Teams as a Platform

For employees starting their day Microsoft Teams is the front door to your organization. Opening the door provides them tools, services and collaboration related and targeted to their role. They get access to applications that are integrated to backend and other systems and they can interact with Teams UI to get access services and processes available to them while performing tasks in a single user interface on any device – inside Microsoft Teams.

It may sound like a future vision but this is already the reality and used in several enterprises throughout the world. Applications and integrations brought into Teams make it possible to create this to every organization and to every user since it is possible to distribute applications, automations and other available capabilities based on user’s role.

When thinking about Microsoft Teams we tend to focus on things we have used in past 9 months: meetings, calls, conversations, editing documents, working together on projects or sales materials: collaborating with our colleagues, partners and network. We might have added some applications to Teams as well (Polly, Trello, Youtube, ..) but they feel like “add-ons” and not part of the real business process. This is partially a change in the way we think we should be used Teams but also that we haven’t unleashed the full potential Teams can provide for our organization and to it’s success.

How long does it take to train users to get started with new traditional business solutions? Typically you need to use a yet another web page used to log into the solution. Or you need to install / distribute a new application to the mobile device and sometimes add a VPN-connection there as well to be able to access the backend system from outside company network.

Teams makes this a very different experience: users log into Teams and they find apps and capabilities there – already available. Very often these apps extend Teams in a natural way so they think user don’t have to think these would be somehow separate experiences: they are using Teams and business apps at the same time. This shortens the learning curve and thus makes adapting new tools quicker and getting benefits earlier. This all sums to the Return of Investment which happens faster with Teams applications.

When your business specific applications are part of employees’ Teams experience there is a one added benefit: notifications from backend services can go directly to Teams activity feed. This way user sees the context (summary messages) and can take actions to the message immediately (taking user to the right portion of the chat or application directly) to act right away. This reduces delays compared to ,for example, email notifications that have a link taking user to sign into a another app or portal. Utilizing this for different services and approval processes reduces delays and thus makes the business process complete faster.

The big key thing with Teams is however the ability to do “everything” inside one user interface. Everything is quoted because it naturally has limits but designed in a smart way business applications surface the most often needed & most critical parts to users via Teams. Randomly used needs, especially those used by only a few people, should stay in the original service to keep the cost lower and usability higher in Teams. This leads to less need to switch between applications and acting on notifications meaning in reality users are more productive and save time since they don’t have to login and out of different applications. They just do everything inside Teams.

Power Platform ❤ Microsoft Teams

The need for quick to develop and deploy applications is greater than ever. Organizations, divisions and teams have their unique needs in the business and the changing world makes it necessary to be able to reflect that in applications and processes rapidly. As a low-code solution the Power Platform builds on the Teams as a Platform story with important blocks by enabling power users and citizen developers to use their business knowledge and transform it to working solutions. Constructing the outcome from vision to reality in Microsoft Teams helps users again to adapt these tools into use with a very low learning curve.

Some capabilities Power Platform brings to teams are automating tasks and data processing, creating even team level context-aware application, acting based on messages and of course building full applications with Power Apps. How about creating smart bots with Power Virtual Agents that can take off load from your support organization? Bringing in business reports and KPIs directly to management team members using Power BI? Several solutions can be build in-house or with some guidance from our consultants but when the size grows the more formal and managed the development curve needs to be. We have customers who get buy it as a full solutions, with some customers we help & guide them to take rights steps and some customers opt to attend our courses so they can learn more and use that knowledge to build their own applications. The beauty of Power Platform is in the scaling from personal productivity to organization wide solutions that are managed, governed and distributed by company administrators. Quite super, I would say!

One trait that is strongly attached with Power Platform is the rapid response to change: a shot idea-to-daily use timespan.

Use bots to reduce load at support


It hasn’t been heard once or twice how key supports teams, like HR and IT, are under a heavy load. They are being bombarded with routine questions and processes more often than you’d think. What are our benefits, where I report the expenses, my mouse doesn’t work – how do I get a new one etc etc.. A decent knowledge base with smart language understanding can fix out a big chunk of questions. How about routine cases like solving computer issues with questions, fetching information from backend systems to users (how much I have worked overtime, I need to update my tax / account information, … ) to just simply asking can I be on leave in a specific time. All this is part of the digital transformation but for the average employee and support team member it is about saving time, providing answers and getting things solved as quickly as possible. Even 24/7. This is why smart conversational bots are a big future thing and recent changes (Project Oakdale) brings Power Virtual Agents usable in teams without having to buy a currently sold (that easily expensive in the internal use).

And with Project Oakdale you can create bots even at project team level. How about creating a Q&A base with that and also adding some logic how project related tasks could be performed without going to some web page that requires a separate authentication and VPN. Usually integration with hour reporting system is one of those very often used ones.

A big thing is that Power Virtual Agent bots work in the Teams mobile. This allows lots of employees to use chat interface from anywhere (adding orders, checking warehouse information) with just the Teams app. While some Power Apps can be heavy for older model phones the chat part doesn’t require wonders from the mobile device.

Examples

  • There are often leads and opportunities in Teams discussion. Traditionally someone from sales needs to create an entry to CRM manually
    • Create ability to send the message in Teams for sales team for approval & filling details to be automatically added to CRM
  • Firstline workers encounter different issues on the field that needs to be added to formal process, but those tools are rarely usable by BYOD mobile device. 
    • Create a Power App that is part of Firstline worker’s Teams with rich functions (location, camera) to report issues easily while on the field and start a process without delays.
  • When customer asks for information it is better to be able answer the request promptly, instead of waiting to get access to the desktop computer to retrieve information. 
    • Create a Power Virtual Agent bot or Power Apps that are part of Firstline worker’s Teams and used to connect to backend system to retrieve information. Power App can use camera to read the barcode and show relevant information right in the app.
  • When doing a sales meetings and sharing the content it might not be easy to connect to CRM/ERP for details and notes are not entered to the system. Meetings can be soon extended with applications, allowing interaction with audience but also information, data entry and actions that are only available to organizers. Also useful When conducting the job interview via Teams the similar situation occurs with HR system.
  • Interactive Training for company specific scenarios, like during an onboarding, to engage and focus people more than just by watching a video or reading a manual

How you can extend Teams? I have used this table in my webinars and sessions as example how versatile possibilities are. Not every application is utilizing all options, but instead it is important to focus what is the business process and need. Looking at the picture should bring in ideas how the service could be surfaced in Teams so it is extending it naturally.

Microsoft Teams is a hub for business services everyone in your organization uses. Backend and other systems are integrated to Teams on essential points to reduce context switching and thus improving productivity. Since applications and services are used directly from inside Teams the learning curve and onboarding time is shorter, thus creating a much strong return of investment for Teams application compared to traditional way to build new applications. Utilizing Power Platform makes it possible to create new applications and solutions quickly and efficiently to match changing business needs. And since Power Platform solutions are implemented in days to weeks instead of months this only improves the Return of Investment.

How to get started? Take a look at our POC & Roadmap offering and let’s talk!

Vesa Nopanen
Writer: Vesa Nopanen

Teams news summary of Microsoft Ignite

#MSIgnite, the Microsoft Ignite 2020 – did it again. The big and beautiful Microsoft tech and developer conference delivered again tons of announcements, news and information. In this post I am focusing on Microsoft Teams related news.. and I am not trying to list all of them but ones I see the most essential + a few picks from the roadmap that make sense in this context. There are some “old” news with updated schedules and then again I did left some out in purpose. And this is still a long post – If you are in a hurry check out news marked with 🌟 and come back later for the rest.

When there are new interesting announcements or additional information later I will update this article to include them as well. So please come back again.

As always, it is good to remember that roadmap dates are “best estimates for release product group can give today”. They are subject to change but they give idea when features can be expected to start the rollout. For currently known estimated schedules (23rd of September) I listed all roadmap dates to a summary blog post to make it easier to have a one-glance view when these can be expected to be available for users.

Of course one important link to keep on checking is the M365 roadmap for Microsoft Teams in development and rolling out features – including several of these: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/roadmap?filters=In%20development%2CRolling%20out%2CMicrosoft%20Teams

Microsoft Ignite Books of News can be found here: https://news.microsoft.com/ignite-2020-book-of-news/ for all announcements in Microsoft Ignite 2020

🌟Microsoft Teams will support teams up to 25k members later this year! I just leave that there because it will be enable the use of Teams in larger organizations than before – without a need to break the organization to smaller teams. Thinking about other releases like PowerApps for Teams, Pinned posts, Home Site App and others it enables to use Teams as a platform – or ‘operating system’ for daily info work. In some organizations this will lead Teams to be the main internal social media when team structure (channels, context, tabs, apps, use of business processes) is built smart and lasting way.

🌟Together Mode was a success when it emerged during the summer. It has helped to fight the meeting fatigue already since it is refreshing and I can see everyone at one glance. On top of that it can be also fun since you can high-five your friends and useful since raising your real a hand is very nicely visible in the Together mode. Now this gets better since it gets new screens: new auditorium, conference rooms or and even a coffee shop. Together mode will also be enhanced with a feature that automatically scale and center participants in their virtual seats, regardless of how close or far they are from their camera. Release schedule is later this year.

🌟The other greatly anticipated features was been real Breakout Rooms and they are coming out really soon: October!

Breakout Rooms allows meeting organizer (the one who created the calendar invitation) to split meeting participants into smaller groups by creating breakout rooms. Teams can distribute attendees automatically to rooms. The organizer can then start rooms and visit any one of those or make announcements that reach out every room. When rooms are closed all attendees are returned to the main room.

🌟Custom Layouts make meetings look better via enabling dynamic experience. Presenters can enable different views where both video and content are visible at the same time – including overlaying video on content or prioritizing video while moving content box to a corner. For example, they can choose for participants to see the presenter’s video feed transposed onto the foreground of the content being presented on screen. This feature uses the same AI segmentation technology employed by background blur and Together mode.

This makes it possible to create more versatile and interesting presentations with just Microsoft Teams – without having to use other tools, like OBS Studio for example, to manage the stage. Custom Layouts are coming later this year.

🌟Meeting Spotlight is already rolling out to tenants! Spotlight allows a presenter to choose the video camera that is shown to all attendees. This differs from “Pin camera” in a way that pin camera was a personal setting while Spotlight affects all attendees.

🌟Create tasks from chat and channels, will available in the next few weeks. This feature has been awaited since Microsoft To Do came out. It allows to create tasks right from any Teams chat or channel conversation. Select More options on a Teams message to choose Create task and track in the Tasks app.

🌟Customizable Praise badges, now rolling out, enable organizations to customize employee praises with custom branding. Admins can customize Praise in Teams Admin Center

🌟Meeting Recap brings post-meeting experience to the new level by bringing in together all relevant meeting information like the recording, chat, shared files and for example transcript in the details tab. You can also download attendance report from this screen.  Live captions with speaker attribution is now rolling out and will be also part of the meeting recap. Enabling the meeting transcription is a great way to automate note taking – when the meeting is in English.

Meeting recap is coming this year.

🌟What is also change is how meeting recording is stored and managed. In the future (scheduled to be released later this year) meeting recordings will be stored in OneDrive or SharePoint site. This enables to manage recordings just like any other file allowing permissions and sharing (external sharing! Hooray!) , retention policies, governance, immediate recording availability right at the meeting end much more. Since recordings will be files in OneDrive/SharePoint they are also included in the search.

Large meeting support is a bit of old news already but we got more details out. The Teams meetings supporting 1000 interactive participants is coming by end of this year. And meetings exceeding 300 interactive users can scale to support 20 000 participants in a view-only mode with live captions. This overflow meetings is rolling out soon . Both these capabilities are included only with Advanced Communications add-on.

🌟Registration and engagement reporting, in other words webinar support, is coming to Teams! This includes new attendee registration process with automated emails and it will make it really easy to organize webinars and events when this rolls out! It also includes a reporting dashboard to post-meeting insights and attendee engagement analysis.

Also the Q&A is included in the attendance report.

Scheduled for release this year.

Teams Templates are now rolling out! This updates the team creation experience and allows Teams admins to manage templates & their structure that are available in the organization by defining channels and apps. New templates can be created by selecting an existing template or building a new from the scratch.

Info Pane emerged earlier this autumn but now Pin Posts and the New Conversation button are rolling out to Teams. The New Conversation should reduce the number of accidentally created new threads when users see better the difference between reply and creating  a new thread. Pinning posts allows to attach specific posts to the info pane so they can be easily opened later and important information (like vacation list or after-work activities or even project information ) is not lost when the channel has active conversation. To take fully advantage of pinned posts the info pane should be open – but it is just a touch of the button to open or close it so as usual: make Teams to suit your needs and don’t be ok with defaults!

This month also sees the rollout of Suggested replies on Teams mobile. AI will create and suggest short responses based on the context of previous message.

🌟The Teams Search is dead! Long live Microsoft Search for Teams! We all had our difficulties and anger moments with Teams search (while it did grow to be better and usable during years) but that will be soon a thing of the past when the new Microsoft Search is released to Teams later this year. This allows a better and more smart searching experience. When using Microsoft Search from Teams it is focusing on Teams vertical only. But that is not all – you will be able to search Teams (& Yammer) conversations from SharePoint (Conversations-vertical)! This is a small step for… No. Let’s rephrase: This is a giant leap for both users and Teams.

🌟SharePoint Home Site App for Teams will connect your SharePoint Home site / intranet to Teams! Unlike those versions done with App Studio “Teams-ready solution” this app fully supports navigation in SharePoint sites. And that is big because organizations can start using Intranet from within Teams – and they can use it via browser as well. This truly makes Microsoft Teams ❤SharePoint and they are #bettertogether. One giant leap to users and towards using Teams as the primary operating system for work. And yes, it is fully branded as well! Coming later this year.

🌟Insights app in Teams (Wellbeing and productivity) is coming to Teams starting in October. It will get new features like virtual commute and integrations with apps like emotional check-in experience during first half of 2021. Visit https://Aka.ms/ProductivityAndWellbeing  to learn more.

Yammer notifications will come to Teams activity feed when you are using Yammer Communities app. This way you will get Yammer notifications even when you Yammer app is not open. On top of notifications Teams users can search for Yammer conversations using Teams search bar!

Tagging by shift allows Teams messages to be targeted to recipient groups based on their role (tags) and the shift they are working – such as tagging or sending a message to every nurse, doctor or security personnel on duty. Users are automatically assigned to tags based on their Shifts app schedule. Rolling out in November.

Walkie-Talkie is now available on Android.

🌟Off-Shift access controls, rolling out in October, will let admins to configure Teams to alert employees when they accessing Teams app on their personal device outside of working hours.

Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) is getting a Meeting room capacity notifications warning message. MTR Analyzes data using meeting room cameras to count the number of people in the room and if the count exceeds the capacity defined for the room by admin a warning message is displayed.

Coming soon: Coordinated meetings with Teams Room and Surface Hub using proximity or one-touch join this enables both devices join the meeting simultaneously with Teams Rooms running audio and video, while Surface Hub is automatically muted to avoid any distracting feedback. During the meeting Teams Room is used to show attendees in the meeting gallery, while the Surface Hub is used to show content or to conduct a collaborative whiteboarding session.

Another coming soon for in-room participants will be able to control Teams Room and collaboration bar devices using the Teams mobile app. The new room remote experience enables users to mute and unmute the room, adjust audio volume, turn cameras on and off, and exit the meeting. Wireless casting will be enabled to any Teams Room, collaboration bar, and Surface Hub. Beginning later this year, voice assistance will be enabled for Microsoft Teams Room devices, allowing in-room participants , in US, to ask Cortana to join and leave a meeting, and add a phone number or participant from the address book to a meeting. Read more from Meeting Room Experiences blog!

Intelligent speakers were also shown in demo sessions with mention they can identify who is speaking in the room and that information is used in Live Captions/meeting transcription to speaker attribution. Currently there isn’t much information available about these devices.

Microsoft Teams Panels is a new category of devices for Teams but we have seen similar panels from other vendors to be used with different solutions: these can be mounted outside a meeting room to easily view upcoming reservations, see availability or to reserve the space for example. Building Floor plan is a catchy new feature there to help booking a another space in the office using “Nearby rooms” feature to find a empty room.

This is expected to pair with Teams Room device but it will work standalone as well with ordinary meeting rooms. First panels will come out from Crestron and Yealink early next year.

🌟To help you get started with transforming your meetings rooms, Microsoft, with support from specialized meeting room partners (like Sulava https://en.sulava.com – my employer! ), can help qualifying customers deploy two Microsoft Teams Rooms at no additional charge. Customers can learn more at rooms.microsoft.com or be in touch with us at Sulava directly. Beginning October 1st Teams Rooms will be added to the FastTrack benefits!

There are also lots of improvements to Teams Calling experience. First one is the upgrade to new Calling view and Collaborative Calling that connects a call queue to a channel in Teams. Users can work at the channel while taking calls in the queue.

Admin and Development news and announcements

Bulk policy assignment allows admins to apply policies in batched of up to 50K users.

Line-Of-Business (LOB) Teams app catalog with organizational branding.

🌟Enterprises want also keep the data secure. Customer Key support is coming to Microsoft Teams as well. It is similar to what is already in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive: adding a layer of encryption with organization’s own keys when data is at rest in Microsoft datacenters. Public preview starts at the end of this year.

Microsoft Graph API for Teams Data-Loss-Prevention (DLP) is rolling out. This allows developers to build apps that can listen to Teams messages in near-real time to enable DLP scenario implementations and it also allows applying DLP actions to Teams messages.

🌟Microsoft Graph API for Teams Export allows the export of Teams messages (1:1 and group chat) along with attachments like file links & stickers, emojis, GIFS and user at-mentions. API also supports polling daily Teams messages and allows archiving of deleted messages up to 30 days. This should help with various archiving scenarios.

Resource-Specific Consent (RSC) team owners are empowered to install an RSC-enabled app for their specific team and restrict the app’s scope and access to data to only that one team, without needing the global IT admin to provision access. RSC allows apps to create, rename and delete channels; read channel messages; create tabs; and read team membership and settings. RSC are now available on the Graph API beta and will become generally available soon.

Single sign-on (SSO) through Azure Active Directory for Teams apps. Developers can build their apps to sign-in their users using the same account they are using to sign into Microsoft Teams. SSO support for tabs is generally available and support for bots and messaging extensions are coming soon.

Updates to Adaptive Cards for Microsoft Teams include design improvements, universal actions and cards, contextual views, and security & compliance. Design improvements include full-width cards, information masking, and incoming webhook support. Microsoft 365 Security & Compliance capabilities are extended to Adaptive cards, including eDiscovery and information protection & governance. Coming soon / this year.

🌟Meetings extensibility with apps in meetings will allow developers be able to integrate their apps into Teams meetings and create scenarios that have deep awareness of the meeting context — including roster, roles, and permissions. I will explore this further because it enables to integrate meetings to be part of business processes via apps and also connect meetings to a context like customer, project or person in a new way. This will bring meetings to the next level in the experience that benefits from these capabilities. Great apps to integrate with meetings are, for example, polls – yes Polls!, CRM or human resources (interviews).  Generally available in October and there are more than 20 launch partners who have been integrating their apps to these new extensibility points already.

Read more from the blog post.

Power Platform in Teams highlights

🌟Power Apps and Power Virtual Agents are coming! Now in public preview, generally available release is estimated to roll out at the end of the year. These will include embedded Power Apps and Bot creation studios inside Teams. During spring 2020,when I started to discover amazing capabilities of Power Virtual Agents, I didn’t think that the intelligent conversational bot creation would become possible from within Teams! But of course the ability to create Power Apps, with relational datastores with rich data types, from Teams is even more important to businesses. Better together applies in this as well. And these solutions can be published to Teams app store to be used off the shelf or customized to specific needs. And the sugar on the top: Power Virtual Agent bots can identify the user who is interacting with them and thus allows personalized and user-context dialogue and actions.

With Power Apps for Teams it is possible to create innovative apps that interact with team in channel.

Read more from Power Apps blog post!

The new Power Automate app for Teams, coming later this year, is a rebranded and enhanced Flow app. It offers an enhanced set of templates to automate work in Teams, along with a new designer  experience that makes it even easier to get started building. Additionally, we will be rolling out new ways to automate work, including actions like creating a Teams meeting, as well as additional entry points such as message extensions and message actions.

And looks at these new Power Platform logos!

And it looks like the team has had some fun too! 😍😎😊

Approvals in Microsoft Teams via Power Automate will become generally available during October. This is great since it allows creation of approval processes based on a team and not a single person (who is often a bottle-neck).

Enhancements to the Power Bl App for Teams will make it easier to use and review Power BI data from Microsoft Teams. The new app rolls out by the end of year.

Something missing?

Read more from Microsoft TeamsPower Apps and other Microsoft blogs.

+ Virtual Hub

And there is always something more. This time it is the reminder to go ahead and visit the Virtual Hub!

This is the place where you can keep on learning and enjoying Microsoft Ignite for more. It is not just about Microsoft Teams but about all things Microsoft 365.

This blog was originally posted at My Teams & Office 365 Day



Vesku on toiminut yli 20 vuoden ajan erilaisissa asiantuntija-, konsultointi- ja valmennustehtävissä. Hän on Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Vesku on erikoistunut Office 365:n ja Microsoft Teamsin tarjoamiin modernin työn ratkaisuihin, mutta kokemusta löytyy monista erilaisista toimialoista ja teknologioista.

Get ready to travel the Microsoft Teams Road at Microsoft Ignite

The big big conference is just around the corner! Beginning in just TWO days it will be two days of exciting news, knowledge, keynotes, overviews and deep-dive sessions along with loads of interaction and community activities. Since #MSIgnite is virtual and free to attend this year (we all know why) Microsoft has taken extra steps to bring in more interactivity via Table Talk-sessions and Tech Community forum. There is also digital swag that can be enjoyed and used!

In this blog post I will focus the #MSIgnite : first on sessions and activities I am taking part of and then mostly on Teams-side to point out useful Teams references to you. If you haven’t registered yet then make it so as soon as possible and start building your Microsoft Ignite schedule: https://myignite.microsoft.com

My speaking and activities at Microsoft Ignite

This year community takes part of Ignite in various ways, but there isn’t any traditional “MVP and MCT lead sessions” this year. But looking the number of awesome community driven events happening around the globe you can hook into those by attending online conferences. For example #TeamsFest has 85 sessions with over 90 speakers from Microsoft and big number of MVPs as well. #TeamsFest happens on 7th of October in CEST timezone but early morning start enables people from APAC (or night owls in US) to join and at the late afternoon – end of day it will be morning in US. Check for more info at https://euroteamsug.com/teamsfest

Back to the topic at hand:

I will be doing two Table Talks with other MVPs and Microsoft speakers at Microsoft Ignite. You can sign up to them both from: https://myignite.microsoft.com/speaker/e0a2de62-1ac0-4ded-b944-a178b9aa94fc

Table Topics are interactive panel discussion sessions and audience is encouraged to participate (yes, it is a Teams Meeting, capping with 300 participants) with questions and sharing their experiences! While the actual session is short (30 minutes) it is combined with Table Talk topics at Tech Community forum tables allowing audience to interact with speakers before and after the session – making these truly interactive way and one of the best ways to engage audience with speakers in a virtual conference. And personally I love this concept because it is how Teams Meetings should be done as in intelligent meeting lifecycle: pre, during and after meeting collaboration.

Microsoft 365 App Developers and Power Platform Community Meet-up

Meet people from the Microsoft 365 Developer and Power Platform communities to explore what you can do with our powers combined! Unmute yourself, turn your camera on – No presentations here! Your community peers will lead a discussion to help you uncover helpful tips on Microsoft Graph, Power Automate, SPFx, Azure Functions, Auth and more!

Join the Microsoft 365 Community Table (https://aka.ms/TableTopic/Microsoft365) ahead of time so we can address your questions.

Running Community Events in an Online World

Meet and share stories with fellow attendees in an open discussion using Teams Meetings about running online community events. Unmute yourself, turn your camera on – No presentations here! Your community peers will lead a discussion about topics such as running online events using Microsoft Teams, finding ways to interact with your virtual audience, best practices for accessible online events.

Join the ‘Community Best Practices & Leadership’ Community Table https://aka.ms/TableTopic/Community on the Tech Community ahead of time to catch up on the conversation beforehand.

Be prepared for chat and a fun interactive discussion!

Ask the Experts -sessions “Microsoft Teams Virtual Booths”

This is a list of confirmed Ask the Expert sessions where I am participating as a Subject Matter Expert. go ahead and add these to your Ignite schedule and hit us with questions! These sessions are kind of virtual Microsoft Teams booths. Last year I had lots of fun being at Teams booths and talking with people, helping them out and also learning myself something new as well. Don’t miss these ATEs!

Needless to say, but I say it anyway, that I am extremely honored and proud to be involved with Microsoft Ignite via Table Talks and ATE-sessions (virtual booth a so much better name for these).

Microsoft Teams at #MSIgnite

First the fun part: Microsoft Teams Virtual Photo Booth! You don’t want miss this one – you can create your own photo booth image by tuning your selfie with lots of fun stickers on top of it!

Go ahead and create your own at https://aka.ms/TeamsPhotoBooth!

Guide to Microsoft Teams at Microsoft Ignite 2020: https://aka.ms/TeamsIgniteGuide

Key sessions you don’t want to miss are:

This picks are directly from Teams Sessions Brochure that includes all Microsoft Teams related sessions (and there are many of them!) https://aka.ms/TeamsSessions

Don’t also miss to check Patch & Switch Unofficial End User Guide to Ignitehttps://buff.ly/3gYLO5G before the event. It is especially guided towards those who are attending digital Microsoft Ignite the first time.

Excited? YES!

I am as excited about Microsoft Ignite 2020 as much as I was when I attended Ignite 2019. This year is different but also it opens up lots of new possibilities to interact with the audience. No, it is not the same as meeting face-to-face but it should not be the purpose either. Digital / virtual world has it’s own strengths and superpowers and it should not try to replicate face-to-face world 1:1, instead – just like with Microsoft Teams – think about the goal and why so you can create a digital version of it. Just like in Digital Transformation: rethink and create a better version than what was in the real world earlier.

This year’s Microsoft Ignite is different since it allows a lot more people to attend the event around the world since the event is free and there is no need for traveling nor think about the cost of attending: inclusive. All key sessions are live for three times to include different timezones as well! This is great news for us not in US – we don’t have stay away all night.

Let’s meet at the Microsoft Ignite virtually! See you in Tech Community and in sessions! And don’t forget hashtags #MSIgnite and #MicrosoftTeams when you are posting something to social media! I will be mostly active in Twitter – see you there!



Vesku on toiminut yli 20 vuoden ajan erilaisissa asiantuntija-, konsultointi- ja valmennustehtävissä. Hän on Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Vesku on erikoistunut Office 365:n ja Microsoft Teamsin tarjoamiin modernin työn ratkaisuihin, mutta kokemusta löytyy monista erilaisista toimialoista ja teknologioista.

Power Virtual Agents & You: Integrating Bots Into Microsoft Teams Without Coding

Applications built into Microsoft Teams make it the Hub for Work by delivering integrated experiences to users using a unified canvas. Teams apps can empower your business, office, and firstline workers by letting them take advantage of your backend systems all from the palm of their hand.

Teams Application Templates and Power Virtual Agents have the power to extend Teams with bots quickly. You can integrate App Template bots into a production in a matter of hours, and Power Virtual Agents are even faster than that with a simple conversation flow.

When working in a real-world situation, you always do the first tests and proofs in a development or testing environment. It’s here where you can see what value you will get from the app/bot and how well it fits the needs in your organization. The key here is that you can start your bot Proof-Of-Concept (POC) in a matter of hours!

 

How can you extend Teams with these apps?

First, it’s important to state that bots are apps as well. They’re just more conversational in their nature than, say, sending a message via Teams to every user in your organization.

Apps extend Teams in several ways including:

  • Tab applications (like PowerBI reports or SharePoint pages in a channel tab)
  • Message Extensions (like Praise or Stream)
  • Message Actions (like creating a Polly poll based on a single message)
  • Notifications from various apps. Instead of checking the app every ten minutes, you can act the moment you get the notification.
  • Bringing apps to Teams. PowerApps can be brought into Teams without changes, SharePoint web parts (SPFx) can be added to Teams as apps with minor changes.
  • Having bots you can use in a conversational way (and that can be made richer and more interactive with adaptive cards)

Some uses for bots in various organizations include:

  • FAQs. These can save your organization time and help you get answers without involving IT in the process
  • Several forms (IT support/team/travel/day off and various other requests)
  • Inquiring information from the back end (available vacation days/saldo hours, updating personal information, etc.
  • Reporting leads, getting customer or project information, reporting hours, asking for assistance, and so on

As can be seen, bots are very versatile and can be used in many processes. Instead of filling out a plain form, bots let you answer questions interactively. On the one hand, these bots already work with mobile Teams. On the other hand, trying to fit just any form into a bot conversation won’t do; some just don’t work properly. Instead of trying to recreate your current processes 1:1 in Teams, reconsider what’s essential and how the process would be best supported by Teams bots (or other platform capabilities).

 

What Are Teams Application Template Bots?

These bots are production-ready packages you can deploy and start using in your Teams. They use several Azure resources, so you need to have enough permissions to spin up resources and a suitable subscription when you are doing the deployment.

All application templates are open-source and come with source code that you can download, edit, and utilize even more. This way you can also check the application internals if your organization requires a review process. There’s also information in each apps’ architecture and even cost estimates.

There are several benefits you get from application templates:

  • They make it easy to get started. You don’t have to be a developer to deploy these.
  • You get more understanding of how to utilize Teams as an app platform.
  • If POC/test/pilot proves that these apps match your needs, you can deploy them to your production
  • For developers they serve as a kickstart and example code of what utilizing several different Teams app capabilities can do

Power Virtual Agents

If you thought it was fast to get started with Teams bots using Application Templates then you’ve seen nothing yet!

The new cool player in town is Power Virtual Agents. These agents come in a package that has it all: the platform, AI, machine learning, integrations, and a design canvas. With Power Virtual Agents you can create versatile conversational bots without any code or understanding of machine learning/AI, and you can even connect them to business processes without being a developer with a coding background. Power Automate can be used to extend conversational processes, and with this #lowcode platform you can use resources and do actions both in and out of Office 365.

When you sign up for a new Power Virtual Agent service it only takes about 15 minutes for you to get an example bot in place. Modifying example topics/setup to suit your immediate needs can be done in just minutes. Of course, it often takes a lot longer since the process is iterative and you rarely have the design done in advance. If you just have some simple Q&A questions it doesn’t take a long time, but businesses typically have larger needs.

What is especially great about PVAs is their language understanding (limited to English at this point). You don’t have to define topics for every possible variation—instead, the PVA platform will try to figure out what you meant and pick paths based on that. It has proven to be rather useful in my experiments, and it’s easy to edit these topics later as well. And yes, this is done without any coding in a visual design canvas.

Power Virtual Agents are the new “superpower” answering to quickly changing or rising needs. Combining the conversational AI “magic” with Power Automate allows power users and citizen developers to digitalize conversational processes super quickly.

Do not wait but get started with these #nocode #locode Application Template & Power Virtual Agent bots!

.. they are not scary at all!

If you are interested to learn more on the subject, a longer version of this post can be found here



Vesku on toiminut yli 20 vuoden ajan erilaisissa asiantuntija-, konsultointi- ja valmennustehtävissä. Hän on Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Vesku on erikoistunut Office 365:n ja Microsoft Teamsin tarjoamiin modernin työn ratkaisuihin, mutta kokemusta löytyy monista erilaisista toimialoista ja teknologioista.

How to use Whiteboard efficiently in Teams meetings

When you need to collaborate in more visual way with your team, you want to take a look at Microsoft Whiteboard that is automatically available with every Teams meeting. Whiteboard is also a great meeting notes tool since you can write, ink and paste content to it. Not everyone knows what Whiteboard is capable of. You could be the Whiteboard Champion to guide people how to use this tool the best way.

Whiteboard can be used by several people at the same time. It is a true teamwork collaboration tool just like OneNote, Word, Excel or PowerPoint (& others) in the Office 365 toolbox. Co-authoring is very important, since it allows multiple people to enter their ideas, votes and creations to the same canvas at the same time. And it is inclusive since everyone sees the changes every other person did.

Whiteboard ruler

Whiteboard or OneNote?

If your collaboration is more text-based I advise to use OneNote. For more visual needs, free form planning or just because you have used to use the physical whiteboard you should start using Microsoft Whiteboard. And what is also great, the Whiteboard app used in Surface Hub is the same than the Windows Desktop app.

If you are good at drawing or possess sketching skills the more I recommend using Whiteboard for meeting notes as well. Both Whiteboard and OneNote has its strengths and downfalls so it is good to understand which tool works for your team/project and why and in which scenarios.
Formal meetings usually have meetings notes in OneNote (better structure, notes in one book) while Whiteboard is most often the virtual counterpart of physical whiteboard. However there are also more use cases for Whiteboard than just being a digital paper.

Currently within your organization only

Note: Whiteboard can be currently used within your organization only. You cannot share it to others for editing unless you all use consumer Microsoft Accounts (not advised).

You can share Whiteboard as ”view only” to externals in meeting by sharing your screen (share desktop) and dragging Whiteboard App to that shared screen. Participants can then see what you are sketching or applying to the board and can give feedback by voice/chat.
Whiteboard could be used instead of PowerPoint to present ideas and solutions to attendees and it doesn’t matter if they inside or outside of your organization.

Whiteboard app in Microsoft Store

Whiteboard app in Apple Store

Actions in the meeting invite

You can engage the Whiteboard already when you do the meeting invitation. It is a good practice to tell other attendees about the Whiteboard and do some preparations. On top of meeting agenda it is good to have a small checklist and a reminder where meetings notes will be in.
This is also a good moment to bring to your attention that the Teams meeting scheduler has been updated:

Recipient/attendee can now RVSP directly and visually from Calendar invitation in Teams, without having to take a trip to Outlook.

And meeting organizer can see directly who had accepted or not. You can change meeting timezone also from within Teams meeting dialog! This is a great addition that enables me to keep Outlook closed for even longer times & letting me to worry about emails when it is their time.

And as you can see in that picture, I can now access meeting Whiteboard as well -without opening the meeting first. This enables me to prepare the Whiteboard for the meeting.
Microsoft Teams Whiteboard view only has a few pens and erasers. However, we can take it to the next level by opening Microsoft Whiteboard app.

Whiteboard tools

Whiteboard is extremely usable for teamwork collaboration online. Learn which capabilities work the best and in which situation. And the tool will only get better – remember that it is one of the most important Surface Hub applications.

Whiteboard tools

When using the Whiteboard Desktop app, instead of just a few pens we have several pens and other tools like

  • marker / highlighter
  • eraser (remove any ink/drawing – doesn’t work to shapes)
  • ruler (draw straight lines)
  • lasso selection
  • Text (write text)
  • Notes (post-it notes)
  • Image menu (add from library, from Bing or take a picture using device camera)
  • List of tools
  • Undo
  • Redo

Compared to the physical whiteboard we have just gone interstellar!

Templates

One really great addition is Templates, which are in preview currently. Templates enable you to structure you meeting more and they typically have some text and different note grids that allow you to add notes to different containers.

It is good to note that some features (Templates, List and Notegrid) are not visible in Teams/Web/Android version of the Whiteboard. If you need to display your Whiteboard in Teams share (not using desktop sharing of Whiteboard app) then stick to non-preview features.

Embedding content

You can also easily embed selected slides/pages of documents into the Whiteboard. This is very useful if you have a RFP or specifications that are not going to change (no need to update) often but are good to be visible during the planning.

With the ruler you can draw straight lines and keep the ruler ”on the board” visible and easily usable until you toggle it off. You can move it around with just a one finger drag to move it in its place (or away) and use intuitively two fingers to change its angle. And yes – you can draw straight lines using it’s both sides.

Settings

Let’s take a look of some of the most useful settings.

The Whiteboard menu is somewhat different if you have an active pen on or off. Select the one you like the most.

Ink to shape allows you to draw squares/triangles/ellipses and Whiteboard app corrects them to look better.

Ink to table allows you to draw a table just by drawing a square and then start adding horizontal and vertical lines there to add more columns. If you in inside a cell it will automatically resize, however ink to shape is not active then. If you select the table you can also click on +/- to add/remove columns and rows.

You can also use Settings menu to post a link to Whiteboard to Teams channel. Just remember to add permissions too. Exporting Whiteboard allows you to export it as a image (png or svg).

Of course, don’t forget the format background to make Whiteboard your own looking.

In these times when we suddenly need to work remotely more than ever, it is a good idea to learn how to use digital counterparts of these tools we have used in physical meeting rooms. Let’s make the best out of this unfortunate event in human history and learn how to use tools so we can work even better than we did before. Perhaps it will be a result of these tides that drives the change for us to work more online in the future as well.

This article is a shortened version of my article “How to use Whiteboard in Teams meetings efficiently II”. See to it if you want to see more detailed info on how to do the activities mentioned here

If Whiteboard is new to you or your meeting participant, read my article How to use Whiteboard in Teams meetings to learn basics of the Whiteboard.

Embedding content

Whiteboard templates

Whiteboard table

Whiteboard background



Vesku on toiminut yli 20 vuoden ajan erilaisissa asiantuntija-, konsultointi- ja valmennustehtävissä. Hän on Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Vesku on erikoistunut Office 365:n ja Microsoft Teamsin tarjoamiin modernin työn ratkaisuihin, mutta kokemusta löytyy monista erilaisista toimialoista ja teknologioista.

6+ best practices for team leaders – how to lead, communicate, brainstorm and keep on track when working remotely

Modern tools offer help for team leaders. With the right tools and best practices, you can make sure that your team can work effectively from anywhere, anytime. As a team leader you can facilitate your team´s work by the following and these tips will help you as a team leader as well as your team members.

In this blog, you will learn for example:
– Best tips on how to communicate, work and set up video meetings
– How to brainstorm and make notes online
– How to keep on track with your team members
– How to stay connected even when working remotely
– Why to take care and consider how your team works online

Of course, you can adapt these practices to fit your organization, but these are the ones that we have found to be effective and want to share with you! Now, let´s get started!

1. Communicate and work in Teams

Make sure you have a teamspace in Teams where you work with your team. This team includes all project team members and stakeholders, for example. You have channels where you can focus on specific topics so everything in there shares the same context. All important links are in channels as tabs. This is the basic setup and you start building on those.

  • Agree that everyone in the team uses Teams. Teams client stays open, email can stay closed.
  • Every file you work on is in Teams files, under appropriate channel. No one should have files in their OneDrive nor on their hard drive. Everything is transparent by default. This is important to allow true teamwork here: everyone has access to the same information, files and can pick up the work from there.
  • Co-author files (edit the same file together at the same time) – don’t create new file copies: work on the same file.
  • Don’t send any emails to your team. Instead, write messages to team’s channels. This way everyone in the team can stay up to date and knows better what is happening. Nobody has to spend extra time asking same questions or wondering what is going on.
  • Don’t start a new thread every time in Teams: use reply. It is there.
  • Private chat in Teams should be only used to private conversations that don’t add any value to anyone else. Keep all team related discussions in team channels.
  • Use Do Not Disturb mode in Teams when you need to concentrate. You can allow specific persons to get through that mode. This is useful if you need to work in a small team but everyone else must wait.
  • Use desktop version of Office applications rather than web versions. And when you are on the road, the mobile app keeps you up to date.
  • When files are in Teams they can be accessed anywhere and with mobile devices. Files can be co-authored when they are in Teams (actually SharePoint but let’s keep that away from this post): it is much more productive.

The best practice how to get this started is to have a short meeting with everyone and explain why this is important.

2. Best tips on setting up a video meeting in Teams

Teams meetings are great, since they work very well and are easy to start and join. Here are best tips on how to set up and use Teams for video meetings. But first, let´s tackle a few questions that some of you might have.

Yes, you can invite customers or partners to meetings as well.
And no, they don’t need to have Teams. Teams meeting can be joined with just a link and using Chrome or Edge browser. If they are using tablets (Apple iPad for example) they need to have a Teams app installed but they don’t have to be logged in to join a meeting.

Okay – how can you make the most of meetings with video?

  • Always add a Teams meeting to every calendar invite you create. This way you can use Team’s superpowers before or after the meeting (chat, sharing): Team’s meeting lifecycle is much longer than traditional meeting has. What this especially allows is to make instant changes if someone is attending online or not. If the Teams meeting is already there you save the trouble of updating the calendar invite… and usually time too.
  • Make sure everyone knows how to use Team’s device settings so they get the audio working right away. If you are using Skype for Business (still) it usually “steals” the audio device for itself: shut it down.
  • Use certified Skype for Business or Teams devices, if possible. This ensures the device works the best with Teams. Instead of having issues with Bluetooth using devices that connect to USB (dongle or wired) are more reliable in meetings. The audio is the most important part: if it doesn’t work the meeting experience is far away from pleasant.
  • Use video in meetings, unless you have severe bandwidth issues. Background blur makes it more pleasant to be in the meeting. When video is used, the overall experience is much better and closer to real meeting. And on bonus: displaying video also increases concentration since people will multitask less.
  • When sharing a screen in a meeting take advantage of second screen if you have one. Sharing a whole screen is easier to manage than picking up a single app or presentation. Just make sure you are displaying only the content other attendees are allowed to see.

And of course, your headset matters. I use a headset that has an active noise cancellation (ANC) which is important if you are not alone. The other great feature is that the headset also reduces noise that is heard to other meeting participants – making your voice more clear and the meeting experience better.

3. How to brainstorm and make notes online?

There are two excellent applications for brainstorming and note keeping in Office 365: OneNote and Whiteboard. Both have Windows store versions (install them). Some people prefer the older OneNote desktop version – which is fine as well. Whiteboard is great for brainstorming and planning as a replacement to traditional paper and pen flip-board, especially if you can use pen and touch-screen to draw.

Something to note:

  • Whiteboard works only on organization internal meetings (let’s not get onto tricks).
  • OneNote can be shared externally as well (be careful!)
  • OneNote is better for notes and minutes, while whiteboard excels at drawing and planning part
  • Both support co-authoring: several people can edit the same canvas at the same time
  • OneNote file is stored in the team.
  • Don’t use your personal OneNote.. Use one that is in a team so everything is shared on default with your colleagues. That is true teamwork: don’t do solo work.

4. Keep on track with Planner and To Do

As a team you want to stay on track how tasks are progressing. Team Planner board is a excellent tool for that. You can organize tasks in buckets and it will make your work more transparent. Assign tasks to responsible persons and give them a schedule/deadline.

Here are best tips for keeping on track:

  • Everyone should also use To Do application on both laptop and mobile.
  • Check from To Do settings that you get Planner tasks assigned to you to Microsoft To Do.
  • Use buckets to organize tasks and get a better understanding on how you are progressing.
  • Create new Planner boards to team if you have different contexts. Using a single board makes overview of progress easy to follow.
  • There is an upcoming Teams Tasks application that will help everyone to get a better overall view and task management.

5. Stay connected via mobile

Don’t forget, that there are amazing mobile applications that support working anywhere.

  • Installing Teams application to your mobile, company owned and/or your personal devices, allows you to be responsive and up to date even when you are not on your computer.
  • I also recommend to install OneDrive application so you can access to your files using your mobile device.
  • You can of course install Teams to tablets (Android, iOS) as well to benefit of the larger screen.

6. Take care of yourself and your team

When working from home, it doesn’t mean you are working 24/7. Teams mobile has Quiet Hours that will mute it’s notifications, Teams has Do Not Disturb mode when you need to focus or you have a situation when you can’t answer to calls nor messages.

Remember also to:

  • Take a short walk if you loose your focus and you seem to be jammed. Working anywhere needs breaks too. Step away from your “office”. Make some coffee, enjoy the outside scenery. Relax your mind.
  • Don’t be afraid to message to call your colleague. However, respect their status in Teams.
  • Don’t be afraid to put yourself to Do Not Disturb mode.

We hope these tips help you and your team to work effectively online! If you have any questions or need help, please don´t hesitate to contact us!

Teksti: Vesa Nopanen & Tuulia Halttunen

How to move your meetings online using Microsoft Teams?

Do you have a meeting that was supposed to happen face to face and now you need to organize it or participate to it Online?

If Microsoft Teams is completely or relatively new to you, see the recording of Microsoft MVP Vesa Nopanen’s webinar full of tips, tricks and best practices!

AGENDA
1. You have received a Teams invitation. What to do before the meeting? How to get started and join?
2. How to organize and facilitate a successful Microsoft Teams meeting?
3. Collaboration in Teams meetings (e.g. taking notes, sharing and whiteboard functions)
4. Best practices for using Teams to meetings
5. Tips and hints for remote working and for crisis communication in Teams

See the recording

TEAMS – YHTEISTYÖTÄ TIIMEISSÄ

Teams tarjoaa yhteisen työskentelytilan, paikan yhteisten tietojen säilyttämiseen, kommunikointiin ja muistiinpanojen jakamiseen. Teams nopeuttaa työskentelyä ja vähentää turhat sähköpostit.

Katso webinaarin nauhoite! Kuulet, miten Microsoft Teams-työtila osana Office 365:sta tehostaa ja helpottaa tiimiesi työskentelyä.

Agenda

Teams – mistä on kyse
Tiimit ja kanavat
Tiedostot Teamsissa
Tehtävienhallinta ja muistiinpanot
Keskustelujen seuraaminen

Katso tallenne



Vesku on toiminut yli 20 vuoden ajan erilaisissa asiantuntija-, konsultointi- ja valmennustehtävissä. Hän on Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Vesku on erikoistunut Office 365:n ja Microsoft Teamsin tarjoamiin modernin työn ratkaisuihin, mutta kokemusta löytyy monista erilaisista toimialoista ja teknologioista.

How to work from home – 10 best practices and tips for working remotely during the coronavirus crisis

Working anywhere is one of the most common topics these days. Suddenly meetings that have been face to face are now happening Online. The brainstorming session you were supposed to have with six other project members is not happening in the office either since one of those members just returned from Northern Italy and there has been a wise decision to limit exposure. And the situation globally is more or less similar – travelling is restricted and face to face meetings are rarer than ever before.

This doesn’t mean however that everything should stop – instead you can start working from anywhere and use best practices in your team, your unit and in your organization how to take advantage of Modern Teamwork and utilize Microsoft Teams for effect.

Some organizations were ready for this sudden turnaround, but unfortunately most were not.
In this article I am sharing some easy best practices how to get started.

 

My personal “how I work in a modern way”:

1. Share and show

  • Everything I do – I do in Teams. I don’t send email to team members – I even don’t have email open all the time. Everything I do is shared automatically, since all my files, messages and notes are in Teams in appropriate teamspaces. I don’t use my OneDrive for work documents – that should be teams. Work transparency is my guideline.
  • Co-authoring on documents is my default. I don’t create my own copies.
  • Use Planner for team’s tasks. Mark tasks to responsible persons. And make sure you – and everyone else – follows up on tasks.
  • Use To Do to your personal tasks. Check the setting that you get Planner tasks assigned to you into your To Do. Use the mobile app as well – it is fantastic!

 

2. Go straight to the point

  • Teams messages and chat is persistent. The receiver doesn’t have to be online. Don’t just write “hi” but instead write also what is the issue why you are reaching out. That way they can answer when they have a good slot for that.
  • Don’t be afraid to message or call your colleague. However respect their status in Teams.

 

3. Use Teams features for effect

  • Manage your notifications, pin channels, show and hide teams and channels, reply to conversation threads – learn the basics of your tool.
  • Use Do not disturb when you need to focus. You can also work in a small team with this efficiently by allowing a selected few to bypass your DND status and call & message you despite that.
  • Respect working hours. Don’t assume others work 24/7 either. I usually drop in Teams messages and questions when the time suits me but I don’t expect to get an answer right away. If you have an urgent matter: don’t just rely on messages even with important flag.

 

4. Add a Teams meeting to every calendar invite

  • That way you can meet in Teams easily even if there are sudden changes.
  • It also allows you to have a chat conversation before and after the meeting so you can make the meeting more efficient.

 

5. Before the meeting

  • Learn Teams meeting controls and device settings. Use test call feature to test your setup before the meeting if you are unsure. That way your meetings can start and be productive from the minute one.
  • Be a few minutes early in the meeting, rather than a few minutes late. When you are booking meetings make them 25 or 50 minutes long – instead of scheduling back-to-back meetings.
  • Pay attention to your headset you are using. Those connected with dongle (usually Skype or Teams certified devices) have a more reliable connection than just Bluetooth. If the audio doesn’t work in meetings the whole meeting experience is bad and it won’t inspire creativity.

 

6. In meetings: Make the most of Teams features

• Use your camera in Teams meetings: turn it on. Be face to face even when you are working in different locations.
• Facilitate meetings in Teams so everyone gets their voice and opinion out. Use chat and calling. The most difficult meeting is that when most of the people are in one room and a few others are online. Respect everyone.
• Pay attention what is shown online: if you are drawing to a legacy whiteboard in the room people online won’t most likely see it (Content Camera in Teams Rooms would fix that!) . Use Office app to take a photo of that drawing and upload it to a team.

 

7. How to make notes and save information

• Put all your notes to OneNote in your team. Don’t keep personal notebook for team meetings – it is teamwork after all.
• Record meetings so those who didn’t attend can review them if needed. Or in case you need to fill in blanks for meeting notes. Teams transliteration make even text searches possible for those attending the meeting later.
• Microsoft Whiteboard is an awesome application to brainstorming or taking notes. However, it only works inside your organization – you can’t use this if you have customers or partners in the meeting (not easily anyway).
• OneNote is a great tool for taking notes and brainstorming as well. The benefit over Whiteboard is that you can share OneNote to external users as well if your organization allows that.

 

8. Keep it effective – people need breaks online, too

• Don’t do a full 5 hour workshop in one Online sitting. Have breaks. Having two 1,5 hour workshops with a break is usually much more effective.
• Take care of yourself: Take a short walk, swim, gym, run or other activity if you loose your focus and you seem to be jammed. Working anywhere needs breaks too. Step away from your “office”. Make some coffee, enjoy the outside scenery. Relax your mind.

 

9. Work on the go

• Use Teams, OneDrive and other Office 365 mobile apps. They make it possible for you to attend meeting while in a walk – for example. This works especially well if you have a headset that cancels your ambient noise to other attendees (I have Evolve Jabra 65t and Elite 85h headsets that both do this).
• Take your files on the go with OneDrive Sync. That makes your life easier – especially if you are out of network.

 

10. Emergency and crisis communication in Teams

• Bring your emergency and crisis communication to Microsoft Teams too. Teams is the Hub for work and open all the time for many people – either in desktop or in their mobile device.
• You can use automated personal messages to users, priority messages and custom apps in Teams to make sure your crisis communication reached everyone in time.

Written by: Vesa Nopanen & Tuulia Halttunen

 

How to move your meetings online using Microsoft Teams?

Do you have a meeting that was supposed to happen face to face and now you need to organize it or participate to it Online?

If Microsoft Teams is completely or relatively new to you, see the recording of Microsoft MVP Vesa Nopanen’s webinar full of tips, tricks and best practices!

AGENDA
1. You have received a Teams invitation. What to do before the meeting? How to get started and join?
2. How to organize and facilitate a successful Microsoft Teams meeting?
3. Collaboration in Teams meetings (e.g. taking notes, sharing and whiteboard functions)
4. Best practices for using Teams to meetings
5. Tips and hints for remote working and for crisis communication in Teams

See the recording

TEAMS – YHTEISTYÖTÄ TIIMEISSÄ

Teams tarjoaa yhteisen työskentelytilan, paikan yhteisten tietojen säilyttämiseen, kommunikointiin ja muistiinpanojen jakamiseen. Teams nopeuttaa työskentelyä ja vähentää turhat sähköpostit.

Katso webinaarin nauhoite! Kuulet, miten Microsoft Teams-työtila osana Office 365:sta tehostaa ja helpottaa tiimiesi työskentelyä.

Agenda

Teams – mistä on kyse
Tiimit ja kanavat
Tiedostot Teamsissa
Tehtävienhallinta ja muistiinpanot
Keskustelujen seuraaminen

Katso tallenne



Vesku on toiminut yli 20 vuoden ajan erilaisissa asiantuntija-, konsultointi- ja valmennustehtävissä. Hän on Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Vesku on erikoistunut Office 365:n ja Microsoft Teamsin tarjoamiin modernin työn ratkaisuihin, mutta kokemusta löytyy monista erilaisista toimialoista ja teknologioista.

 

What is Microsoft Teams in 2020?

Blog has been updated August 2020

Microsoft Teams saw the light of day on 2 November 2016. Over the past three years, Teams has lived, developed and grown into a versatile teamwork application – a hub for teamwork, or actually just work. It has taken several different capabilities under its wings and gives the users access to them via one user interface.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Teams is a digital team, project and organisation tool that enables flexible teamwork both inside an organisation and across organisational boundaries. Teams enables communication, conferences, calls, access to all data and resources, keeping up to date and reacting to issues, quickly if necessary.

Microsoft Teams valikko

Teams brings together all of your team spaces (and a few other things), making it a real teamwork hub. This contemporary way of working benefits you, your team, organisation, partners and customers. The countless benefits of Teams include transparency, data & resource accessibility and recyclability, flexibility and participation regardless of the device, location and time, network engagement, equality and efficiency. The employee is able to allocate their time to the core work.

Teams works flexibly on many different devices:

  • Windows app for the best user experience
  • Mobile apps (Android, iOS)
  • Conference room, desk phones and other Teams equipment (Microsoft Teams Rooms) – limited to meetings and calls only
  • Internet browsers, some of which also support meetings and screen sharing. Using Teams on a browser does not require an installation of an extra application. This is particularly useful when working with a partner who does not have access to Teams.
  • Mac app
  • Linux application (the first version was launched in December 2019)
  • Surface Hub

In other words, Teams has become a versatile and scalable teamwork platform. At its core is the unique way the tool connects people, chats, files, applications, calls and meetings under the same user interface. More and more applications (such as tasks, notes, Dynamics CRM or PowerApps) are available via Teams, so there is even less need to swap between applications. There has been a vast amount of features added recently. One of the eagerly anticipated ones was large gallery view and together mode in meetings.

Accessibility became a key theme in Teams in 2019. Teams enables more users to participate in teamwork, which facilitates the work itself, opens new vistas and makes the organisation more equal. Features such as translating messages to the user’s own language or subtitling a meeting (at the time of writing, the pre-version only supports English subtitles) help each and every one of us in the multicultural Teams environment. Reading messages out loud or increasing font size or contrast make life easier for people with a visual impairment. In all likelihood, there will be more investment in this area so that the information covers all members of the team.

During first half of 2020 Teams grew to make it possible to businesses and organizations to continue working in the new normal situation. Teams saw a rapid and huge growth of users as it was taken into active use in all kinds of organizations from enterprises to education. Working from home (or anywhere) was strongly supported with the help of Microsoft Teams and it also gained quickly more features to support better large meetings and firstline workers for example. During first half of 2020 it was also seen how Teams evolved more to become a platform that can be used throughout company processes.

Microsoft Teams – Key features

Teams is getting more and more versatile features that are updated on a monthly basis. Here are some of the key features you will get access to when switching to Teams.

Teams features e.g.:

Activity feed

The feed provides you with notifications that are relevant or potentially interesting to you (such as ‘trending’ notifications). You can make a wide range of changes to the notification settings, so that each team member is able to tailor Teams to support the way they work without constant notifications breaking their concentration..

Microsoft Teams: message formatting, Polly surveys
 

Chats

Either private or team chats that are not directly related to any specific team or channel. Calls can also be started via the chat, with or without video, as well as screen sharing without a phone connection. The latest addition is a 1:1 chat between persons in different organisations, which comprehensively supports the features of Teams. In order to keep this so-called federated chat going, both organisations and persons must have enabled TeamsOnly, that is, Skype for Business is no longer used and instant messaging, calls and conferences are conducted via Teams.

Calendar

This feature shows the contents of my work calendar. From here, you can attend or schedule a meeting or even create a quick meeting with one click.

Meetings

In Teams, this feature enables extremely efficient work independently of the location, thanks to their ease of use and versatile features, including:

  • Topics can be worked on before and after meetings: the meeting chat and information are available once they have been created, and they can still be accessed after the meeting. The topics can be flexibly communicated to the participants via the meeting chat function instead of email messages.
  • Improved, adaptive AV quality and AV device switching in the middle of a meeting – without interruptions
  • Where traditional two-way meetings can have 300 participants, in Teams Live events, the presentation can be streamed to up to 20,000 participants. With Teams Advanced Communications it is possible to have 1000 interactive attendees and 20 000 view only attendees in meetings.
  • Screen and program sharing with the participants – the screen sharing feature also includes a zoom function
  • Each meeting includes a Microsoft Whiteboard for drafting and innovation
  • Subtitles – based on personal experience, this works surprisingly well for English spoken with a Finnish accent
  • Background blur and custom backgrounds– which makes it possible to focus on a person and topic instead of a distracting background
  • Together mode in meetings helps to engage people better while lowering online meetings fatique
  • The Teams mobile app also enables flexible participation in meetings “on the road”: you can share your mobile device’s screen, camera or even files to show them at the meeting – or you can simply use your mobile device as a remote control

 

Microsoft Teams: tiedostot

Teams

Where teamwork happens. Teams are formed, e.g. around a specific project or part of organisation (for example, finance or the management team). In the teams, different topics are divided into channels with each their own chats, files and tabs. This is one of Teams’ core functions where the “magic” happens. It also makes it possible to minimise internal email messages almost entirely.

Chats via the channels (including history) keep everyone up-to-date regarding the subject; mutually edited files remove the need to update a latest version of each copy (each document has only one home base!); and each team member has access to all of the resources required by the team via the subject channels, files, tabs and applications. In addition, the new private channels allow smaller teams to work securely under the same theme – without separating data to different teams. The teams also make it easy to include new members because all of the data is available in one location.

Calls

This feature makes it easy to call different contacts or listen to received voice mail. The Calls section is most useful when Teams is connected to a telephone network. However, even without this feature, user grouping and being able to view the space make life easier. Personally, I tend to use the chat function more, which also provides a natural way to start a call. This is another example of how Teams can be flexibly adapted to the needs of different users.

Files

This feature enables easy access to my latest files that I have been working on. The files can be located in teams or my OneDrive for Business. How about SharePoint files? Naturally, you can find them via the team tabs – you can link a SharePoint document library directly as a team tab, which makes it possible to access non-team files without leaving the team! Each team also has a dedicated SharePoint workspace, so the team’s Files tab actually provides a view of the SharePoint library – in a user-friendly way, typically of Teams! And the sharing of file links has recently been updated to be even easier to manage and share links to others.

Shifts

This feature enables shift management and introduces self-service features, for example, for changing shifts. The Teams Shifts application also includes working time scheduling features. The application is always linked to a team, so the employees have access to the team’s chats, files and other necessary resources.

Search box

Microsoft Teams: sovellukset

Teams has a search box at the top centre of the screen. It enables you to use shortcuts, e.g. call someone, change your status or see the chats you are tagged in. Contextual search (Ctrl+F) also enables you to look for the information related to your current context – a channel chat for example.

Applications

Microsoft Teams is a platform that can be scaled using applications. This has been clearly highlighted during the first half of this year and the trend is even higher for the next year. Applications can be added, for instance, as tabs in channels, extensions in chats and messages, bots or easily accessible tools in the menu on the left-hand side. In addition, it is easy to make integrations with Teams using connectors and, especially, the workflows of Power Automate (previously ‘Flow’).

The ‘…’ menu provides access to the other installed applications, typically OneNote, Planner, Stream, Shifts and Yammer. There are also many other applications available for Teams, such as Shifts, Dynamics 365, Azure DevOps and YouTube as well as a large (and ever increasing) number of third-party applications, including Jira Cloud, Polly, SurveyMonkey and ZenDesk. It is also easy to create applications for your company’s specific requirements using PowerApps, which turns Teams into an interface that supports the work of different organisations and teams.

The organisation can also add applications for the users in the left-hand menu. Soon, users will also be able to drag applications from the same location to make them easily accessible. Early this year, the Tasks application and Yammer will also be easier to use via Teams thanks to new own apps. Applications make Teams a true teamwork and work hub, which enables the user to focus on the work instead of hopping from one application to another!

With the latest feature addition (Dataflex) it is even more easier to create PowerApps and Bots (Power Virtual Agents) into Teams, boosting the possibility to use low-code/citizen developer enhancements to teams and teamwork.

Step into the meeting room

Microsoft Teams Rooms (MTR) are a contemporary equivalent of Skype meeting rooms. The Teams Rooms enables users to enter a meeting with one click or even add a room to a meeting on the fly. These rooms include dedicated equipment, and some of the Skype meeting rooms can be updated into Teams rooms or to support joining Teams meetings.

The Teams Rooms enable the equipment in the rooms to be easily connected to meetings and make it easy to create a meeting. As an added bonus, it is no longer necessary to fiddle around with various cables and adapters.

With a Teams Room is included in the meeting, the persons in the room and the online participants can be brought “around the same table” to concentrate on the subject at hand instead of configuring connections. If the meeting involves a flip chart, it can be included using the Content Camera, which enables the view to be shown online in real time instead of settling for showing images of the flip chart pages at the end. The larger the organisation, the more useful the Teams Room due to fewer user issues.

Teams kokoushuoneTeams Meeting Room

The Teams Rooms can be easily scaled from small (1–2-person booths) to large conference rooms (with dozens of seats). Typically, the basic conference rooms come in two different sizes (4–6 persons or 8–12 persons).

What’s more, the Teams Rooms equipment for them is reasonably priced. Admin is also usually interested in the fact that the equipment of the certified Teams Rooms can be updated, and largely maintained, via a web interface, which makes is possible for maintenance operations to be carried out centrally.

Would you like to test a Teams Room? Please contact us and we’ll make it happen!

Microsoft Teams is a continuously developing solution and platform that, once successfully deployed, makes it possible to modernise organisations’ ways of working and cultures, enable smooth collaboration and minimise emails. Would you like to deploy Teams in your organisation or receive the system fully deployed? Get in touch with us!

Whats’s next?

By using Microsoft Teams together with Power Automate, you can automate many of your business processes. Or would you want your Teams environment to be easier to manage and use?