Microsoft Teams – The Hub for Virtual Project Management

A pain point we often hear at Advisicon is that there are too many tools but not enough compatibility between them available to track and manage projects easily. Managing a project requires document storage, task trackers, communication platforms, and more. As a project manager, utilizing all the available tools individually to successfully manage your project while jumping from application to application can feel overwhelming no matter which software you choose. This is why we always tell our clients that Microsoft Teams is the key to seamless project management.

How Microsoft Teams can improve your project management experience

Instead of bouncing back and forth between Word, SharePoint, Project Online, etc., Project Managers can use Teams to track the details of their project all within one space. In other words, the use of teams reduces several pain points when managing a project. Some of the best examples of this are:

  • Multiple versions of files being exchanged through email
  • Redundant lengthy conversations between those on the Project Team
  • Tracking multiple email chains to track the status of the project

Completing a project on time and on budget is a collaborative effort that requires constant communication. Achieving that level of communication can be accomplished by organizing your Teams and Channels to be replicable. Each time you have a new project or tool, you can use the channels of the project to eliminate redundant effort.

Microsoft Teams is a collaborative hub. This hub has the ability to be set up for your company’s unique requirements. For example, companies that want to manage projects from a single location can organize Teams into a Project Management space for daily handoff and tracking of tasks, reporting, and collection of notes.

Organizing Teams & Channels

Pro Tip: When building out Microsoft Teams for the organization, before building the teams and Channels, look through the content available on creating a replicable environment to reduce the number of initial teams and Channels being built. See any of the following videos on Teams of additional tips:

New and Upcoming Features for Microsoft Teams

Where Should I store my files in Microsoft 365

MS Teams Hacks to Boost Productivity

When first beginning to build out teams, mapping the criteria for each team in advance can reduce excessive teams from being built. For companies with less than 500 people, we recommend creating a companywide team first. This team would include a “General” channel where all company announcements could be sent, along with additional channels for various purposes such as company events and documentation relevant to all employees.

When building a Team, ask these questions

  • What is the end goal of this team?
  • Who will be a part of this team, and why?
  • What members should be owners of the team?
  • How should I design the layout of the Channels?
  • Is this a replicable or a one-off team?

For the last question, “is this replicable?”, if the answer is yes, and you have multiple teams or projects with similar layouts and needs, it is time to build out a template.

How to build a template

Microsoft Teams recently released the ability to copy existing teams’ structures to new teams. To utilize this feature, build out the model you want for the future teams.

In Microsoft Teams, navigate to Teams in the left Navigation Pane.

Teams Navigation Pane

At the bottom of the app, select Join or create a team.

For the first team, you will select to Create team, then build a team from scratch.

How to build out Channels

After the Template team is built, you can begin building out the channels. Most projects will fit our recommended structure. This structure will include four additional channels to the team, one for each phase of the projects.

Build each of these channels and any other you might need by selecting the ellipses on the team and choosing Add channel.

From here, you can decide what apps and tabs you want to be standard for every project.

With each new Channel comes three standard tabs; Posts, Files, and Wiki.

Posts are intended for the communication relevant to that specific Channel. All project-related communication can be funneled through this team. The Files tab acts as the Document Library for this particular Channel. All project-related files, emails, and miscellaneous items can be stored here. Lastly, is the Wiki.

Pro tip: Instead of using the Wiki, Microsoft OneNote would be preferable to track the notes related to Projects.

To remove the Wiki, right-click the tab and select remove.

Teams Channels can connect to each of the tools currently in use to manage the project. When a new Team is created from the Template, these tabs can also be recreated. But note that this is not required. When a user is creating a new Team from the Template, they can also choose not to copy the existing apps and tabs.

Customize each Channel individually

Add Tabs and Apps to each Channel by opening the Channel and selecting the + icon. Here you can shop through the available apps within Teams to manage your Project.

Apps such as Power BI, Planner, Project for the Web, and OneNote can be tracked within one or more Channels. For users who are tracking the projects of their Portfolio from Projects in Project for the Web or Project Online, Power BI Reports can be built and included in the tabs of multiple Channels. This provides central access to all necessary reporting.

Watch this video to review the reports available for Project Online and Project for the Web.

Add Power BI reports, Planner boards, and more

Here is an example of what a report pack can look like in a Microsoft Teams Channel. Reports can be used for daily project updates, tracking the status of the Portfolio of Projects, amongst other various reporting options. A user can add any report pack, dashboard, or app that they have access to.

For those using Planner, Planner boards can be added or created to each Channel. A built-out Planner board will look like the following:

For tips on how to best build out your Planner board, watch our video on Best Practices for Setting Up a Planner Board:

Bonus Tip: Tabs for Project schedules in Project Online and Project for the Web can also be added at any time. There is not a specific app for either of the applications, but the Website App is available to add any website needed to manage your project better.

With this app, you can add a name to the tab and the link for the website. Below is a Project for the Web.

The tab will open the webpage, and anyone with the correct licensing and permissions will be able to view the tab. Here is a Project for the Web schedule. Anyone on the Schedule Team can access, open, and make changes to it from this tab.

Go through each Channel to customize what tabs are there. Once finished, you have completed your template.

Replicate your setup

To replicate this setup, return to the Join or create a team button at the bottom of the Microsoft Teams App. Instead of creating a team from scratch, create from an existing Office 365 group or team.

For this scenario, you can select to create from a Team.

After that, you can select your Template.

Finally, choose what items you want to be copied over from your template.

Teams - Copy template

Click create.

And voila, you have a newly built-out Team for your project to host everything in one place. Microsoft Teams is now your project management one-stop-shop!

Each project will require some additional tweaks, but this will significantly reduce the amount of work necessary to create teams for projects and to ease the need to jump from application to application. Microsoft Teams, as a Hub, can host all communication, documentation, and websites to improve managing projects.

If you need any help getting set up with Teams, reach out! We are super passionate about helping you build a project management culture.