Continuing with our 'Day in the Life of a Project Manager' series, we hear from Lyndsay Ansell, Modality Systems Project Manager on how she has been won over by Microsoft Teams, and the value it is bringing to her day-to-day role.
Although I consider myself a fledgling Project Manager in the world of UC, I’ve been working in PM-type roles for almost 10 years now and all of them have required ‘the basics’ of excellent organisational and tracking skills. I need to know (or at least be able to quickly reference) the who, when, what, where and how, usually across many plates spinning simultaneously.
I’ve dabbled with the various tools that have become available to me over the years to achieve this, starting from the bottom up with good old-fashioned paper and pen. Some tools, like Trello, have stuck with me because I now just can’t live without them. Others, like Outlook Groups, never really ticked any of the boxes for me.
Modality Systems is lucky enough to be part of the TAP programme for Teams, which means we get a sneak peek of new developments before they’re readily available. As such, our internal comms pointed me to Teams’ existence at the back end of last year, so I ‘popped in’ to have a look around.
Microsoft describes Teams as ‘the hub for teamwork in Office 365’. Back then I had no idea what this meant. On first inspection of the software I will readily admit that I was taken in by the emojis and memes, (who doesn’t love a dancing penguin?!) but beyond that I suspected another gimmick, another dumping ground for information, and yet something else that I’d have to remember to check as well as my emails, Trello, Yammer, SharePoint, Project plans….
"Fast forward to earlier this year and I was persuaded to take another look at Teams.To my surprise, it totally rocked my little PM world!"
I’m not going to digress into the world of ‘how-to’ guides for Teams as Microsoft have got this. Here’s a quick start video about how great it is in theory, which might be a useful background watch before I tell you how great it is in practice.
I’ve been using Teams to manage Modality Systems’ Impact Assessment projects. For us, these are rinse-and-repeat engagements in which we’ve really seen the value of Teams. Our Impact Assessment Delivery Team is split into a different channel for each customer engagement, plus a ‘General’ channel that houses various template and ‘how to’ information.
Here are my top reasons for why this rocks my PM world:
1. Relevant and Insulated communication
The default ‘conversations’ view on Teams Channels is where I found my collaboration gold dust. No longer am I rifling through emails and inbox folders to find what I need. No longer am I copied in on so many mails that I ignore them all. No longer am I being copied on no mails at all, leaving me completely in the dark on project progress. Instead I’m looking at a conversation thread which gives me complete visibility of how the team is working together to progress this project, and only this project. No tangents or asides (apart from the occasional dancing penguin). By keeping the channel focussed on this customer engagement, everything I’m seeing is on-topic and well-contained, and keeps me up to date on demand.
2. It's truly the ‘one place’
Teams also allows you to store files inside the channel, most of which can be edited within the UI of Teams itself. No more linking away to half a dozen other places to find and edit meeting notes, agendas, to-do lists, spreadsheets… it’s all housed in the channel, easy to access and tied up in a pretty project bow. You can also set up tabs for other integrations – like Trello! (See Trello, I still love you.) Again, having access to this inside the Teams Channel keeps everything neatly boxed and helps keep the team focussed.
3. No more FOMO
By using the @ key in Teams conversations you can call out individual team members, particularly useful for me as I’m always asking specific people to take on specific actions. When a team member has been mentioned they get a notification, but what if someone mentions me and I miss it? The Activity feed inside Teams gives me a handy ‘list’ of interactions that I am involved in across all Teams and channels. By clicking on each event in the feed I can get directly to the mention and reply (sometimes with a dancing penguin... )
Email isn’t dead
While internal collaboration is happily working inside of Teams, my customer communications still mainly take place over email. “Ha – there blows your ‘one place’ theory!” I hear you exclaim. Have no fear – each channel has its own email address. Emails sent to the channel appear in the Conversations tab, so by copying in the Teams channel to my customer email exchanges, the channel is still being kept in the loop.
There are SO MANY other integrations and webhooks (I got that phrase from one of my Dev colleagues, it sounds exciting) which can be used to tailor Teams to make it work for your purpose, whatever that may be. It is a new way of working and it does take a bit of buy-in, but I’m so glad I took the plunge. I don’t think I’d go back to a world without a dancing penguin at my fingertips.
To find out how Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business can unify communications and streamline processes, check out our infographic 'A day in the life of a Project Manager.'
Project Manager | Modality Systems
Learn more in the second part of Lyndsay's blog series: