Best Practices for Organizing Teams

In our day-to-day business lives, I think we would all enjoy the ability to make decisions more quickly. Whether it’s a decision about pricing a new product, or which new initiatives to target for the next quarter, or even how to fix something that’s not working, speed in decision making will save money and allow you to move on to your next task.

Traditionally there are a handful of roadblocks, which slow decision making. Here are a few key ones:

  1. Analysis Paralysis – gathering too much information and weighing too many criteria
  2. Disjointed Workspace – scheduling delays and lack of efficient communication

According to the Harvard Business Review, a “Know-Think-Do” framework can “enable leaders and their teams to immediately start making these fast and roughly right decisions.”

That sounds fantastic to me, however, there is one thing missing: a modern and digital workspace that can support and foster vibrant discussion and collaboration. Without that, you would be back in the 1990’s sitting in board rooms, sending faxes and chasing down the last free blocks of time on people’s calendars. Not exactly my idea of fun.

Almost every business has a goal of growing and evolving to stay relevant in a crowded market. So, there is never a lack of decisions to be made or initiatives and goals to be set. And almost every business is composed of executive leadership, middle management, staff workers, and hybrid roles in between these levels. Without the right technology, it becomes a challenge to connect these people and allow information to flow at the speed of the internet, while also maintaining transparent and up-to-date communication from the top to the bottom of your organization. Especially, when you are trying to grow, change, pivot, and evolve to take advantage of whatever edge you have in your industry.

A Modern and Digital Workspace

At FMT Consultants, we’ve embraced Microsoft’s idea of digital transformation and have helped a lot of our clients with their journey to a modern, digital workspace. At the center of this digital workspace is Microsoft Teams, a service that Microsoft says is one of their fastest-growing ever, and which Spiceworks predicts will “penetrate approximately 41% of the market” by 2020.

Teams serves many purposes from private chat to team chat, real-time document collaboration to file sharing, and virtual meetings to video conferencing. You can read more about Teams to get a better understanding on Microsoft’s website.

Teams conversation tab image

But let’s return to the concept of “Know-Think-Do” and revisit the roadblocks presented earlier to understand how Teams is perfectly positioned to drive speed in decision making.

Best Practices for Organizing Teams

Consider a decision that an organization needs to make about key objectives for designing a new product. This decision is going to involve folks from different departments throughout the company, so the first step will be to create a new Team in Microsoft Teams to bring everyone together, let’s call the Team “Super Cool Thing” – that seems totally realistic, right?

Teams Files Tab Image

Our new Team will provide the digital workspace for collaboration, whether it’s between team members, within a department, or across departments. I know I already let the cat out of the bag, but if you thought Teams was only about text-based communication like instant messaging or group messaging, you’re in for a wonderful surprise. As the product manager for the new “Super Cool Thing” product works to extract the best ideas from the team, they have a lot of tools at their disposal.

The first step in the decision-making process is to “Know” the objectives and decide which objectives to focus on for the greatest impact.

Since Teams can surface all the powerful services within Office 365, our product manager starts the conversation within the Team to request people’s ideas and objectives in designing the new product. Who should it serve? What is the price point? What challenges might be faced? Who are the competitors?

A Microsoft Planner tab is added so that the product manager and project manager can track key milestones and tasks along the decision-making process. They can even assign tasks to team members who will be notified by Teams that they have tasks due and organize tasks into buckets, or by the due date or by progress.

A OneNote notebook is also created to keep the plethora of great ideas that team members are offering organized. A tab to quickly access the OneNote is just a click away in the channel. Managers and team members can keep up-to-date on anything that’s added to the notebook and take notes from working sessions and meetings in this shared location. This is key to capturing information accurately and reducing time spent on consolidating notes or just missing important information that someone scribbled down on a notepad. Connections can be made between tasks in Planner and more detailed notes in the OneNote notebook as well.

Throughout the process, files are also uploaded to the team: design documents, due diligence on competitors, price studies, market research, etc. Once the documents are added to the Team, conversations can be started within files, allowing everyone to appreciate the context of the discussion. Anyone in the Team can edit the files in real-time. They can even edit collaboratively when other people have the file open. Best of all this file sits in the cloud: a single point of truth that helps to avoid disparate versions or emailing multiple copies of the file back and forth. And when a team member is notified that they have a Planner task due to update and finalize one of these shared and collaborative documents, they can easily get up to speed on any discussion about it and see the latest comments that someone made about the particular file. Once they finish work, they mark their Planner task complete and the product and project managers have instant visibility via Teams notifications that integrate with Planner.

Now that the Super Cool Thing Team has been able to quickly gather feedback and information, it is time to round up all the stakeholders to decide on the key objectives to focus on for the new product. Meetings are scheduled directly from the Teams app and are held right within the Teams workspace. This brings together the key individuals in a virtual meeting where they can have discussions on an audio conference bridge, share files, desktops, and apps with other attendees and take shared meeting notes. If I didn’t already mention that everything in Teams is persistent, this is a great opportunity to touch on it. Even after the meeting ends, attendees can reference the chat messages, shared files, and meeting recording on-demand. Nothing floats off into the ether or requires effort to track down.

Teams outlook calendar image

Teams schedule a meeting

Making Your Next Big Decisions

The Super Cool Thing team is beginning to get a grasp on using Microsoft Teams to drive speed in their decision making. For better or worse (better, I think!), employees are connected no matter where they are or what time of day it is. They can quickly respond or provide a concise answer to a question from their mobile device, workstation, or web browser since Teams apps exist for all environments and devices.

Now that the stakeholder meeting has taken place, meeting minutes have been recorded in OneNote, and documents have been uploaded and updated in Teams, the final decision and outcome can easily be communicated to everyone who is a part of the Super Cool Thing Team….and then they can all move on to their next big decision.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we understand that your business is unique and won’t fit a pre-determined mold. If you need additional assistance with Microsoft Teams or just want to learn more about it, give us a call at 833-827-4275 or contact us here.

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