Smart Dolphins has been pumped about Microsoft Teams for a while now. I am sure many have heard some of the fanfare, so I won’t repeat the general propaganda here. What I would like to offer is my view on Teams from a leadership perspective. We are encouraging our clients and the greater business community to consider Teams (and our online Teams training!). So, I am going to write a few Teams-related blogs over the coming weeks. Of course, reach out if you think we can help you at all!

I will start by saying that Teams has helped Smart Dolphins more than nearly any other tech change that we have made in recent years. I think many look at Teams and just see “chat” or “online meetings” or, just another bit of Microsoft software. To me, it is much more than just another “app.” Teams has been transformational for The Pod.

First, in a very basic sense, we communicate and collaborate much more efficiently within Teams. My volume of internal Outlook email is easily 10% of the total volume that I had a few years ago. Yep, 90% less. I used to live in my Outlook, but I can finally park it for many hours of the day and stay much more focused knowing that I’m not missing some timely internal conversation. My focus has dramatically improved. This simple fact cannot be overstated.

The quality of information that is left in the wake of the communication is much more valuable and organized than it would be if we had just stuck with email. By the nature of how we structured our Teams and channels within Teams, everything is in a logical place and all the communication from everyone involved is centralized (opposed to being piecemealed in many Outlook folders). This is all searchable and a valuable long-term reference.

The volume of communication has gone way up. In some ways, this might seem like a problem. Teams can create excess noise and we had to find our way through this challenge. That said, over-communication (especially these days) is better than a lack of. The net effect for us has been a big net positive. Plus, despite the increase in volume in the output, I think the input of my time in producing this increased volume is similar and lower than it was before Teams.

Beyond general communication, collaboration has exploded at Smart Dolphins. A simple example might be our client communications we have been sending out during the Covid-19 crisis. We start a Word document and multiple people can actively add and edit as we go – all at the same time and with the visibility of the others. As a bonus, we often have discussions running directly alongside the document (but not cluttering the actual document with notes and comments).

I can say that the Covid crisis, so far, would have been much more difficult without Teams. The ability to, in one day, get everyone working productively from home was a large part attributable to Teams. While I have a couple minor gripes with the Teams meeting interface, having it within Teams and the Microsoft ecosystem was critical to keeping us functioning well. All our meetings at once transitioned to fully remote with only minor adjustments necessary.

I could go on, but instead I will just summarize that MS Teams was a game changer for Smart Dolphins and we continue to build on this tool.

That said, you really should not rush onto Teams. To get the potential that I am discussing, you want to consider carefully how you will use it and the many pitfalls (Teams is not perfect). However, put it on your IT planning agenda to explore Teams as a potential game changer for your organization. Of course, we would be happy to help. Again, our online Teams training has been exceedingly popular the past few weeks. We will continue to flesh out our content around Teams in the hopes it helps many in the Victoria business community adapt to the “new normal”.