Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams: Information Session

I recently gave a presentation introducing some key concepts and answering questions around Microsoft Teams. The context was for those who already have accounts and have used it throughout Covid-19. They didn’t need the day-to-day basics like how to start a meeting, but they needed a better understanding of how all the pieces fit together and when it is best to use what. It was not a full consultation process, but I did put out a call for questions a couple weeks in advance and received several that I made sure to integrate into the presentation.

I’ve edited my notes to be a bit more generic and included those below:

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Microsoft Teams: Phone Numbers

I personally have not used Microsoft Teams as a phone system. My employers have stuck completely with Internet-based communications, mostly to others in the same organization. But if you want to integrate your organization’s phone system into Teams and have your phone calls ring through in Teams, that’s absolutely possible.

Here’s an introduction on some of the things to consider:

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Microsoft Teams: Information Barriers

What if you need to partition your organization so that some members of your tenant cannot communicate with others in Teams? For example, maybe you have interns who you do want to have Teams access but not to any sensitive information.

Information barriers are the solution you need. You can block interaction across the barriers so that the interns cannot see any content from anybody else or vice versa.

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Microsoft Teams: Lifecycle

If you’ve been paying attention to Microsoft 365 products in the last 5 years or so, you’ve likely noticed that things have moved toward a much flatter architecture where users have more freedom to set up their own Teams / SharePoint sites, etc. In many ways this is great, but it does carry some risks of sprawl caused by users casually creating data structures and then forgetting about them.

Fortunately, Microsoft does offer some mechanisms in the Teams lifecycle to help with this.

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Microsoft Teams: Network Tests

If you’re going to deploy Microsoft Teams in your business network, you’ll need to confirm first that your network can handle it. That means fast enough bandwidth speeds to handle everything you want all of your employees to be able to do, as well as having all the ports open for the necessary traffic to get through. If you’re going to need hundreds of users on the same network sharing their screens alongside their video and audio in meetings of 50 people, that will eat up a lot of network resources.

Microsoft has offered a few tools to help with this preparation.

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Microsoft Teams: App Policies

Suppose you want to lock the sidebar in Teams for some users to ensure that they don’t have different experiences, which can help with providing support and documentation as well as make sure nobody accidentally loses their easy access to the app they want to use. But you don’t want to lock all users; there are some like your IT department that might need some freedom to use their Teams differently.

This can be done with an app setup policy in the Microsoft Teams admin centre.

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Microsoft Teams: Favourite Hidden Features

Microsoft Teams is a very big program, essentially combining together equivalent functionality to Skype, Slack, Zoom, Google Drive, VOIP phone systems, and a few more all into one… plus the ability to develop your own apps for it. New features keep coming at a rapid pace. That makes it easy to miss some of the helpful little things that Teams offers. I’ll have more posts soon about organization admin settings and policies for Teams, but here are a few of my favourite tricks that most typical users can take advantage of in their own workflows but may not be obvious.

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SharePoint: Accessing Files

Suppose you’ve now set up all of your files for your organization in the ideal way, with some in individual user OneDrives and others in group SharePoint sites. The natural follow-up question is: now how do I access those files within my workflow?

There are a lot of options. This probably isn’t an exhaustive list, but in this post I’ll quickly mention several different ways to access your files that are housed in Microsoft 365 (OneDrive for Business and SharePoint). If you know of more that I missed, leave a comment.

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