The drive for better ways to collaborate in corporate life never stops. As organizations grow more geographically spread out, virtualized and matrixed, workers need to be able to work together with as few obstacles to productivity as possible. A team with members on different continents might convene to complete a task. How will they get their work done efficiently? This is partly a matter of culture. People have to want to collaborate. But, assuming the desire is present, effective collaboration is mostly about having the right software.
Collaboration Tools: An Ongoing Story of Evolution
The history of online collaboration tooling parallels the development of networked computers. At first, the mere ability to send an electronic mail (email!) message from on PC to another was nothing short of a revolution. From there, the industry has produced a long series of increasingly advanced collaboration products.
Early on, teams collaborated using a variety of solutions at the time – chat in one app, web meetings in another, document repositories in a third place and so forth. Now, with Microsoft Teams, we have one collaboration solution that unifies the most common functions required to enable people to get things done productively.
The Collaboration Advantages of Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams represents a significant advance in a long line of Microsoft collaboration tools. It combines chat, voice and video calling, online meetings and integration with productivity applications like Word and Excel. As a native component of the Microsoft Office 365 ecosystem, Teams offers an intuitive, natural fit with the way people work today.
A typical collaborative use case for Teams might look like this: Bob video calls Sally in Teams to discuss a document they’re both assigned to write. To resolve an issue in the writing, Bob pulls up the document in Teams. With Sally and Bob both able to see the document, they can collaboratively edit it in real time. In the process, they realize they have questions for Joe and Betty. Through Teams, they can see Joe and Betty’s presence. They then kick off a web meeting where all four of them can talk about the document.
Teams adds a powerful search capability to collaborative mix. This helps solve a problem that has vexed the collaborative process for years: the difficulty finding the most recent and relevant material. Teams enables search for content, tools, contacts and conversation threads. The search feature connects with SharePoint, OneNote and Planner. Team members can instantly find what they’re looking for. Documents shared in Microsoft Teams are automatically saved to the cloud. Team members are always working from the latest version without the need to search for it.
Users of Teams have the ability to tailor workspaces with any specialized content or apps they need. For instance, a Team user could add a tab for a Word document or Power BI dashboard. He or she could also add Jira or Trello if those are required to keep people working together productively.
On the back end, Teams gives IT managers sophisticated security and configuration controls. This is a sometimes-neglected aspect of the collaboration story. A collaboration tool must be easy to administer. It has to be subject to security policies.
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