Microsoft Teams Tips
Simona Millham is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and a trainer for IT learning platform CBT Nuggets. She shared some valuable tips for making the most of Microsoft Teams for small businesses in an email interview with Small Business Trends.
Minimize Email Communications
One of the biggest benefits of Microsoft Teams is that it lets businesses keep all of their communication organized in one place, rather than relying on long email chains that can easily get lost in the shuffle. So if you’re going to make the most of Microsoft Teams, use it instead of, not in addition to, email for internal communications.
Millham says, “If somebody sends an email to the team asking a relatively trivial question, and everybody responds, that generates an awful lot of email. Conversations are at the heart of Teams, making it easy to see threads at a glance, and quickly respond where relevant.”
Share Conversations with New Team Members
Microsoft Teams can also make onboarding new employees easier. When you make a new hire, or add an existing team member to a new project, you can share conversations from that thread or project with them so they can catch up easily, rather than forwarding them numerous emails or handing them cumbersome documents.
Stick with a Few Groups
Microsoft Teams allows you to designate different groups within your organization so that you can keep conversations with relevant team members. But don’t go overboard creating groups for every possible combination of employees right away. Consider who works together on projects most often and create only those groups that make sense so as not to overwhelm everyone with tons of options. You can always add more later.
Have a Goal for Each Group
If you’re struggling to determine what groups to start out with, consider what you want to achieve for each group. For example, you might want a group just for top-level management, which you’d turn to when making big strategic decisions. But you may also want groups just for specific purposes like IT support and social media marketing.
Add Groups as You Go
From there, you can always add groups as specific projects call for them. Say you’ve got a special client project that involves people from several departments who don’t normally work together. Create a group that’s just for that instance so those workers don’t have to communicate in a more general thread.
Set Up Audio Conferencing
Microsoft Teams also offers an audio conferencing feature so you can host voice meetings within specific groups or just with one or two team members. This can be an especially useful feature especially if you have some team members who work remotely. You can also use it to communicate with outside clients via a new guest access feature.
Create a Communication Strategy
Of course, Microsoft Teams isn’t the only Microsoft product that offers communication features like chat and audio calls. But Millham warns not to get too caught up in using every single option available. Instead, create a specific plan that outlines in which situations you’ll use Microsoft Teams for communication versus other platforms.
Millham explains, “I think one of the biggest challenges is helping business users to understand WHICH Microsoft Office 365 tool to use WHEN. There is overlap between the functionality of Teams, Yammer and Skype for Business which is really confusing for users, and they are likely to just default back to email without some guidance. So my recommendation is that the business takes some time to think through which tools will suit different parts of their organisation the best – and run some pilots with different groups of users – and then provide guidance and awareness to end users.”
Test Communication Strategies
As Millham mentioned, it can be beneficial to actually test out different communication strategies within your organization to see what works best for your specific team. For example, you might find that it makes sense to use Skype for client calls if most of your clients already have Skype IDs and don’t want to sign up for guest access with Microsoft Teams. But you could opt to keep all the internal calls within Teams for the sake of simplicity. Just stay open to employee input so you can optimize your plan to their needs.
Stay Up-to-Date with New Features
Microsoft Teams is constantly changing and adding new functionality that may benefit your team or change the way you use the platform. For example, Microsoft is currently in the process of integrating Skype for Business functionality into Teams. Millham recommends checking out Microsoft Teams documentation and practical guidance for more information and updates about any changes or new features.
Train Your Employees
It’s also important to make sure that your employees understand how to make the most of Microsoft Teams. And there are plenty of resources available for that purpose. CBT Nuggets provides one option for Microsoft Teams training.
Millham says, “For small business owners, it includes an overview of resources to consider when deploying Teams and encouraging user adoption. For employees, it covers how to use channels, conversations, meetings, file sharing, wikis and more.”