Why you should get to know Microsoft Teams

Microsoft claims that Teams is its fastest growing business app in its history.  As of 11th March 2020, Microsoft reported 32 million daily active users but this jumped by 12 million to 44 million daily active users in just one week amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.  Teams is used by organisations large and small and has come into its own as businesses suddenly adapt to working remotely.  So, what makes it so popular?

Teams is Office 365’s baby

Being one of the most widely used business tools in the world, it is highly probably you have heard of Microsoft Office 365 - soon to be known simply as "Microsoft 365" - or are already using it.  Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based service providing a collection of software and cloud services that offer a highly adaptable, scalable and reliable solution to business productivity and collaboration needs.

Launched in 2011 the service has grown enormously and whilst under constant development, new features and tools have appeared monthly.  This is both good and bad.  It is good because the value of your subscription just keeps improving and the service becomes more useful.  It can be a bad thing due to difficulties in keeping up with the changes and being sure you are making the best use of your investment.  It can be hard to know how best to use the tools in context with the rest of your team – especially as individuals can often have different methods of working.

Microsoft Teams is the answer.  Part of Microsoft 365, and now available as a stand-alone solution it offers a single “pane of glass” that provides access to (almost) everything.  Helpfully it runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone and Android (or failing that there is the web browser!).

How does it work?

Created in 2016 Teams is centred around members organised within defined teams and channels.  For example, in a small business you might have sales, marketing and finance teams.  Within the sales team you might have a channel for proposals and prospects.  The marketing team might have channels for certain campaigns, asset libraries, etc.

Divided into “tabs,” each channel includes a conversation tab where team members can “chat” together (instant messaging style), and a Files tab.  The Files tab is where any documents (such as Word or Excel sheets) can be uploaded, shared and collaborated upon by the team, and easily referenced within chat.  Files can be edited right within Teams using the power of Office Online, all without having Word etc. installed (though if you do have these you can instantly launch into them for your full Office editing experience).  Teams keeps everything in one place, reduces “chat over email” and other clutter.

At the top of Teams is an incredibly powerful search, command and contact box – where just about anything (and anyone) you could need is a few taps away…and indeed it works very well (sadly unlike some of Microsoft’s other search offerings).

The methodology of Teams goes a long way and can be applied effectively to a vast array of needs.  It can be adapted to suit many individual organisational approaches.  However, the magic really starts to happen when you add custom tabs and connectors.

If you had a channel concerning the delivery of a project to a customer, you might have a tab which had the original proposal.  You might have another tab holding a live Microsoft Planner document that everyone can share and keep up-to-date.  Perhaps a tab containing a OneNote notebook so that you can see field sales’ notes in real time.  Another tab might contain a Microsoft Form to be completed to then trigger other actions.

There is a rapid growth of third-party tools appearing in the Teams store to bring in data and functionality from apps you already use such as Trello, Smartsheet, SurveyMonkey, Evernote, Wrike, social networks and more.  For example, in our Marketing team general channel we have the Mailchimp connector installed, which means “the chimp” drops in to the chat regularly with a report on the performance of our latest campaigns.  The possibilities are pretty endless!

It also does the Skype thing

Teams has replaced Skype for Business and improves on its predecessor:

  • One to one and group online audio and video calls
  • Screen sharing
  • Instant online meetings and presentations
  • Live event broadcasts to up to 10,000 attendees (or up to 100,000 with Microsoft 365 live events assistance)
  • Scheduled meetings * (meaning arranged ahead of time)
  • Meeting recording *
  • Phone calls and audio conferencing *

* Not available in the free version

How do I get Microsoft Teams?

If you already have an Office 365 subscription, you most likely already have Microsoft Teams.  Visit https://teams.microsoft.com and sign in.

If you do not have Office 365 you can sign up for Teams for free here:
https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?linkid=869675

Office 365 subscriptions including Microsoft Teams and its many other benefits starts from less than £5 per user per month (excluding VAT).  Sign up for a free trial here:
https://ibizify.net/go/365trial/

iBizify can help

iBizify have been helping its clients make the best of Office 365 since 2012, providing specialist setup, email and data migration, support and training services based on the world’s best business productivity platform.

To discuss how you can benefit please get in touch (https://ibizify.net/contact/).

Further resources

Free Office 365 trial:
https://ibizify.net/go/365trial/

Sign up for Teams free:
https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/p/?linkid=869675

More about Office 365:
https://ibizify.net/products/office365/

iBizify Office 365 admin and support services:
https://ibizify.net/connectflex/

iBizify Business Services:
https://ibizify.net/products/business_services/

Getting started with Microsoft Teams free:
https://support.office.com/en-us/article/welcome-to-microsoft-teams-free-6d79a648-6913-4696-9237-ed13de64ae3c

Help and training for Teams:
https://support.office.com/en-gb/teams

Case study: Tavistock House Dental Practice

New customer-centric iBizify website with Promote+ saves time for staff and customers, generates a 350% increase in online direct contact and a 20% increase in visitors.

Established in 1973, Tavistock Dental Practice of Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire has always remained at the forefront of dental technology and care for its patients.  Striving for constant improvement, their team’s passion for learning new techniques, discovering new materials, and attending regular training is clear.

Our patients are the heart of everything we do.  We set up and maintain rapport with our patients and provide a fair, honest, and ethical approach.  We believe this is why so few patients ever leave us,” said Carlton Morris, Principal Dentist at Tavistock.

The need

Tavistock recognises the importance of supplying customer convenience online as well as in surgery.  Their existing website was several years old and built during the transition towards “mobile-first” web design.  Whilst supplying essential information to visitors, it had become dated in its design, difficult to edit, and didn’t add enough value to the customer’s experience.  Website visitor numbers were falling, with many preferring to simply use Google directly.

Tavistock and iBizify worked together to identify what were the most important and most used elements of Tavistock’s online service to customers, and what could be added to increase value and productivity within the existing processes.

The solution

The result was a plan to build a whole new website on iBizify’s Web Platform, combined with iBizify’s Promote+ service, that would provide:

  • An appointment request service
  • Photo gallery
  • Testimonials
  • Regularly updated news
  • Original content
  • A responsive design for the best experience on all devices

"The new Site Editor allows me to easily make changes to the website as soon as they are needed, it is now much easier to keep our customers informed.  The new appointments feature makes it easier for our clients to request appointments out of hours, and helps us to gather the required information,” said Lesley, of Tavistock

iBizify Promote+ keeps it alive

Promote+ is a dynamic service that helps to establish, increase, and maintain an online presence.  From simple news generation, through to promotion across multiple social networks, Promote+ ensures that nothing ends up stale.

Tavistock chose to take up Promote+, enabling IBizify to generate original content for use on the website via monthly phone consultations coupled with proactive research.  The service includes cross-posts to Google, search engine listing updates (such as holiday opening times and special offers) and other proactive website updates.

Many web developers are happy to simply deliver a website and move on.  iBizify goes further by delivering a live Web Platform with continual improvement and feature updates via a subscription.  Combined with Promote+ visitors get the experience they deserve and can feel confident they have the latest information.  It’s not just search engines that love fresh content,” said Steve Munden of iBizify.