Microsoft Teams is a great platform for bringing project teams together, especially ones that are not co-located in the same office. Teams offers a simple yet powerful platform to connect and collaborate with your colleagues and does so by leveraging not only great out of the box functionality but also by utilizing add-ins from popular third-party platforms. Here are some tips on how to configure Teams to meet your project team needs.
Set Up Planner
I’ve posted here before about the power of Microsoft Planner. Teams integrates seamlessly with this tool and offers a simple way to set up a Plan tied to your project channel. By using Planner, you can capture and assign action items to team members, ensure follow-ups are done and never lose sight of an important task. I don’t typically load an entire project’s worth of tasks in Planner as it remains a little underpowered for being able to take on that type of task load but for extraneous project tasks such as meeting action items. Due dates and assignees can be tracked as well as historical comments or even a checklist inside of a task. What is lacking however is a way to report on items in Planner (i.e. show me a report that lists how many open or outstanding tasks are assigned to one person) although Planner isn’t intended to be a roll-up type of a tool anyhow so this is not a big drawback. If you want analytics on open tasks or other status it’s best to look into a more comprehensive PSA tool.
OneNote is a great tool for scribing notes or thoughts. I’ve all but replaced my physical pen and paper with OneNote and sync it to the cloud so I’m not at risk of losing anything. Teams has a great integration with OneNote and seamlessly creates a shared notebook when you add OneNote to your Team channel. OneNote is very powerful when it comes to documenting and organizing your meeting notes. With managing largely remote teams, I often like to share my screen and document notes as discussions take place – somewhat like a virtual whiteboard. Then at the end of the meeting, the notes are readily available to the whole team right then and there – no emailing them out (with the potential to miss someone) – just post a comment to your Teams channel and your team can go in and review.
Leverage Email Automation for Discussions
Ever send (or receive) an important email only to lose sight of it in a few weeks when you need it most? Teams offers a great way to serve as a repository for important emails. Each Teams channel has a unique email address that is easily accessible (and once you email it once, it’s cached in your Outlook which makes it all that much easier). As you email the Teams channel, your email will show up in the Conversations tab as a new post.
Teams offers a great one-stop-shop for project team collaboration. While it has lots of room to improve it already offers some great out-of-the-box functions that you and your team can leverage to communicate all that much better.