Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s fastest-growing product ever, due in large part to the exploding need for high-quality remote collaboration and conferencing tools. In 2019, Teams had 30 million daily active users. One year later, that number was 75 million, and two years later it was 115 million. So, if it seems like everyone and their subsidiaries are switching to Teams these days, that’s not far from reality. And as a Microsoft 365 admin, you’ve probably been involved in that.
Accenture is a huge company with over half a million employees globally, using Skype for Business as their primary teleconferencing tool, but they recently switched to Teams, and their statistics are summarized in the following graphic. Look at those numbers! Within 2.5 months, Accenture migrated all 500,000 employees to Teams, where they now generate 1.1 billion audio minutes per month and 120 million video minutes. And that’s just one company!
Let’s say you’ve rolled out Teams in your Microsoft 365 SaaS platform, and your company has decided to standardize on it. Is everyone in your organization using Teams? Maybe, maybe not. The only way to know is to look at the data.
You can get some information about usage from the standard Microsoft Teams Admin console, but sometimes it can be a little bit…basic. CoreView expands the available usage information, offering deep and rich reporting on who’s using Teams and who isn’t.
For example, have a look at the report shown below. It’s a demo CoreView report of inactive users. Notice from the pie chart that 19% of users in the company haven’t used teams in the last 30 days. (You could see some other time interval instead if you wanted, like 60 or 90 days.) That’s useful information to have because if people aren’t using it, there must be a reason. Do they need some training? Some technical help? The more you know, the more you can get those usage numbers up.
Another interesting data metric to look at is adoption and usage over time. Are people and departments using teams more and more? Or have things leveled off, or even taking a dip? The following graphic shows a report that’s available in CoreView’s Teams Advanced Add-On. This kind of adoption information is useful because it can help you look for rogue departments and individuals who aren’t getting aboard the Team train as directed. If a department starts using Teams less and less, they are probably using something else instead—and paying for it. Having that information can tell you whom you need to “encourage” to get back on the corporate standard.
Depending on how long you’ve had teams deployed, things might have started to get a little messy. Maybe you have some Teams channels that aren’t active anymore, or you have groups with no owners (or even no members at all). Such groups can usually be deleted without any adverse effects.
Even if a certain team isn’t ripe for deletion, it may still need cleanup. For example, often an external member will be added in for a project. When the project completes, and the external person’s role has been completed, they’re still there, usually just because nobody remembers to remove them. And nobody remembers to remove them because nobody has received a report that reminds them to. CoreView reports can let the right people know which teams and users are active or inactive, so they can make Teams more orderly and tidier. That’s good not only from an administrative standpoint but also from a security one.
One especially nice feature of a CoreView report is that you can act on the data that it returns from right there in the report. So, let’s say that you have a Teams group with no owners or members. You generate a CoreView report, and from that report, you can click a couple of commands, and poof—it’s gone.
Cleaning up your Teams groups is not a one-time activity—it’s an ongoing task to put on your to-do list, perhaps monthly or quarterly. That’s where being able to automate activities with CoreView comes into play. You can schedule several different reports to run at specified intervals, and then you can automation to them by running workflows, which are like advanced macros or mini-programs that do your bidding. You could set up a workflow to automatically remove the unwanted groups, or you could have it ask for approval from an IT administrator before it happens. There are a lot of possibilities and capabilities in there to keep your Teams environment clean.
How’s the call quality for audio, video, and sharing in your Teams tenant? If you just look at the basic data provided by Microsoft’s admin tools, you might get the wrong impression.
Microsoft’s analytics assess each call for overall quality; they don’t separately consider audio, video, and sharing quality. The aggregate performance shown in the following figure seems to indicate that nearly 50% of all calls have poor performance.
But this level of analysis doesn’t tell the whole story—and ultimately isn’t that useful in helping you figure out how to improve call quality. For example, maybe the voice was fine, but the video wasn’t. Or maybe voice and video were fine, but sharing wasn’t very good. Regardless of the root issue, the entire call ends up being marked as poor. If you’re just looking at that one metric that Microsoft provides, because it’s Microsoft making this determination, you might think that everyone’s having a terrible user experience.
With CoreView you can drill down into the data a little bit further. The following figure shows the same data in more detail. At the top is the aggregate of all the metrics. The following rows show just the audio, video, and sharing, respectively. You can see at a glance here that audio is not a problem at all. That’s good to know because audio is typically the most important, essential piece of the pie—making sure everyone can hear each other.
Another potential problem with just looking at Microsoft’s data is that the way Microsoft assesses call quality doesn’t always correspond to the user’s perceived experience. You need to also look at what the user reports. So, let’s say that you’re concerned that some users are having lots of “poor” calls. You can drill down into that user and check the user feedback, to see how the user personally rated different calls. Sometimes Microsoft will ask you to rate a call after completing it, and when you do, that data is placed in a User Feedback field. By comparing the User Feedback rating to Microsoft’s call quality assessment, you can learn whether call quality is affecting the user’s experience or not.
Microsoft offers several tools for administering the Microsoft 365 Teams environment. You’ve got the Teams Admin portal and the Teams client, for starters. At the global level for the Admin Center, you’ve got roles such as these:
The problem with those roles, though, is that they’re global. If someone is a Teams Administrator, for example, then they are that for the entire tenant. And often it’s better (as well as safer) to not give someone the keys to the entire kingdom just because they need to be able to unlock a few doors.
Of course, you can set policies in terms of what users can and cannot do. If you want to get fancy with reporting, you can dive into PowerBI, and of course, at the end of the day, there’s always PowerShell. You can write PowerShell scripts to enable or disable features and get very creative with them. You can even use PowerShell to pull out information into an Excel spreadsheet, which you can glam up with formatting and send out as reports. But that’s assuming you have an administrator who can run PowerShell on your tenant—and who has the time to do it.
CoreView takes a bit of a different approach to Teams management. Instead of having predefined roles that you can’t change, we offer Functional Access Control—in other words, custom roles. They are much more granular than the Microsoft Teams roles. The figure below shows all the different management actions that you can delegate to someone for Teams with CoreView. So, for example, you could authorize someone just to manage phone numbers for a subset of users—and that’s all they can do. You could give someone else the ability to manage Team’s policies. You can create as many custom permissions as you want. If you give someone the ability to edit phone numbers, you can even limit the phone numbers to a certain country code or area code.
All this flexibility is possible through a capability that we call virtual tenants. A virtual tenant is essentially a filter that limits what delegated administrators to see. Suppose you’ve got a single tenant, but maybe you have multiple locations or multiple departments. Virtual tenants enable you to divide up the duties by country, facility, or department—or just about any Active Directory attribute. Virtual tenants enable you to give local people the ability to manage their local users and local resources. Each office or region can have its local person who can manage teams, reset passwords, and do other routine administrative tasks for their own office.
It’s the same thing for Team’s roles. On the Microsoft side, you’ve got the pre-defined roles. The CoreView side has custom roles of functional Access Control where you can drill down and give people the ability to do exactly what they need to do and no more. You can delegate some of the admin functions off to managers or local IT as you see fit, limiting the visibility of delegated admins with our virtual tenants so they can only do what they’re supposed to do.
Want to know more about how CoreView improves Team’s administration? Watch the following video, which demos some of the features that have been discussed.
The basic version of CoreView includes a lot of Teams functionality right out of the box, but if you need even more visibility into Team’s usage and qualities, we recommend supplementing your CoreView installation with the Teams Advanced Add-In. This extra set of features includes the tools you need to take advantage of call quality metrics, adoption growth data, and PTSN usage information. Some of the features discussed in this article and in the above video rely on this add-in.
Want to learn more about CoreView and how it can help you administer your Microsoft 365 system—including Teams? Here are some resources:
Check out CoreView’s Resources page, where you will find links to dozens of guides, whitepapers, and videos.