How do you find the right blend of applications to communicate and collaborate using Microsoft Office 365?

Microsoft has been busy at work building out and delivering new functionality in Teams, their self-proclaimed “hub for teamwork.” Have you checked out Microsoft Teams? Perhaps your company is curious about adopting it? At FMT, we’ve heard a lot of feedback on both sides of the spectrum around Teams: some people love it and want to integrate it into their daily workflow, while others haven’t had a good first experience or are a bit perplexed about how Teams fits into the bigger Microsoft 365 picture and into their collaborative workspace.

Microsoft 365 offers us at least a half dozen different applications and methods of communication and collaboration, so I understand anyone’s confusion when sitting down to determine what applications to use and when and where to use them. Fear not! Whether you are a manufacturer, distributor, or any other type of business there’s a template you can follow to transform the way your company communicates and collaborates.

In this blog, I’ll use a manufacturing and distribution company as an example to illuminate different aspects of the tools and of the overall solution.

Every employee is part of a department which may also be part of a larger team. Our employee (let’s call him Alan) must work closely with those within his department, but also must communicate with other employees throughout the company. Alan has his “inner loop” of communication—he is a member of the planning group for his company’s main product—and he has his “outer loop” of communication that includes the sales team, the purchasing department, and the manufacturing floor. Alan’s planning group is responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly from the incoming sales lead, through manufacturing and delivery, to client satisfaction. There’s a lot of folks that Alan needs to stay connected to.

In the past Alan only used Skype for Business just like a lot of other organizations to communicate via instant message, audio, video and handle virtual meetings. Almost all our clients and colleagues we hear from at FMT feel that Skype for Business is a successful and important tool for their daily work. This success paves the road for the Journey from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams.

Today, Alan and the rest of the planning department communicate continuously using Microsoft Teams. This includes both group chat amongst the tight knit department organized into different channels, as well as one-to-one chats and audio calls between Alan and his peers. The group chat is usually a fast-paced dialogue. It’s threaded, though, so that anyone can reply to a message to keep things organized and is easy to read:

 

Microsoft Teams Chat Example

 

Any content and information sent back and forth can easily be searched right from the Teams client, so nothing is ever lost or out of reach. In our example, the planning department was having a conversation in Teams about the big orders sales had told them were coming in, and how to handle the supply chain. This is the “inner loop” and each team or department in the company should have their own workspace, also known as a group, within Teams.

Both the planning department and the research and development department would be thrilled to learn that a recent update to Teams allows collaboration on Visio files right inside of the Teams client. You can also have a conversation tied to a document so there’s always context for your discussion:

 

Microsoft Teams Visio Collaboration

 

Departments and teams must communicate with each other as well. In the same way, leadership must communicate to everyone in the company. Alan’s planning team needs to know about the upcoming leads and deals in the sales pipeline, and about customer sentiment. Leadership needs to share and provide updates on the company’s initiatives. This is the “outer loop” of communication where valuable information is shared and open connection across the company is fostered.

Yammer is the application that supports this dialogue. Some people call Yammer the corporate social media. It is akin to social media in that you post information and others can like and respond to it, like a Facebook wall or feed:

 

FMT Consultants Yammer

 

Yammer is usually not as fast paced as a Teams dialogue. But, in both cases all the content is searchable, alerts and notifications keep people engaged, and all documents are shared and hosted via SharePoint Online working behind the scenes.

Of course, there is always emailing and Outlook to fall back on as a tried-and-true method of communication. However, by adopting a modern collaborative workspace, you should find that your inbox isn’t such a hectic and chaotic place anymore—and that’s a win for everybody.

Microsoft sums up the blend of communication and collaboration tools quite well:

 

Microsoft Teams Collaboration Tools

 

If you are curious about modern, efficient, and optimized communication and collaboration or ready to deploy these powerful Microsoft 365 tools, we can help! All you have to do is contact us by filling out the form below.