My last post explored How to Build A Teams apps using SharePoint Framework. To continue exploring Teams app development, I will build an app using Power Platform to compare in this post. Many walk-throughs exist; I used this one. My steps appear below, along with my thoughts, to compare the two approaches.

First steps:

  1. Install Power Apps in your Teams instance.
  2. Open MS Teams (either the desktop or the web version) and then click the ellipsis at the bottom of the left column and enter “power” in the search bar to filter results.
  3. Click the Power Apps item to install it.

Installing Power Apps

A new icon appears in the left column of Teams: Power Apps. Click on it to open Power Apps. We will start building an app that will appear as a new tab in your chosen team.
Click the button New App.

Add New App

NOTE: If you don’t see the New App button, click the Start now button. The New app button will appear after you have created at least one.

Select the team for your app and then click Create. If you do not have any teams created yet, follow these instructions to add one: Create your first teams and channels – Microsoft Teams | Microsoft Docs.

Create the App and Select Team

Once your app has been initialized, you will be prompted to name it. For example, to match my earlier SPFx example app, I decided to create a Company Scheduler app, so I called it “CompanySchedule.” (I often create names with no spaces and then edit to add a space for readability.)

Name the App

You’ll be asked to choose whether to start with the layout or the data; pick either one because you can follow up with the other later. For today I decided to start with data.

Pick your start screen

Adding Data

This is an enormous difference from building with SPFx! Adding data to Power Apps for Teams is incredibly easy. Data can be added from numerous sources; SharePoint, spreadsheets, but the option to “Create A Table” is a seamless invitation to use Dataverse. Usually a costly data option in Power Apps in the Teams version, Dataverse is currently free. The implications are significant. For now, let us add our small table to get a sense of how it works.

Add a Simple Table to test

Create a Table

With our WorkShift table created, the screen to configure it appears. Click the plus to add columns. For example, we will add a column for the date of the employee’s shift.

Workshifts Column Customization

You can rename the columns if you would like; I go back and add spaces for readability. To edit the column name, right-click on the name to see this dialog:

Edit columns in the table

The same view where we edited the column names allows us also immediately enter data.

Enter Data into table

In the Tree view on the left, “Screens” can be considered pages. The default screen is a convenient data edit view. Let’s add another one for a view-only display of the data for our display. Click New screen:

New Screen Tree View

Any layout will work. I chose the “Header, main section, footer” screen.

Choose your layout

Here is our new screen. First, let us display our schedule table. Choose the Insert beside the plus icon in the left column to do this—type “table” in the search box to filter to the Table control.

Insert the table

Once you click on the Table control, you are prompted to choose a data source for it. I selected the WorkShifts table, readily displayed in the Select a data source dialog.

Select a Data Source

The data and column headings appear immediately. Next, we can decorate the screen a little. I chose colors to match my earlier Teams app sample, big purple. Edit the colors and fonts using the properties panel to the left. Next, select each control in the Tree View on the right. Add more controls such as labels or text boxes by selecting Insert in the left column under Tree View.

Edit colors and fonts

The tree view shows the order that the screens will appear in your team tab. Right-click Screen2 and select to move it above Screen1, so our display table will be the primary view after publishing the app. Time to publish! Click Publish to Teams in the upper right column.

Publishing an App to Teams

Teams Publishing Prompt

Choose a team to publish to. Highlight the team Channel, and then click the plus beside it to display teams under it. Select the team and then click Save and close.

Save and Close to Channel

End Result

Once publish is complete, navigate to the team you chose, and find the tab Company Schedule. It should display your table.

Company Schedule Created

Concluding Thoughts

When understanding when building Teams apps with SPFx or Power Apps, how should we think? Ultimately, one is not immediately better than the other. They are so different; they apply to very different development needs. Below, I’ve outlined a quick summary of limitations and advantages of building using Power Apps:


  • Using Power Apps, creating an app for one team can only display in a tab for that team. Using SPFx, we created an app that could be installed by the end-user in any team and can appear in the left column as well as in a team tab.
  • Using Power Platform, the layout is restricted to predefined layouts and formatting is limited. In SPFx, any html decorated by custom CSS and driven by your favorite JavaScript framework. It can be used to build anything.
  • The SPFx demo used only mock data because it’s decidedly more effort to connect to data from the code, and just the work it takes to create the app alone was enough content for a blog post. This is the most valuable advantage of building using Power Apps: the overall effort is lower, including adding data.


  • Using Power Apps is vastly faster and easier.
  • More people can jump in and create business apps without being a developer, using Power Apps.
  • In Power Apps, powerful data capability is available incredibly easily.

These are great choices to have an understanding both will help to know which one to choose.

Why Choose SharePoint Framework (SPFx) for a Teams Application?

We can build Teams Apps with Power Platform and SharePoint Framework. Which to choose for any particular customer requirement? To answer, we need to examine both. This post will discuss the SPFx option. A future post will look at the Power Platform option.

Not Just SharePoint

SharePoint Framework (SPFx) has evolved from customizing SharePoint to providing coding templates for Word and Outlook customizations and Teams. In time we may see the name change to reflect its broader mission. The Teams templating path differs from the familiar SharePoint webpart and application customizer templates. First, let’s look at Teams Toolkit.

Yeoman Generator or Teams Toolkit?

It is possible to create a Teams app using Yeoman generator when building SPFx webpart or extensions projects. However, current Microsoft documentation demonstrates the process using Teams Toolkit, their own scaffolding tool that becomes available in Visual Studio Code as an icon in the left toolbar once installed. It can also be used via CLI.

Teams Toolkit Installation

Overview of Building a Teams App

To begin, click the Teams Toolkit icon and then “Create New Project”. Then choose “Create a new Teams app” on the center dropdown. Note: We are accustomed to creating an SPFx project within an existing folder but Teams Toolkit lets us set the folder later.

Create New Teams App

In the Capabilities dialog, the Tab box is automatically selected. Click OK.

Select Tab Box

For the Frontend hosting type, choose SharePoint Framework (SPFx). SharePoint Framework will afford us the standard Workbench mode to allow local development before deployment and a generally more SharePoint-connected approach. (Azure mode requires logging into Azure and leverages Azure resources such as Azure Functions.)

Front End Hosting Type

The Framework selection for this demo is React; click the checkmark. Then in the “Web Part Name” dialog enter “infotab”.

Choosing an InfoTab

After you enter the description, the following dialog requires you to select Typescript. On enter, select the folder you want to use for the project. Next, you will enter a project name.

Enter Project Name

This will create a folder with this name within the folder you selected earlier. The toolkit will scaffold your project now, and you can view its structure.

Folder Structure

Press F5 to run the project. You will see commands scroll through the terminal window that is reminiscent of running an SPFx project generated from Yeoman. You may have to click yes to accept the certificate in a Security Warning. Then the SharePoint Web Part Workbench will appear. Open the plus to select your project.

Identify commands

A familiar sight: the SPFx webpart layout appears, previewing what will show in the Teams tab after deployment.

SharePoint webpart layout

Let’s change what it looks like, first. Open the .tsx file found in the src->webparts\infotab->components folder. Throw in a table to simulate data.

Simulating Data

Give the table a style name.

Give Tab a Style Name

Now add that style name in your .module.scss file.

Add Style Name to Module

I also changed the background color to purple.

Purple Background Color

As you save the file, the workbench updates automatically to show you your edits with each change. This is convenient!


To deploy we will generate and add a .sppkg file to the App Catalog in a SharePoint Online tenant, exactly as deployment works for SharePoint webparts built-in SPFx. But instead of building the files from the command line, we will use Teams Toolkit in VS Code. Click the “Provision in the Cloud” item in the Toolkit Project menu.

Use Teams Toolkit in VS Code

The lower right corner of VS Code will show a success message. After it appears (and then disappears; keep watching for it), you will click the Deploy to the Cloud option. Of course, no such deployment is available; but the dialog that appears to say also includes the button you need to build the project.

VS Code Success Message

Click that Build SharePoint Package button. Watch the lower right corner of VS Code for progress. This will take a couple of minutes. When complete, return to files view in VS Code. In the SPFx->sharepoint\solution folder, you will find a file with the extension .sppkg. This is the file we will deploy to the SharePoint App Catalog. If you need to create your App Catalog, follow these steps. Open your App Catalog and add the .sppkg file by choosing Upload Document and browsing to it.

Upload Document to SharePoint Catalog

Infotab appears in your App Catalog.

InfoTab in Catalog

Sync to Teams: first select the project in the App Catalog and then click the icon in the ribbon for “Sync to Teams”.

Sync the App Catalog to TeamsWhat does this do? Configuration is (apparently) applied behind the Office Online scenes to make this webpart available to your Teams application. A dialog will appear requiring you to choose to deploy as trusted. Check the “Make this solution available to all sites…” box and then click Deploy.

Trust and Deploy

When you navigate to Apps in your tenant Teams (online Teams shown), your new app will appear in the top section “Built for your org.” Click the new app!

Build for your Org Tab

A dialog will appear; click the Add button.


A new tab will appear on the left nav of Teams with your app.

Sample Company Teams Schedule

Congratulations! You’ve built a Teams Application with SPFx.

Building a Teams app with SPFx is not low code and so forgoes the convenience of Power Apps. You have to set up a development environment with an IDE, the correct version of Node, supporting packages-also the accurate versions, React, or another framework. Data connection is significant work. These take effort to decide upon, maintain and use. When would this be potentially preferable?

  • Design control: Building with actual code permits a fantastic ability to fine-tune every aspect of the app’s behavior, design, and appearance.
  • Access control: Building with actual code permits administrators at the App Catalog level to control who the app is available to and ensure it is available to everyone to install.
  • Source control: SPFx projects built-in VS Code or Visual Studio can be stored in source control, allowing all the power of versions, branches, and multi-developer-team development.

When is Power Apps the better way to build Teams apps? Stay tuned for the next in this blog series: Build A Teams App Using Power Platform. This will contrast building a Teams app using SharePoint Framework and Teams Toolkit.

Did you know Microsoft Teams Admin Center is not the only place to configure Teams Security? Since Microsoft Teams is strongly wired with SharePoint, OneDrive, and Exchange, Teams takes advantage of Microsoft 365 Security-Protection-compliance policies. As a customer of Microsoft 365, we own our data residing in the Microsoft 365 Tenant; therefore, as an Enterprise Administrator, configuring advanced security and compliance capabilities is an essential part of the planning phase of Microsoft 365 workloads deployment, which includes Microsoft Teams. How these security offerings are inter-related with Microsoft Teams and other services is depicted in the following screen:

Microsoft 365 Tenant

Now, let us have a light dive on Teams specifics nine Microsoft 365 policies (at the time that this article was written) meant to secure and protect Teams and its content apart from policies that are available in Microsoft Teams Admin center as follows:

  1. Safe attachment policy – Protects users from opening or sharing a malicious file in Teams, including SharePoint and OneDrive.
  2. Safe links policy – Safeguards users from accessing malicious links in emails, documents, and Teams conversations.
  3. Conditional access policy – Provides users access control based on group membership, users, locations, devices, and applications.
  4. Data encryption policy – Provides an additional security layer for encrypting the content at the application level to align with organization compliance obligations.
  5. Information barrier policy – Helps to control communication in Teams between specific users for compliance reasons.
  6. Communication compliance policy – Helps detect and act upon unprofessional messages within the Microsoft Teams that may put your organization at risk.
  7. Sensitivity label policy – Allows users to apply sensitivity labels when creating or editing teams to secure the Teams’ content.
  8. Data loss prevention policy – Draws a boundary within internal or external users to protect sensitive information relevant to your business.
  9. Retention policy – Helps to retain or delete a Teams chat as per the organization policies, legal requirements, or industry standards.

This was a quick glance on Microsoft Teams’ security, protection, and compliance capabilities through Microsoft 365 policies. However, for more information, please look upon Microsoft Technical Community blog here  where I have added further details on each above policies.

In this blog post, I’d like to share:

  • What I have learned about OCM and its importance
  • The ADKAR® Model for successful OCM
  • How UX and OCM are closely related and connected
  • A case study of implementing UX and OCM together

I enjoy being a User Experience (UX) Researcher. I like working with diverse user groups, learning about their needs, understanding their frustrations and challenges, coming up with solutions to address their pain points, and usually making corresponding design recommendations to improve various products that they use. It is rewarding to know that I can help improve people’s lives.

UX is an umbrella of multiple career pathways and skillsets, as Cory Lebson and other book collaborations described in The UX Careers Handbook. Therefore, UX is also a fascinating field, providing me with continuous learning and professional growth opportunities. Over the years of working on numerous projects, I’ve focused on user research and evaluation, information architecture, interaction design, content strategy, content writing/information design, technical communication, human factors, and accessibility.

Getting into OCM

AIS values continued learning, sharing, and technical excellence and the leadership encourages employees to be life-long students. Since I joined AIS in 2018, I have had many opportunities to grow professionally, which has helped me take more job roles and responsibilities that are beyond the traditional UX pathways and skillsets.

One of the new disciplines that I have learned, through internal and external projects, training, and learning, is OCM. As I learn more about it, I see more relevance and connections between UX and OCM. I increasingly believe becoming proficient with OCM not only benefits me as a UX Researcher to gain a new skill set, but also helps the users I work with, contributes to overall project success, and better serves my clients.

Importance of OCM

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “change is the only constant in life.” Constant change is true not only in people’s personal lives but also in organizations where digital transformation (DX) continually occurs. International Data Corporation (IDC) stated that “spending on the DX of business practices, products, and organizations will continue at a solid pace despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic” (Research Press Release, May 20, 2020).

According to Prosci, the leading change management research and development company, every organizational change includes the technical and people sides. Changes can fail, even though they meet technical requirements and milestones. Organizations must implement change management, which Prosci defines as “the process, tools, and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve a required business outcome.” It’s worth mentioning that change management is not only crucial in a business environment but also in people’s personal lives.

According to Prosci research, compared with initiatives with poor change management, efforts with excellent change management are:

  • Six times more likely to achieve project objectives
  • Five times more likely to stay on or ahead of schedule
  • Twice more likely to stay on or under budget

(Learn more: An Introduction to Change Management – download required)

Prosci ADKAR Model

Prosci specified that successful OCM is rooted in the change of individuals in the organization, one person at a time. To guide people to embrace, adopt, and sustain any change, Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt created the simple, but robust and effective ADKAR Model. ADKAR represents five building blocks for successful OCM:

  • A: Awareness of the need for change – “I get what is happening and why.”
  • D: Desire to support and participate in the change – “I choose to participate.”
  • K: Knowledge of how to change – “I know what to do and how to do this.”
  • A: Ability to implement required skills and behaviors – “I can do this.”
  • R: Reinforcement to sustain the change – “I will continue to do this.”

All these five elements must be in place before people change, and a change succeeds.

Relevance and Connection between UX and OCM

The ADKAR model focuses on the people side of change. UX centers around people, process, and technology. Both UX and OCM involve closely working with people. Through self-learning but primarily through collaborating on internal and external projects with my colleague Tacy Holliday, who specializes in OCM, I have learned about OCM basics and realized the relevance and connection between the UX and OCM disciplines.

I have found my UX background and skills help me understand OCM and its importance, which has led me to take advantage of my UX knowledge to OCM implementation. Equipped with both UX and OCM knowledge, UX practitioners can not only help improve the UX of a product but also help individuals adopt the product that they have helped evaluate and progress, which benefits these users and their organizations.

Some advantageous UX skills that I have found useful in OCM implementation include:

  • Using various user research methodologies, such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups will collect people’s feedback and understand their needs, pain points, concerns, and challenges
  • Practicing active listening and empathy with various user groups to improve people’s overall experiences while minimizing bias
  • Clear communication and frequent engagement with people, including using typical UX artifacts, such as wireframes, diagrams, or other graphics
  • Problem-solving skills to timely address people’s concerns, provide support and make recommendations

Case Study: Implementing UX and OCM Together

UX and OCM are naturally connected, and some activities in both areas can be carried out without additional efforts. This was proven successful when we helped a client, ACA Compliance Group, adopt Microsoft Teams (Teams) across their offices in various states of the US, the UK, and China. Our project team included a Project Manager, Cloud Engineer, Change Manager, UX researcher, and Business Analyst. During our 16-week engagement, we helped ACA achieve a 90% adoption rate of Teams, and ACA was well-positioned to achieve a 100% adoption rate by the target date.

At the beginning of the project, we conducted interviews and focus groups. We asked not only typical UX questions that focused on people’s needs, pain points, and challenges, but also requested typical OCM questions that assessed people’s readiness, awareness, and desire for change. The first two letters in the ADKAR model. We also collaborated around the other three ADKAR building blocks:

  • K: Knowledge: Conducting in-person and online training sessions to help individuals learn about Teams
  • A: Ability: Holding office hours to share Teams tricks and tips and answer people’s questions about using Teams in real situations
  • R: Reinforcement: Working with key stakeholders and making recommendations to reinforce and sustain Teams adoption and use

As a project team, our collaboration and having a shared understanding of the individuals that we worked with was crucial for us to support each other and ensure the overall project success.

We also used artifacts that came out of UX to illustrate the ideal change outcome and increase an individual’s desire for the change. For example, through user research, we learned and documented the existing difficult process for ACA employees to organize, schedule, and attend meetings, which involved various web conference tools, specific people, and high incurred costs (Figure 1). Then we illustrated how Teams could streamline and simplify this process (Figure 2). UX artifacts like these helped ACA employees see how Teams could help with their daily work, which increased their desire to adopt Teams. Individuals became excited with Teams’ features and capabilities and looked forward to using it. They no longer felt that Teams was another “cool tool” that they were forced to use, and that took time to learn.

Figure 1: Meetings before Teams

Figure 1: Organizing and Scheduling Meetings Before Adopting Teams

Figure 2: Meetings after Teams

Figure 2: Organizing and Scheduling Meetings After Adopting Teams

In summary, implementing both UX and OCM benefits both end-users and organizations that we work with. OCM is also a relevant and crucial discipline for UX practitioners to learn about and become more proficient with, helping us grow professionally. This is especially the case for those who have been in the UX field for years and are looking for new ideas and adventures beyond traditional UX pathways and skillsets.

For More Information

If you are interested in learning more:

With the COVID-19 epidemic, businesses everywhere are rushing to meet the demand for remote work solutions and enable “business as usual” as much, and as quickly, as possible. While many have practiced and planned for business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) scenarios, no one could have ever imagined the current challenges we’re all facing. For some organizations that have already begun their Modern Workplace journey, the change may not be drastic. But many others are scouring Google for technology, solutions, and integrators to support the transition to a productive remote workforce. As we band together to fight COVID-19, keep our people productive and employed, and do what we can for the economy, we wanted to share our knowledge and experience on how organizations can successfully navigate this new landscape. Many of you are searching for technology answers to enable remote work. We hope these tips help guide you.

Deploy Microsoft Teams

Our number one recommendation is to deploy and enable Microsoft Teams. Your employees are most likely accustomed to working in an office together, meeting in conference rooms, walking over to someone’s cube or office for a quick question. With the rapid transition to remote collaboration, a platform must be provided for them to engage and collaborate more intuitively than email communication. Teams will provide your organization with instant messaging, group or team-based chats, a platform for organization-wide updates or announcements, and audio/video conferencing (PC-based included in trials).

While you may not have the time for proper end-user training to ensure that all employees can fully leverage the platform and all of its enhancements, the basic requirements required to enable a remote workforce are intuitive enough that users can onboard quickly. Additionally, Microsoft provides some resources that can be integrated into channels that allow users to train as they go with the product.

Keep in mind, while it is possible to set up your trial tenant and go live, there are some baseline governance options you’ll want to consider, especially with the default option that all users can create new groups and quickly clutter your address list. AIS has even developed a Teams Rapid Adoption engagement so that we can help organizations quickly deploy Teams but also ensure it meets standard governance and compliance requirements before going live.

Addressing Identity Later

A quick note about a rapid deployment: if you don’t have time or your organization isn’t ready to get Azure AD Connect deployed for single sign-on (SSO) functionality prior to deployment, that’s OK! The solution can be deployed later and made to link up to existing Azure AD user accounts and override their Azure AD password with their on-premises Active Directory identities and authentication. There are ways to plan to move from a cloud-only identity to a “hybrid” identity using directory synchronization. In this scenario by verifying proper Active Directory attributes such as UPNs and SMTP addresses, you can ensure that when you do enable synchronization all of your AD objects correspond to Office 365 objects and they “match” to merge the identities. In some cases for Exchange, you might need to rely on an additional method to merge mailboxes using scripting beyond identity matching.

Leverage Existing Office 365 Deployments: SharePoint, OneDrive, & Azure AD

Many organizations have already taken their first steps into the Office 365 ecosystem, most commonly through a mailbox migration to Exchange Online or SharePoint for file storage, and have organically begun using Teams. What we find a lot of the time is that many organizations do not utilize the full range of tools and services available to them. For instance, your organization may have multiple applications configured for Azure AD SSO. Some of these applications may only be accessible inside of your LAN, and with everyone now working remotely you may be seeing some strain on your VPN appliances and datacenter bandwidth. Those applications you have configured for internal use could potentially leverage a solution like Azure AD Conditional Access to temporarily allow external connections to access them but require MFA or you could require that to access an application the user must be on a corporate device.

Sticking with application access, for organizations that have Azure AD premium, the Azure AD Application Proxy provides a solution to make applications that are hosted internally accessible outside of your data center without opening any firewall ports. The product simply needs port 443 out and acts as a reverse proxy of sorts so that your users can access any internally hosted applications through the same Azure AD SSO experience as SaaS applications.

File servers may be another reason for users to be required to remote in. Perhaps your organization was considering a migration of content to SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business and now is the time to accelerate those plans or explore solution providers who have offerings to assist organizations to rapidly adopt or migrate to either platform.

Zero-Touch Deployment with Intune & AutoPilot

With so many employees working from home consistently, device management and deployment are quickly going to become a major consideration. Administrators need to continue to ensure that corporate devices are securely configured, compliant with your policies and have all the applications end-users need to continue to function. Microsoft Intune can help by setting your compliance and configuration policies from a cloud-based endpoint management solution to handle your workstation and mobile devices. Applications can be quickly packaged and deployed to your end-users across your devices.

Perhaps your organization didn’t finish your desktop to laptop rollout before the outbreak, or your users require a new device due to an accidental spill, or maybe your organization is still hiring and onboarding. Getting new devices into an end user’s hands has typically involved some touch from your IT department before they can be provided to an end-user. Applying a corporate image, joining to the domain, installing baseline apps; these are all things Intune can take care of for you with a zero-touch approach. With AutoPilot, it’s possible to have devices shipped right from your vendors to an end user’s home and once the device is powered on and connected to the internet for the first time, Intune takes over and applies your policies and applications.

To read more on Microsoft Teams Adoption, please reference this blog post.

Additional Remote Resources from Microsoft:

Hit the ground running through a guided workshop with Office 365 governance specialists. We'll work with your team to enable the appropriate governance solutions.

Overnight the world’s workforce has moved into the home office. As a result, online meetings are now the only way we meet. For many organizations, this sudden change has dramatically impacted how their business operates. Staff members were accustomed to collaborating in person. Now they feel disconnected.  Sales people who relied on face-to-face interaction to close the deal are suddenly isolated.  Visual cues, facial expressions and the non-verbal communication we took for granted is gone. Right now, across the globe, millions of professionals are facing these new communication anxieties.

Microsoft Teams has many features that will help overcome these challenges.  Team chats, channels and document collaboration can empower your online meetings.  These ten tips will help you ensure that all participants are comfortable with the technology so they can focus on the important part of the meeting – the people and content.

#1 – Set Expectations in the Meeting Invite

The meeting invite is a great opportunity to let people know what to expect by stating the purpose and agenda items. This will make the meeting meaningful and keep everyone on track. Will documents or other visuals be shared? Does your organization endorse the use of web cameras? Will notes or a recording be available for people to refer to after the meeting? Keep the message short but if there is anything you need to point out to ensure people can participate fully, the invite is a good opportunity to do that.

If you’re expecting newcomers, you might include a little extra guidance about accessing the meeting or where questions can be addressed. Although most people will not need this, including it sets a welcoming tone. For example:

New to using Microsoft Teams?

For the best experience:

  1. Click Join Microsoft Teams Meeting
  2. You may be prompted to choose how you want to connect – browser or desktop app
  3. Select audio option – computer or phone

If you need to join with only audio, you can use the phone number provided, or select another number through Local numbers.

If you’re dialing in, you can press *1 during the meeting to hear menu options.

If you need any help, click on Learn more about Teams or contact me at

#2 – Review Meeting Controls with Newcomers

If you plan to have people join who are completely new to Teams, take a minute or two to review the meeting controls so people can participate comfortably. If you’re going to invite people to turn on their webcams, this is a great opportunity to illustrate the Start with a Blurred background option (see Tip #5).

Microsoft Teams App Bar Explained

  1. Meeting duration
  2. Webcam on or off
  3. Mute or unmute yourself
  4. Screen sharing
  5. More options
  6. Conversations
  7. Participant list
  8. Leave meeting

#3 – Mute is Everyone’s Friend

In meetings with more than 5 people, anyone who joins after the meeting has started will join as muted to reduce noise. If you notice disruptive noise from others, you can mute that person or mute all, easily from the participant list.

Mute People in Microsoft Teams or Mute All

If someone has been muted, they’ll get a notification letting them know. They can unmute themselves using their meeting controls when they need to speak. For those joining by calling in, *6 mute/unmutes.

#4 –Joining from Multiple Devices? Avoid Echoing.

Sometimes, people will join the meeting with their computer and then dial into the meeting with their phone for audio. To avoid an echo, just make sure your computer speaker is muted. There is an option to do this on the join screen prior to entering the meeting. If you forget, just turn off your computer sound. 

Mute or Blur Your Background in Microsoft Teams App

#5 – “Mute” Any Distracting Backgrounds

If you need to share your webcam but the background could be distracting, you can take advantage of the select Start video with blur in More Options. This blurs the background behind the person for the duration of the camera share.

#6 – Pick What to Share

Don’t want everyone to read your email when you share your desktop? You have multiple choices to share:

  • Your entire desktop or screen
  • A window or application
  • PowerPoint
  • Whiteboard

With application sharing, participants will only see the application or window that you choose to share. They will not see any other application or notifications you might receive.

#7 – Let a Coworker Control Your Screen

A coworker can request control when you are sharing your desktop so that he or she can control the screen and cursor. If you choose to share an application, like PowerPoint, rather than your desktop, control would be limited to the shared application. For security reasons, external participants cannot request control when you are sharing your desktop.

#8 – Take Notes in the Meeting

With Microsoft Teams, taking and sharing meetings notes is easy. Notes can be accessed from More Options and are available before, during, and after the meeting.

Taking Notes in a Microsoft Teams Meeting

#9 – Two ways to collaborate on documents

You can work on files together through a screen share, where one person types and the others talk. Or, you can upload the document to the meeting chat and allow multiple people to work on the document in real-time.

#10 – Take Advantage of the Resources Available

Here are some good articles from the Microsoft Blog on Remote Work and Teams Meetings:

Thanks to authors Tacy Holliday, Chris Miller, and Guy Schmidt for their contributions to this blog.

ACA Compliance Group needed help streamlining the communications landscape and its fast-growing workforce to collaborate more effectively. AIS recommended starting small with Microsoft Teams adoption and utilizing Microsoft Planner to gain advocates, realize quick wins, and gather insights to guide the larger rollout.

Starting Their Cloud Transformation Journey

The cloud brings many advantages to both companies and their employees, including unlimited access and seamless collaboration. However, to unleash the full power of cloud-based collaboration, a company must select the right collaboration technology that fits their business needs and ensures employees adopt the technology and changes in practices and processes. This ultimately benefits the business through increased productivity and satisfaction.

In early 2019, an international compliance firm with around 800 employees contacted AIS to help migrate multiple email accounts into a single Office 365 (O365) Exchange account. They invited AIS to continue their cloud journey and help them:

  • Understand their existing business processes and pain points across multiple time zones, countries, departments, and teams.
  • Provide their employees with a secure, reliable, and integrated solution to effective communication and collaboration.
  • Increase employee productivity by improving file and knowledge sharing and problem-solving.
  • Reduce cost from licensing fees for products duplicating features already available through the company’s enterprise O365 license.

Kicking Off a Customer Immersion Experience

First, AIS provided a Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience (CIE) demonstration, which served as the foundational step to introduce all O365 tools. After receiving stakeholder feedback, needs, and concerns, we collaboratively determined the best order for rolling out the O365 applications. The client selected to move forward with Microsoft Teams adoption as the first step to implementing collaboration software in the organization.

Pilots for Microsoft Teams Adoption

Next, we conducted a pilot with two departments to quickly bring benefits to the organization without a large cost investment and to gather insights that would inform the overall Teams adoption plan and strategy for the entire organization. We confirmed with pilot study employees that they saw and welcomed the benefits that Microsoft Teams provides, including:

  • Reduced internal emails.
  • Seamless communication and collaboration among (remote) teams/departments.
  • Increased productivity, efficiency, and transparency.
  • Centralized and accessible location for files, documents, and resources in Teams.

The pilot study also found that adopting Microsoft Teams in the organization would require a paradigm shift. Many employees were used to email communication, including sending attachments back and forth that was hard to track. In addition, while some departments had sophisticated collaboration tools, a common collaboration tool across the company did not exist. For web conferencing, for example, different departments preferred different tools, such as GoToMeeting and WebEx, and most of them incurred subscription fees. Employees had to install multiple tools on their computers to collaborate across departmental boundaries.


Embracing Benefits of Microsoft Teams with Organizational Change Management (OCM)

To help employees understand the benefits of Teams, embrace the new tool, and willingly navigate the associated changes. For the organization-wide deployment and Microsoft Teams adoption, we formed a project team with different roles, including: a Project Manager, Change Manager, UX researcher, Business Analyst, and Cloud Engineer. Organizational Change Management (OCM), User Experience (UX), and business analysis were as critical as technical aspects of the cloud implementation.

Building on each other’s expertise, the project team worked collaboratively and closely with technical and business leaders at the company to:

  • Guide communication efforts to drive awareness of the project and support it.
  • Identify levers that would drive or hinder adoption and plan ways to promote or mitigate.
  • Equip department leaders with champions and facilitate end-user Teams adoption best practices.
  • Guide end users on how to thrive using Teams through best practices and relevant business processes.
  • Provide data analytics and insights to support target adoption rates and customize training.
  • Use an agile approach to resolve both technical issues and people’s pain points, including using Teams for private chats, channel messages, and meetings.
  • Develop a governance plan that addressed technical and business evolution, accounting for the employee experience.

Cutting Costs & Boosting Collaboration

At the end of the 16-week engagement, AIS helped the client achieve its goals of enhanced collaboration, cost savings, and 90% Teams use with positive employee feedback. The company was well-positioned to achieve 100% by the agreed-upon target date.

Our OCM approach significantly contributed to our project success, which is grounded in the Prosci ADKAR® framework, a leading framework for change management based on 20 years of research. As Prosci described on their website, “ADKAR is an acronym that represents the five tangible and concrete outcomes that people need to achieve for lasting change”:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick

The OCM designed was to provide busy executives, leaders, and end-users with key support and insights for action to achieve each outcome necessary for Teams adoption efficiently and effectively.

If you would like to participate in a CIE demonstration or learn more about adopting cloud-based collaboration tools and practices in your company, we are here to help!


With the recent release of Microsoft Teams, you may be wondering what the differences between Teams and Office 365 Groups are. At AIS, we’re always on the forefront of the latest Office 365 services, and given our long-time partnership with Microsoft, we’ve actually been using both Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups for while now. We’ve gotten a solid sense of what both services are good at and what they’re…not so good at. At least not yet. Read More…