Microsoft 365 Strategy Pays Off: A Customer Transformation Success Story [Recorded Webinar]

Listen to our recent webinar to hear one of our clients – the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) – share their Microsoft 365 strategy transformation success story. You’ll learn how they took a user-centric approach to Microsoft 365 that paid off – driving real change and transformation across their organization – while empowering both the IT department and employees along the way.

The speakers:

  • JoAnna Battin, Director of Strategy & Advisory Services at Xgility
  • Thomas Lyons, Chief Information Officer at ASM
  • Jerry Cruz, Manager, Network Operations & Support at ASM
  • Kevin Gauthier, IT Project Manager at ASM

JoAnna and the ASM team share how Xgility’s strategy-first methodology – along with critical planning, change management, culture change, and adoption activities – drove real change and transformation across their organization – while empowering both the IT department and employees along the way.

Let’s Dive into Key Highlights from the Discussion:

First, you’ll quickly find out that this isn’t your normal software implementation project.

JoAnna and the ASM team break down the three phases of their Microsoft 365 initiative – the strategic planning engagement, rollout stages, and ongoing adoption activities – to discuss the impact on the IT team and employees, lessons learned along the way, and how the power of critical planning paved the way for the future success.

Here are some of the key highlights from the inspiring discussion:

  • Upfront planning is critical for long-term success and keeps everyone – including the IT team, C-Suite, and employees – on the same page.
  • Look at how each department works and have employees explain how they store files, collaborate, and communicate.
  • The power of words and definitions can’t be underestimated when it comes to processes and how to use applications like Microsoft Teams and OneDrive for Business – especially since both do similar things.
  • Ongoing change management is key. Getting buy-in from employees is critical to help drive adoption and overcome resistance to new technologies.
  • Empower your employees to be part of the process including the Advisory Committee and Ambassador Program.
  • Ongoing communication is crucial.  Provide clear guidance around processes, expectations, deadlines, and drive excitement.
  • Providing onboarding and “How To” materials in the Knowledge Hub was a powerful way to help prepare employees to use Teams, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint in a consistent manner – empowering them to be self-sufficient while removing the burden from the IT team and Help Desk.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of FOMO to drive help drive adoption.

Listen to the webinar to learn more – especially how to get buy-in from leadership – and find out why now’s the time to ensure your workforce has the right mix of streamlined processes and applications to do their best work or risk having them leave.

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we know that rolling out new technologies – especially Microsoft 365 and its business applications – is no easy task for both the IT Team and end-users. And with new technologies comes change – and we all know change isn’t easy. When new technology initiatives aren’t done right, it can lead to low adoption, shadow IT, unsecured data, and frustration all around.

That’s why our team takes a different approach – fusing both technology and user-centric decisions – to help our clients truly change the way their employees collaborate and communicate with the right tools while setting their IT teams up for future success.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

Strategic Tips to Combat Collaboration Chaos & Employee Exhaustion [Recorded Webinar]

In case you missed our recent webinar, Xgility’s JoAnna Battin and Kai Benson, shared why many employees and IT Departments are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed after a year of disruption – often stemming from decentralized collaboration tools and processes plus remote work stressors.

Listen to the recorded webinar to learn why it is vital that you and your organization take a step back and address those challenges.

One way to combat the issues starts with ensuring your Microsoft 365 collaboration strategy is both human-centric and technical to drive employee productivity, efficiency, engagement, and satisfaction at scale. But the strategy might not be what you expect.

Let’s Dive into Key Highlights from the Webinar

Remember the Quick Pivot to Remote Work Environment?

First, we need to first understand where the collaboration chaos and digital overload is coming from – and where we are today – in order to address it using a methodical and strategic approach to help your workforce thrive as we move forward into the next phases of all remote or hybrid work environments.

When we first went into lockdown due to the pandemic, it was a chaotic time for many organizations especially if they didn’t have a remote work environment strategy already in place or didn’t have online, connected applications for meeting, collaboration, and file storage. Let’s recap:

  • Quick Deployment of Online Meeting & Collaboration Applications:
    When the lockdown first started, organizations hastily rolled out different online meeting technology and communication tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams so their employees could continue to communicate and collaborate with people both inside and outside their organizations. Or they might have started using Slack along with other online tools.
  • Quick Deployment of Other Online Technologies File Storage or External Sharing:
    Next, organizations worried about providing their employees the technologies they needed to get their jobs done so they started using Box, SharePoint, or Microsoft Teams if they already had them – or employees themselves added Box or Google Docs to the mix because they were easy to deploy. Essentially, our employees found ways to do their jobs in the early time spent working remotely.
  • Lack of Guidance on How & When to Use the Online Technologies:
    But, when those applications or technologies were deployed, employees did not often receive the right guidance when it came to using them – and the lack the proficiency often led to creative workarounds, use of additional third-party apps, and unsecure external collaboration or file sharing.

As a result: employees have been using a myriad of disconnected tools and different ways to meet, collaborate, email, chat, share files, and store data throughout the day. And IT departments have been trying to support their staff with these technologies while keeping their networks and data safe.

Then remote work fatigue started setting in – stemming from three key sources: digital distractions, virtual overload, and an always-on mindset.

In a recent Gartner article, Alexia Cambon describes those stressors in real-world terms:

“Imagine driving a car and a squirrel jumps in front of your car every 40 seconds. That’s your digital distraction. Now add a passenger next to you who won’t stop talking. That’s your virtual overload. Finally, put this car on a highway with no exit signs. That’s your always-on mindset. So you’re in a car that’s start-stopping every 40 seconds, with a passenger who won’t stop talking and there’s no way to take it off the road. Wouldn’t that make you tired?”

It is no wonder our employees and IT teams overwhelmed and exhausted!

New Research Shows the Toll of Remote Work

And new research and studies show the toll that has had on our workforces. As JoAnna states, we need to pay attention to the findings of these reports to address the causes going forward. One such new study from Microsoft found that high productivity may be masking an exhausted workforce.

  • 1 in 5 global survey respondents say their employer doesn’t care about their work-life balance.
  • 54% feel overworked.
  • 39% feel exhausted.
  • The digital intensity of our employees’ days has increased substantially – with the average number of meetings and chats steadily increasing since last year. This barrage of communications is unstructured and mostly unplanned, with 62% of calls and meetings unscheduled or conducted ad hoc. And workers are feeling the pressure to keep up.

Other key findings from the survey are important to know:

  • Flexible work is here to stay:
    Employees want the best of both worlds: over 70% of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65% are craving more in-person time with their teams.
  • Leaders are out of touch with employees and need a wake-up call:
    Many business leaders are faring better than their employees. Sixty-one % of leaders say they are “thriving” right now — 23% points higher than those without decision-making authority. And workers feel the disconnect. 37% of the global workforce says their companies are asking too much of them at a time like this.

Now more than ever, organizations need to look at the data around employee exhaustion and digital overload – and address with a strategic mindset.

So, how does all this tie into a Microsoft 365 strategy?

Why You Need a Microsoft 365 Strategy – But It’s Not What You Think It Is

Deploying even more applications or tools to your workforce will not help reduce chaos or employee burnout. In fact, many strategies that organizations are employing to ensure productivity are actually exacerbating these fatigue drivers.

As we look to create a better future of work, addressing digital exhaustion must be a priority for leaders everywhere. It won’t be easy, but consider how to reduce employee workloads, embrace a balance of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, ensure employees are given the flexibility to work when and where they want, and give everyone in your workforce a consistent set of connected applications and tools they need to equally contribute from anywhere.

To put this idea in perspective, ask yourself:

  • Are your employees switching between multiple different applications throughout the day? For example, are they storing documents in Dropbox, sending emails via Outlook, meeting with internal teammates via Microsoft Teams calls but holding online video meetings with clients via Zoom? Are some using Slack to chat with clients but using Google Docs to share important documents because guest access isn’t turned on in Microsoft Teams?
  • Is everyone in your organization using the same Microsoft 365 applications consistently or different people using different applications to do the same thing? For example, are some departments using SharePoint Online to store and share documents while others are using OneDrive for Business or Dropbox, or Microsoft Teams?

Just imagine how much more efficient and productive your employees could if they used the same set of connected, online applications in a consistent and structured way. And Microsoft 365 business applications like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business have multiple and powerful functionalities that help your users streamline how they work throughout the day.

But, as JoAnna explains, your organization’s Microsoft 365 strategy needs to focus on the EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE – not the technical solutions. With careful consideration, your organization’s managers and IT leaders need to set clear expectations and standardized collaboration processes that get everyone within your workforce on the same page – and provide opportunities for improved performance and employee wellbeing. And then the technologies will naturally fall into place.

As JoAnna points out, this new strategic mindset may feel uncomfortable – but it is not about control. It’s about setting expectations and communicating them to your organization. Be explicit in establishing what collaboration looks like for online or video meetings, chats, working together on documents, file sharing and storage, external communications, and more. But make sure you take a human-centric approach.

But what exactly does that look like in action?

  • Provide Guidance and Guardrails for Microsoft Teams, SharePoint & OneDrive for Business:
    This step is key. Get everyone on the same page for seamless collaboration and communications. How? Set expectations and define tool usage for Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business. Explain to your workforce how and when to use each application – and why.
  • Address 3rd Party Applications:
    We know change is hard. Taking away 3rd party apps like Dropbox or Google Docs may backfire. Instead, show the value in connected Microsoft 365 tools over 3rd party applications so your employees will want to use them. That can eliminate or reduce switching back and forth between multiple applications throughout the day. And bring back all that data from those 3rd party systems into the Microsoft 365 environment.
  • Enable Guest Access:
    Provide seamless collaboration and communication with external users. This will help keep your data and files secure – while eliminating 3rd party apps. But until you turn that guest access on, your employees are going to continue to use third-party apps. So, identify how and why your teams or departments are sharing files or need to have online chats with people outside your organization. Then enable the right types of guest access within your applications and tenants.
  • Encourage Consistent Processes:
    Once you have set clear expectations about which Microsoft 365 applications to use and when, addressed the 3rd party applications, and enabled guest access, then encourage your employees to think about how they can recreate the processes they were using before to collaborate – and map those processes within Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, or OneDrive for Business.
  • Protect Your Data – Governance is No Longer an Option:
    Developing an equitable governance plan will provide the right structure to keep your data safe giving the flexibility your workforce needs to be productive throughout the day.

Remember, the focus of your Microsoft 365 collaboration strategy is on helping your workforce do their best work throughout the day – and adding consistency will help eliminate the stresses that come from collaboration chaos.  By taking both a human-centric and technical approach, you can drive employee productivity, efficiency, engagement, and satisfaction at scale.

Whether you have already rolled out Microsoft 365 apps like Microsoft Team, SharePoint, and OneDrive or plan to do so soon, those tips will not only help reduce the chaos but will help build a solid foundation to help get everyone on the same page for seamless collaboration and communication with connected applications moving forward into a hybrid or all-remote work environment.

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we know that strategic planning is key to success. Our Strategy & Advisory team has been helping clients of all sizes successfully roll out the Microsoft 365 platform and key business applications including Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business with unprecedented adoption rates.

Please reach out to learn how we can help unravel the complexities and capabilities of the Microsoft 365 tools and applications to empower your employees and optimize operations. As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

Microsoft Ignite 2021 Announcement Roundup

Our team here at Xgility was excited to virtually attend Microsoft Ignite 2021 last week along with over 100,000 global attendees to watch the keynote addresses, attend the sessions, participate in training, and catch the latest announcements around Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, Power Platform, Security, and so much more.

Throughout the event, Microsoft showcased innovative and new ways they are helping organizations and people stay connected, secure, and thrive in the hybrid work world with cloud-powered solutions.

According to Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365, people often think of 2020 as the year work moved home. But in reality, it’s the year work moved to the cloud.

And moving forward, the cloud will continue to play a critical role as organizations accelerate their digital transformation and adapt to the realities of a hybrid workforce that require flexibility to securely work from different locations and with different devices. Azure cloud services will be more important than ever to help companies survive and thrive in a constantly evolving world.

So Many Announcements: Here’s What Our Team is Excited to See Roll Out

Our team is excited about the announcements from the event – especially as we learned about the new features, functionalities, and products that we can leverage to help our clients increase both internal and external collaboration, enhance their meetings experiences, safeguard their workforce and data, improve processes and integrate them across applications, accelerate cloud adoption, and unlock the power of the cloud to help modernize and develop apps, build hybrid networking solutions, migrate data centers, and so much more.

I reached out to three of our directors here at Xgility to learn what announcements particularly caught their attention. Here’s what they had to say.

JoAnna Battin, Director of Strategy & Advisory Services

I’m excited about Microsoft Teams Connect. Over the past year, we’ve seen an increasing demand for external guest access for our customers.  But we’ve also seen ongoing challenges and confusion – due to gaps in functionality – when our clients set up Teams and try to implement the right controls and security to separate external users from internal information. With Microsoft Teams Connect, now we can help clients combine internal collaboration with external guest access sharing by separating Channels by audience, thus removing duplicative Teams while also maintaining the security around the data.  It’s a great new addition and I’m excited to be able to streamline the recommendations for users.

Also, several of the new features and functionality announced at Ignite focus on their new approach to encouraging “employee experience.” Many of the technical features and functionality that just a year ago were attractive from a technical perspective have now been reimagined from the employee perspective. This is a direct result of the pandemic and how organizations must now think about their workforce – and attracting and retaining valuable employees.  For example, Microsoft Teams has accelerated the rollout of so many new features that enhance the employee experience – especially around meetings, chats and collaboration, security, and more.

What might not be as apparent is Microsoft’s introduction of Microsoft Viva. Microsoft has stated that Viva is a combination of AI features and technical functionality presented in a way to enhance the employee experience.  In fact, Project Cortex will no longer be called by name, but its features are integrated into Microsoft Viva. Microsoft Viva will provide employees with information, insights, and knowledge to increase productivity and gather information quicker, easier, and in a comprehensive way – thus enhancing the employee experience.

Learn More:
Flexible Work is Here to Stay: Microsoft 365 Solutions for the Hybrid Work World »

Greg Schneider, Solutions Factory Director

The new IT governance and security features in the Power Platform will be a game-changer for our clients. Microsoft is releasing a slew of new targeted capabilities that will allow admins to put up the right guardrails for governance and security to protect data within the Power Platform.

Admins will be able to enable environment – and tenant-wide data exfiltration governance, fine-grained data loss prevention rules for connector actions and endpoints, and Data Loss Prevention support for custom connectors. These will help address concerns for IT and security teams – especially when it comes to citizen developers – often preventing the organizations from using Power Apps.

I’m also glad to see they’re incorporating more monitoring capabilities and reports in the Power Platform. Now clients will be able to view new tenant-wide analytics, usage and maker activity reporting for Power Apps and Power Automate, and inventory reporting. These all give full visibility to what their employees or developers are building and how these apps and flows are getting used. Armed with those insights, we can help address low adoption rates or see where there are issues with apps – and make the right corrections to ensure their apps are helping – not preventing – their staff from using them to increase productivity and efficiency.

Learn More:
Solve IT Governance and Admin challenges with New Features for Power Platform »
Announcing New Power Platform Capabilities at Microsoft Ignite »

David Simsik, Cloud Infrastructure Architect

Over the past year, we’ve been helping our clients implement a Zero Trust model – a security strategy that combines maximum flexibility with maximum security. So, I was happy to see new features coming out to help manage identifies, address threat protection, and ensure compliance.

External access is a common requirement for our clients – and the new Azure AD External Identities will help meet those needs. A strong Zero Trust approach requires that we treat access requests from customers, partners, and vendors just like requests from employees: verify every request, allow users to access the data they need only when they need it, and don’t let guests overstay their welcome. With Azure AD, you can apply consistent access policies to all types of external users. Generally available starting this month, Azure AD External Identities is a set of capabilities for securing and managing identity and access for customers and partners. Self-service sign-up user flows in Azure AD apps make it easy to create, manage, and customize onboarding experiences for external users, with little to no application code.

There are also updates for Azure AD Conditional Access, the policy engine at the heart of Microsoft’s Zero Trust solution, now uses authentication context to enforce even more granular policies based on user actions within the app they are using or sensitivity of data they are trying to access. This helps appropriately protect important information without unduly restricting access to less sensitive content.

And several updates for Azure Security Center and Azure Defender are now available. Windows Server 2019 in Azure Defender has improved security alerts experiences as well as endpoint detection and response (EDR) support. Azure Security Center has improved the integration of network security and new reporting capabilities. The improved alerts experience includes an improved triaging experience with better performance for larger alert lists, alignment with Azure Sentinel’s incident experience, and additional alerts from the Azure Resource Graph.

Learn More: 
Identity at Microsoft Ignite: Strengthening Zero Trust Defenses in the Era of Hybrid Work »
Microsoft unifies SIEM and XDR to Help Stop Advanced Attacks »
4 Ways Microsoft is Delivering Security for all in a Zero Trust World »

And More Announcements

Microsoft Teams
We can’t overlook all the new features coming to Microsoft Teams. I’m excited to see the new Dynamic view in Meetings that intelligently arranges the elements of your meeting for an optimal viewing experience. As people join, turn on video, start to speak, or begin to present in a meeting, Teams auto-adjusts and personalizes your layout. The dynamic view is rolling out soon.

And the new Presenter Modes are a meeting game changer. Use Presenter Mode to step up the production level of your presentations and customize how your video feed and content appear to your audience. Standout Mode shows your video feed as a silhouette in front of the shared content. And Reporter Mode places content as a visual aid above your shoulder just like a news story. Side-by-Side Mode displays your video feed next to your content. Presenter mode will be available soon.

Other new Microsoft Teams features rolling out include 1,000-person interactive webinars with moderation control, 20,000-person view-only broadcasts, meeting attendee reporting. Teams mobile experience enhancements, Teams device enhancements, security and compliance features, and much more.

Learn More:
What’s New in Microsoft Teams »

Dynamics 365
Microsoft Dynamics 365 was another hot topic throughout the event as they announced new capabilities that will help businesses adapt and evolve to elevate customer experiences. One announcement stood out in particular: A new powerful and seamless integration of Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 that includes embedded Teams collaboration experiences in Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service.

Learn More: 
Announcing new Dynamics 365 capabilities at Microsoft Ignite »

So, That’s a Wrap!

You can learn about other announcements for Azure, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Microsoft Teams, Identify & Security, and other announcements in the Microsoft Ignite 2021 Book of News »

Please reach out to learn how we can help you and your organization empower your workforce to be more collaborative, productive, and secure with the Microsoft Teams, the Power Platform, Azure AD, and other Microsoft endpoint and security tools. As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

Using Microsoft Azure Bots & AI to Automate DevSecOps [Webinar Recording]

Joe Brown – Xgility’s Chief Strategy Officer – recently presented a webinar where he talked about using Microsoft Azure bots and virtual assistants to automate DevSecOps.

During the webinar, Joe talks about the benefits and challenges of DevSecOps, unravels bots and chatbots, and explains how they can help automate the DevOps and DevSecOps software development process.

Plus, he shares how Xgility built an innovative, chatbot-driven interface for a government agency that performed simple environmental lifecycle orchestration tasks in an Azure DevOps environment without any human interaction.

Watch the webinar now:

Key Takeaways:

Automation is at the core of DevSecOps – and when properly implemented and utilized – it can create a well-oiled machine that delivers an agile pipeline for software developers with security baked into every step in the process.

But there can also be downsides – especially when it comes to manual processes, configuration management, relying on manual provisioning and de-provisioning, and difficulty in moving or promoting code between environments. Those can all lead to high costs, downtime, outages, and application vulnerability.

One way to overcome those challenges is to give your software developers a support assistant that is available 24×7 – using a Microsoft Azure bot and Virtual Assistant – and that can automate the full lifecycle of their developer environments. How?

  • Dialogue-driven interfaces – available in Microsoft Teams via a web page or in a standalone client – are programmed to offer a curated and approved set of cloud-based development resources.
  • Artificial Intelligence introduces natural language-driven dialogue and bot learning to improve the user experience.
  • Bots manage the full lifecycle with all the parameters given to them by the software developers and security engineers.
  • Bots will always follow the processes defined by the DevSecOps Team.

What Makes a Bot or Chatbot Successful?

Make the user experience a top priority. Consider these questions:

  • Does the bot easily solve the user’s problem with the minimum number of steps?
  • Does the bot solve the user’s problem better/easier/faster than any of the alternative experiences?
  • Does the bot run on the devices and platforms the user cares about?
  • Do the users naturally know what to do when using it?
  • Is the bot discoverable?

Considering a Bot or Chatbot Application?

Start by asking these questions first:

  • What your bot is used for?
    Be clear about the kind of bot you plan to build. This will determine the functionalities you want to implement in the bot.
  • What problems does your bot intend to solve?
    Be clear about the problems your bot intends to solve. Solving problems for customers is the top factor you should consider when building bots. You should also consider things such as how to solve the problems easily and of course with the best user experience you can provide.
  • Who will use your bot?
    Different customers will expect different user experiences. This will also determine the complexity you should involve in your bot design. Consider what language to implement the bot.
  • Where will your bot run?
    You should decide the platforms your bot will run on. For example, a bot designed to run on a mobile device will have more features like sending SMS to implement.

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we can help modernize your software development process and legacy applications while reducing costs and development risk. 

As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

Microsoft Teams Webinar Recap: Top 5 Microsoft Teams Deployement Challenges & How to Overcome Them

Last week, Joe Brown, Xgility’s Chief Strategy Officer, teamed up with Fergus Wilson, Repstor’s CTO to discuss some of the top challenges that organizations face as they roll out Microsoft Teams – and how a strategic approach to Microsoft Teams and automated management tools can help put up the right guardrails to balance both user productivity and risk prevention.

In case you missed it, here’s the recorded webinar and key takeaways.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Let’s Face It: Deploying Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Can Be Challenging

If you and your organization have found that deploying Microsoft Teams and gaining wide-spread adoption is more challenging than you expected, you aren’t alone. Rolling out Teams without planning upfront be overwhelming both the IT department and end-users – and can lead to:

  • Limited adoption
  • Shadow IT
  • Data Loss
  • Security Breaches
  • Overall chaos for IT and Users

Top 5 Common Challenges When Rolling Out Microsoft Teams

Based on our experience, here’s top five challenge our clients face when they deploy teams – and why they come to us for help:

  • Deployed without a strategic plan. Have no defined user requirements, didn’t identify key uses cases, or talk to departments.
  • No equitable Governance Plan that empowers users and IT.
  • Cannot agree on the best way to enable external sharing so it’s disabled.
  • Users continue to use tools like Box or DropBox – aka Shadow IT – posing risks around security and data loss.
  • Lack of adoption support or training.

Take a Prescriptive & Strategic Approach: Recommendations for Success

So, how do we help our clients overcome those challenges? Here are our top recommendations.

  • Start with a strategic plan that includes governance requirements based on well-defined use cases.
  • Educate users not just how to use the tools but also explain the “how and why” around governance.
  • Don’t overlook data protection – especially for compliance requirements. Keep internal and external content separate when engaging between internal and external teams.
  • Don’t just train users to use Microsoft Teams features. Show them the “why and how” based on the use cases. Also, identify Teams Champions (Ambassadors) to provide sustainable and long-term adoption activities. The Ambassadors shouldn’t be in the IT department but rather early tech-adopters across the organization.
  • Roll out a small number of Teams initially – evaluate and adjust.

Automate Governance: Take the Pressure Off Both IT & Users

Not only is strategic planning key to success, but using purpose-built technology, like Repstor’s Custodian, can empower both your users and IT department to achieve broad adoption of Teams as well.

Their full life cycle information management solutions allow users to take full advantage of Microsoft Teams without creating information management problems or compliance headaches down the line. It brings new control, templating. and lifecycle management capabilities to Microsoft Teams workspaces and helps:

  • Identify key use cases around departments with specific compliance requirements. ​
  • ​Set up guardrails based on department’s requirements – takes the pressure off IT.​
  • ​Automate a way to request new teams – give control to users or Ambassadors.​
  • ​Employees use Teams and other Office 365 tools – making the most of investment AND reduce the use of 3rd party apps and shadow IT.

Take a Step Back and Plan for Microsoft Teams Long-Term  Success

To gain the widespread adoption of Microsoft Teams across your organization, strategic planning is a key step towards long-term success. If your organization is using Teams without a strategic plan, now is the time to step back and evaluate if your users are truly using it to its full potential.

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we know what it takes to strategically plan and deploy Microsoft Teams.

Our team has been helping our clients of all sizes successfully roll out Microsoft Teams with unprecedented adoption rates. Contact us today if you would like to schedule a demo of Repstor Custodian and to learn how our team can help your organization strategically plan and deploy Microsoft Teams.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

SharePoint 2010 Workflow Retirement: Are You Ready?

Is your organization currently using SharePoint 2010 workflows? If so, the retirement deadlines are fast approaching. But are you ready?

Back in July, Microsoft announced the retirement of the SharePoint 2010 workflows with the following deadlines:

  • Starting August 1, 2020: SharePoint 2010 workflows will be turned off for any newly created tenants.
  • Starting November 1, 2020: SharePoint 2010 workflow services will be removed from existing tenants. This includes the ability to run or create SharePoint 2010 workflows from existing tenants.
  • Starting November 1, 2020: SharePoint 2013 workflows will be turned off by default for new tenants.

What is Impact?

If you are using SharePoint Online and are running any SharePoint 2010 Workflows, you will be affected by this change.

What does that mean?
The short answer: you will need to replace them. Our recommendation is to replace or transition the SharePoint workflows with Microsoft Power Automate flows.

Power Automate [previously known as Microsoft Flow] is an online workflow service that allows automating tasks across multiple services using connectors or UI automation. As SharePoint evolves from InfoPath and SharePoint Designer workflow, Power Apps and flows within Power Automate provides more versatility and simplicity for process automation and building apps.

A Bit of Background

In the context of SharePoint, Microsoft describes a workflow as an automated movement of documents or items through a sequence of actions or tasks that are related to a business process. An organization can use workflows to attach business logic to documents or items in a SharePoint list or library.

Classic workflows in SharePoint constitute two workflow systems namely:

  •  SharePoint 2010 workflow
  • SharePoint 2013 workflow

While both workflow systems allow you to build and publish workflows in SharePoint, below are some of the key differences:

  • SharePoint 2010 workflows, released along with SharePoint Server 2010, are hosted and executed in the SharePoint workflow runtime.
  • SharePoint 2013 workflows, released along with SharePoint Server 2013, are hosted in SharePoint and executed in the Workflow Manager, which runs independently.

Most people use SharePoint Designer to author and publish workflows in SharePoint while professional developers looking to extend and build workflows use Visual Studio to build and publish workflows in SharePoint.

Modern Workflows with Microsoft Power Automate Flows

Since the release of classic workflows, SharePoint and Microsoft 365 apps have evolved to provide compelling, flexible, and more performant experiences.

SharePoint Workflows

Via Microsoft

Modern experiences in SharePoint integrate with the rest of the Microsoft 365 apps and services driving security, productivity, and collaboration. With Microsoft Power Automate, you can streamline repetitive tasks and paperless processes by creating automated workflows between your favorite apps and services to get notifications, collect data, automate business policies, and more.

What Should Your Organization Do?

First, determine if your organization is using SharePoint 2010 workflows. Microsoft recommends running the SharePoint Modernization Scanner tool to scan your tenants for legacy workflows usage. Next, identify which workflows and processes are still relevant and develop a strategic plan for the transition or replacement. Don’t overlook licensing requirements.

Learn more:
Microsoft Guidance: Migrate from classic workflows to Power Automate flows in SharePoint

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we know that this transition process can be daunting. Yet, it also provides the opportunity to review and enhance your current processes with Microsoft’s latest tools and technologies to drive efficiency and innovation across your organization – especially in today’s remote work environment.

By leveraging our strategic solutions with Microsoft’s latest automation tools, we can help transform your business processes and workflows – and avoid disruption for your organization and employees. Our team can:

  • Scan and analyze tenants to identity legacy workflows usage.
  • Work closely with your team to help identify and prioritize which processes and workflows should be re-evaluated and/or redesigned – and develop a strategic action plan that meets the unique needs of your organization.
  • Plan, architect, and design the workflows.
  • Re-build/Build workflows using Power Automate.

Contact us today to discuss how our team can help replace or transition your SharePoint 2010 or 2013 workflows. We know that starting a new technology project can be overwhelming. As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

Round Up of New Features & Functionality in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has been rapidly releasing a slew of new features and functionally in Microsoft Teams geared toward improving the remote workplace experience. From the ability to customize your background image in video calls (yahoo!) to the pop-out chat windows, these new features can help improve your meetings, calls, chats, and collaboration while using Microsoft Teams throughout the day. Plus, new integrations with Yammer and Power Platform extend ways to be productive, informed, and engaged within the Teams platform.

Key Updates in Microsoft Teams for Meetings, Calls, Chats, Teams, Channels & More

We know it can be a challenge to keep up with all the announcements, so we’ve rounded up a list of key updates below that are now available and coming soon for both end-users and IT admins. Note: You may need to reach out to your IT team or Teams administrators to turn on the new features.

Meetings & Calls:

Change & Customize Your Video Background Image
In addition to the blurred background feature, you now have the option to replace your background image with either pre-selected images or (officially!) upload your own image for Teams video calls.

Screenshot of New Background Settings option in Microsoft Teams.

You can change the background settings either before the meeting starts or during a meeting. Learn How »

Blur Your Background in iOS
This frequently utilized feature is now available on your iPhones and iPads.

Live Captions in iOS & Android
Whether hard of hearing, have different levels of language proficiency or are connecting from a loud location, live captions allow meeting participants to follow along and read what is said during Teams meetings. Live captions are now available on iOS and Android mobile devices in English.

Raise Your Hand in a Meeting
Have a question or comment but don’t want to interrupt the person speaking? The new “raise hands” feature in Teams allows meeting attendees to identify that they wish to speak — making it easier to actively participate in large meetings. Everyone will see a visual cue on the attendee — as well as in the participant list that prioritizes who raised their hand first — and can give them the room to participate in the conversation at hand.

Microsoft Teams Meetings Toolbar.

How: While in a meeting, select the “Raise Your Hand” icon in your control bar. This will place a gold hand icon on your video feed to let the rest of the attendees know that you would like to speak.

Increased Number of Simultaneous Videos in Teams Meetings
Video calling on Teams now has a 3 x 3 grid for viewing nine participants simultaneously. This new experience optimizes for attendees who have enabled video and places the remaining audio-only participants below the meeting stage.

Microsoft Teams Video Meeting with 3 x 3 Grid.

Image via Microsoft.

To provide a high audio and video quality experience, the layout will adapt — based on the user bandwidth — and alter the number of videos shown to provide the best meeting experience. It has been rolled out for desktop (Windows and Mac). Note: Microsoft just announced that it will roll out support for 49 on-screen video participants (7×7) this Fall.

Improved Join Meetings Experience
When launching a Teams meeting from a link, you will be provided with clearer options for how to join the meeting. You will be prompted with an option to join on the web, download the Teams client, or join with the native Teams client.

Screenshot of new Join Meetings options in Microsoft Teams.

Image via Microsoft.

Download an Attendance Report in a Teams Meeting
Meeting organizers can now take attendance during a meeting. Meeting organizers, especially teachers, often need to know who joined their Teams meetings. Available in the roster view, meeting organizers can download the report that includes those users who joined while the organizer was present. Note: This feature is only available within the meeting while the meeting is active.

Image via Microsoft.

To get your attendance report, select the “Show Participants” icon > Download attendee list. The report will download a CVS file that can be opened in Excel. The file will contain the name, join time, and leave time of meeting attendees. Note: Reach out to your Teams Admin to turn on the feature. Learn More »

1:1 Call Recording
Now you can easily record your 1:1 calls in Teams just as you already can for meetings. Simply select the option to record and call participants will be notified on their screen that a recording has begun.

Privacy for People Joining Meetings via Phone
To increase privacy for participants joining a Teams meeting by dialing in via phone, Teams now obscures your number from any participants that are outside your organization. Your number will still show for teammates in your org.

Chats: 

Group Chat Size Increased to 250
You can now get a large group chat going with up to 250 participants.

Pop-Out Chat Windows for Multi-Tasking
Who else is excited this feature is finally here? You can now pop-out multiple chats into separate windows — making it easier to move around Team and between ongoing conversations.

Microsoft Teams Pop Up Chat Window.

Image via Microsoft.

Just double-click a chat in your chat list or select the pop-out chat icon in Teams to open a chat in a secondary window. Learn More »

Teams & Channels:

Increased Number of Team Members
Team sizes have increased to 10,000 — making it a little easier for larger organizations to let everyone join the conversation.

Edit a Message with Channel Cross-Post Editing
Do you need to update the information that you posted across multiple channels? Now, you can edit your original message in a cross-post anytime by selecting the “More options” button in the post and then choose the “Edit” button. Additionally, you can add or remove channels to reach a wider audience or have a focused conversation. Learn How »

Keep Your Workforce & Business Processes Connected with Teams and Power Platform:

In response to the shift to a remote work environment, Microsoft announced new capabilities to Teams and Power Platform that enable businesses and workers to be productive in a remote work world. With tools like Microsoft Power Apps and Microsoft Power Automate, employees can build no-code and low-code custom applications that automate routine processes and supply a structure where there previously was none. They can use Microsoft Power Virtual Agents to embed bots within Teams to answer common questions or find documents using natural language inquiries — and much more. Read the Announcement »

Share Power BI Reports in Teams
Power BI users can now share reports — or specific charts in reports — to Teams with the new “Share to Teams” button. Senders can also direct the recipient’s attention to a specific chart in a report or share it with an entire team. To get started, select “Send to Teams” from the Power BI portal and type in the team name you’d like to share with. Available now.

The Yammer App for Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft has released a newly designed Yammer that powers community, knowledge-sharing, and employee engagement. The new Yammer includes a fully interactive Yammer app called “Communities” that brings your communities and conversations directly into Microsoft Teams. Put simply, it’s Yammer — in Teams.

New Yammer App in Microsoft Teams.

Image via Microsoft.

By offering the full Yammer experience right inside Teams, you keep everyone at your organization engaged, informed, and moving forward. IT Admins can choose to pin it for everyone, manage who can install it using custom policies, or individual users can install and pin it themselves. Learn More »

IT & Teams Admins:

Batch Policy Assignments to Users with PowerShell
Microsoft Teams offers a robust set of policies to empower administrators with controls to tailor the Teams experience to users. Batch policy assignment allows administrators to streamline the process of assigning policies or policy packages to a large group of users. The New-CsBatchPolicyAssignmentOperation cmdlet lets you submit a batch of users and a policy that you want to assign using one PowerShell command line to perform the action.

Screenshot of Window PowerShell command.

Image via Microsoft.

A batch can contain up to 20,000 users and admins can specify users by their object Id, user principal name (UPN), Session Initiation Protocol address, or email address. Learn more about policy assignments in Teams »

Change in Default Lobby Setting Policy
The default Teams policy has now been changed to make external users wait in the lobby before joining a Teams meeting to ensure that only the right people are in the meeting. This policy change will only impact those tenants who have not modified the default meetings policy. Learn More »

Set Tenant-Wide Default Selection for “Who Can Present” in Meetings
Tenant admins can now update their Teams meeting policies to allow for a new default selection when choosing who can present in new Teams meetings (everyone, people in my organization, specific people, or only me). Currently, the default selection is “everyone” unless the meeting organizer selects otherwise through the meetings option configuration. To start, organizations can set this policy via a PowerShell cmdlet. Coming soon: You will have the ability to change it in the Admin portal.

Better Policy Controls Over Screen Sharing from Chats
Screen share from chat allows you to immediately start sharing your screen in a 1-1 chat or group chat. This entry point was previously governed by the AllowPrivateCalling policy. If this policy is disabled, users are not able to screen share from chat. The option to start a screen share from chat will now be governed by the ScreenSharingMode policy. Further, the ability to “add audio” to a screen share from chat session (if you want to talk to someone while screen sharing) will be governed by a user’s AllowPrivateCalling setting. This ensures that users who have AllowPrivateCalling disabled cannot start audio calls via screen share from chat.

Meeting Attendance Report Policy Settings
Meeting organizers can now view and download a meeting attendance report. This is a per-user policy and this setting controls whether meeting organizers can download the meeting attendance report. To enable a meeting organizer to download the meeting attendance report, set the “AllowEngagementReport” parameter to “Enabled”. When enabled, the option to download the report is displayed in the Participants pane. Learn More »

Coming Soon:

Teams Templates
Microsoft will soon release Templates in Teams which will allow users to pick from multiple customizable templates when creating a new team.

Screenshot of new Microsoft Teams Templates.

Image via Microsoft.

Users can create their own team name, description, and channel names from an initial batch of 12 templates from Microsoft. And Teams admins can create unique templates or modify existing ones – and package relevant line-of-business apps into templates. Learn More »

Microsoft Lists in Teams
During Build 2020, Microsoft announced Microsoft Lists – a Microsoft 365 app that helps you track information and organize work.  Lists are simple, smart, and flexible, so you can track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory, and more using customizable views and smart rules and alerts to keep everyone in sync. Microsoft Lists encompasses SharePoint lists, a new Lists home page (web), lists in Microsoft Teams, and the coming Lists mobile app.

Screenshot of Lists in Microsoft Teams.

Image via Microsoft.

You’ll be able to use Microsoft Teams to collaborate on lists — using flexible views like grids, cards, and calendar — which brings content and conversation side-by-side in one integrated experience. You can either add an existing list to a Teams channel or create a new list directly in Teams and chat on individual list items. Expected to roll out later this summer. To learn more, visit the new Microsoft Lists resource center » and get first looks at the Microsoft Lists product demo video ».

IT Admin: New Meetings Dashboard
The new Meetings dashboard in the Microsoft Teams admin center helps you ensure users have the best experience possible during meetings and calls by providing you insights into usage, user feedback, network health, meeting details, devices, and more from a single place.

Preview of New Microsoft Teams Meetings Dashboard for Admins.

Image via Microsoft.

Leveraging Power BI capabilities, this interactive dashboard allows you to filter information by dimensions such as day, countries, and platform allowing you quickly identify areas of improvement and drill down to uncover the root cause of poor experiences. Learn More »

Learn More:

This roundup is only a partial list of all the new features and updates that have been announced in the last few months. Check out the links below for the full announcements.

What’s New in Microsoft Teams: Build Edition 2020

Announcing Power Platform and Teams Updates to Help Customers Adapt to Remote Work

What’s New in Microsoft Teams: May 2020

What’s New in Microsoft Teams: April 2020

More Resources:

Xgility’s Microsoft Teams Essentials Webinar Series
Whether new to Teams or not, view the recorded videos from our Microsoft Teams Essentials Webinar Series to learn how to use Teams in new ways to communicate, engage, and collaborate during the quick pivot to remote work.

Our Team is Here to Help:

At Xgility, we know what it takes to strategically plan and deploy Microsoft Teams.

If your organization is using Microsoft Teams, do you have a strategic plan that addresses governance, policies, and end-user adoption? If not, now is the time to step back and revisit your Teams deployment to see if your employees are making the most of Teams’ powerful functionality to communicate, collaborate, and engage regardless of their location.

Our team has been helping our clients of all sizes successfully roll out Microsoft Teams with unprecedented adoption rates. Contact us today to learn how our team can help your organization get started with Microsoft Teams and provide your workforce with the right tools they need to do their best work. As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

 

Microsoft Teams Essentials Webinar Series: Watch Now

With the fast pivot to an all-remote work environment back in March, many organizations — including Xgility — turned to Microsoft Teams for business continuity so their workforce could remain productive and engaged as they work from home. In fact, Microsoft announced in April that Teams had more than 75 million daily active users — and two-thirds of them have shared, collaborated, or interacted with files on Teams as well. Now, that’s a LOT of users!

At Xgility, we discovered firsthand that the swift shift to an all-remote environment was overwhelming. And, like many organizations, we had to learn how to leverage Microsoft Teams in new ways — even beyond the basics functionality of meetings, calls, and chats  — to communicate, collaborate, and engage with our coworkers, teams, clients, and partners as we began working remotely.

Based on the lessons we learned and questions from our clients, we started our Microsoft Teams Essentials webinar series to share ways to help organizations make the most out of Microsoft Teams in the short-term while working from home — whether or not their employees were new to Microsoft Teams.

During the webinars, JoAnna Battin, Xgility’s Director of Strategy & Advisory Services AND Teams expert, demonstrates and explains how key features and functionality can be used to help your organization actively connect, chat, meet, co-edit in real-time, share files, and collaborate even if your employees aren’t in the same location.

Think of Microsoft Teams as Your Virtual Workplace

Even before the pandemic, many organizations begin using Teams for just online meetings and chats but aren’t aware of all its capabilities. Teams is a powerful platform and filled with robust features and functionality — think of it as a secure, virtual workspace — that combines meetings, calls, chat, and collaboration into a single tool. So, it is important to keep the combined functionality in mind as you think of how to use Teams in multiple ways when working with your team and coworkers.

Watch the Recorded Webinars

In case you missed the live webinars, we’ve provided the recorded Microsoft Teams Essentials webinar videos below so you can watch them here. We hope you find them useful. Feel free to share with your coworkers and colleagues as well.

Please Note: These webinars were geared towards helping organizations use Microsoft Teams to remain productive in the short-term as we all began working from home and they are by no means a full introduction to all of Teams features and functionality for IT Admins, Teams Admins, or users. However, we hope this practical guidance can be a starting point to help you and your organization be connected, productive, and engaged. For long-term success, we recommend developing and implementing a strategic plan for the governance, deployment, and adoption of Office 365 tools including Microsoft Teams.

Webinar 1: Stay Connected & Engaged with Chats, Messages & Online Meetings

Learn how to strategically communicate in Microsoft Teams. JoAnna shares tips and demonstrates how to use chats, messaging, and meeting functionality — to help you stay connected and engaged while working remotely.

Key Takeaways Include:

  • Use the Chat panel for 1:1 or quick small group conversations that don’t require a Team. Chats provide an engaging way to communicate and can easily replace an email. Pro Tip: Give your chat a name to clarify its purpose and to make it easier to find for future reference.
  • You can still meet face-to-face with your coworkers – even if you aren’t in the same location – with video conferencing. It’s a great way to still feel like you are connected to your team as well as to avoid feeling isolated. ​You can share your screen, collaborate on documents, or just catch up.
  • For online meetings, turn the video on so your team can interact face to face, feel more connected, and avoid confusion that can occur when there are no visual cues to help you interpret conversations.
  • Don’t worry if you have unfolded laundry in the background: Embrace the blur background tool or the new custom background tool.
  • Embrace online meeting features: You can share your screen, have chats, take notes, and much more.
  • When using the Meet Now feature, give your meeting a title in the “Subject Line” box to help make it easier to find for future reference.

Webinar 2: Creating Teams & Channels for Long-Term Success

JoAnna unravels common confusion around Teams and Channels — the key components for true collaboration within Microsoft Teams. She demonstrates and dives into best practices and key decision points when setting up Teams and Channels to help you set a solid foundation for success now — and prevent sprawl and chaos in the future.

Key Takeaways Include:

  • Teams can be created to be private or public. If private, people within your organization need permission to join. If public, anyone within the organization can join (up to 5,000 members).
  • Channels are dedicated sections within a team and are designed to keep conversations and files organized by specific topics, projects, etc. — whatever works for your team!
  • Admins: Avoid adding too many restrictions around the different features and functionality within Teams. Users will get frustrated — leading to low adoption and the use of third-party tools.
  • Admins: Understand the interoperability between Office 365 and Microsoft 365 Groups as well as how Exchange, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business interact with Microsoft Teams (see Resources below for links to learn more). On the back end, every new team you create gets the following resources, dedicated exclusively to the members of that team:
    – An Office 365 group
    – A SharePoint Online site and document library to store team files
    – An Exchange Online shared mailbox and calendar
    – A shared OneNote notebook
  • Before creating a Team, ask yourself: What’s the purpose of the Team? Who needs access to the information contained within the Team? Should it be a Team or a Channel?
  • Think carefully before naming your Team.
  • Conversations, files, and notes across team channels are only visible to members of the Team. When you have permission for a Team, you have access to everything within that Team.

Webinar 3: Co-Authoring & File Sharing for True Collaboration

JoAnna demonstrates and explains how to upload and share files, co-author documents, and collaboratively work together within Microsoft Team’s teams and channels, online meetings, calls, and chats so you can stay productive and engaged — no matter your location.

Key Takeaways Include:

There are Many Ways to Collaborate in Microsoft Teams.
Pro Tip: Collaboration does not necessarily mean working on a document at the same time. Try out these different ideas the next time you and your team needs to collaborate on a document or file:

  • Share your screen to talk through document changes either in a 1:1 chat or call — or inside a Team or Channel.
  • Use the Meet Now function for a Teams call or video meeting so you can speak to your colleague while you co-author a document together in the same file. (Hint: No screen share is required).
  • After you edit a document, use the @mention function in conversations pane in a Team or Channel to let people know it is ready for review and revisions.
  • Use Conversations Tab inside of a document to provide feedback – without revising the document.

We hope you found the information valuable and that it will help you leverage Microsoft Teams in new ways.

Take a Step Back and Plan for Microsoft Teams Long-Term  Success

To gain the widespread adoption of Microsoft Teams across your organization, strategic planning is a key step towards long-term success. If your organization is using Teams without a strategic plan, now is the time to step back and evaluate if your users are truly using it to its full potential.

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we know what it takes to strategically plan and deploy Microsoft Teams.

Our team has been helping our clients of all sizes successfully roll out Microsoft Teams with unprecedented adoption rates. Contact us today to learn how our team can help your organization get started with Microsoft Teams and provide your workforce with the right tools they need to do their best work. As a Microsoft Gold Partner with vast experience under our belts, we are ready to help. Contact Us Now »

Additional Resources:

Microsoft Teams Quick Start Guide [PDF]
Microsoft 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams
How Exchange and Microsoft Teams Interact
How SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business interact with Microsoft Teams

How to Leverage Microsoft Teams For Your Remote Workforce

Empower Your Employees to Stay Protected & Engaged While Working From Home

The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak has organizations rapidly ramping up to operate remotely and asking their employees to work from home.

However, many organizations are faced with a sudden challenge — do they have the right systems in place to make this happen?

If that challenge sounds familiar, you aren’t alone. But providing your remote workers with the right tools and resources is key to helping them stay connected, productive, and secure — no matter their location or device.

So where do you start?

Consider Microsoft Teams as Your Virtual Office for Remote Workers

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve been helping our clients roll out Microsoft Teams to increase collaboration and teamwork across their global workforce.

Microsoft Teams is a widely used platform that you can deploy to keep your organization running safely and securely in a virtual environment. It provides a single workplace where people can actively connect, meet, and collaborate in real-time – all in one place. With this solution, your employees can remain productive while maintaining the necessary level of security and control over your organization’s resources. For your remote workers, it can provide functionality including:

  • Voice calls, video calls, and online meetings between your organization and external contacts.
  • Chat and instant messaging between either groups or individuals in your organization.
  • Secure document collaboration, sharing, and storage.

Additional advantages for remote working include:

Centralized Communication & Collaboration
Microsoft Teams functions as a self-contained and virtual, secure workplace. It eliminates the need to switch between applications and devices for collaboration, email, text messages, and phone calls throughout the day. By using one connected platform, you can avoid the risk of shadow IT, unsecured file sharing, and loss of organizational intellectual property.

Online Meetings with Anyone Inside or Outside Your Organization
Your workforce can hold online meetings with audio, video, and web conferences with anyone inside or outside your organization. Even while working remotely, employees can run effective meetings and have the ability to blur backgrounds, use live captioning, and control meeting roles and permissions. Meetings can be recorded in case people are unable to attend so they can catch up later and not feel left out.

Staying Connected with Video
Employees can meet face-to-face even if they aren’t in the same location via one-on-one or group video chats and meetings. Face to face interaction goes a long way to help everyone feel more connected.

Keeping Employees Engaged with Chat
Online chats keep employees engaged with casual conversations. Emojis, Gifs, and stickers can help keep chatter fun and light.

Securely Collaborate & Co-Author Documents
Employees and teams can securely coauthor documents, share a screen for fast-paced decision making, collaborate on shared deliverables, and share documents without using email.

Easy IT Administration
Microsoft Teams is designed with IT in mind and provides management capabilities for collaboration, meetings, callings, and apps in one place with simple administration.

Check out this video to see many of these functionalities in action »

How Quickly Can Microsoft Teams Be Deployed?

The short answer is  – it depends. But don’t let that answer dismay you. Determining how to deploy it and how long it will take several factors.

Here are three common scenarios:

  • You have Office 365 but haven’t turned on Microsoft Teams.
  • You have Office 365 and have turned on Microsoft Teams, but it isn’t widely used.
  • You do not have Office 365 but want to roll out Teams.

For more advanced capabilities to support large-scale use of all the collaboration, meetings, and document collaboration functionalities, it would take longer to deploy.

If you are considering deploying Microsoft Teams, here are some resources for guidance to start planning:

Support Remote Workers Using Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams FAQ: Support Your Remote Workforce

Welcome to Microsoft Teams: For Microsoft Teams Admins

Microsoft Teams IT Architecture Poster [PDF]

Privacy & Security in Microsoft Teams

Our Team is Here to Help

At Xgility, we know what it takes to get Microsoft Teams quickly set up and deployed to your workforce.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, our team has been helping our clients of all sizes successfully roll out Microsoft Teams with unprecedented adoption rates. Let’s talk to learn how our team get can help you started with Microsoft Teams. Contact Us Now »

10 Tips for Employees Using Microsoft Teams While Working Remotely

In response to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak, organizations around the world are asking their employees to work from home and to use collaboration and meeting platforms like Microsoft Teams to stay connected for online meetings and chats.

If your organization has already rolled out Microsoft teams for calls, meetings, online chats, and collaboration, that’s good news. You may have already been using it throughout your workday at your office.

However, if you are new to working at home, you may discover that you need to find new ways to communicate and collaborate with your teams and co-workers in ways that you didn’t from the office. Based on our own experience and working with our clients, we’ve put together a list of recommendations for ways to use Microsoft Teams as you adjust to your remote work style.

Consider Microsoft Teams as your virtual office that has the tools you need all in one place and that you can take anywhere you go.

But first, this may a great time to refresh yourself with the Microsoft Teams platform and features. Check out this quick interactive demo to learn the basics » 

10 Tips for Using Microsoft Teams while Working Remotely

Here are ten tips to help stay you stay connected, engaged, and productive using Microsoft Teams.

  1. Communicate with Online Chats
    While you may not be able to talk in the office, you can still chat directly with your coworkers or check in with team members either with individual or group chats. Learn how »
  2. Stay Connected with Video
    You can still meet face-to-face with your coworkers – even if you aren’t in the same location – with video conferencing. It’s a great way to still feel like you are connected to your team as well as to avoid feeling isolated.
  3. Embrace Online Meetings
    Make sure all meetings include a virtual “join” option so that team members can join from wherever they are working. Turn video on so your team can interact face to face, feel more connected, and avoid confusion that can occur when there are no visual cues to help you interpret conversations.
  4. Don’t Forget the Background Blur Tools
    Make sure you are the main focus when using video for meetings and chats. Use the Background Blur so you will appear nice and clear while everything behind you is subtly concealed to avoid embarrassing distractions. Learn how »
  5. Record Your Meetings
    When you start a meeting, hit “record.” Team members who aren’t able to join can watch later or search the automatically generated transcript for important information. That way, people can easily review anything they missed or need to be repeated. Learn how »
  6. Share Your Screen
    Share your screen for easier collaboration and faster decision making. It can help your team feel connected to projects that you’re working on together. Learn how »
  7. Set Your Status Message
    You can set up a status message in Teams so your team and coworkers know what you are up to and when they can reach you. FYI: If you have a status message set in Teams, it will not show your automatic out-of-office reply that you’ve set in Microsoft Outlook. Learn how »
  8. Stay Organized with Planner
    Use Planner as part of your team structure – add it as a tab in Team’s General section. Planner makes it easy for your team to stay organized, assign tasks, and keep track of your progress. Learn how »
  9. Use the New Target Tags
    Avoid typing in everyone’s name in a post with new target tags. Use target tags to message everyone assigned to a specific tag at the same time – simply @mention the tag name in a post. Learn how »
  10. Be Social
    Think about chat messages as your virtual watercooler and set yourself a reminder to check in with people regularly. Use emojis, Gifs, and stickers to help keep the chatter fun and light. Try ice breakers in team chats like what’s everyone’s favorite Netflix show right now.

We understand that every individual and team works differently. But hope the tips from our team helps you stay productive and connected as you adjust to a new way of working.

Additional Resources:
We’ve also rounded up some additional resources to help you get the most out of Microsoft Teams:

Microsoft Teams Video Training

Microsoft’s End User Training for Microsoft Teams

Staying Productive While Working Remotely with Microsoft Teams