Get ready for Microsoft Teams (and more!)

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IT Services are very pleased to announce the impending release of Microsoft TeamsOneDrive, and Forms. We're getting these products ready for release by mid-end July for all staff. 

If, like us, you're finding it difficult to keep track of conversations and your work across multiple channels like Skype for Business, Slack, WhatsApp, email, Google Docs and more, Microsoft 365 will help. Plus, with all data held by our new products in safe and secure University managed storage, now is the time to start finding out about these new tools, how to use them, and the benefits they offer us so that, come July, you're ready to make the switch. 

Whether you work across functions; service a committee; host or chair meetings; previously spent a lot of time travelling between meetings; are planning next term's lectures; use and perhaps pay for third party systems like Survey Monkey, Slack, WhatsApp and more; line manage a team; or would simply like to reduce the amount of email you have to deal with, 365 offers huge new opportunities for us all.  As we move to a more blended on and off campus model, we assure you, using these tools will make things far less complicated.  

What is Microsoft 365?

If you've seen the recent advertisements for Teams, you've seen part of what Microsoft 365 is capable of. Previously known as Microsoft Office 365, recently renamed, now simply Microsoft 365.  It provides a suite of tools, accessible from anywhere, designed to help us simplify how we work together. It brings together the Microsoft products you're used to, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, and adds new functions to connect everything and everyone together.  

Most importantly, all of the data is secured safely on University systems. The problem with third party solutions like Slack, Google Docs, WhatsApp, SurveyMonkey, Facebook and so on, is that we don’t have control over the data. Microsoft 365, combined with us soon providing support, guidance and training for you around how to securely manage your data, will help protect the University, your data, and you.  

What products are we getting?

We're launching several new Microsoft 365 products over the next few months. We launch the first three in July, which are: 

1.      Teams

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool, enabling you to work with your colleagues more easily whether remotely or in the same location. Share and collaboratively work on files, share and discuss ideas, plan your work or a project, host meetings and workshops, chat, the list is only limited by your imagination. If you've ever used Slack, WhatsApp or Google Hangouts for work, or even if you haven't, this is the tool for you.

2.      OneDrive

This is the place where you store your files in the cloud. It's accessible from anywhere and makes sharing and working collaboratively on documents a whole lot simpler. Think Google Docs, but on safe and secure University storage space.

3.      Forms

Perfect for spot-polls, simple surveys, team quizzes, activity and event sign-ups. If you use tools like Survey Monkey or EventBrite, we recommend giving Forms a try. More products will follow and of course you already have access to Word, Outlook, Excel etc. We're prioritising new product releases based on University need. Keep an eye on Buzz Bitesize - The Isolation Chronicles and the COVID Daily Briefing emails for updates.  

When do we get it?

Like many institutions, organisations and businesses, we have fast-tracked the release of Microsoft 365 to help with the current situation we find ourselves in. Across the University, we have all made magnificent efforts to change the way we work, in order to work remotely. These new products will help us meet the upcoming need to work seamlessly across the blended on and off campus period, and whatever comes next. 

We're delivering Teams, OneDrive and Forms in July. We can't confirm exact release date just yet, though we expect it to be mid-end of the month. Soon, we'll provide information on more upcoming products and a dynamic release roadmap. Keep an eye on Buzz Bitesize - The Isolation Chronicles and the COVID Daily Briefing for updates. 

From August to October we will prepare and then launch more Microsoft 365 products. Working with staff, we will prioritise each product launch based on University need. Products you can expect to see in the future include Stream (our own internal video sharing platform, think University of Birmingham YouTube), Delve to help you find your work and your colleagues more easily, SharePoint Online and more.  

How can I find out how to use them?

To begin with, we highly recommend starting with these LinkedIn Learning Essential Training on Teams and Forms. These are great courses that will give you an overview of what's coming but please do note that there will be a few minor differences in what you experience once we launch the products versus what you see in these training videos. 

In the lead up to launch, we will make customised learning opportunities available. These will include a series of ITS GO Online live workshops hosted by members of our team, as well as a Making Microsoft 365 Happen central information hub. This will include online training support around how to use the products as well as how to safely store your data, workshop dates, case studies, hints and tips, and more, all designed to help you get the most from Microsoft 365.  

Will students have access as well as staff?

Our students already have access to a range of Microsoft 365 products including OneDrive and Teams. You will be able to communicate and collaborate with students using Teams. We'll provide customised learning opportunities in the coming weeks. This case study from fellow Russell Group institution Newcastle University, provides an overview of what to expect: University challenges tradition with connected, collaborative culture.  

How can I find out more?

Keep an eye on Buzz Bitesize - The Isolation Chronicles and the COVID Daily Briefing emails because that's how we'll keep you updated. We also suggest following us on Twitter @UoBITServices for the latest updates, as they happen. 

We would suggest regularly visiting the IT Services Intranet, but we struggle to find anything on it so suggesting that wouldn't in fact be very helpful. The IT Intranet's another thing we'll fix this year.  

Is Microsoft 365 actually useful?

In a word, YES. We've run a pilot within IT Services and across a few other teams, and the benefits are significant. We'll introduce you to a range of case studies in the lead up to launch. 

We are excited to deliver Microsoft 365, and can't wait for you to have it. We know you'll enjoy using it as much as we do. 

Together, we're making IT (and Microsoft 365) happen.

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Professional Services