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Is Teams the next-generation intranet?

2.11.2020

Microsoft Teams has established itself as a teamwork application at a tremendous pace. It focuses on meeting, calling and instant messaging, document, task and project management, and a discussion platform for job assignments and projects in a single application. In other words, the functionalities required for smooth cooperation and the development of an open and transparent work culture.  

No wonder the speed of development is so fast, since Teams is part of a large entity of seamlessly connected Microsoft products. As an application, the functionalities it offers evolve alongside other Microsoft products – both in terms of security and features. 

Thus, the pace of releasing new features and functionalities is fast too, which continues to grow and expand Teams to meet the everyday challenges of working life at both individual and group work level. Teams connects people around the world in a new era of remote working, and Microsoft has taken seriously its goal of enriching the teamwork experience enabled by Teams.  

Every week, Teams is updated with some new functionality, or new interfaces that connect different systems and applications are added to its user interface. 

Could Teams replace the intranet? 

Teams is becoming a very central tool in connecting organisational knowledge and employees in an effective way. It makes you think about the role of Teams and the connections between it and other information systems and applications of organisations that are utilised in information management and, for example, internal communication. 

The intranet has long held the mantle of an organisation’s centralised place for communication, information, and documentation, where information is shared from the organisation’s management down to employees. A change in this power layout is already visible as Teams enables a rapidly spreading work culture in which communication is based on more equal, peer-to-peer communication.  

This kind of form of communication that breaks the boundaries of an organisation’s silos and hierarchy lowers the threshold for employees to participate and commit to the organisation’s operations in a more effective way. 

However, organisations’ own positioning on the goals and purposes of the intranet will determine how big role the intranet will play and whether its role will change soon. Typically, an intranet is a repository for static instructions and work-supporting documents and links. In some organisations, it is both a repository of information and documents and a centre for up-to-date information.  

The time is now coming when it will be necessary to think about the intranet as a whole and its role in the organisation’s internal IT ecosystem in general – could Teams completely replace the current purpose of the intranet as an organisation’s hub for information and communication? 

Support for work and efficiency in operations with Teams 

One of the most common use cases for the intranet is its own website for supervisors with instructions and up-to-date information. This can also be done conveniently in Teams, so that supervisors would have their own team. Inside that team content and information could be divided into different channels to clarify operations.  

Updating instructions and other content is conveniently done directly via Teams, for example as OneNote memos or as documents, and sharing them in team- and channel-specific discussions helps inform about updates. 

Another example of a use case is an organisation’s own operations manual, often located in the intranet. The operations manual could be built into a SharePoint site that is added to a Teams group or channel as a separate tab for direct access. The discussion on the development of the operations manual and other related issues would remain in Teams. 

Virtual collaboration and optimised working in one application 

It is also possible to develop workflows and user interfaces from Teams to retrieve and record data with Power Automate without leaving the application. Reporting views implemented with Power BI and applications built with Power Apps connected to Teams also enable the digitization of an organisation’s activities and processes.  

These centrally located documents, workflows and applications in Teams provide the conditions for publishing news along with other organisational documents and internal communication activities directly in Teams groups and channels, for example. 

How convenient would it be to centrally manage the day-to-day tasks of projects, teams and other workgroups with the clear task and project management tool provided by Planner, as well as document management and communication directly in Teams? Really convenient.  

What if, in addition to these, the same application would handle the recording of travel invoices and expenses, the reporting of supervisors and projects, and the recording of hours? Or, for example, surveys and forms, vacation booking reservations, ordering tools and user rights for a new employee, and reading the latest news and information from across the organisation? Very practical and effortless. 

Limitless possibilities to improve the working experience 

Teams also provides an opportunity to build a personalised work experience for an organisation’s teams and employees. For example, with a view built into a SharePoint page, a project or workgroup member can start their day with an overview of the most important information that is usually retrieved from the intranet.  

The view can consist of, for example, current work tasks, upcoming meetings, incoming e-mails, recently used files, and monitored sites. Alternatively, a similar page could bring together all the key tools and information systems of the project worker in one view. 

A centralised view in one application helps plan and organise work at the beginning of a workday. The employee can focus on the essentials by avoiding jumping between different applications outside of Teams, which greatly reduces work efficiency. Such views and interfaces could potentially replace the intranet or work alongside it to complement the work experience. 

The possibilities are limitless for utilising Teams with business-critical data from various systems and applications that supports operational and decision-making. Such features provide employees and organisations with powerful and easy-to-use tools to manage and develop operations in a strategic and data-driven way.  

We look forward to the new winds of the ever-evolving Teams to show direction for the future of virtual teamwork and internal communication.  

In the meantime, check out our other posts on the subject: 

– Take control of your Microsoft Teams 

– Teams for power use 

Vilma Lindell
Consultant

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