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Teams for power use

16.9.2020

Ease of virtual teamwork

In recent months, many experienced IT users have made comments about how using Teams has been a kind of learning path. Not because the program would be difficult to use, but because learning has basically been about unlearning – the most difficult kind of learning to take over. Perhaps a more typical example about it is how adding a related message or comment was forcibly slipping to the side of the email. Now one can only wonder how we have managed to deal with fragmented email information before. The conversation stored in the Teams channel is extremely easy to browse and even old things can be found in the thread quickly.

Another new way of working, perhaps not so much with unlearning, but with the extremely useful new functionality associated with learning new, has been the addition of tabs to the Teams channel. Now I can gather information from different sources in one place so that it is easy for me and my team to find and utilize. Reports, document libraries, various applications for storing relevant information, just to name a few, are neatly easy to find and use in one place.

Ease of working challenges us

Ease of use and versatile functionalities that support teamwork also bring challenges – partly between the user’s ears, partly for the way the organization operates. The common denominator is trust. Confidence that, as a user, I do things right and in the right place. What is essential for an organization is that users handle the information that belongs to them in a secure way.

One of the concrete challenges, partly related to trust, is a way for the end-user and the organization to avoid duplication of groups and channels so that many of the same groups do not arise around the same issue or topic. To meet this challenge, we have developed Solu365, which provides structured manageability for creating groups on a one-stop-shop basis.

Who gets to see and what – outside organizational boundaries and beyond

In my previous blog, I highlighted the importance of a playbook for using Teams, which brings help to the challenges mentioned above. To sum up very roughly, the playbook overcomes one key, recurring challenge: “Who gets to see and what”. Personally, I see it as the visibility of things that is one of the most important things to consider; whether Teams should be used solely as a tool for your own organization and work with outsiders, for example through SharePoint.

A security risk is a situation where the organization or the user him/herself does not know clearly enough how the tools are used, where the documents are stored, and how they appear there. Indeed, the document may be accidentally saved to a location that external users can access. Attitudes towards users outside the organization are one of the most important issues during training sessions.

From the Wild West to controlled takeover

New tools may be introduced in organizations, but their implementation to make work more efficient is left to employees without clear guidelines from management. Such an uncontrolled way often leads to the so-called Wild West phenomenon, and a wide variety of practices and uses emerge between different users, teams, and departments. In retrospect, it is more difficult and challenging to take over as people become accustomed to their own ways of using or not using tools.

It seems typical that on the Teams side, things are prepared internally by discussing them more openly. The documents created from the preparation are then uploaded to the document library, which is distributed externally either on the Teams channel or SharePoint site. Ignorance of Teams and SharePoint’s coexistence and interdependence comes up confusingly often in training. Participants’ expressions tell of the moment of insight they experience when they see one and the same document being saved to SharePoint. Teams, which shows the same document, is just an interface with SharePoint running in the background. Simple as a matter and process but holds many points where things might go wrong.

The above insight allows for practices that can be adapted to different needs, creating a path that is easier to navigate. By reflecting on and aligning policies and Microsoft Teams guidelines and instructions in an organization’s playbook together with users representing different functions and stakeholders, we are well on our way to changing the work culture. The implementation of clear and simple practices should be taken forward in small pieces and in stages so that the change in user behavior regarding the adoption of new tools and routines is successful.

Uninterruptible supply for continuous updates

Until a few years ago, the Office suite update was easy to handle a couple of times a year. Today, things are moving forward with a much faster cycle, and updates to the functionalities and interface are released almost weekly. In addition, larger updates are published monthly as well as quarterly.

The tight pace of updating requires even the most experienced user to constantly monitor and familiarize themselves with the new functionalities and features. Tracking systematic updates cannot be placed on the shoulders of the end-user. Good experiences have been gained in the customer organization from so-called power users. These individuals actively monitor new functionalities, become familiar with them, apply them to organizational practices, and further guide other users to use the new functionalities. The use of such a group of people is, of course, an investment, but I would see such an investment as quickly yielding tangible benefits in terms of work efficiency, and time is not wasted in a “how do I do” type of thinking.

Learn about our customers’ stories – how can modern workgroup and document management solutions make your organization’s work and management with information more efficient?

Arno Hakkarainen
Senior consultant

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