MS Teams - a creature that lives. Interview with Jarosław Szybiński (TTMS)
What would you improve in Microsoft Teams? – Working with Teams and Office 365 is a bit like a paranoid dream. Microsoft continues to add, improve and change features. Sometimes I don’t know, if there was something missing yesterday or if it’s just my imagination – says Jarosław Szybiński, Business Development Manager at Transition Technologies – Managed Services.
Why should one use Microsoft Teams? What principles should we follow when implementing it in our organization? You will find answers to these and many other questions in our conversation with Jarosław.
Before the pandemic, Slack was a frequently chosen communicator among the IT industry. Why has the number of Microsoft Teams users increased dramatically?
Slack is a good system for collaboration and many people, especially developers, still use it. However, Teams is much more – both a very efficient and easy-to-use teleconference platform, a place to work on projects and the possibility of extending the functionality using third-party or self-written applications. It is also significant, that Microsoft helped its customers a lot during the pandemic by giving free access to Teams, helping with implementation and providing training materials.
What is the advantage of Microsoft Teams over other messengers or cloud services for teams?
It is primarily integration with the entire Office / Microsoft 365 ecosystem. That gives us single sign-on, common security and search. And even more important issue is Teams multitasking, i.e. in the ability to work effectively in groups on joint projects , in addition to the standard communication functions.
What is the history of your Microsoft Teams training courses?
We, in TTMS, wondered how we could help companies and people, who are suddenly thrown into the vortex of remote work. These are often people without deep IT knowledge, for whom getting to know Teams was not easy. Because we know both Office 365 and Teams very well, and we also create complete e-learning trainings, we thought that our contribution could be training for remote work in Teams. At the same time, it turned out that few people can use the training package, because it has to be launched on an e-learning platform to be able to undergo training. This gave us an impulse for further work – we launched a free training platform, embedded our training there and made it available for free.
What is the training service you run at TTMS about? How long do they last and how do they look like?
At TTMS, we focus on creating e-learning trainings in various forms. Usually, we are contacted by companies, that send their employees materials in PDF or PowerPoint presentations for self-study as part of on-boarding or later in the process of improving competences. It’s not a very engaging way to learn. Instead, we offer the same substantive content (health and safety, compliance, product training, training with Office 365), but conducted in an interactive form, with exercises, quizzes, and progress recording. More advanced training takes the form of a game, people move virtual offices, take part in an escape room game – so that employees have a chance to acquire knowledge in an attractive and engaging way.
Who is this training for?
The training is directed to the entire enterprise, especially if it’s a form of e-learning. If our role is to implement Teams in the company, we also organize training courses for managerial staff, internal trainers and Teams ambassadors. It takes a form of workshops, where participants perform exercises, have a chance to ask questions whether to work through their own work case, so as to put the O365 / Teams functions into practice.
What opportunities does Microsoft Teams provide for enterprises? It would be great if you could describe them with examples.
First, you can take advantage of the communication advantages, especially nowadays, which it seems will not pass so quickly. So people working in teams have a chance to contact colleagues in a simple and attractive way. In our company, in the group of people involved in sales and management, we meet every day at 9.00 am to synchronize our efforts and feel part of the team – it is a very motivating challenge.
Second, once people are familiar with Teams, it’s worth checking to see, if we can help with teamwork using the built-in features. We do it in the form of brainstorming and interviews with clients, where they talk about their business processes, about their problems, and reflect with us on the possibilities of improvement. You can help quickly here, because Teams has a wide range of possibilities. A good example could be the support of project meetings, where we showed the team how to manage documents in the project, where to save meeting minutes and how to build a FAQ. It turned out, that most of their needs were at hand.
Third, it happens that the organization needs very individual support of a complicated business process. We can help here by building a custom-made application inside Teams. An example of this was the application for our banking client who had a problem with agreeing legal acts between various departments. Now the coordinators of these acts have a full view of the approval process, and send the documents for final approval by the members of the Management Board using a qualified signature – everything is automated and easy to use (TED – TTMS Enterprise Docflow).
After what time should your organization feel the benefits of using Microsoft Teams?
The first stage of communication, especially now – with pandemic pressures – is achieved in the first 2-3 weeks. After the first training sessions, people quickly learn to use the communication part.
The second and third stage – group work and business processes support – is a work in a longer time horizon. Especially, that it requires a change in our habits, and this usually takes 2-4 months. In this case, we engage in change management using the Prosci methodology, so that the changes are permanent and that customers benefit from them.
Who do you think Microsoft Teams services are of no use to?
For micro-companies with 1-5 people, who see each other every day in a shared office, the work organization overhead may not be useful. Also companies, that have alternatives, although in my opinion the kit from Microsoft is still the easiest to use and offers the most opportunities that can be used by employees, not necessarily from IT.
What would you improve in Microsoft Teams?
There are a few things that are waiting for Microsoft to improve. In the training part, we are still waiting for rooms – so we can divide the training group into small training groups.
A moment ago I would say, that there is no possibility of copying the entire group task plan, but just last week Microsoft added it. Working with Teams and Office 365 is a bit like a paranoid dream. Microsoft continues to add, improve and change features. Sometimes I don’t know if something was missing yesterday, or if it’s just my imagination.
In the cooperation part we miss quotes and threads, that are present, for example, in Slack. In the software development part we are still waiting for a greater opportunity to interact with Office 365 functions from the level of applications we write – there are still many things that cannot be done.
Is there any set of tips for new organizations starting their adventure with Microsoft Teams?
Since most organizations implement Teams with their IT department, they are committing the sin of overabundance of knowledge and skills. They assume, that employees of other departments will be able to cope quickly and will learn all the functions of group work, and then put them into practice. However, this does not happen and we often observe such a paradox in our clients, when teams get tired of several different applications, manually translating data between them, while having Teams, which they only use for chat and conferences, which has all the functions they need.
It is important to conduct needs-discovery workshops and check how we can help employees – sometimes by only organizing the process itself, applying ready-made Teams functions or writing some improvements.
Only the approach, when the teams say what they need, rehearse the process in a new form, and then are supported for the next few weeks, gives lasting results. We have experience in such a process and we are happy to help, because sometimes it is easier for outsiders to look at old problems with a fresh eye.
Jarosław Szybiński – Microsoft Sales Director at TTMS. He deals with the implementation of changes in large companies in Poland and abroad based on Microsoft technology. He manages projects, in which the main role are: communication systems based on Microsoft Teams and Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Power BI. He worked for 11 years at Microsoft and Predica, dealing with the sale and implementation of communication platforms – from Intranets to teleconference systems, paying special attention to the human aspect of change – key to the success of this type of project.
Translation: Marcin Kapuściński, Transition Technologies MS S.A.