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Microsoft Teams & Collaboration 2.0 – FIVE essential features
7 July 2020
by Jean-Paul Lizotte

Introduction

We are living in a new era. For better or for worse. And if we are to come out of this experience with any kind of growth, we have to rethink many of our preconceptions. At Emyode, we had to do as many of you have done. We’ve adjusted. We are fortunate to have gained and maintained the trust of the companies we deal with, so much so that they have chosen to continue to grow with our assistance. Even during these difficult times.

What this means is that not only do we have to ensure that current operations and the development of new functionalities are maintained, but also that new business requirements are seen and offered to customers. Just because the volume of customers online is greater than ever before, this does not mean that we can afford to neglect the commercial and strategic advantage of better serving our customers, quite the contrary. It’s an incredible opportunity to do better. In short, we need to modernize. We need to modernize our processes and therefore the applications that support them. In two sentences, this is Emyode’s mission.

The other aspect that helped us a lot is the use of Microsoft Teams. Emyode’s technical and tactical orientation allowed us to establish an unprecedented proximity with the No. 1 multinational firm in the software and cloud computing market. We were encouraged early on to evaluate Microsoft Teams as a collaboration and communication solution. And when the evaluation was completed, we were a little stunned by all that was available to us.

In this publication, I would like to share with you five features found in Teams and a brief explanation of what I think makes them attractive.

 

 

1. Integration

It’s simple, as a DevOps practice leader, I’m asked to do two things: speed up and simplify. The result is always the same: delivery quality increases, costs go down and velocity increases. Bridging the disparities in processes and tools is a major concern when I work in a company. Microsoft Teams can boil down to this. Everything in one place. There is disparity with people… too, but the essence of collaboration is to reduce that as well. It’s the other integration that concerns me. And Teams is covering it brilliantly.

Documentation, tracking and process flow, communication, it’s all there. And if by any chance they didn’t think of something you’d need, the platform has a built-in development tool to add your own applications. And it’s crazy how simple it can be to integrate your own applications online and centralize them.

Imagine how easy it can be to integrate a new resource if that person knows, at all times, where the tools, guides and procedures are, and if she can chat with someone for help at any time. In short, integration is the greatest strength and therefore, inevitably, my next favorites below will be closely related to it.

2. Support

Okay, it’s not related to integration and it’s not a feature in itself, but I want to point out this aspect that could have been at risk of going under the radar. Microsoft supports, maintains and evolves the platform at an extraordinary pace. The speed at which we see issues disappear, features appear and even usage take shape is quite exceptional. I could never have said it truer than I do now: the market for communication and collaboration platforms is booming. And after all the contenders have settled down, there are players who will define themselves by innovation, others by security and reliability.

Microsoft will never be downgraded in these spheres. And if that wasn’t enough, their reaction to COVID-19 to make the platform free makes it very reasonable to experiment with it. In short, with the Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) license, it is fair and very clear that it is an easy and effective choice. You really have to be dogmatic and not pragmatic to look elsewhere. In my humble opinion.

3. Real-time collaboration

At the risk of sounding a bit cheating, I’m just regrouping a few basic features. Nothing magical really, but then again, having them all at your fingertips makes it fun and useful.

Being able to talk to each other, see each other and share a screen is probably the most “facilitating” aspect of my daily life. Not being limited to members of the company, being able to invite anyone to a work session via an email invitation is a real pleasure. Knowing that all the work artifacts will be kept in perpetuity, where they were originally put, so that I can take them back afterwards, is already fabulous. To be able to reclassify them later, in a SharePoint provided to each team, where it is most relevant to keep for posterity, is even better. And finally, to be able to consult the Azure work tables, the calendar of your colleagues, it becomes really easy to coordinate in order to work with the people you need. Both autonomous and collaborative: I love it!

4. Microsoft Stream registration

The recording and archiving of work sessions on Microsoft Stream makes it easy to pass on the knowledge acquired during the work sessions. With the share/play feature and the transcription of the automated dialogue, we have the full text of the meeting. I’m a big fan of knowledge sharing and dissemination. I deplore when the intelligence of a field resides only in the head of one or two specialists. And sometimes it is impossible to have all the people you would have liked in the meeting. Having this archive allows those who could not be present to see the unfolding of the meeting like the others.

5. Azure DevOps

All right, here’s a proper integration. And that of Azure DevOps is certainly one of the most useful in our organization. For some time now, the science and art of software development have been granted the same kind of innovations as the manufacturing sectors. This is a very favorable aspect for Emyode, we who are fond of the manufacturing and transportation sectors. In the desire to industrialize and democratize our software delivery processes, we saw the birth of the S.D.L.C (Software Development Life Cycle), the ALM (Application Lifecycle Management) and finally the DevOps (which essentially gathers all the useful practices of the processes encountered to date) which propose to add improvements to the existing processes, constantly.

One of the “values” we discovered is that a good collaboration between the various concerns of the Dev and Ops people is required. But there is also transparency and objectivity, which would be the other two main values in this regard, as they generate trust. Making Azure DevOps accessible in Microsoft Teams allows us to coordinate work, measure performance and maintain visibility on the progress of projects. We can easily share a work item and announce all changes: closed agile artifacts, successful compilations, deployments awaiting approval, etc. I really enjoyed working with TFS and Visual Studio online. But Azure Devops in Microsoft Teams is absolutely a charm for tracking the progress of our application portfolios.

Conclusion

My concerns are special. I agree with that. But that’s what seduces me about Microsoft Teams. No matter what concerns are thrown in my face, I find that they’re good for me. Whether it’s me or the teams I work with, other organizations that ask for help or even my immediate family, I have a simple and effective answer to offer them to satisfy their need to meet and do “something” together.

Of course we work and succeed together with this tool. But we also play and relax together with Microsoft Teams.