or outside the organisation.
It allows for:
Simplicity – Imagine having all your company documents and conversations in one place. Well, that’s what teams allows. When it comes to working on shared documents, you will no longer need to save, email, edit, save (again!) and respond, it’s all done in real-time in one place. You can even talk to customers and suppliers through Teams which can streamline your processes and cut out delays. Teams grants the ability to empower your users with creating and managing SharePoint sites; all through the simple Teams interface.
Inclusion – Working remotely can be lonely. Having a communication tool that keeps your people connected and engaged is essential. Teams provides a platform to encourage positive interactions and staff wellbeing but also allows you to keep up the company culture outside of the office. You can check in with individuals, groups or your whole company whether it’s for business or just to replace the coffee machine “chats”. Additionally, in many cases, Teams has become more effective than email for communicating and has replaced the To:All email chains because Teams allows you to send focused messages to the entire company and instead of replying to all, your team can react in response.
Accessibility – SharePoint is the centralised document library in 365. Teams channels and content all reside in SharePoint sites. When you create a Teams channel it subsequently creates a SharePoint site and associated security memberships, and it does this without ever having to administer SharePoint separately if you don’t want to. From Teams, you can manage users, create files, projects and add apps. It opens it up for everyone to use not just SharePoint experts.
In addition, with Teams being part of the Microsoft 365 infrastructure, the security is top-notch and upgrades and updates are performed regularly with no additional cost or user obstruction.
Teams is a comprehensive solution that requires:
All of this is also condensed into a very well designed and easy to use Mobile app for those mobile workforces that can’t always access a laptop.
Teams is part of the Microsoft 365 suite so to implement Teams within your business you will need M365.
As Gold Partners for Microsoft, we migrate businesses over to Microsoft 365 regularly and because we have been through the process ourselves, we also know what the process is like as an end-user.
If you are already using Microsoft 365 a lot of the hard work when switching to Teams is already done so the challenging part is changing people behaviours. However, Teams is so simple to use that once they are used to the tool, navigating it is not a problem.
Teams is an app so you can pin it to your taskbar on your laptop/computer or you can access it through your browser. It adheres to all the same security measures as your other M365 applications so if you have multi-factor authentication set up it’ll be the same for Teams and it’ll have the same password and password rules too.
No matter what you currently use for your business collaboration or communication, Teams can accommodate and depending on how you are currently operating there is a migration path for every scenario so the process of migrating to Microsoft 365 and implementing Teams doesn’t have to be difficult.
Key features and benefits
Microsoft 365 has several options and lots of businesses don’t realise that even with the basic package, Teams is included.
Microsoft Team paid vs free:
Teams for business leaders
Many decision-makers are already very aware of the need to transform to a digital-first workplace, so adopting new technologies and driving innovation has become part of the role. It’s clear though that creating modern workplaces isn’t just about buying technology, it’s also recognising the impact that technology can have on a company’s culture and its people.
Microsoft 365 is a powerful platform, it’s a flexible and easy to use toolset that when embedded in your environment, helps drive successful outcomes. Microsoft Teams sits at the forefront ensuring the seamless flow of communication and information around your business.
With remote working being the new normal, engagement and communication is now a new kind of challenge to overcome but this is where Microsoft Teams excels by helping to maintain an engaged and productive workforce regardless of their location. Company-wide communications in the form of messages and videos means that when things happen, everyone knows about it.
Rod Jackson, CEO, says “One of my top priorities is the wellbeing of colleagues. Our employees drive the business forward, so making sure that they have all the tools that they need to do their jobs well without having to be in the office is key.
“Teams allows our employee to stay engaged with each other and remain connected to the company culture. It is so much more than a messaging tool and has become a critical part of our company’s communication infrastructure.”
With staff working remotely it’s evident that clunky procedures, paper-driven processes and unnecessary meetings are going to become a thing of that past.
“Teams allows us to keep conversations flow freely as they would in an office. Meetings, calls and collaborative working has continued at the same pace, if not faster, regardless of location.
“One of the most powerful things Teams does for us as a business is to allow us to collaborate in real-time even when we are miles apart. As the leader of our business, one of the key benefits from Teams is its ability to act as a single pane of glass from which to see everything that is going on within the company.”
Teams for Operations
Being able to build slick processes that allow staff to work seamlessly, without barriers, and in real-time is just one of the ways that Teams helps to achieve customer service excellence.
Teams allow communication to extend beyond your internal team and pull customer conversations into the platform by creating meeting invites, allowing screen sharing and having the ability to have in meeting chat windows. The process of sharing meeting links is so simple that accessing video meetings is easy for any audience and they do not have to have an account either, they just click the link.
In addition, the Telephony function allows your team to work anywhere without ever interrupting that customer experience. It is now more important that ever that a team can mobilise at a drop of a hat and with as less disruption as possible. Teams ensures that your customers can still dial the office number and reach the correct people even if they are at home or on the move.
Within admin backend, you can view productivity insights so that staff can be confident that they are contributing to their targets and managers can be confident that staff have the tools they need to contribute to company success.
Teams also tells you who is available or busy or available so people can work uninterrupted if they are in a meeting. Teams does this automatically when you have a meeting in your diary or are on the phone.
Outside of customer service, for project management, Teams has become a necessity. The success of a project comes from meticulous planning and constant communication. These communications could result in mammoth email chains but thanks to Teams, groups can be built for each project so communication can flow freely and all files relating to the project can be easily found from within that group.
Project Manager Samantha Edgar says “Teams is great for fast feedback. When a project goes live we use teams to track any immediate issues and can act immediately. Throughout a project, there may be many meetings so a great feature for us is the ability to record and track meeting minutes that we can always refer back to.”
Teams for Finance
Finance teams deal with many levels of complex data and multiple confidential processes. Having an open communication tool would normally be a concern however, Teams addresses this issue with ease.
CFO Sarah Wake says “We have a lot of documents and information which we don’t share with the bigger business. With Teams, we are able to share specific files from a SharePoint location with the confidence that the information is safe. We are then able to have conversations about it in the channel privately, just like we would in the office.”
Likewise, for a finance department to work together is imperative. Sometimes a whole team will be working on the same thing, like month-end for example. Using Teams, the team can communicate effectively to make sure that the job is completed effectively.
Teams for HR
Human Resources are typically a department that, as the name suggests, relies on human-to-human interactions. Often people need to feel the compassion and understanding that is normally very difficult to replicate over a phone call and so Teams goes a long way to ensuring that your staff can still have face to face conversations.
“In HR we often need to communicate with the whole company, this could be about new starters and company-wide changes which we can do easily via Teams” says Gemma Thompson, HR administrator.
“We like to get feedback from employees, so we have people complete surveys which we keep securely in SharePoint and send across the business using Teams. We have free-flowing direct conversations using chats.”
“As for sensitive conversations, we know that they are secure and if we need to share documents with people we know that only that person can access that file so anything confidential is safe.”
Teams for Sales
Sales has always been about building relationships. “Traditionally, we would have always preferred to meet people face to face but Teams helps us to connect to new customers easily and having the video conference facility means that we get much better engagement than a normal phone call,” says Benny Mansfield, Business Development Director.
In a department like sales, where conversation is key, Teams has become vital. Whilst potential customers will be speaking with one person, in the background, many other people are involved so being able to collaborate on shared documents and have focused conversations really helps. By setting up channels within Teams, everyone can talk about one topic or customer without it getting lost.
“Within the sales department and also across the wider business, we need to talk to each other. Often, we have need to provide feedback, check info, share tips and peer review documents for new business that we are working on and Teams makes it a smooth process,” says Benny.
According to Hubspot, more than half of people want to see how the product works on the first call. Teams helps to build trust by demonstrating products and services to potential buyers with its screen sharing and video abilities.
However, talking with people externally can have its challenges. If you are at home, sometimes having a customer looking into your living room can feel a little invasive but luckily, Teams has a solution. Teams allows you to blur your background or swap it for a more professional office environment.
Teams for Marketing
Everything marketing does takes a lot of planning and often needs input from multiple sources. With marketing often spreading across the whole business, conversations happen constantly and involve a lot of people.
Typically, marketers need to move quickly and adopt an agile approach to working but also still need to be meticulous. Teams allows for constant feedback and with the ability to share documents, it means that a whole team can have input and work collaboratively.
In addition, marketing thrives on constant communication both internally and externally.
“Communication is in our nature which often makes us the most vocal. Having a platform like Teams means that we can pass information freely to individuals, departments and the wider business.”
Teams also allows marketers to work smarter.
“We have a lot of technical products and we rely on experts within the business to provide us with in-depth information. Video recording has been so helpful with information gathering and has become a very quick way of capturing details to replay and extract the information we need.” Says Marketing Manager Samantha Loveridge.
“There are so many apps that you can integrate such as planners and to-do lists which are vital to keeping track of all the moving pieces, but you can also integrate tools like Jira, PowerBI and Zapier, plus polls and surveys. There is so much you can do with Teams.”
Whether you already have Microsoft 365 and haven’t yet taken advantage of Teams, or you are thinking about migrating to Microsoft 365 and want to know more about Teams, we can help you get started. Contact us.
Author: Green Duck
Published: December 8, 2020
Read Time: 16 minutes (3200+ words)