Simple Setup Checklist for Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a lot of things. It’s a video conferencing tool, a team messaging channel, and a tool for in-app co-authoring, just to name a few. During the pandemic, the popularity of Teams skyrocketed. 

User numbers for MS Teams jumped from 20 million in November 2019 to 75 million in April 2020. As of this year, Microsoft reports a user count of 270 million for the platform. This makes it the most popular business tool for team communications.  

But one of the things that makes the app popular is also one that can make the setup complex. Microsoft Teams has many moving parts, but to use them effectively they need to be well organized. Additionally, users need to have a chance to learn the system and train on best practices. 

What Can Microsoft Teams Do?

First, let’s look at the different areas of Microsoft Teams and what it can do. Then, we’ll give you a simple setup checklist to help your team get up and running productively. 

You can think of Teams as a virtual office in the cloud. It’s a centralized hub where teams can communicate, collaborate, and manage tasks. There is also an external communication component to Teams. You can use the app to video conference with anyone. You can also invite guests to a chat channel. 

Here are some of the features of MS Teams: 

  • Siloed chat channels 
  • Security for team communications 
  • Integration with Office apps 
  • Integration with 3rd party apps 
  • File sharing 
  • Video and audio conferencing 
  • VoIP phone system (with an extra add-on) 
  • Keep all team resources in a single place

Microsoft Teams Versions

Some good news for small businesses is that there is a free version of Microsoft Teams. If you sign up for a Microsoft 365 business plan, you get the app included, but with a few more features. 

Microsoft has also been pushing MS Teams for personal use. So, you can use it to keep your departments better coordinated at work. Or to manage family video calls or PTA meeting collaboration. It’s a versatile and scalable virtual office platform. 

Easy Checklist for Setting Up Microsoft Teams

1. Set Up Your Teams/Departments

One of the advantages of Teams is that it allows you to set up specific areas for your groups to collaborate. You do not want everyone to set these teams up on their own, or you could end up with an unorganized mess. 

Some ideas for setting these up: 

  • Set up teams by department (accounting, marketing, etc.) 
  • Add a company-wide team (where everyone can collaborate) 
  • Set up teams by role (office managers, executives, etc.) 

Typically, if you mirror the hierarchy of your organization, that’s a good place to start. Team areas are secured so only those users invited can see or access any of the content in that team. 


2. Add Team Members

For each team, add the members allowed to take part in that team. These would be people that can see the resources posted in that team area. It would normally be the members of the department or group that the team is designed for.  

3. Set Up Team Channels

The next level beneath the Team is the Channels. These team channels help organize conversations. For example, within a team set up for your marketing department, you may decide to add three channels. This keeps conversations more focused and makes it easier to find things. 

For instance, you could have channels for: 

  • Website Management 
  • Social Media 
  • Offline Advertising 

Team channels are another area that you want to control. Don’t let everyone set up channels without a plan, otherwise, things get messy fast. 

4. Set Up Team Labs

Tabs are a great way to foster productivity. Say that employees on your accounting team need to access a tax reporting website. Inevitably, there can be time wasted asking for that link or a login. This is especially true if someone is filling in for a co-worker. 

You can add that website link and info to the Tabs area at the top of the team channels. Just click the plus sign to add a new resource and consolidate things for your team members. 

5. Schedule MS Teams Training

One of the reasons that company initiatives fail is that users weren’t properly enabled. If users aren’t trained on using MS Teams, then they’ll revert to using whatever they used before. This negates the benefits of moving to Teams when not everyone is onboard. 

Work with a Microsoft professional to train your teams. We can provide tips on the most productive features. As well as short-cut their learning curve quite a bit! Make sure to have a realistic timeframe. You should also survey users on whether they feel they need more training.  

Need Some Help Implementing Teams in Your Organization?

We can help you over many of the roadblocks that organizations face when starting with Teams. Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your collaboration and productivity. 


Article used with permission from The Technology Press.  

The Personalization of the Workforce: Finding the Work from Home Balance

There’s nothing normal about any of this. Many in the workforce, who never in a million years would have thought that they’d be working from home persistently, are now trying to keep the door closed from loud children and pets who are seemingly much happier now that you’re around so often. In fact, for many of these people working remotely, the phrase that sums up most of their professional life in 2020 is, simply, “You’re on mute.”

In the updated edition (from October) of the AFCOM State of the Data Center report, we found that more than half of those with changes in their workplace (54%) believe their workforce’s current makeup will become permanent. In probing a bit further, the nearly 20% that say they weren’t sure may be falling into that remote work category as well.

Looking more broadly, several large enterprises have either made working remotely permanent or extended indefinitely. The list includes Google, Microsoft, REI, Uber, American Express, Twitter, Square, Facebook, and many others. In a survey from 451 research, 67% of respondents expect that their work-from-home policies will become permanent, or at least remain in place for the long term.

That’s a lot of people working from home. Quite possibly, you included. People face an entirely new paradigm when it comes to doing your job productively, from home. Some are seasoned pros at this, but this is an entirely new way to work for many others. People aren’t the only ones trying to figure all of this out.

For companies of all sizes, the big question becomes clear-cut: How do I keep all of these people productive and happy?

In many, if not almost all of those cases, technology holds the key.

Innovation is Now About Survival

For the past few years, one of the leading buzz words floating around was ‘innovation.’ For some, it was just background chatter. For who listened and understood what it meant to innovate based on the context of their own business and how this impacts them in the future are the ones that are surviving right now.

The organizations that adopted modernization efforts to support both business and user productivity were simply better equipped to support a remote workforce. They did all of this through the personalization of the user experience. They created a platform where settings, functions, features, and entire user environments were no longer dependent on a desktop and cubicle.

To truly personalize a workforce, here’s what some leaders did.

  • Balancing cloud. Research studies have shown that the cloud isn’t here to kill the data center. Many workloads have experienced repatriation back into the data center from the cloud. There’s an indication in the industry that many leaders are finally finding the balance of what should live in a cloud and what should be at a data center. This balance also has massive impacts on how you personalize user experiences. The elasticity of the cloud can help you deliver applications, specific services, and even entire user experiences. Further, cloud services can be leveraged for things like SaaS apps, single sign-on, identity federation, and much more. Now, to unify all of this, we go to the next point.
  • Human-centric experiences. Think about technology from your user’s perspective. That is, how are they consuming it? Technology leaders who saw productivity numbers actually go up focused on how the user was interacting with applications, resources, and content and then looked at ways to make it simpler. So, you could use aggregation portals that give users one point of entry for applications and resources that may have otherwise been scattered around. Or by leveraging tools like application virtualization and delivery (either cloud or on-premise) to create one centralized repository for critical apps.
    Another key point is that many leaders also invested in multi-experience solutions. That is, working with technologies that would allow users to be productive regardless of the device they use.
  • A different perspective on security and managing risk. With so many users now working remotely, the workforce’s security has taken on a whole new meaning. Everything from risk management to controlling IT assets and inventory has been upended. Securing end-points (of any type), ensuring data in transit and rest is locked down, and preventing data loss are all key considerations. The good news is that security solutions can help secure that multi-experience initiative while still maintaining a great user experience. Personalizing the workforce may also mean personalizing user security. That might mean allowing for different types of two-factor authentication or using new technologies that only open a VPN for specific applications. Beyond traditional antimalware solutions, new security designs allow for far more flexibility in how users interact with their resources. This includes everything from network-level security to end-to-end encryption of cloud communication.

It’s easy to get lost going down the technology rabbit hole. But that doesn’t mean you can simply be complacent. When you examine innovation or even broader modernization efforts, you’ll need to take an introspective approach. That is, asking how new technology would impact your users and your organization. That is, innovation is based on context. This will also help you with the challenge of future-proof vs. burden-proof. Just because technology is new and shiny doesn’t always mean it’ll make your life easier. Working with good partners who help you navigate to get to the right solution will allow you to avoid technologies that turn out to be a burden.

Learn how Black Diamond Solutions takes a unique approach to IT, business, and the remote workforce by combining industy-leading solutions to create powerful user experiences.