Rules to Better Microsoft Teams

​​​Teams offers a great solution to collaboration using the Office 365 platform. Get ready for a productivity boost, better focus on your work and increased transparency.

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  1. Do you know how to create a Team?

    ​​​​​​Microsoft Teams is a great tool for a group of people to collaborate, communicate and share their files. 

    Teams makes it easy to:
    • ​​Centralize communication
    • Send emails to Team members easily and quickly by providing a global email address for the Team
    • Move away from email attachments and centralize documents

    Take charge of communication in your Team and get started with Microsoft Teams. This video will guide you through your first few steps with Teams using the simple example of a building at 81 Military Road​:


    Once invited to a Team, follow these steps:
    1. ​Go to your inbox and find the invitation email
    2. Click on "Open Microsoft Teams"
    3. Sign-in
      Note: you can use the Desktop, Web or Mobile apps to access Teams
    4. Navigate your Teams & Channels ! ​👌✔

    Microsoft Teams also integrates with hundreds of Microsoft & third party products, such as Trello, OneNote, Planner...

  2. Do you know the best place to store documents and share them?

    ​​​​​There is a myriad of options to choose from when storing and sharing documents, some examples include:

    • SharePoint
    • OneDrive or Dropbox or Google Drive
    • Microsoft Teams | Team Site
    The best choice is Microsoft Teams because it brings together the best of SharePoint, cloud file storage, real time collaboration and more into a single location.

    teams - network share.png
    Figure: Bad Example - You shouldn't look for files on network shares
    teams - file tab.png
    Figure: Good Example - You can use the files tab in Teams (without leaving the app)

    The great thing about having conversations next to the file is that it is always in context. Also, future users can view the conversation when they open the file in teams.

    teams - document conversation.png
    Figure: Good Example - You can have a conversation about a file

    Behind the scenes, storage is provided by a SharePoint site; so that is there if you want to use it. As an added bonus thanks to this; you can take the files offline by syncing with OneDrive for Business and by default each channel gets its own folder.

    teams - open sharepoint.png
    Figure: Good Example - You can open the files in SharePoint
    teams - sync onedrive.png
    Figure: Good Example - You can sync the files in SharePoint with your current machine through OneDrive. A toast notification should popup indicating that files will be synced.

    Note: You can add other cloud storage providers for file storage e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, etc
    This is not recommended - as they aren't first-class​ citizens i.e. if you want to share files from them, you need to go to the provider's sharing settings outside of Teams

    Warning: By using Teams instead of SharePoint, you are losing a number of key features:
    - No full fidelity support for Metadata in Document Libraries e.g. can’t add extra columns into the “Files” tab
    No support for private channels e.g. you will need a team per subset of users with different permissions
    No direct access to version history from Teams UI (still exists on SharePoint UI)
    No access to the cross-office365 Search feature e.g. SharePoint search is better (see video:​)
    No access to external content in the search feature e.g. can’t search
    No access to SharePoint designer workflows (although the new way to do it is Microsoft Flow)​

  3. Do you add the right tabs when creating a new Teams conversation?

    ​​When you're having a discussion about the Northwind ordering system that you're building, you need to see your backlog, and of course, it would be handy to see a OneNote diagram of the workflow. It might also be handy to see an Excel spreadsheet of the stakeholders and testers.

    What separates Teams from other chat programs, such as Slack and Skype, is the ability to add Tabs to your conversations.

    The number of tabs is really broad and starts with the standard Microsoft products such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. You can also create tabs using Trello, YouTube, Zendesk, and more. The usefulness of this feature cannot be understated – it is so handy to have all your work items in one place.​​

    Figure: There is a virtual smorgasbord of tabs to add the conversation – aggregating all your necessary work parts into one easy, accessible location
    Figure: Beyond our "​​conversations", we have 4 tabs – our "files", our "VSTS backlog", our "workflow notes", and our "stakeholders in Excel"
  4. Do you avoid using the conversation tab to task out work?

    ​​Tasking out work means adding it to the backlog. Adding it to the backlog has project management benefits and is easy to do if you have a tab for VSTS in the channel.
    teams - tasking in conversation.png
    ​Figure: Bad Example - asking someone to do work in a conversation
    teams - add to backlog.png
    ​Figure: Good Example - task is added to the backlog

    ​TODO: Have the bot listen in on the conversations to remind you about the rule

  5. Do you know the best wiki for Microsoft Teams?

    ​​You should use OneNote instead of the default Wiki. This way you can use it offline on your mobile apps.

    Bad Example: Default tab – Wiki. There is no offline mobile application
    Good Example: Use OneNote. Now you can use the normal OneNote Desktop and Mobile app for iOS and Android (including offline support)

    ​Note: Rename the tab to show that it is a OneNote Tab. E.g.:​ "OneNote - SSW Reno Sydney"​​

  6. Do you know how to see what’s going on in your project?

    ​Imagine you’ve been on vacation for several weeks (lucky you!) and on returning you want to see what’s been happening in your project in your absence.  If your project used a “team” within Microsoft Teams, you’d easily be able to review the team’s conversations and progress. You’d be able to see what issues have arisen and where the team has been spending their time. 

    A "team" is a great way for teams to communicate and have a persistent forum to share information and discuss project related topics. The extensibility of a team also allows the addition of tabs that integrate with 3rd party applications to bring timely and relevant information into the team site. This allows team members to see at a glance what has been happening on the project.

    You can also add Bots to communicate on your channel, or, even better, Apps! You can add Apps that let you, for example, be notified of any # uses in Twitter that you want to monitor, or Facebook Pages that you want to follow. This is great for the Marketing team!

    To: All Developers
    Subject: What’s been happening on SSWTimePro in the last couple of weeks

    Hi Devs,
    I’ve been away for a couple of weeks. Can you tell me what’s the latest?

    Figure: Bad example - Broad email asking what’s been happening

    Teams can keep you abreast of all the events happening on your project.

    Teams Notifications.png​​​

    Good example: See that a record of team conversations, builds, and deployments

  7. Do you archive old Teams?

    Within a team or project-based organisation, the number of Teams can rapidly grow out of control. The more active Teams you have, the harder it gets to find the right information when you need it.​​

    ​Hiding teams works well enough for end users but doesn't help administrators figure out which teams are actually in use. You should "Archive" unused teams instead – making the team unavailable read-only.

    Figure: Bad example - Lots of old and test teams
    Figure: Good example - Old teams are archived

    To archive a Team, follow these steps:

    • Click on "Manage Teams"
    • Choose the team you want to archive (you must be owner of that Team)
    • Click the "..." (ellipsis)
    • Click "Archive team"​
    Figure: Clicking "Manage Teams"
    Figure: Clicking "Ellipsis" | "Archive Team"

    Note: Archived teams can be restored at any time to be made available again.

    Read more about Do you archive old Teams?
  8. Do you know how to use Teams Search?

    Teams search is designed to help you quickly find the files you are collaborating on.​

    From the main search box, you can search for:

    • Teams
    • Channels
    • Files
    • Messages
    • People​

    If you start typing in the search box, you will see all Teams and Channels that matches your query:

    Figure: Search results for "Training". The 1st two results are Teams, the 3rd one is a channel.

    Teams only show up with their title, while channels show with the name of the associated Team underneath
    Figure: Teams result
    Figure: Channel associated to a Team result

    Warning: If you hit enter, you will be redirected to the Messages, Files & People results. To see the Teams/Channels matching your query, simply click the search box again

    Once you've hit "Enter", you can search through the different tabs to find messages, people or files that match your query across all teams

    Figure: Use the 3 built-in tabs to search through the different categories

    You can also use built in filters to refine your search, by clicking the "Filter" icon in Messages or Files tabs: 

    Figure: Built in filters for Messages (see #3)

    Important: Even though Teams search gives you quick access to all your messages and documents; the search is scoped to ONLY Teams, which means you cannot search for files hosted on SharePoint, OneDrive, other Office365 products (i.e. Delve/UserProfile) or external sources (i.e., etc...). For this reason, it is advised to use the SharePoint Search instead.

    Related Rule​

  9. Do you know where to keep your files?

    ​Each client project should have a nice place to keep files. In the old days, things were simple but limited, we simply used Windows Explorer and file shares. Today there are so many places that teams can store documents e.g. Dropbox, OneDrive, SharePoint, TFS, and even Microsoft Teams.

    Which is the best corporate solution?

    The solution that allows the best collaboration with Developers, Project Managers, and other stakeholders is SharePoint and Microsoft Teams. It is super easy to create, upload and share documents with others.

    What stuff do you need to store?​

    For most projects you need to quickly store and locate important details and documents such as:

    • Server details (Dev, Test, Production)
    • Change-log documents
    • Upcoming features (most often in Word or OneNote)
    • General documents e.g. Requirements/Specifications (Note: it is possible to share documents from Microsoft Teams externally, but not from Teams directly... just open it in ​Office Online or a specific Office app first)​

    Keep Files Bad Example
    Figure: Bad example – It might be easy to use File Shares, your Local C: or emails – but don’t. They don’t work in a team environment as they aren’t easy for others to access
    Keep Files Bad Example
    Figure: Bad example – SharePoint integrated into TFS is not supported via Visual Studio anymore
    Keep Files Bad Example
    Figure: Bad example – even though this is using SharePoint - this is using a Team Site with a Document Library - it is better to use Microsoft Teams which uses SharePoint under the covers
    Keep Files Good Example
    Good example: Use Microsoft Teams and it will automatically create a Site for the Team (and that includes a document library which you can connect to with OneDrive)

    What does not get stored in Microsoft Teams? 

    1. For developers, the 6 important documents should be stored in Azure DevOps (was TFS/VSTS).​​.. or instead use Markdown with the Wiki
    2. For designers with large files, OneDrive is a better choice. See: Do you know the best Source Control for Designers?

    What about usernames and pas​swords?

    Documents with user names and passwords should not be stored in Microsoft Teams. Security is very important for everyone and every company. Use Azure KeyVault or KeePass to store usernames and passwords. KeePass keeps all passwords in one database locked by a master key, which should be accessible only by the few people you trust.

  10. Do you use emojis in your Teams' channel names ?

    It's usually easier for users to remember where a given information is when it is associated to an image/icon. This is especially true for non-technical people or the ones that are not very familiar with digital workspaces.

    An easy and fun way to alleviate this issue and boost user adoption to Microsoft Teams is to use Emojis in your channel names (using Windows Key + .)!​

    Bad Example: Channel names without emojis
    Good Example: Channel names have emojis​​
  11. Does Your Team Have a Notifications Channel?

    It is important to have a feed of what is happening in your project while still keeping a clean space to have discussions. This is why your Team should always have a Notifications channel.

    A majority of these notifications can be created using the connectors that are built into Teams. To create a connection:
    • Select the three dots in the top right of the screen and select "Connectors."
    Figure: This is how you begin the process of adding a connector.

    • Select "Add" on the connector that you want to use.
    Figure: This is the pop-up that allows you to select which connector to add.

    • Give the Connector a name that describes what it does.
    • Complete the other configuration options for the Connector and click "Save."
    Figure: The configuration page for the RSS Connector that notifies of a new video being uploaded to the SSW TV Youtube channel with a name that describes what it does.

    Sometimes you may have to choose between multiple connectors that can serve the same base purpose. In this situation, it is good to choose the one that provides the important information in the easiest way.

    Figure: Bad example – There is no thumbnail and no link to the video. (It is nice that you can add custom text – inside the 2 emoijs)

    Figure: Good example – There is a thumbnail and a link to the video. (Although there is no custom text)