Taking collaboration to the next level: Microsoft Teams

In today’s information age, communication, connection and content are more accessible than ever before. Social media is no longer a passing trend: its exponential growth and rate of cross-generational adoption is paving the way for stronger community ties worldwide. But it’s also set a new precedent for how businesses communicate. A fact that is now influencing the technology choices of SMEs and corporates looking for better ways to interact, collaborate and drive productivity.

Regardless of geography and company size, collaboration software or platforms are rapidly becoming the go-to technology for business owners and managers wanting to centralise team communication. Some of the more popular platforms such as SharePoint, Skype for Business and Slack provide a range of tools and functionality such as document sharing, group chat, conferencing and social media, but many are limited as they don’t offer a full range of tools in one platform.

This limitation puts significant ongoing demand on your IT resources and also fosters inefficiency due to siloed communication channels. However Microsoft has recently launched a new collaboration platform called Microsoft Teams that offers a solution. Defined by Microsoft as a chat-centred workspace, it’s included in the latest Office 365 bundle and provides a comprehensive, centralised point for communications and sharing.

Microsoft Teams integrates many popular collaborative functions in one platform, making it an efficient tool for business owners and managers wanting seamless communication across the organisation. Equally important, it also provides a smooth transition for staff to use the platform, as its presentation format and features such as threads, notifications and @mentions are similar to social media.

Depending on your business needs, you can establish separate collaborative groups known as ‘teams’ according to location, department, project and so on. These teams then become a central communication point for members to have group or private conversations and meetings, share files and notes, and access websites and apps. Within each team, individual conversations are created as channels; unique, searchable threads that team members can read and respond to at any time.

Microsoft Teams has several powerful features of benefit to business owners. These include:

1. Voice and video communications – With collaboration now just as likely to happen between countries as between desks, a high standard of audio and video conferencing capability is vital.

Microsoft Teams provides enterprise-grade audio visual communications via Skype, but the key distinction between this and the earlier Skype for Business is its capacity to record, transcribe and translate calls, which can then be tracked and searched via the conversation thread. This makes it easy for channel members to retrieve and refer back to call content whenever they need it, even if they did not participate in the call.

And it’s especially valuable when on-boarding new team members who need to get up to speed on the team’s history as quickly as possible.

2. Outside collaboration – Sometimes the value of collaboration comes from bringing in an outside perspective.

Microsoft Teams enables you to provide guest access to trusted outsiders such as partners, suppliers and freelancers who can then participate in individual teams at the level of access you choose. This not only enriches the collaborative process, but can reduce the time spent on waiting for feedback, forwarding information and follow up.

3. Integration with other Microsoft products – If your business already uses Office 365, adding Teams to your toolkit will give you greater overall control since all your systems are in one place.

This also streamlines the implementation process, and provides familiarity for your staff, making them more likely to quickly engage and use the platform.

However, it’s highly recommend you engage an experienced consultant who can guide you and employ a tool such as FastTrack to streamline the transition to the new platform and minimise downtime.

4. Flexible access – Increased age diversity and staff mobility mean that having more than one way to access technology and tools is essential. Microsoft Teams is available on desktop, web and mobile app for iOS or Android.

If you don’t believe us, we can prove it! We use Microsoft Teams across teams in Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and France. It is a flexible tool that allows us to collaborate in Agile ways, build Kanban boards and burn down charts, allocate tasks and expectations, communicate on priorities in geographically distributed ‘stand ups’ and get jobs done! Having all the files, applications, team members, project tasks visualised and native within Microsoft Teams means we don’t have to relearn multiple systems. Quite simply it’s great!

The barriers to business communications are shrinking. Professionals around the world can now collaborate and interact effortlessly in real time. Teamwork is essential, but for a business to be competitive, this must also be efficient. By leveraging the social media communication style we’re familiar with and the existing functionality and flexibility of cloud based Office 365, the Microsoft Teams collaboration platform offers a practical solution for business owners: one that delivers greater control over processes and data, encourages stronger human connections and boosts productivity.

change and meeting your customers’ needs is a constant, doing nothing isn’t an option. Be sure you are partnering with a company with the depth and breadth of expertise you require. Particularly one who can help you navigate end-to-end managed services, cloud, mobile and paperless office technology. GPK consultant, Ben Holian, is available for a no obligation discussion on how GPK can help you reduce operational costs, manage your IT footprint more effectively and create an exceptional experience for your customers. Contact: Phone 1300 000 475 or email for more information.

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