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Beyond Individualism – Streamline Task Collaboration with Microsoft Teams

Work success is a step-by-step process which goes beyond finishing a number of tasks. Success is determined by several other factors like: team collaboration, knowledge sharing, access to last-minute decisions, and quick find and search of documents. Microsoft is an enabler for routines that work at individual level to enforce team collaboration on getting things done on time, while ensuring quality standards are met. 

Microsoft Teams facilitates task collaboration by:      

  • Integrating with Outlook for prompt notifications and scheduling;    
  • Tapping directly into OneDrive and SharePoint;       
  • Supporting videoconferencing, recording and sharing;       
  • Enabling knowledge sharing in interest groups or channels;        
  • Integrating with native task tracking and task automation applications;        
  • Connecting groups and departments as partitions that work together and are connected 24/7. 

Tasks make planning actionable and drive the fulfilment of business goals.

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Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash 

The work that teams perform needs to be carefully planned and diligently actioned upon. Tasks ensure workload is properly managed from beginning till end. Teams rely on tasks to get the work done in accordance to business plans. To complete tasks, teams need the right tools for collaboration and sharing in one place. As the name suggests it, Microsoft Teams is a holistic tool to cater for any team requirement, from ideation to completion.  

While working on tasks requires individual effort and focus, being part of a team implies that individual results need to be harmonized among each other. Microsoft Teams supports the seamless blending of individual outcomes in the larger business goal

Background collaboration shadows task breakdown.

Task breakdown is the initial step managers or leads need to focus on. 

How does Microsoft Teams support this? 

  • Create teams and channels
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Create a team to include all the users which must have access to a particular set of assets and which contribute to a business goal together. Within a team, create channels to differentiate between discussion topics or interest groups.

Teams and channels can be extended with new users, new tabs (Files, Notes, Wiki, SharePoint, YouTube, Confluence and many more), and be controlled at permission level. Once you create a team or a channel, several items are automatically created: a team/channel email address, a team/channel link, a Meet Now button, a Schedule Meeting button and many more. 

  • Use instant chat and video meetings 
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Use the Chat section to initiate individual conversations or calls with Microsoft Teams users. You can always go back and read the chat conversation.

Organize meetings, share your screen, distribute files, and record important meetings. Send the recording link to people who might have missed the discussion and watch the recording any time. 

  • Keep yourself informed and in the loop 
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Users are notified when new posts are published, when users are tagged, when chats are initiated, or when channels are changed. Prioritize your work as needed. You will never miss new information. 

  • Manage schedules 
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Microsoft Teams is integrated with Outlook, so access the Calendar section to view and adjust your daily meetings, plan other meetings or forward invitations. 

  • Manage tasks

So how do you get to create and assign work tasks? Use the Apps section in Microsoft Teams to add Microsoft Planner as a tab to your team or channel. Here is an article on how to use it. 

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Use Microsoft Planner to:      

- Divide your work into chunks. These are called buckets in Microsoft Planner.     

- Under each bucket, add tasks and their: due date, description, assignments, check lists (or sub-tasks), priorities.

- Visualize task distribution, user distribution, overall progress on the embedded Kanban-like boards, charts or schedules. 

Knowledge sharing advances task progress.

Task progress is the middle layer of work, the step where work is performed, and where things need to be monitored and adapted. 

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Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash 

How does Microsoft Teams support this? 

  • Recall information

When files are shared in a team or a channel, they are automatically stored in SharePoint in a file library. Go to the Files section from the Microsoft Teams side-bar navigation to access all the files ever shared with you or the Files tab in a specific channel to look only for what is shared within a given group.

Do you want to rewatch a meeting or demo recording which happened in a meeting some time ago? Access Microsoft Stream and browse for the recording. Anything that got shared or recorded can easily be traced due to the built-in application convergence and alignment.    

  • Distribute knowledge

Add new teams or new channels (to existing teams) to enable staff to focus on specific tasks, features, or business goals. Keep yourself Agile at all times.       

  • Monitor task progress

Use the dashboard function of your task plans (created with Microsoft Planner) to add descriptions or checklists (sub-tasks) to your tasks, to reassign tasks, or to filter tasks by users in order to manage your staff workload optimally.    

  • Find the right people

Outlook integration enables you to find people who have specific knowledge and start a conversation with them in chat.     

  • Get the best answers

Once you start working, you soon realize that some decisions, changes, and fixes require consensus and validation. Sometimes, you discover something unexpected which you are not sure how to solve or which you cannot find specifications for. In such cases, instead of sending rounds of email, you can use the Apps section in Microsoft Teams to connect to Microsoft Forms and create a poll or a survey. 

Dashboard views and automation add extra checkpoints for task completion. 

Task completion is the step where work is validated against initial requirements and business goal integration. 

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Photo by J. Kelly Brito on Unsplash 

How does Microsoft Teams support this? 

  • Trigger automated workflows

Microsoft Teams integrates with Flow (in the Apps section) to give you the proper leverage when automating sequenced or repetitive actions. To this end, Flow enables you to create workflows which are triggered when something happens in Teams: a user adds a message asking you to answer a question or perform a new task, a user is added to a channel, a particular type of announcement is made, some information requires a quick answer, a user is mentioned in a channel and so on. Workflows are great ways to zoom out of an issue and visualize the bottlenecks.

The available triggers include activities related to users or messages: adding information, listing information, creating an entity and so on. Workflows can be easily built with the help of templates, pre-defined blocks, list, drag-and-drop operations, decisions arrows, native and external integration with various data sources (SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics, Yammer and so on). 

Here are some examples: 

  • Task automation - Let’s say that you are a Manager who wants to automate task creation while the project is in progress. You are in a meeting where a decision is made to introduce a Select All feature. You want to ensure that a task is automatically created if your meeting notes mention some key words like “to do”. Therefore, you open Microsoft Teams, access Apps, select Flow and configure a workflow which: 
  1. Identifies your key words in any given message;
  2. Generates a task once the message is posted;
  3. Drafts the tasks to include details such as: requester, message containing request, task name, feedback loop to get notified once the task is finished. 
  • Approval or sign-off automation – Let’s say you are part of the Marketing department and you produced a whitepaper that needs feedback and approval from several managers. Use Flow to configure a workflow which:
  1. Redirects stakeholders to a SharePoint document where they can contribute with comments;
  2. Enables you to sequence the hierarchy of people who need to provide input;
  3. Helps you track and implement all the feedback. 
  • Onboarding – Let’s say you are a Technical Team Lead and you need to borrow some people from another team for a limited period of time. Your new team members need to be onboarded quickly. You want to give all of them access to your knowledge base information before they can start working. Your knowledge base consists of a combination of OneDrive and SharePoint content which is kept up to date. Use Flow to configure a workflow which: 
  1. Posts information in a group or channel or which creates a new channel tab each time new members are added to a team;
  2. Enables you to include links to the OneDrive and SharePoint content you want to share. 
  • Access dashboard views of your team’s work

We mentioned earlier that you can create and monitor task progress via Microsoft Planner by embedding plans straight in your team or channel. As your project is coming to a close, access your plan dashboard to check completion rates, list the items that still need your attention, and close finished work. 

  • Build productivity apps 

The Apps section of Microsoft Teams can help you connect to more advanced tools like Microsoft PowerApps to build custom applications which work cross-device. PowerApps is straightforward to use and it helps you build specific applications which can further streamline approvals, decisions, data collection, list compilation, and automatic data or file synchronization. PowerApps can draw upon the information on SharePoint lists and libraries. 

Businesses need a reliable digital team assistant that can boost productivity and support resolutions. 

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Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash 

Microsoft Teams is readily available with your business Microsoft subscription and is designed to give your teams all the instruments they need to work together F2F, remotely or in a hybrid setup. Microsoft Teams delivers on outcomes such as high availability of knowledge, meetup flexibility, and process control. 

Use Microsoft Teams to:

  • Recreate the feel of a F2F meeting, while enhancing it with digital tool support;    
  • Track and trace business decisions from note taking to feature validation and demos;     
  • Use digital task breakdown and monitoring with Microsoft Planner;        
  • Have easy access to all the written and video content resulting from chats and meetings;    
  • Distribute work at the level of channels and keep members focused on relevant information;      
  • Have assets stored behind scenes in Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Streams;
  • Enforce group permissions for controlled visibility;       
  • Engage in lively discussions and orchestrate business continuity.