2016 I started my Business Management studies. One of the main subjects in this area is Project Management. In order to learn about all of the relevant topics in project management, my teacher separated us into project teams, where each team is responsible for a different project. My team consists of five other project managers and our topic is Knowledge Management. In this project, we simulate working at a company which has problems handling information and knowledge. Our goal is to introduce a system which must solve the problem of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of this organization. The real project's goal is to learn and practice the different project management tools, such as stakeholder analysis, risk analysis...
Each team member has their own IT background. Everyone has been working with the different tools for team communication. When we started working together, we first tried to find an unique tool everyone could use to reach the following requirements:
- Manage project files (Word, Excel, Project etc.)
- Chat (post links, post emojis J etc.)
- Everyone must have access to the system
- OneNote (protocols, brainstorming, notes etc.)
The tools we used:
After a short brainstorming session, we had the following tools for file sharing and instant messaging to choose from:
- Google Drive
At this point I was very proud that none of us suggested Facebook J
So, we ended up with Dropbox and WhatsApp because most of us know and use them. Here is where the problem started because most of us have been using these tools. We also had people in our group who didn’t have WhatsApp or Dropbox.
In the following appointments we noticed that Dropbox wasn't working as expected. Many of us didn't get the Dropbox link because they didn't have WhatsApp and other of us didn't have success accessing the Dropbox. Well, we moved from Dropbox to personal OneDrive which worked great. Everyone now had access to the project files, but we still had problems with the communication over chat. Those guys (actually ME) who didn't have WhatsApp weren't able to participate in the project’s conversation. A friendly classmate of mine started sending me SMS, so I could now join the conversation.
Lessons learned at this point:
- Define the communication channels asap, so you can focus on essential topics.
- Use communication and collaboration tools which people are familiarized with. It leads to high acceptance and short learning curve.
- If necessary, spend time training people about how to use new tools, so no one gets left out.
Our OneDrive WhatsApp SMS solution for communication and collaboration was working and everyone could deal with it. Of course, we still had the following problems:
- Only one person had full control over the files in the personal OneDrive.
- Different tools for chat.
That couldn't be the final solution...
I've been working with Microsoft Teams for the past six months and I’m very satisfied with the way small teams (I haven’t used it with more than 10 people in one team) can work together using that tool. Actually, it has all requirements we're looking for: integrated chat and file management. There was only one problem: “Full guest access”. At the time we started our project, Microsoft Teams didn’t support full guest access. It means that you weren’t able to invite people to Teams who had a Gmail or even an Outlook account.
Things change with the time!
At the end of February 2018, Microsoft announced support for full guest access in Teams. Oh my gosh J Since I have my own Office 365 tenant, I immediately created a team and started configuring it. Below I’ll demonstrate to you how to create a team based on my essential requirements.
1. Create a team
Open Microsoft Teams and click Add team, then Create team and fill in the form which pop up. Here is what my settings look like:
After the team was created, I removed the Wiki tab since I didn’t need that.
2. Migrate the existing data from OneDrive to Teams
At the time of the migration, our OneDrive had one OneNote and three Excel files. I just downloaded the files from OneDrive and uploaded them into Teams under Files / General. Since I wanted my team to use OneNote from an exclusive tab, I turned OneNote into a tab. Here are the steps: click Add a tab (+), then choose the OneNote tile. Select Paste a OneNote link and enter your OneNote’s WopiFrame URL. Unfortunately, I couldn’t use the option Browse notebooks for that. Here is what my settings look like:
Advice: In case you don’t have an extra OneNote notebook, you can either create a new notebook or use the default one. Since Teams has a SharePoint site in the background, you already have a default notebook which is stored in the SharePoint site under Site Assets.
3. Invite project members as guest users
Before inviting external users to Teams, you must enable it in Office 365. Navigate to Services & add-ins (https://portal.office.com/adminportal/home#/Settings/ServicesAndAddIns), then click Microsoft Teams. Under Settings by user/license type select Guest and finally turn Microsoft Teams on for all users of this type. Here is how it looks:
To invite people to your team as guest user, I’d suggest you use this Microsoft documentation.
4. Add a custom app
By default, you can’t add custom apps to Teams. Navigate to Services & add-ins (https://portal.office.com/adminportal/home#/Settings/ServicesAndAddIns), then click Microsoft Teams. Under Apps turn on Allow sideloading of external apps. Here is how it looks:
I created an app which gives my team access to the teacher’s website. This way we can directly access relevant files from a tab in Teams skipping a couple of steps to get there. To add a custom app in Teams, click the store link in the left navigation, then click Upload a custom app to upload your ZIP file.
Important: The button Upload a custom app only appears if you have turned on Allow sideloading of external apps in your Office 365 tenant.
5. The "big picture"
Here a short legend of the tabs:
- Conversations: General posts which are visible to everyone in a channel. Chats are also possible through Teams
- Files: Can store files and folders. It supports uploading files using drag and drop
- OneNote: Direct access to OneNote through Teams
- Mexsos: Custom app
I’d have preferred my learning institution had supported Office 365 Education, so we wouldn’t have had this stress. Anyway, I listed here the good and bad of Teams from my point of view:
- Communication and collaboration inside one tool. For instance, you don’t leave Teams when you open Excel files
- Come as you are! It doesn’t matter if you have an Outlook or Gmail account. Anything works J No extra Microsoft licenses are needed when you’re added as a guest user
- Very powerful and fast search which searches through all content (files, chats etc.) in Teams
- Web and desktop clients
- Teams app for Android (probably also for iOS):
- Custom apps don’t appear in the tabs
- External guests can’t use it
- Adding external guests through the app doesn’t work if they’re being added for the first time in the tenant
- It takes a long time until OneNote is loaded in Teams. Loading animation is missing!
- When the team’s calendar is opened directly as a web site in Teams, this notification appears: Last time we checked, this site wouldn't load inside our web app
- No templates for Teams: Don’t repeat yourself!
Microsoft Teams is a central point to many Office 365 functions which is being developed very fast. Here you find its roadmap. I’m happy to have Teams in Office 365 and I love the way communication and collaboration at work and in schools becomes easier with it.
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