Communication and collaboration: why we needed Microsoft Teams

To help improve our communication and collaboration, reduce unnecessary burdens in the working day, and to generally make everyone’s lives a bit easier, we have started to use Microsoft Teams. 

The first thing to say is that as specialist provider of serviced software, we understand how paying to use a dedicated, outsourced tool built by experts would provide us with functionality beyond any we could build for the same price. 

The second thing to say is: boy, it’s handy! 

In this article, we’re going to run through the principal reasons why we started using Teams. We’ll do this by examining some of the organisational challenges we faced as a business. 

It’s a bit much to put everything in a single post, so today we’ll just look at why we’ve done this, and, in a later post, we’ll go into a bit more detail on how we concluded that Teams (instead of another platform) was the technology for us. 

Productivity impetus 

While we were able to work, with team members at multiple locations outside the office, and we had tools to meet most of our needs, we weren’t maximising our productivity. 

Information was stored on multiple systems and communications were taking place across several different platforms. Using up to eight different technologies to fulfil these tasks presented a series of key challenges: 

  • Locating and sharing information with relevant people 
  • Different information siloed in different systems, with different people granted access to each 
  • Ability to communicate quickly and efficiently was limited 
  • Interruptions – work being disturbed for unproductive reasons (like locating info) 

Chief among our challenges was email. How often are you cc’d in an extensive email chain that is of only marginal interest? Equally, how often have you realised that a vital piece of information is lodged in a deep chain and you’re forced to scroll the whole thing to locate it? Well, it was the same for us. 

When you get many tens or even hundreds of emails each day, managing them soon becomes a productivity sink. It’s hard to stay on top of, most aren’t relevant, it’s difficult to block stuff and it’s hard to search. That’s good neither for business nor general stress levels. 

But perhaps our biggest beef with email is that everything appears to have the same importance, where the reality is that some communications and pieces of information require close, constant attention, whereas others require only a lighter association. Our move to Teams has enabled us to make this distinction by creating teams and channels that are our core work areas and others that we can keep a general eye on and dip into when needed. 

We have got a bit ahead of ourselves, let’s go back to why we needed Teams in the first place.  

Our requirements 

We needed a tool that could empower us. We needed a tool that could bring communications, tasks, documents and more into a single location where access was universal. 

We needed a single, searchable communication system that would: 

  • Minimise impact on flow (reduce task-switching) 
  • Create faster responses through a wider audience 
  • Prevent information overload (know what is important and what isn’t) 
  • Make it easy to handover tasks and files 
  • Make it easy for managers to stay up-to-date 

In addition, we needed a unified task list that promoted transparency across teams, so we could: 

  • Pass tasks without losing information 
  • Assess progress easily 
  • Identify gaps and bottlenecks 
  • Stop things being forgotten 

What’s more, we needed the ability to quickly and easily see progress on projects, so we could: 

  • Have better awareness – to see the opportunities to help each other 
  • Identify bottlenecks 
  • Keep management (and customers) up-to-date 

We also needed to be able to work effectively with consultants and customers, reduce our daily complexity and solve all these challenges with a tool that took minimal effort to adopt. 

So, Teams then? 

Teams, as part of the Office365 ecosystem, allowed us to do all of this and it would also enhance rather than hinder our efforts around data security and compliance. In fact, we couldn’t really find another tool that so adequately fitted out requirements. As we were already an Office365 customer, once the decision was made to go with Teams it was just a case of switching it on. 

Teams lets us to keep everything in a single place, it has global search (so locating stuff is easier – it also integrates with Microsoft Delve and Sharepoint enterprise searches) and multiple other handy integrations; but beyond everything else, it has made life simpler and more productive for everyone in the business by enabling differentiation – that ability to prioritise tasks and communications in a way that’s more effective than before.

Find out more about MS Teams

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