Microsoft Teams is more than a tool for enabling remote work. It can also become your organization’s platform for collaboration and integration for better decision making and faster business transformation.
In fact, at Centric Consulting, we’ve seen many companies truly embrace Microsoft Teams as a platform not just to support remote workers with Teams’ modern chat, calls and meeting features, but also to manage collaboration and standard business operations like enterprise communications or data analytics and process automation for individual groups.
These companies are creating group collaboration workspaces (i.e., teams within Microsoft Teams) to provide unique and highly integrated capabilities.
But even organizations like these may only be scratching the surface. For example, the Teams App Store offers 1,001 (and counting) Microsoft, third-party and custom apps that allow workers to collaborate in the context of their Teams workgroups wherever or whenever they want. These integrated apps enable workers to stay in the flow of their work so that they rarely need to go to other applications outside of the team they are working in, increasing their overall efficiency and effectiveness.
In this blog, we’ll talk about how these integrated apps work safely within Teams as a platform. In future blogs, we’ll dive deeper into other Microsoft products that integrate with Teams — Microsoft Viva, Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft Voice — and explore their collaboration potential.
Our goal is to help you leverage Microsoft Teams to its fullest capabilities, stretching the boundaries of its basic features to make Teams a true platform — a central hub and foundation for your organization that delivers the most ROI on your Microsoft 365 investment.
But before we get to specific solutions, let’s talk about governance as the first step in getting you from the “crawl” stage to the “run” stage on your Teams journey.
Governance, the First Step Toward a Teams Collaboration Platform
Many people are now struggling with Teams because they rolled it out quickly without putting proper governance in place. This is perfectly understandable and totally acceptable given recent circumstances. When you transition from a traditional workplace to a 100 percent remote or hybrid environment overnight, your focus is getting a solution up quickly.
But now that the dust has settled, you may find yourself with an out-of-control number of teams in your organization, inconsistent team naming conventions, stagnant teams, duplicate teams and more. As a result, workers may be frustrated, causing adoption to drop. Everyone feels the pain, including customers, partners and vendors.
An additional challenge is the lack of investment in resourcing Adoption and Change Management plans. If you just “turned on” Teams and let it go, without sufficient communications, training and tactics like change champion networks and resistance management efforts, you and your end users may be regretting it now.
Good governance is the solution to these problems, but it’s easier said than done. First, what constitutes “good” governance will vary from organization to organization. Second, governance is a delicate balancing act. Too many controls and too much governance will make it difficult for end users to use the tool. Too few controls and governance will frustrate not just users but also IT, Security and Compliance administrators.
The end result: Users are unhappy, customers are unhappy, adoption drops, data may be at risk, and your ROI is dramatically decreased.
That’s why you need to put a formal, intentional and fully resourced Adoption and Change Management Plan in place. And if you feel like it’s too late, don’t worry. We recently partnered with Orchestry, an adoption and standardization platform that can help you reign in Teams and other tools across the Microsoft 365 suite.
Once your governance is in place, you can start exploring how apps integrate with Teams and more.
Integrating Apps and Microsoft Teams as a Platform for Today’s World — Microsoft’s Approach
In years past, Microsoft had focused on driving users only to their own apps. Now, third-party and custom apps sit alongside Microsoft apps in the Teams App Store, reflecting some fundamental changes in today’s world.
First, Microsoft’s willingness to work with third-party and custom apps demonstrates its understanding that every organization must choose the apps that are best suited to their needs. Instead of forcing users to traverse multiple enterprise applications, web services and storage locations required for their day-to-day tasks, users can now access those same organizational assets without ever leaving Microsoft Teams.
Second, it shows how apps are constantly evolving. Using the Power Platform, citizen developers can now easily build simple, productivity-enhancing apps, bots, connectors and more that are customized for your organization and then surfacing all of these from within the teams they work from.
But how can you be sure all of those apps are safe? Microsoft enables each organization to build its own policies around the control and governance of apps, including determining which apps are, or are not, authorized for use. You can then directly implement these policies in Teams for enforcement, allowing different groups of users to use different sets of apps.
For example, an organization could create a policy that allows only the Sales team to use the “Salesforce” and other related apps in Teams, and another policy that allows only IT Department personnel to use Jira in Teams.
Microsoft’s App Compliance Program is an additional layer of protection. This three-tier approach to app security and compliance gives users the confidence they need while using apps in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem:
- Publisher Verification helps admins and users understand the authenticity of app developers integrating with the Microsoft identity platform.
- Publisher Attestation allows developers to share general, data handling, and security and compliance information about their app service, reducing the need for IT admins to work directly with app publishers.
- Microsoft 365 Certification offers assurance and confidence to organizations that they’ve adequately secured and protected your data and privacy when using Microsoft Teams apps.
In short, Microsoft’s Compliance Program allows you to integrate whatever third-party and custom apps you need safely into Teams, bringing you closer to realizing its full potential as a platform rather than a standalone tool.
Looking Ahead: Viva, Power Platform and Voice
In future blog posts, we’ll look at three Microsoft apps that can complete your Microsoft Teams transformation: Viva, the Power Platform and Microsoft Voice. By delivering better working environments, business insights and even telephony, all through your familiar Teams platform, they make Microsoft Teams as a platform more powerful than you could have imagined.