On Thursday 06/06/19, we had our second Brekkie Power-Hour event, which are monthly events where a small group of people discuss different IT related topics (more info here). For the second session, the topic chosen was “Exploring the different communication methods within Office 365” which was one of the topics that our participants suggested during the 1st Brekkie Power-Hour.
The aim of the event was to cover the main communication apps available in Office 365, such as Yammer, Email, Intranet (SharePoint) and Teams / Skype for Business, and to present different situations and scenarios where a business would use one app over the other or a combination of them. The integration between apps and knowing when and how to properly use each app has been a constant challenge faced by our clients and, hopefully, the event and this article will help to answer some of your questions.
If you missed out, it’s OK! We’ll dig into the main points covered today.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d use emails and have a fair understanding of how this app works. It’s the most common form of communication within a corporate environment and is heavily used daily – maybe even too much!
Common pain points of email:
- You receive too much clutter and some important emails might get lost
- It’s easy to just miss emails and not read them (or leave them for later and then forget)
- Lack of visibility of document history or projects, history trail.
- Manually having to migrate files attached to emails to a central hub where everyone will have access
- People trying to move away from email to messaging systems but everyone uses email, so the transition is not easy
- If someone is sick and they have all the information related to a project or quote or event, what do you do? Everything stops until that person is back.
- Not the most efficient way to do business – One of your participants had 400 emails in his inbox while participating at the event
- Security issues with email being the most used method for tricking people into “accepting” viruses
There’re also the most basic and common issues such as constantly receiving spam, people replying to email just saying, “thank you” and cluttering your inbox even more and being CC’d in an email chain that you can remove yourself from.
A few discussed solutions to pain points
Start to introduce other apps that offer some of the features you find in emails, such as messaging systems and team-based applications, i.e. MS Teams or Slack, and try to create a plan to rely less and less on emails moving forward.
You can also set up Office 365 groups related to a specific project and have all emails about that project sent there. You don’t need to be CC’d in all communication if you don’t want to, however, everyone involved in the project can access that project mailbox whenever they need to find a document or conversation trail – no clutter!
In rough terms, it’s like a corporate Facebook where you can do the same things as you can in your personal account – create groups, polls, quizzes, etc. Yammer was developed with larger businesses in mind that might have different office locations and remote workers. The aim of this app is to bring the organisation together, to introduce that feeling of being part of one entity no matter where you are or what you do.
Companies usually use to share what they are working on, such as photos, and to have discussions on less formal matters, such as the social events promoted by the company. It can also be used as a data storage tool, so if you have people taking photos and commenting on a specific project you can use that for documentation trails and audits.
Your Yammer feed can also be embedded to your SharePoint intranet and there are ways to only show relevant company information, excluding posts about the Friday drinks if you would like.
Common pain points of Yammer:
- If your business is too small there’s not much point of having Yammer for announcements or day to day posts. We would recommend a different communication method
- It’s internal so if you need something that goes external it won’t be the right tool
- It only works if there’s a lot of people posting interesting content. If there’s only one person posting it won’t create the right engagement
Even though we don’t use Yammer at Bremmar as we adopted other tools that suited our business better (Teams), we highly recommend it for businesses with more the 1 office location and for our construction and engineering clients which have employees working in different sites that need to report and document what they are working on.
Yammer is also an amazing tool to instil a culture of communication, collaboration and a bit of fun in your workplace!
SharePoint – Intranet
An intranet is a central hub site for employees to access and share company-wide relevant information. As we work with SharePoint for document management, we highly recommend the intranet functionality of the app too.
It was an interesting discussion we had about SharePoint and most people in the room use it for document management but haven’t yet explored the intranet side of things.
What to use it for?
- Sharing relevant information company-wide such as mission, vision, dashboards, calendars
- Storage documents and make them easily accessible, such as operations manuals and HR forms (leave/sick forms)
- Have discussion boards in the homepage
- Embed Yammer and provide one central hub for employees to keep updated on your business
There are many other uses which weren’t discussed during this event, but don’t worry. These will be discussed in future SharePoint Brekkie Power-Hour events!
Common pain points of SharePoint intranet:
- Administrators usually struggle with what to put in there and what not
- Making sure that everything that goes to SharePoint is the last and most updated version
SharePoint is getting very flashy with new templates and features. When comparing the tool to a few years ago, where it was clunky and had an unfriendly user interface, SharePoint is now looking very good, it’s modern and intuitive, plus it integrates with other Office 365 apps such as Power BI, Yammer, Teams, etc., turning this app into a very powerful one!
Microsoft Teams / Skype for Business
Not sure if you are aware, however, Skype for Business is being replaced by Teams so soon it won’t exist anymore. Why is that? Well, simple. Because Microsoft Teams was developed to be a business hub for communication, including files, calls, messenger, video conferencing and so on.
Teams is an amazing tool that you can track conversations and documents, can tag people, can link files from SharePoint, can organise meetings and do video conferences, can invite people outside your company to join a channel and collaborate, can link other apps so you access everything from one place…We can keep going and going.
Common pain points of Teams:
- It’s a bit challenging to understand how far to go with Teams, when to use it, when to replace emails, etc.
- Files uploaded to Teams will only be stored in Teams, so make sure to always link your documents from SharePoint otherwise you will have duplicates
At Bremmar, we’re big advocates for Teams. We use it heavily within our business and have benefited a lot from implementing this solution. Conversations are more efficient, fewer emails going around and just an easier and simple way to keep company discussions organised!
Our internal process
We would like to share with you how we have set up our communications apps. As mentioned earlier, there’s a few that we don’t use because we don’t see the need to, however, they might make sense for your company.
It’s recommended that you have something like the below for your business, where you clarify when and what to use depending on the situation. If you would like to develop those internal policies, please get in touch and one of our consultants can provide advice!
Communication Type and Details
Team specific discussion/projects –Teams is the place to have any discussion that is directed to your particular team. The discussion is easily visible to the relevant team and helps to increase collaboration including sharing of ideas, feedback and keeps everyone on the same page. Use custom team tabs such as Notes or Planner to further improve collaboration within your team.
How to access:
How to keep up to date:
- If you have the mobile or PC app open, you will be notified of new posts
- ‘Follow’ the channel you are interested in
- Request the attention of particular people by typing ‘@’ then the name of the person.
Bremmar main Team Channels:
- Sales and MKT
- Service Delivery
- Special Resources
Individual messaging – This is a supplement to casual voice communications and used for quick questions or requesting very quick informal feedback. If the recipient is not available to answer immediately it’s OK – it’s not critical if communications are missed.
*NOT TO BE USED FOR ACCOUNTABLE COMMUNICATIONS OR NOT USE FOR STRUCTURED ITEMS THAT NEED AN ACCOUNTABLE ANSWER LIKE
- Issue escalation
- Ticket budget requests
- Ticket direction
How to access:
How to keep up to date:
- If you have the mobile or PC app open, you will be notified of new posts.
- If you miss a message, you will be notified by email.
Important and/or formal communications where accountability of response is required.
Suitable for general formal communications, particularly when important action/feedback is required from the recipient.
There you go, the main takeaways from last week’s session. Of course that experience in person is different – we had many valuable discussion so we encourage you to come along to the next one!
We are considering changing the frequency to bi-monthly as the months are going by too quick, but we would love to hear from you – what would suit you and your business?
We would also love to hear about what topic you would like to learn about, so if you have any suggestions just send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would an in-depth discussion about any of the apps above, or any other app that might benefit your business, please call us in for a chat on 1300 991 351 or fill in the form below and our consultants will get in touch with you!
Book a consultation to discuss your Office 365 needs!
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