Microsoft Teams: Best Practices

Teams brings people together. With the potential for some team members to work remotely at various times, using Teams allows for work to continue regardless of location. In addition, onboarding of new employees will be streamlined making it easier for new team members to locate knowledge and files.

  • Best Practices for Teams
    • All team members should know the goal of the team and why they are a part of the team.
    • Two approaches to creating teams: Organizational versus Project approach (Cross organization and functional teams). Think of your organizational structure before creating teams. For example: Marketing crosses all areas of a division, consider making it a standalone team.
      • Committee Work (Staff Council, Faculty Senate, etc)
      • Initiatives (e.g. COVID-19 Response)
      • Projects
      • Department/Division Teams
      • Organization-wide teams are disabled for Education. (This is just a note).
    • Naming Conventions: SHSU wants to allow end users the ability to create Teams as needed while maintaining a consistent naming convention for reporting and tracking purposes.
      1. Department site: [Department Abbreviation]-[Descriptive Name]
      2. Cross Functional/Projects site: [Descriptive Name]
      3. Committee/Work Group site: [Descriptive Name]
      4. Cohorts: [College] - [Descriptive Name]
      5. Academic Group Project: [Course] – [Group Name]
      6. Student Organizations: [Org Name]
    • File Structures
      1. File structure should be logical and understandable to users
      2. Limit file structure and folders to three levels deep due to file name length limit
      3. Keep things easy to find.
      4. Don’t use emojis/icons in the folder names.
    • Avoid creating multiple teams with the exact same members, use channels even if the team will be large.
      • Team should be functionally focused
    • Team Owners should review access quarterly and remove users that no longer need the access.
    • When to create a Team vs Channel
      • Teams – a collaboration space for people who work closely together for a common goal.
      • Channels – created within a team for focused discussions to organize thoughts, files and chats within the team.
        • As high-level as it can be, but specific. For example: [Department Team] -> [Project Name Channel] or [Department Team] -> [Employee Onboarding]
        • Consider creating an “Off Topic” channel to hold ideas, a place for questions, or “water cooler” chats.
    • Pin frequently used tabs and other 365 apps in channels for quick access.

    Note: Non-SHSU persons are unable to participate in SHSU teams currently.

  • Best Practices for Channels

    People working together for a common goal.

    • When creating Channels, people like to see things they are familiar with. It’s a great idea to let people know beforehand that you are going to add them to a team and the purpose of the team. Be careful to not make the name too long or you will not be able to see the full name in the Teams interface.
      • Pin an announcement in the channel with this information.
    • Make Channel naming a fun and engaging experience as this can increase engagement and interactivity when members know they were part of the creation.
    • Topics or workstreams to aid the team in organizing their work to deliver on joint objectives.
    • Only create channels when you really need them so that all channels created have a purpose and are utilized. This also helps to avoid fragmenting work. For example, if you start creating channels before they are necessary, you could end up with multiple channels that could be used for one goal and team members confused on which channel to use.
    • Use @mentions at appropriate level (Person, Channel, Team) for quick notifications. If you need just one person’s attention don’t @mention the whole team.
      • This helps Cortana “learn” what you need to see in your Daily Briefing emails.
    • Use General channel to share an overview of what the team wants to achieve like a charter or who’s who in the team.
    • Testing Channel – try before you add space
    • Channel Notification – Enable them so that you can see activities easier.

    Channel moderators

    • Available on standard channels, but not general or private channels
    • Settings can be adjusted so that moderators are the only ones who can start new threads
    • Team owners are moderators by default and can’t be removed. To remove an owner, you must demote their role first to “member.”
    • Control if members can reply to channel messages
  • Best Practices for Teams Apps

    Teams offers a number of apps that can integrate into Teams and Channels. Apps let you do more in Teams. Think about the tools, files, and dashboards your org already uses. Many of them can be added right into Teams.

    • There are multiple apps with similar functionality.
    • The Team owner may consider testing apps with similar functionality before introducing the team members to the app
    • Some of the most common apps:
      • Tasks by Planner and To Do - Tasks makes it easy to stay organized across all your Planner and To Do tasks. Create, assign, and track tasks individually or collaboratively with your team, and see everything come together in one place.
      • Channel Calendar - Access all events in the channel from one place.
      • Lists - Create a new list from scratch, from templates, based on an existing list, or by importing data from Excel. Record data, have conversations about list items, organize process, and track status in an environment built for teamwork and collaboration.
      • Forms - Easily create surveys, quizzes and polls.