Author: Chris Broomfield
Application Operations look after the business applications at the University. The team consists of service owners, who have overall responsibility for applications and technical experts who provide the application support and own the relationship with the business owners.
How is your team using Office 365?
I guess the most obvious and foremost use has been the instant messaging function on Teams, which we use to quickly communicate between individuals and groups. This hasn’t really changed the way we work as we did this with Skype, however, the enhanced functionality of Teams means that if you miss a message from someone, for example if you are off-line, then the message remains, and you receive an email update to say you missed it.
The web conferencing function in Teams has been really useful for having team conversations, holding internal meetings and speaking with external vendors. It has really opened up the opportunities for remote working and having discussions with people cross the other side of campus without having to leave your office - we have also used it very successfully with external suppliers. The desktop sharing function is also invaluable for collaborative working in meetings.
We have set up various teams and channels to work collaboratively. These areas are used to store files, have group conversations and to cascade information and announcements to the team. We haven’t settled on a taxonomy for the team or channel names yet so the naming conventions are a little out of kilter, however we will fix that at some point in the future.
The main team we have is App Ops. This is mainly used for storing team meeting minutes, cascading team information and bants (for my hilarious jokes).
Other teams include a service owner team for storing frame work documentation and providing updates and various operation groups for each service. The intention is to move away from the old SharePoint group and start using Teams for any new we create.
The only downside is the lack of access control over channels. It would be nice to be able to have teams set up and then channels that can be subdivided so only certain people have access to them. The only way to work around this I can find it to create more teams which feels a bit overkill.
A few members of the team are using OneDrive for individual file storage. It isn’t used much as a shared file store yet. We tend to use the files tab within channels which I understand is SharePoint storage.
Some of our team have moved from the old version of OneNote to the new version. We have encountered a few syncing problems which we are working through but for those who use OneNote for personal note taking I envisage this moving across relative shortly. I’ve also looked at shared OneNote within Teams but we are mainly focusing on docs in the files area and to some extend the wiki functionality.
We have set up a few social teams for organising social events and a cooking channel. Whilst these don’t exactly improve the way we work they do help with team bonding and provide a more fun element to Teams and encourage its use.
How have office 365 applications changed the way you work?
The main advantage of Teams for us is that it brings all the existing technology into one central area. We already have Skype and SharePoint but crucially, creating an easy to navigate platform where this can be all bought together does significantly help improve workflow. The addition of persistent groups with a backend file store (SharePoint, OneDrive) is great for managing documents, files and conversations all in one place.
Having a conversation within Teams rather than email feels more efficient and easier to manage. I guess the challenge will be to not cause information overload with Teams groups and transfer the issue from email to another platform. However, using Team does mean people can more selectively read information and it avoids the culture of mass cc-ing people into emails.
A further advantage to the way Teams work is the way it syncs across devices. This is particularly useful for those team members who are not always at their desk and provides them with access to the information they need via their mobile device. This also makes remote working very viable.
Does 365 provide future opportunities?
In the future I would like to see extended video conference functionality such as the ability to schedule meetings from the Teams interface and to dial in via a phone number. This would be a real advantage when dealing with people outside of IT Services both within the University and externally.