Today’s episode guest is Jeff Godderz, Enterprise Content Management Architect, Project Management Professional, and Certified Business Analyst Professional at the Minnesota Metropolitan Council.
With his team, Jeff managed to roll out Microsoft Teams for their 2000 remote employees and promote an inclusive culture with the help of a tool that provides multi-generational access to their diverse community.
Listen and discover why it’s important to look out for tools in improving the modern workplace experience.
In this episode:
Prior to my role as a Relationship Associate, I worked in Wells Fargo Wealth Management in Personal Trust. There, I saw a tremendous need for a collaboration software where we didn’t have to email files back and forth, which is just inefficient. So, I was already piqued by an interest in wanting to be more collaborative on my own.
And then given the opportunity, I started working as a Relationship Associate at Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust. Even without an IT background, I worked with SharePoint 2007 and trained other Relationship Managers and Associates across the country on the software and tried to enable more productivity and collaboration that way.
When Enterprise Content Management took over business ownership of Office 365 in 2015, I moved over and became a Business Systems Analyst, which leads me to where I’m at today.
The Minnesota Metropolitan Council
The Metropolitan Council is a regional government. We work across the counties and cities to help plan for future growth in the twin cities and make that a seamless experience when you’re crossing borders or counties. We have different divisions—environmental services, community development, metropolitan transportation services.
And then we have the regional administration. We’re a quasi-division, but we support the rest of the other divisions, making sure that they can accomplish what they need to accomplish. So, teams like finance, enterprise content management, information services—we’re all within that centralized services area of regional administration.
Working with the government during Covid-19
My team supports the primary resource for online collaboration meetings—Microsoft Teams. Having the whole organization move to working remotely has been planned for and the resources are already there, but it’s been challenging. It’s been challenging to train people and to meet with all the people who want to meet with me. So, it’s been hectic. But overall, Teams in the GCC has been holding up really well.
Rolling out Teams
When we adopted the Office 365, we didn’t know Teams was going to come along. What we wanted was to allow our organization to collaborate more effectively and manage their own permissions, so we didn’t advertise that heavily. When we rolled out Teams, we had a lot of communication about that together with our SharePoint upgrade. Initially, there was a big spike. There was a big jump, and it actually took over Skype for Business immediately. I’m actually looking this summer to remove Skype for business as we’ve jumped even more.
But when COVID hit, we had about 2000 people working from home, and we recognized that it was more important for people to understand the communication happening around COVID. And so, I haven’t been actively pushing the communication about Teams too much other than networking with people and putting out sessions for Q and A, which I’m having about 200 people attend to each one of those right now, in respect to the more important communication that had to happen.
Initial roadblocks and promoting inclusive culture
The roadblocks really are what they’ve always been, which is the confusion between chat and our team channels. A lot of people just really struggle with understanding how all of this is put together and what area to go for what. Teams are supposed to help with teamwork, and that’s what we’re encouraging and telling people about. But there tends to be a little bit more communication that must occur to help people understand what that means.
I think it’s also important to recognize the organizational culture and how we have a lot of different generations in the workplace. We must understand how to segment the tool where they can use it and to provide access to multi-generational use.
Teams for frontline workers
Adopting Teams for our frontline workers is something I would love to do, but there’s always a caveat here. The challenge with bus operators, rail operators, and maintenance folks is that they don’t really need to be on the system to perform the job duty they’re on. So, you run into some labor relations issues there, which are extremely challenging to navigate. But we’re working on it. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring that workforce in and stop printing things for them, but it all depends on a lot of different elements.
Part of our SharePoint administration, and now Teams, is we don’t allow end-users to create these resources on their own, so we liked the self-service automation aspect of the Cloud Governance, which allows us to do that. In addition, our council has different divisions which have very different cultures, and this effluent tool enables us to manage permissions in one central location.
We also want more governance and structure around our intranet sites. We don’t want a lot of collaborators there, so we always want to understand why, what’s the content, and what’s the purpose whenever someone wants to create a site. We want it to be more static information and information that those departments are putting out to the organization, so it won’t be too confusing to understand.
So right now, our priority is just allowing the organization to create teams and next is implementing life cycle management.
Data retention and Records Management
We are bound by a lot of different regulations — FTA, EPA, among others. There’s also a lot of different government agencies that have requirements of us as well as state statutes, so it’s definitely important for us to organize our records.
What we have is a Records Retention Manager who works with individual business units to come up with retention schedules. So, we’re not really automating this right now. An employee or staff member needs to determine if it’s a record, and then put it in our long-term retention system.
Moving forward, we do want to do some things. We are thinking about going to E5 to enable the Azure Information Protection to automate a lot of this. And then in Teams, we set the channel chats to be indefinite because business decisions get made there and we can’t have them drop off where we can’t recover those and referenced them in the future.
Providing a modern workplace for a remote workforce
There are a few things we haven’t rolled out with Teams yet, like live meetings. I would like to get there, and I think there’s a definite need right now. Project Cortex is something interesting that I have a lot of interest in.
But first thing first, I have a whole lot of other things to keep up to date with right now. Something I care a lot about is automating metadata into document libraries. And then adding in MyHub to Teams to enable the end user to submit requests for new teams and sites there. We’re also looking into Project Online upgrade. The commercial side’s gotten upgraded, and it looks like there’s a lot of really cool tools there. Hopefully we’ll be able to get those soon in the GCC. I liked the connection into Teams and just makes that collaboration component much better.
You have to understand that end users may want to do things and use tools, and you should be there to guide and train them. Adoption won’t happen instantly. Once your nerves calm and you understand your capability to govern these tools on the backend, I think that’ll relieve a lot of the anxiety around it. And that’s what really enabled more self-creation and self-help for our end users and allowing them to be trusted partners. So, I think the shift happens in conjunction with my team and information services, my app developers, and infrastructure staff that help support the tool.
Today’s takeaway from Jeff:
“The approach you can take is understand what your business needs are, then teach people the tools that would help them achieve that.”
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