Microsoft Teams and Marginal Gains

Microsoft Teams is a challenge facing many organisations right now – we are aware that there are significant benefits, but the elevator pitch is proving difficult – particularly when users are familiar with SharePoint and Skype for Business.

From a personal perspective, I can best describe it’s impact through the idea of marginal gains, made famous by Dave Brailsford of British Cycling and Team Sky. What made him different from previous coaches was his relentless commitment to a strategy that he referred to as “the aggregation of marginal gains,” which was the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. The idea being, if you broke down riding a bike into its smallest constituent parts, tiny improvements in each area, would add up to a significant improvement overall. His approach is famous for things like applying alcohol to the tyres for better grip, giving the riders heated shorts so their muscles were at optimal temperature or providing the best pillows to guarantee a good night’s sleep. The dramatic rise and continued dominance of British Cycling is well documented.

Beyond the functionality of its constituent parts or the other Office 365 tools, for me marginal gains best explains the impact that Teams has had on my own way of working and productivity. My organisation has been using SharePoint, Skype and Office 365, but Teams makes it all slot into place.

As an example, I work across multiple teams, my own team, the management team, various project teams, and often I would go from one meeting to the next frantically looking for the agenda or actions hidden somewhere in Outlook or SharePoint. With Teams and Channels, I can easily move between my different roles, finding previous conversation threads and documents easily.

As another example, my team have a number of different Office 365 tools that we use on a regular basis. We use Planner to track issues, we have a PowerBI Dashboard to monitor Office 365 adoption and we have our own Wiki which we use as our knowledge base. We have now added these as tabs within Teams which means finding them is easy and time spent searching or moving between windows is greatly reduced. We also get exactly the same experience on the Teams mobile app.

I also forget sometimes that as a member of the IT Division our use of technology is and should be ahead of other areas of the organisation. A common collaboration task is the production of Committee Reports, which involve multiple stakeholders from across different departments. Staff are starting to understand the value of Teams (and SharePoint) as a collaboration platform for co-authoring and reviewing documents. With Teams, the pain of sending reports via email and trying to rationalise amendments across multiple versions of the same document, should be a thing of the past.

None of the above is news to Microsoft, that is exactly the rationale behind Teams and what makes it the fastest growing Microsoft Business Application ever. Earlier this year, Microsoft commissioned Forrester to report on the Total Economic Impact of Teams. This was timely for my organisation, as we were planning a large awareness campaign and this report gave real gravitas to our campaign.

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