You implemented Microsoft Teams in a rush… now what?!

Kelly Grosskreutz / June 09, 2020
You implemented Microsoft Teams in a rush… now what?!

I’d like to take you back to a simpler time when we planned our days around the snow forecast, we spent time daydreaming about spring break vacations, and we commiserated in the breakroom with our colleagues about how long the daily commute took.  

Let’s call that time February 2020.  

At that same time, many organizations were starting to look at their technology roadmap to determine what investments in new tech they would be making in the short and long term. While many organizations had Microsoft Teams on the horizon, more than half were not planning to get serious about adoption for another 6-9 months, at best.  

And then in rolled March 2020 – kicking in the door and shouting, LET’S MIX THINGS UP A BIT! 

On Wednesday, March 11, Microsoft reported 32 million daily Microsoft Teams users – not bad, right? 

Fast-forward one week to March 18 and that number jumped 12 MILLION users to 44 million daily Teams users. WOW. 

Microsoft quickly began making performance adjustments in their data centers to accommodate the extreme influx of traffic without negatively impacting their fresh-faced new users. They did things like reduce video resolution on both recording and playback. They decreased the frequency of Teams presence checks. They limited the use of the real-time typing update (the bouncing dots that let you know someone was working on a message for you). And they haven’t stopped there… they’ve increased the video panel to 9 video feeds, so that we can go full-on Brady Bunch mode while we meet as a team. They’ve added a conversation pop-out feature and the enhancements keep coming! 

And while all of these features and functionality from Microsoft are great, we’re finding some users are still wrapping their heads around this new way of working. For organizations that weren’t quite ready to jump into the deep end of Microsoft Teams, they are still adjusting to the pool temperature after being pushed off the diving board. Because make no mistake, most organizations that quickly fired up Teams in the month of March very likely did not have a well-thought-out governance plan and strategy in place to guide their rollout.  

With that thought in mind, I’d like to spend some time addressing the key tenant configuration and end-user-facing Teams application setup items that I believe are fundamental to any solid Microsoft Teams implementation.  

Back-end tenant configuration 

Infrastructure/back-end setup items may seem intimidating, but they don’t need to be. I’ve broken down the top 4 configuration areas that should be considered in your Microsoft Teams implementation to ensure success. 

1. Azure Active Directory Connect 
Azure AD Connect is a critical success element for organizations that still have an on-premises Active Directory environment. Implementing Azure AD Connect will ensure your end users have a smooth login experience when they are navigating between an on-premises tool (like their Outlook inbox) and the Microsoft Teams application. To them, these programs are on their computer, so they should behave the same and consistently know who the user is that is logged in. With Azure AD Connect in place, you can deliver this seamless experience. However, it will require minimally leveraging a virtual server to install some key elements. 

2. Enable Multifactor Authentication (MFA) 
The unfortunate reality is that a password alone is no longer good enough to protect your account in the online world. This is where MFA comes into play. MFA will almost immediately improve your security posture within the company, protect you and your organization from repercussions during a security incident, and will provide protection for personal information for your employees. If you haven’t started an implementation plan for MFA, today would be a great day to begin. 

3. Limit who can create new Microsoft Teams teams 
Before your users utter the phrase “Wild West” in conjunction with your Microsoft Teams implementation, safeguard yourself by limiting who can create new Microsoft Teams. But, don’t be a jerk about it – once you’ve limited who can create Teams, you should also publish a request form and process for members of your organization to request a new Team when they have a legitimate business need for one. 

4. Implement a Record Retention policy 
Spend at least 30 minutes reviewing your base Teams record retention policy settings and you’ll save yourself some major headaches in the future. Did you ignore this setting and just realize that is turned off by default? If so, you aren’t retaining any data. Fix it. Did you go overly paranoid and set your retention policy to retain all data forever and ever and ever? PLEASE fix it.  

End-user facing changes 

While Microsoft Teams has had the most impressive end-user adoption response than any tool I’ve ever seen, there’s always rooms for better engagement with your users. In lieu of posting more moderately appropriate GIFs or doling out more flying unicorn praise badges, here are some end-user adoption tactics I have seen be highly successful. 

1. Consider creating an org-wide team. 
Organization-wide Teams include your entire host of tenant users (excluding external) without requiring them to opt-in to the Team. You can only have 5 org-wide teams in your tenant, but with well thought out channels, you may find you only need one of them.  

Examples of org-wide channels include:

    All Company Announcements
No mystery on this channel – use it for announcements that impact all of your users, such as holiday hour reminders, benefit enrollment dates, and any company-wide policy updates. 
Hint: consider locking access on this channel down to moderators/owners only. This will help you avoid an influx of unsolicited feedback on your organization’s policy announcements. 
Encourage teammates to @mention each other using praise badges and GIFs 
  Office location channels 
Want to announce that the food truck is outside? Is there a vehicle in the parking lot with their lights on? Did someone find a misplaced laptop power cord? Post these on your office-specific channels and eliminate a few more mass emails! 

2. Create a Microsoft Teams Help channel 
Are your users still unsure of how to get going with Teams? Not sure what questions they should ask or what they can and cannot do with Teams? Give them a channel! More importantly, use that channel to share training video snippets, @mention power users and give them praise badges. Basically, use the channel to highlight the different ways in which your team can be using Teams! 
Hint: Microsoft has some great training resources you can link to as a new tab on your Microsoft Teams Help channel. Check them out here.  

3. Publish a Microsoft Teams request form 
Circling back on the #1 way to not be a jerky Teams Administrator… before you restrict who can create new collaboration spaces in Teams, make sure you have given your users a way to request a new team if they need one! Keep this form simple for the best possible user experience, including the bare minimum, such as:  

    Team Name
Ask your users to tell you what they will be using it for – this will help you detect any potential duplicates! 
  Team Owners  
No less than 2 people should be named as Owners
  Type: Public, Private, or Org-wide 

4. Refresh end user training 
If Teams was introduced during the months of March or even April 2020, there’s a very good possibility that your users weren’t 100% engaged in training. Take the opportunity to circle back with them on the basics! If you need help, HBS recorded a video you can share with your users. Check it out here.  

If you have already implemented/addressed the items above, pat yourself on the back – you’re in great shape! If you have not addressed these areas, give them some thought. Even implementing one or two of the suggestions above will help the Microsoft Teams pool water feel more friendly and inviting.  

Kelly Grosskreutz
About the Author

Kelly Grosskreutz
Business Productivity Manager

Kelly has been a self-proclaimed Microsoft enthusiast for over a decade, spending most of her time as a SharePoint groupie. Her background ranges from global SharePoint collaboration implementations to Skype for Business telephony replacement, and – of late – expansion into the Microsoft Dynamics toolset. Kelly now leads the growing Business Productivity practice at Heartland Business Systems where the team specializes in delighting customers with technology solutions that simplify their lives, streamline processes, and inject a spark of innovation into their daily routines.

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