The use of Microsoft Teams is growing very rapidly , with over 300,000 organisations already using the tool, but like any part of the digital workplace or any collaboration platform, you still need to work hard to drive adoption. This is particularly the case as the use of Teams in most organisations will be largely voluntary – few employees are forced to use it – and therefore there must be an effort to promote and support Teams. There are also many other tools which teams can use to communicate and collaborate effectively; from Slack to other tools within the Office 365 suite to the use of email. So, adoption efforts also need to work in reference to the other options available.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Teams is a messaging and collaboration tool designed to allow teams to communicate with each other, share documents, add discussions and carry out tasks. It’s an important tool within the Office 365 suite and is where Microsoft is investing much of its efforts by integrating communication capability such as Skype. Initially it was launched as a rival to Slack, but it has started to assume a greater role.
There is never one single approach which successfully drives adoption of digital workplace tools; a range of approaches works best. Here are thirteen ideas which we’ve seen our clients try in helping to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams.
1. Work out what adoption means to you
Before you can drive adoption of Microsoft Teams you need to work out what successful adoption looks like for you. Working out what you want to achieve for your business, and then defining the kind of adoption and usage patterns that will help you achieve those goals, will help you to focus on the right adoption tactics for Teams.
For example, you may wish to specifically drive better project management in your organisation, and therefore ‘successful’ adoption might be a greater number of project teams working with Teams. Or you may have a more general goal to make communication more efficient across functions spread across different locations, and therefore your aim may just to drive the number of users in this group. Having the right focus for adoption and knowing what success looks like will help you achieve your aims.
2. Use targeted communications
Traditional change management efforts are very likely to be part of your drive for adoption. As with any efforts, the more targeted the messages to different groups, the better. For example, communications should be framed in the perspective of the needs of specific groups. Your messaging may also need to explore the bigger picture; communications need to explain the “what” and the “how”, but also “why” employees should use Teams, to win hearts and minds.
3. Give support resources
While communications help to drive awareness and buy-in, and usually give some advice on how to get started, support resources need to help users once they start using Teams. A dedicated area on your intranet, with some self-service resources such as FAQs, short instructional videos and even a support community where questions can be asked to super-users, provides an excellent backbone for driving sustainable adoption.
4. Get the right team behind Teams
Driving adoption for any tool is usually a sustained effort and you need the right team behind it. Factors to consider are whether people have the right skills and know-how to drive adoption, whether they have time and whether they have the right commitment. It’s also worth thinking about who owns Teams and which departments are involved. For example, it’s not uncommon for IT functions to drive the usage of collaboration tools, but in our experience, they are not always the best equipped to lead what is a business change rather than a technological one.
5. Use peer-to -peer recommendation
Using peer recommendation through a formal network of local “champions” is often a successful tactic used by intranet and digital workplace teams to help drive the adoption of different tools. Like other parts of the digital workplace, local champions recommending the use of Teams can really help support usage.
Usually recommendations from peers may be taken more seriously from users, and come framed in the specific needs and of local teams, as well as potentially in their native language. To support a successful champions network, however, you need to get the right people on board, and engage your champions through recognition and engagement efforts.
6. Use Teams for specific use cases
People “get” Teams far more easily when they can see specific uses for it. If you can use Teams for tangible use cases with obvious successful outcomes, then adoption becomes a much easier sell. Work out the use cases which are going to resonate with your organisation such as using Teams to:
- co-ordinate activities within a department
- help those working on a project
- streamline activities for those working on a client account
- drive communications which are too “local” to place on the intranet.
If you have very specific ways of working, its also possible to customise Teams – see point number 10.
7. Get managers to experiences using it
Getting buy-in from managers is essential to encourage their team members to use Teams. A great way to achieve this is try and get managers to experience Teams early on. If there are use cases where your managers collaborate with each other, consider setting up Teams spaces for them so they are part of the set of early adopters and can get to know its possibilities and potential uses within their own functions.
8. Make it available and remove barriers
A key adoption approach for any part of the digital workplace is to remove any associated barriers for usage. Users won’t use something which is too difficult to use or reach. With Teams, there are some “baseline” approaches that really help drive adoption, including:
- Using Single Sign-On so users don’t have to authenticate once on the network
- Ensuring performance and load times are fast enough
- Allowing access from mobile devices by encouraging use of the Teams app
- Using the desktop app, if relevant for your organisation
- Ensuring it’s easy to find Team spaces, for example via the intranet or via Office 365 (see below).
9. Integrate Teams into your intranet
Increasingly intranets are evolving into digital workplaces; acting as the front door to the wider portfolio of applications used across the enterprise as well as integrating with other applications. If you have a SharePoint Online intranet product like Wizdom you can integrate Teams into your intranet so that employees can find the spaces they need and keep on top of updates, all in their daily flow of work.
For example, to help drive adoption, we integrated Teams into Mulberry’s intranet so that employees can reach the spaces they are assigned to via a landing page. There may also be opportunities to add updates from Teams as web parts on different pages.
10. Configure or customise Teams to your way of working
Because Teams is part of the wider Office 365 suite and because there are also a range of apps which you can integrate into the tool it’s possible to configure and even customise Teams so it delivers more value. For example, if you have very specific use cases and ways of doing things, some customisation can be enormously powerful. For example, we have worked with clients to build workflows, create templates and even introduced knowledge management features and processes to make Teams even more business-relevant, helping to drive adoption. We recently ran a webinar about customising Team to your way of working.
11. Make sure there are notifications
Notifications for users are an essential way to help drive adoption of Teams. We’re all for reducing the amount of email in the world, but the truth is that many employees still rely on email for their updates. If this is the case, enabling email notifications for Teams may prove to be important for driving usage.
12. Put some process and governance around it
Generally, Teams doesn’t necessarily have to have significant governance around how it is used, but putting in just the right amount of process and rules can really help to support adoption efforts. For example, some form of site provisioning process can help ensure that each Teams space has a dedicated owner and manager who will help to drive adoption. (Site provisioning for Teams is possible using the Wizdom intranet product, and separately we’ve worked with clients to even create provisioning for different templated Teams spaces.) It can also help to keep the number of sites down, aiding findability.
13. Give it time
Getting users to adopt new tools doesn’t happen overnight. People are busy and there are always going to be laggards and sceptics who are highly unlikely to use it. However, the majority of users will come around and use Teams if you are realistic and give your adoption efforts sufficient time to really embed use of the tool within your organisation.
We love Teams!
At Content Formula we love teams and we’re confident your users will too. Use some of the approaches and ideas in this post to help drive adoption and get everybody communicating and collaborating. And if you need any advice on how your organisation can use Teams effectively, then get in touch.