Microsoft Teams is now THE way that enterprises collaborate, and the number one solution for serious remote work applications.
Gartner knows this space as well as anyone, and sees Microsoft Teams as fundamental to enterprise Digital Workplace initiatives and driving Digital Dexterity. “Microsoft Teams represents the most transformational application for teamwork and productivity within Office 365,” Gartner argued in its A 6-Step Checklist for Effective Deployment of Microsoft Teams in the Digital Workplace report, downloadable free.
Teams actually helps overcome challenges posed by Office 365 (recently renamed Microsoft 365) itself. “Workers often see Microsoft Office 365 as a collection of tools without a unifying experience for teamwork,” the research house explained. Meanwhile, end users even when they have access to Teams, use less sophisticated ways to communicate. “Email remains the most common way for teams to converse and coordinate their work, limiting collaboration adoption initiatives,” Gartner analysis found. Finally, in too many cases ‘unsanctioned’ or Shadow IT messaging tools are used in place of Teams, wasting money, splintering collaboration efforts and leading to compliance and security concerns.
Gartner heartily recommends that M365/O365 shops move to Teams, and do so in a planned and disciplined way. Bolstering these Microsoft Teams adoption efforts is Gartner’s ACME framework, short for Activity, Content, Motivation, and Enabling technology.
The key to deploying and optimizing the use of Microsoft Teams is taking full advantage of all it has to offer. The stumbling block here is there are so many tools already in place trying to do what Teams was designed to accomplish.
“In the midst of the transition to a digital workplace, organizations are finding that the productivity, content, communication, collaboration, and work management tools that employees use every day — for creating and sharing content, searching for information, collaborating in teams, participating in meetings, analyzing data, and scheduling work-related activities — are becoming more numerous and diverse,” Gartner said. “While the choice of tools and style of work are democratized, the growing diversity of tools also can create friction.”
Here Gartner espouses the benefits of what it calls workstream collaboration, for which Teams is perfectly suited, and serves as a ‘foundational platform’.
“Workstream collaboration products are designed from the ground up as a conversational workspace that integrates a wide variety of productivity tools and business software applications. Workspaces are divided into channels where chat streams represent different discussions about that business activity,” Gartner explained.
So let’s get started on the Teams workstream collaboration journey, which requires only six steps.
Step 1: Apply Gartner ACME Framework to Microsoft Teams Deployment
Activity, Content, Motivation, and Enabling technology or ACME “establishes a means for organizations to create a prioritized portfolio of collaboration, content and communication tools based on each product’s strategic relationship and role in the enterprise overall,” Gartner argued.
For the purposes of Teams deployment and optimization, the Microsoft solution is the glue that holds your collaboration efforts together. If you have already chosen Microsoft Teams, congratulations! You have finished step one.
Step 2: Get Ready for Microsoft Teams Rollout
Teams is not really so much a single solution as a set of related and integrated collaboration and communications services. So unlike a word processor you roll out in one swoop, Teams is far more complex. O365 itself is much the same, a deep set of related services that need to be rolled out. The trick is making Teams part of your overall M365/O365 roadmap.
“Since Microsoft Teams builds upon Office 365 applications and infrastructure, it can take more coordination and commitment to ‘get it right’ across the entire enterprise. If Microsoft Teams becomes a foundational part of an organization’s collaboration portfolio, it is highly likely that so will SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business,” Gartner pointed out.
Step 3: Tackle Administration, Tighten Security
Microsoft Teams is a rich and complex set of services which require proper end user configuration and security processes to insure all this shared data is safe.
“When Microsoft Teams is available to all licensed employees as part of the Office 365, relying only on viral adoption is not a practice Gartner recommends. Since primary value of Microsoft Teams is for more purposeful, outcome-driven collaborative work by groups, it is best-positioned and enabled iteratively in phases,” Gartner advised. “Defining tenant-wide settings as well as settings for applications, external or guest access, and specific workspace settings is also a key decision-point. Since Teams leverages other underlying applications such as Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint, coordination with other Office 365 administrators should be a continuous activity to ensure proper alignment.”
Security and regulatory compliance are also critical. “Workstream collaboration tools are often applied to accomplish more serious work activities related to business processes and projects. As a result, security and compliance decisions are more critical in the early stages of operational readiness. For Microsoft Teams, this means that issues related to data encryption, data residency, audit, archival, and related compliance needs should be identified and handled before making the application broadly available across the enterprise,” Gartner argued.
Step 4: Craft a Phased Rollout Plan
Trying to get end users to embrace every feature of Teams in a single swipe is not just nearly impossible, but also far from optimum. Not only do users have to learn to use the services properly, they also need appropriate configuration, and IT has to be prepared to provide support. “For Microsoft Teams, Gartner recommends that digital workplace application leaders work with business and other IT groups to define a deployment framework that breaks capabilities made available into tracks and phases,” the researchers said.
Training is crucial, and IT should “ensure that a variety of formal training and self-help resources are available and socialized through the intranet and employee outreach efforts. Key stakeholders here are those leading the rollout of Office 365 and contacts in professional development and training,” Gartner said. “Consider launching a champion program consisting of ‘power users’ acting as local mentors and coaches. This program might be part of an overall Office 365 champion program.”
Step 5: Dive into Analytics to Drive Operational Maturity
Moving to Microsoft Teams is best viewed as a long-term relationship, so as use grows, IT should track the benefits on both a qualitative and quantitative basis. Qualitative feedback comes from end users, either directly, by using surveys tools, or tracking internal social media such as through Microsoft Yammer.
Quantitative data is available through the O365 Admin Center, and that data can be greatly enriched and made actionable through the CoreView O365 management, security and adoption solution.
“Activity data can help shape progression of communication and community-building efforts across the workforce. Information can be shared with Teams support communities, help modify training resources, and inform management, senior leadership, and other stakeholders regarding business impact,” Gartner argued. “Making effective use of analytics is a key success factor in deploying and gaining effective business and employee use from Microsoft Teams. Analytical insight allows digital workplace application leaders to stay abreast of adoption patterns and make iterative adjustments to how deployment actions are sequenced and prioritized within and across phases.”
Step 6: Grapple with Governance
Mature IT organizations care deeply about governance, and since Teams holds so much essential data and supports critical business activities, make sure it abides by enterprise IT standards. “Stakeholders, business value, strategic planning, project execution, application and infrastructure oversight, funding, resource allocation, timelines, and decision-rights are all topics that can be formulated into a governance model for Microsoft Teams,” Gartner suggested. “Teams will become the focal point for all types of group work as well as individual productivity needs. It is likely to become the dominant user experience for employees associated with Office 365. When it comes to the IT organization, governance includes created shared competences and practices related to Microsoft Teams custom development efforts.”
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