Why Microsoft Teams Isn’t Just Skype 2.0

Post Date: 04/28/2020
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After talking to a lot of folks new to Microsoft Teams, I’ve found that many seem to think of the platform as a simple evolution of Skype—so much so that they use Teams and Zoom, or Teams and their file share. But the thing is, Teams has the same functionalities as those other tools already built-in. If you’re dealing with end users who are having trouble seeing Microsoft Teams for all it has to offer, here are three major actions you can take.

1. Educate Your Organization

First, it’s important to keep your users informed on where Teams stores content, how it stores content, the tools you get on the backend, and so on. Perhaps more importantly of all, you want to ensure users know that they get a SharePoint site associated with every new Team. That backend SharePoint site means they get everything that makes SharePoint fantastic; the separate website, the ability to create pages, lists, libraries, and the power to display content in an easy-to-consume manner. Most new users won’t know about this, however, and will just start storing files in Teams without any forethought.

In past posts we’ve talked about creating a champions program for your Microsoft Teams rollout. This might not be a training everyone in the organization has to undergo, but try to find a few people who’re interested in the technology and want to learn and educate themselves on what it has to offer. That way they can get working with folks on a ground level and introduce them to new features early on.

You also want to open the door to having an education mindset in your organization. Sometimes all it takes is a ten-minute conversation to open someone up to being more comfortable with leveraging a Team chat and channel vs. relying on email for everything. If someone truly doesn’t understand how Teams is set up and how it functions, take the time to explain it or establish educational materials that new users can reference.

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2. Commit to Using Microsoft Teams Holistically

Since you made an investment in Microsoft 365, it’s only natural that you’d want to take your collaboration to the next level. For this to happen, business leaders need to encourage holistic adoption and discourage usage of file shares and other outside tools.

Now, before you type that comment—yes, I know there are specific regulated industries that have to work via file shares. But for those who’re interested in taking advantage of all Microsoft Teams has to offer, it’s worth sitting down and looking at how you’re using file shares and email distribution lists today. If keeping track of things in your file share is messy, or if you have an email distribution list that you’re constantly CCing people on, consider encouraging people to open up and bring that content and collaboration into something more Teams-centric.

Make the Move from Skype to Teams

3. Make Your Adoption of Technology a Habit

Right now, as you’re reading this, make a reminder to check in with your team and see how they’re adjusting to Microsoft Teams six months down the line. I’m willing to bet that anyone who does this will be surprised by how their usage of Teams will change in half a year—especially if you have new employees or are working at an operational tempo. And that’s not a bad thing at all.

If you take that time to check in on end users on a regular basis—especially if you’re in a position where you can talk to/have someone talk to multiple departments—you’re going to end up finding that best practices will gradually develop and be refined as the feedback starts rolling in. You’ll see what works, what doesn’t work, and be able to adjust accordingly.

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For instance: We have a team OneNote that’s attached to our Team and is easily accessible via a tab. I got some feedback from a new hire saying “Hey, there are a lot of channels in this Team for past projects. Is there a way to hide them?”

While he could have worked in a cluttered team, it was vital to adjust and make the process as smooth as possible to deter other new users from using off-platform collaboration tools. It’s small learning opportunities like that which can make all the difference. For everyone person who asks the question. There may be three who don’t feel comfortable. Be proactive and check in with the team regularly.

In Closing

Moving to a holistic approach to Microsoft Teams usage is simpler than you might think. First, ensure that your team is educated in what Microsoft Teams is actually capable of. If they’re calling it Skype 2.0, explain why it isn’t that. Make a commitment to using Microsoft Teams in its entirety and make a case for why it’s worthwhile. And finally, work to create a culture that’s always learning and trying to find better ways to work on a regularly scheduled basis. That way you can really capture all the growth that happens throughout the organization over time.

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Sam Valme is Senior Director of Partner Experience at AvePoint, working out of our Arlington, Virginia office.

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