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Getting started with Microsoft Teams: Tips and tricks from Microsoft MVPs

Image of a Teams icon with Chapter 2, Win as a Team written overtop of it and the names of six Microsoft MVPs Image of a Teams icon with Chapter 2, Win as a Team written overtop of it and the names of six Microsoft MVPs

Looking to deploy Microsoft Teams? Microsoft MVPs share their tips and tricks to getting started.

ShareGate’s easy-to-use SaaS tools enable organizations to achieve more than ever before with Microsoft cloud technologies. In this excerpt from our eBook, Win as a Team!, Microsoft MVPs offer insights on how you can empower users to use Teams effectively and leverage it to its full potential.

As organizations transition to all new ways of working—virtual collaboration, full-time remote work, and borderless offices (to name a few)—Microsoft Teams has risen as a critical piece of productivity software. And with this rise in Teams usage, IT admins and managers are asking lots of questions and looking for advice on how to get started.

To lend a helping hand, we decided to reach out to our friends in the Microsoft community. We’ve compiled their tips and tricks to getting started with Teams—so you can drive your team to efficient Teams usage from the get-go!

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How to use Microsoft Teams

It’s strange. Most software requires you to understand its particular strengths and weaknesses to get the most out of it.

Teams, however, is powered by how people collaborate—making it important to know your own company’s objectives and culture. It’s less about the software, and more about you.

You can think of Teams as a:

  • “Virtual glue” that can hold projects and departments and organizations together
  • “Window to the work”, that helps people stay in touch with what their colleagues are doing
  • “Forum for improvement” where co-workers can observe the thought process that led to an outcome, and then provide feedback to drive improvements

At the end of the day, Teams is malleable; it can be what you need it to be. 

Tips to getting started with Microsoft Teams—according to Microsoft MVPs

We reached out to our friends in the Microsoft community to see what guidance they could offer. The Microsoft MVPs we talked to shared the following tips for getting started with Microsoft Teams:

  1. Try to keep things in perspective—Benjamin Niaulin
  2. Understand the implications of actions before getting started—Mark Rackley
  3. Resist the urge to complicate… keep it simple—Andy Huneycutt
  4. Make sure default settings meet your default needs—Rick Van Rousselt
  5. Look to the needs of the user—Jennifer Mason
  6. Consumption does not equal adoption—Tracy Van Der Schyff

#1: Try to keep things in perspective

Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin), Head of Product, ShareGate, Office Apps & Services MVP, and Microsoft Regional Director

Illustration of Benjamin Niaulin

“Ultimately, Teams is a white box where people chat. It’s a space you create for people to have ongoing chats about different intent-driven projects. 

Teams is not a place to store files. The files you see stored in the Files tab aren’t stored there because Teams isn’t capable of storing them. It’s showing your team’s files that are stored on your team’s team site in SharePoint. Still with me? 

Teams isn’t some magical unicorn—it’s a group chat. 

The power of Teams is that you have the chat room, and then you have the tabs at the top that allow you to see things from other parts of Microsoft 365—or outside of your tenant completely! 

Teams isn’t some magical unicorn—it’s a group chat.

Benjamin Niaulin, Microsoft MVP (@bniaulin) Tweet this

It allows you to grab content from whichever tool is best for the action at hand—then lets you display it right there for your team and your colleagues. People don’t have to jump from SharePoint to Outlook to Wiki and back. They stay in the same tool.”

Source: https://sharegate.com/blog/webinar-deploy-microsoft-teams-stay-in-control


#2: Understand the implications of actions before getting started

Mark Rackley (@mrackley), Partner/Chief Strategy Officer, PAIT Group and Microsoft 365 MVP

Illustration of Mark Rackley

“Before going to Microsoft Teams, organizations really need to stop and educate the people that are going to be using Teams.  

Help them understand the implications of creating new teams.  

And maybe they don’t need a new team, maybe they need a new channel… 

Proper education is going to be key to making sure that you don’t lose control of your Teams environment.

Mark Rackley, Microsoft MVP (@mrackley) Tweet this

And do they really need a private channel? Do they know what happens when you create a private channel?  

Proper education is going to be key to making sure that you don’t lose control of your Teams environment.”


#3: Resist the urge to complicate… keep it simple

Andy Huneycutt (@AndyHuneycutt), Owner, UpSkill Tech, Inc. and Office Apps & Services MVP

Illustration of Andy Huneycutt

“Resist the urge to do too much—keep it simple.  

Too often organizations try to roll out Teams and focus on the big picture—which can lead to frustration and low user adoption.  

Don’t overload users with significant shifts in how they work and overwhelm them with new features.  

Teams is simply a tool we use to get existing jobs done, so make it easy for users to get started.

Andy Huneycutt, Microsoft MVP (@AndyHuneycutt) Tweet this

Remember: Teams is simply a tool we use to get existing jobs done, so make it easy for users to get started.  

Teams is all about communication and collaboration, so begin with something simple for end-users: build a foundation with the familiar. We text, email, and call every day.  

Teams chat takes the familiar and extends it, intuitively allowing the user to ease into Teams and grow over time.”


#4: Make sure default settings meet your default needs

Rick Van Rousselt (@RickVanRousselt), Managing Consultant/Technical Evangelist, Advantive and Office Apps & Services MVP

Illustration of Rick Van Rousselt

“Creating a new tenant and starting to use Teams quickly is, especially in these times, a common practice.  

But not all default settings are configured to what most people want.  

Not all default settings are configured to what most people want.

Rick Van Rousselt, Microsoft MVP (@RickVanRousselt) Tweet this

A simple one, for example, is the discoverability of private teams. There is no reason to start using private teams if all users can find them and can probably extract some kind of information from the team name alone.

Take the time to configure the tenant how you want it and set a good foundation.”


#5: Look to the needs of the user

Jennifer Mason (@jennifermason), Vice President Workforce Transformation & Learning, Planet Technologies, Office Apps & Services MVP, and Microsoft Regional Director

Illustration of Jennifer Mason

“When we look at implementing Microsoft Teams, one of the biggest mistakes we can make is looking at it as a technology improvement vs a process change. 

If we get so excited about the newest tools and technologies, we can lose sight of the real-life issues that will be blockers to user adoption.  

If our starting point is understanding users and uncovering ways that Microsoft Teams can increase their productivity, reduce their time on tasks, and provide them more immediate information, digital transformation will come naturally to our users. 

If our starting point is understand users… digital transformation will come [to them] naturally.

Jennifer Mason, Microsoft MVP (@jennifermason) Tweet this

Getting to truly know your users and how they work is the best advice I would give when implementing any technology. 

If you know how they work, you can easily relate how the new features will help them work better.”


#6: Consumption does not equal adoption

Tracy Van Der Schyff (@tracyvds), Microsoft 365 Coach & Catalyst, The Guid Stuff and Office Servers and Services MVP

Illustration of Tracy Van Der Schyff

“If users do not get training, they will create unnecessary teams and, eventually, feel overwhelmed. This is classic ‘over adoption’, just like we did with folders in Outlook as well as nested folders in file shares. 

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if thousands of teams get created in your company you have adoption.  You are not a winner. This is not a numbers game.

Users need to have the training to understand what happens in the background when a team is created or what the purpose of Microsoft Teams is, and fully utilize all the features. Otherwise, it’s not fair to them.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that if thousands of teams get created… you have adoption. This is not a numbers game.

Tracy Van Der Schyff, Microsoft MVP (@tracyvds) Tweet this

Consumption is the number of teams created. Adoption is actually ’doing things right and doing the right things.’ If they’re not enjoying using Microsoft Teams, belong to gazillions of unnecessary teams, and it doesn’t make their lives easier—then we’re doing this wrong.

Note: We have approximately 1.5 billion cars, buses, and trucks on our roads. That’s consumption, NOT adoption. Believe me, many people with driver’s licenses should not be driving. 

#JustSaying”

Source: https://tracyvanderschyff.com/2020/02/24/microsoftteams-10-things-you-should-know/ 

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