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Aug 2021

A practical guide on making the most of Microsoft Teams in your organisation (2)

Taming Your Teams, Part 2

Categories Unified Communications, Collaboration & Productivity

Welcome to part two (of three) on Taming Your Teams. In this article we’ll look at, ‘how do we want to use Teams to better our organisation?’

As a reminder, the overall approach we’re taking is to understand where we are, where we want to get to and then plan how to get there. The first article covered the steps you can take to learn how your organisation is currently using Teams.

So, we should now begin to understand where we are; the subject of this article is: Where do we want to get to?

Scenic view

What exactly do you do?

The primary aim of Teams is to provide a space for your organisation's teams to communicate and collaborate. So, the question then is, what - to your organisation - constitutes a team? What do those teams do? How long do they last?

For example, are you an organisation that predominantly works within defined departments with inter-organisational initiatives? Are you an organisation that is heavily project-based with lots of work with external partners?

Through the rest of this article, the aim is to understand how Teams can provide benefits to these different scenarios. I usually advise picking the three most common scenarios rather than trying to cater to every single situation (at this stage).

. . .

Ask not what you can do for Teams...but what Teams can do for you.

There is a logical assumption that there are inefficiencies in each scenario that you can alleviate by using Teams. The logic primarily being based on you reading this article! These may relate to document control issues, targeting messages, sharing knowledge, and more.

Teams aims to be the central hub of your day-to-day work life. The term I often use to describe it is "corporate nexus". This aim is evident by the functionality that Teams provides. Teams integrates with (most of) Office 365, has a rich app ecosystem, facilitates internal and external collaboration and can be accessed in a variety of forms.

On paper, then, Teams seems like a powerful platform. The question is - mixing metaphors - is the grass greener at the end of the tunnel?

The answer, of course, is that it depends. My own experience of Teams has been very positive. Teams has primarily replaced email within my team and has allowed me to communicate more fluidly than before. To make it work for you, we need to understand the areas and scenarios it can make a difference.

Therefore, once you have determined your common scenarios, I suggest you consider the current challenges they each face - after all, your aim should always be to use the technology to solve the problem, not the other way around!

. . . 

Building Your Scenarios

In the spirit of understanding the problem areas first, it helps to build an outline of your scenarios. These do not have to be grandiose but should at least give you some direction, highlight any significant issues and help determine (down the line) how successful Teams has been.

Things to consider are:

  • Naming: What would be a sensible naming convention for the team? i.e. "EXT - P1234 - Project Name" for an external-facing project team.
  • Retention: Are there any particular retention/sensitivity requirements?
  • Description: A simple, succinct description of the scenario at hand
  • Users: Who would be the users in the scenario?
    • Are there any external users who would require access?
    • Would there be two tiers of membership? e.g. the communications team would be the owners of a corporate-wide group
  • Features: Which categories of features would the team aim to use most?
    • Messaging (You might consider what Channels to use)
    • Online Meetings
    • Document Editing
    • Task Tracking
    • Data Entry
    • Integrations - workflows, chat-bots, etc.
  • Types of Data:
    • What types of data (particularly files) would the team contain/work with*?
  • Exclusions:
    • Is there anything that shouldn't be kept in the team / the team need to be aware of? e.g. project documents maintained in a separate system, contractor project change agreements documented in a particular form, etc.

* One of the benefits of Teams is that it integrates with Office 365 and other platforms. Therefore, although data may live in another system (e.g. Jira, Google Drive, Zoom, etc.), it can still be incorporated into a team.

. . .

Common Scenarios & How Teams Can Help

To help give you an idea, I've laid out a few typical examples. I have expanded on the features section to provide you with an idea of what you might want to use.

If you want inspiration on how you can use Teams to manage a project, I recorded a webinar showing you how to set up and use a team space:

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Naming: {EXT or INT} - {Project Number} - {Project Name}

Retention: 3 Years after project end

Description: A space for project teams to communicate, hold meetings and share documents.


  • Internal: All Staff (Project leads would manage teams)
  • External: Clients might be added to a team


  • Messaging
    • For intra-team conversation only
    • Channels:
      • Meetings - used for meeting chat, before, during and after meetings.
      • Document Updates - for sharing updates to documents and facilitating discussion.
    • Team Tags - a little known feature of teams allows you to create tag groups to quickly tag set groups of people, e.g. "Project Managers."
  • Meetings
    • Primarily for holding regular weekly catch-ups
      • In a team, you can schedule a meeting within a channel; this automatically invites your team and means you can more easily access meeting chat before and after the meeting.
  • Document Editing
    • Sharing and co-editing project files. A separate area could be created in SharePoint for managed files, using metadata and templates to make documents easier to manage; this can then be linked back to the team channel for easy access.
  • Task Tracking
    • Use Microsoft Planner (Tasks by Planner) to track meeting actions, added as a tab to the meetings channel.
    • Sharing a Microsoft Project Plan using Project Online, added as a tab to the general channel.
  • Data Entry
    • Use of a SharePoint list (aka Microsoft Lists) to capture and track project risks
  • Integrations
    • A PowerAutomate workflow to post a message into Teams when a new risk is added to the above SharePoint list

Types of Data:

  • Project Documentation
  • Meeting Minutes & Agendas
  • Risk Logs
  • Supplier Quotations
  • Project Change Requests & Discussions


  • Purchase Orders & Invoices
  • Master copies (i.e. Issued Documents) should be co-stored in a separate document management system.
  • Documents marked as "Internal Only" should not be available to external people (this might use Office 365 Sensitivity Label functionality to achieve this)

. . .


Naming: {Division} - {Department Name}

Retention: Department Meeting Minutes to be kept for three years

Description: A space for departments to communicate, hold meetings and share documents.

Users: Internal only, to be managed to department managers/super-users


  • Messaging
    • General Conversation
    • Meeting Channel - for hosting meetings (as per the project example)
    • News & Updates - for sharing industry news & updates, e.g. magazine articles, news stories, etc.
    • 'Help' channel - for people to ask questions, seek help, etc., within the department.
  • Meetings
    • Monthly department meetings are held, with a PowerPoint presentation shared before the meeting for co-editing by department members.
    • Knowledge sharing sessions are held, with the recordings available within the team.
  • Document Editing
    • "Ad-hoc" documents, holiday schedules, PowerPoint presentations.
    • Shared OneNote file for use as a general knowledge repository
  • Task Tracking
    • Use of Planner to track team meeting actions

Types of Data:

  • Team Meeting Minutes & Presentations
  • Knowledge Sharing Recordings
  • News Articles, Whitepapers, etc.


  • Personnel documentation should be kept in a secure location, not for sharing within a team
  • Project documentation should be maintained in the relevant location (although it can be linked to within a team)

. . .


Naming: Social - {Region} - Group Name

Retention: No Defined Period

Description: A space for staff to meet informally, either a social forum in its own right or related to a corresponding group/event.

Users: Internal Only, must be endorsed by a senior member of staff and managed by 2+ named individuals


  • Messaging
  • General Discussion
  • 'Corporate' Updates (if using for corporate updates, the default General channel has options to control who can post/reply to messages)
  • Meetings
  • Informal meetings online
  • Integrations
  • Use of Microsoft Forms within the team

Types of Data:

  • Informal conversations
  • Photographs


  • Files that contravene company policies
  • Personnel data

. . .

What Next?

So now we have an idea of how and where we can/want to use Teams; we need to understand how to make it happen. Part of this will be identifying a few pilot teams to trial the use cases on, but we shall cover this in part 3.