[Microsoft Ignite recap] 5 advancements that will help you better manage Microsoft Teams

Stylized version of the Teams logo and windows representing administration features.

In the less than four years since its release, Microsoft Teams has become a critical communication and collaboration tool. If you’re an admin managing Teams, these Microsoft Ignite announcements will make your workflows more efficient than ever.

One of the things our current pandemic has taught us is that the workplace of the future is going to be a hybrid situation. We’ll have some people working in offices and we’ll have others working remotely. It’s a balancing act for all involved.

This means that IT Admins will need to be equally nimble, moving seamlessly between on-prem and cloud-based systems to manage. This requires distinct skill sets that may at times overlap quite well, but at others, seem like completely different professions.

In the session, “One place for admins to manage Microsoft Teams: What’s new in Teams manageability“, Ronit Ben-Sheffer, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Microsoft Teams and James Stark (@nomorephones), Principal Program Manager for Microsoft Teams, dove deep into updates that aim to help Teams admins succeed with whatever systems they have in place or will need to deploy in the future.

Microsoft Teams admin center

One of the major announcements about Teams at Microsoft Ignite had to do with enhancements to the Microsoft Teams admin center. It has been improved to become the hub for Teams administration—a centralized home for admin tasks, policies, reporting, and analytics.

The new portal can help IT admins:

  • Manage new devices within Teams
  • Manage automatic alerting
  • Delegate specific device management to an admin role (This allows a partner to manage Teams on your behalf)

With these new enhancements, the people who administer Microsoft Teams and implement new policies and controls will see their lives get easier over the next year, with a greater ability to keep the work of tomorrow moving along—no matter the location.

Microsoft Teams for phones

Many companies that are using Microsoft Teams may not realize that you can tie hardware telephony systems to your Microsoft Teams, creating one global communications system.

This can help you make even more out of your Teams investment. For employees who are working remotely, it allows Teams admins to manage telephony from within the Teams admin center.

There is a new, powerful set of features that enable calling plan capabilities and direct routing. This allows Microsoft Teams to replace traditional PBX systems with cloud-based software.

For analytics and reporting, Microsoft is announcing large event reporting support. They’re improving the data capabilities within the call quality dashboard. This additional data provides more information around calling plans and direct routing, as well as granular data details with time stamps for better troubleshooting.

Assigning policies to groups

In Teams, policies allow a custom experience and confirm that an end user gets the experience they need from your organization. However, applying these policies hasn’t been a simple process. In the past, custom policies had to be applied to each user individually.

Or, an administrator had to use a PowerShell script to do bulk operations.

Now, it’s possible to use the Team admin center to bulk-assign policies to groups—which allows more efficient application management. Bulk assignment allows administrators to apply policies to large groups of up to 50,000 users. This could be used across a wide variety of Teams features, from meetings to voice calls. (Of course, you can still do administration using PowerShell to automate your processes.)

Teams application management has never been easier

Microsoft Teams has become the hub for accessing your apps and workflows in Microsoft 365. And Microsoft has streamlined the app lifecycle by adding automation. This allows everyone in the application life cycle, from developers to IT admins, to collaborate on app creation, deployment, and integration.

First, there is a new, streamlined process to review and then approve apps in the admin center. Developers are able to create an app and, in just minutes, complete the customer app submission process.

Once published, IT can make said app immediately available to end users. This simplified process makes it easy to give end users the tools they need quickly.

Additionally, admins can now also purchase licenses for apps with paid offers. And they have the ability to approve and unblock third party apps for users, promoting a self-service mindset.

Three layers of analytics

As part of Microsoft’s efforts to improve Teams manageability, they announced adding new web reports to the Teams admin center. These reports offer a three layer strategy to provide a wide range of possibilities:

  1. The first layer is for admins who are not data analysts. It contains large predefined sets of reports.
  2. The second layer allows data analysts the ability to create dashboards. These reports and dashboards can also combine organizational data using data from across the organization. This allows for rich visualizations.
  3. The third layer provides access to the Microsoft Graph APIs, offering a public data source. This allows analysts to access insights that are part of Microsoft 365 services.

Teams keeps getting better

These new policies, application management capabilities, and analytics tools for Microsoft Teams are some of the exciting things we heard at Microsoft Ignite that are coming out this year.

Microsoft clearly has IT admins in mind with these announcements, which are sure to make Teams administration easier. In addition to simplifying administration, Microsoft also makes it possible for IT to use the analytics built into Teams.

Analysts can also take advantage of the more advanced features of the product. These enhancements to the Teams admin center will make it easier for admins to make the most out of Microsoft Teams over the coming year.

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