The Best Collaboration Tool - Microsoft Teams

What is the best collaboration tool for your business?

As many of us know, Microsoft Teams has replaced Skype for Business Online. For years, Skype has been the go-to tool for business communications. However, in more recent times, its popularity has been slipping and Microsoft is now slowly sunsetting it. As such, Microsoft has decided to make the transition to Teams which is now considered the best collaboration tool on the market.

Microsoft Teams is a unified communications platform that incorporates several features such as chat, phone calls, video, file storage, and app integration under one roof. It can integrate with all Office 365 tools and extensions as well as numerous non-Microsoft products. Another reason why Microsoft has phased out Skype in favor of Teams is its full integration into the Office 365 environment.

That said, let's take a look into what Microsoft Teams has to offer and what makes it the best communication tool on the market.

Streamlining Communication with O365 Integration

As we said, Microsoft Teams is fully integrated with Office 365. As such, it's somewhat intuitive to understand why using it would make sense if you are already using O365 for your business. Within the centralized Teams application, you can store documents, communicate with coworkers, and organize notes without having to change between different applications.

The platform also keeps the lines of communication free and flowing by maintaining an in-line conversation. This means that, if you moved away from Teams for a bit, you could pick up right where you left off in the conversation. You won't have to sift through tons of unread email threads.

Third-Party Customization

Aside from O365, Teams is also compatible with an entire host of third-party applications. For instance, you can use Twitter, Facebook Pages, or Bing News to send information to specific Teams channels. Similarly, you can use Google Analytics to regularly update your analytics teams. This simple and flexible functionality allows you to keep track of important business updates, specific for each job role.

Microsoft Teams For Voice

The Phone System feature, part of Office 365, makes it possible to use Teams to make phone calls outside of the organization. You can make or receive calls from anywhere in the world and from any other device that runs Teams and has an internet connection.

What's more, this feature also comes with several Calling Plans, depending on your business needs. Your finance team, for example, can be limited to domestic calls while the sales department has access to both local and international calling capabilities.

In addition, the feature provides call answering and initiating based on name and number, simultaneous ringing, voicemail, call history, call holding, emergency calls, etc. In terms of devices, you can use the Phone System from the Team app on your phone, laptop, tablet, conference-room speakerphones,  headsets, etc.

Security and Transparency with Mobile Device Management

The Intune security tool, part of Office 365, will help keep corporate data safe when using Teams. This will allow users to access data from any device while still maintaining compliance. Intune will protect and manage your employees' devices, the mobile apps used, as well as manage all sharing rules put in place.

Another key issue for organizations is transparency. With Teams, everyone is in the loop as you won't have to worry who to put in cc or who to invite in a meeting. The platform allows you to post your message in the relevant channel, @-mention people you want to be notified, and leave it for everyone else to read if they want. This way, nobody feels left out of the conversation, increasing transparency, and enabling people in the channel to pop in the meeting. At the end of the day, we love it and truly believe it's the best collaboration tool available.

The Best Features of Windows 10

While many users have already made the transition to Windows 10, others have yet to make the jump. Either because they got used to their current version of Windows or other similar factors, they will be, more or less, forced to do so in the immediate future. As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer support Windows 7 on laptops and desktops, and it will stop patching it with security updates.

While those using Windows 7 Pro and Enterprise can still extend their security updates until 2023, this will come at a cost based on the number of devices. What's more, this price will increase over time. That said, what are the best features that Windows 10 has to offer in comparison to its previous counterparts?

Enhanced Security Capabilities

For starters, Windows 10 offers better overall security. It gives you the option of subscribing to Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which is a cloud-based service that manages various security threats across all of your Windows 10 computers and devices.

Likewise, the operating system also comes with Windows Defender Exploit Guard. This is a system that finds, quarantines, and removes any malware or ransomware that finds its way into your network.

In addition, it includes several other tools that can stop zero-day attacks, block malicious programs, or isolate any infected devices on your network. If you're using Windows 10 Professional or Enterprise, you will also have access to Windows Defender Application Guard.

This lets you use your Edge browser inside a virtual machine. This way, if your device or those of your employees get infected with malware or ransomware, your devices won't be affected since these will be restricted to the virtual machine.

The Timeline Feature

Windows 10 also comes equipped with a Timeline feature. This feature will take a "snapshot" of all Windows apps you were using at any given time. By clicking on the "Task View" icon on your taskbar, you can select any of these snapshots and continue working where you left off.

The best part about this feature is that you can access these snapshots on all Windows 10 computers that are signed on with the same account. In other words, you can start working on a project on your home computer, then continue working on it in the office.

The My People Feature

Another simple, yet useful Windows 10 feature is My People. This lets you pin ten business contacts as shortcuts in your taskbar. Once pinned, just click on a person to email them or start a conversation.

The Focus Assist Feature

Staying focused while meeting a deadline is becoming increasingly difficult. There are plenty of distractions without Windows having to contribute to them. Focus Assist is a Windows 10 feature that allows you to toggle some or all notifications on or off, thus helping you concentrate on the task at hand.

The Nearby Sharing Feature

Nearby Sharing in Windows 10 is a feature that allows you to share all sorts of documents, photos, links, and videos with nearby devices by using either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Granted, you can share links relatively easily over the browser, but when it comes to large documents, images, or videos, things become a bit more complicated. This feature helps streamline this operation if both PCs, the one you’re sharing from and the one your sharing with, have Windows 10.

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Using Microsoft Teams for Voice

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about voice and internal communications is Skype for Business. For years, Skype has been the go-to tool for business communications, be it internally, externally, or globally. To date, Skype has around 300 million active users. Nevertheless, it's popularity is slipping. Other tools are starting to replace Skype, one of the most popular being Microsoft Teams.

What Is Microsoft Teams and How Does It Relate to Communication?

Microsoft Teams is a relatively new offering as part of the MS Office platform. It is a unified communications platform that combines several features such as chat, video meeting, phone calls, file storage, and application integration. The service can integrate with all other Office 365 suites and extensions, as well as non-Microsoft products.

In broad terms, it's similar to Skype for Business but with several additions. Besides, Microsoft is planning on steadily phasing out Skype in favor of Teams. The main reason for this, as we've mentioned, is the Teams' capability to be fully integrated into the Office 365 environment. As such, team members can exchange files, edit and write notes in shared documents, and collaborate more efficiently with each other.

Also, Microsoft Teams provides a series of easy-to-use communication channels to better organize inter or cross-departmental processes. Team members can choose to communicate with the entire team or one-on-one by using text, voice, or video chat. The added benefit is that both voice and video can be used within the platform, itself, supporting a large number of individuals at the same time.

Moving Your Business Phone Into the Cloud

Businesses that already have Office 365 and groups know that they can use Microsoft Teams to make voice calls over IP (VoIP) to other team members using desktops, laptops, or mobile devices running the Teams app.

Nevertheless, this Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calls act more of an intercom system within an organization since Team apps don't connect to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). Because of this, the Team app cannot be assigned a dedicated phone number, which means that nobody outside of the organization can use this feature to connect.

Something like this is only possible when a business connects to the PSTN by using Private Branch Exchange (PBX) hardware installed somewhere on the premises. The Phone System feature, part of Office 365, provides businesses with a cloud-based PBX system. Instead of having that PBX hardware installed in the office, companies can subscribe to this cloud-based service. The Phone System makes it possible to use Teams to make calls precisely as you would a regular telephone. You can make and receive calls from anywhere in the world and from any device that runs Teams, as long as there is an internet connection.

Furthermore, you can also add Calling Plans to better fit with your business needs. You can, for instance, have your finance team only make domestic calls while the sales department does both local and international. Some of the other features of Calling Plans are things like call answering and initiating based on name and number, call holding and retrieving, simultaneous ringing, call forwarding, voicemail, call history, emergency calls, etc.

Most importantly, however, you can do all of this from the Teams app that's on your phone, tablet, or laptop, as well as a range of other Teams-compatible devices and hardware such as conference room speakerphones, or headsets, among others.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][grve_single_image image_type="image-link" image="31471" link="|||"][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What Makes an Agile and Productive Digital Workplace?

It is common that for a digital transformation to take full effect in the workplace, it needs fully upgraded IT systems as well as a complete overhaul of all business process. In a highly digitized business environment, it is only through these changes that employees can indeed serve customers to the best of their abilities. Be it finance, healthcare, manufacturing, nonprofits, or anything else in between, all sectors of the economy are heavily impacted.

Gartner indicates that by 2020, roughly a third of all businesses will draw their competitive advantage from their employees' knowledge, understanding, and efficient use of the digital technologies they employ. There are three main elements to consider when looking at the future of the digital workplace. These are the emerging technologies, the global marketplace, and workforce dynamics.

In what can only describe as a positive feedback cycle, these three factors will influence each other, completely changing the shape of the modern workplace. In turn, this will guide businesses on how to reshape job roles, processes, business models, and best practices. Artificial and human intelligence will complement each other like never before, solving many business problems and significantly increasing efficiency.

The whole point behind a digital workplace is simplicity and intuitiveness, resulting in greater agility and productivity. Below are some of the hallmarks that work to create this simplicity in the workplace.

Shadow IT

Shadow IT stands for all information technology systems used within an organization without its explicit approval. Most employees will follow the path of least resistance when it comes to their work and this, of course, applies to the technology they use.

Traditionally, CIOs were utterly opposed to the use of shadow IT, and sometimes with good reason. Their security and integration concerns are entirely justified. Nevertheless, instead of standing against this technology, CIOs should embrace and exploit these technologies, and work to integrate them into their systems.

Change Management Leadership

Changing your workplace into a digital and more agile one will require a great deal of adjustment in terms of departmental structure, internal processes, skill sets, etc. Change management leaders will be needed for such a considerable undertaking so they can set guidelines, oversee the transition, as well as anticipate and mitigate any issues before they can turn into real trouble.

Reskilling Employees

With a change, however, it's not uncommon for employees to experience increased stress levels. It usually stems from a fear of the unknown and a lack of comprehensive skill when operating the new technologies. To ease this transition, it's wise to train and reskill your employees continually. Hire a team of professionals, if need be.

Information & Technology

This transition ultimately boils down to the technology you will use. To that end, ensure easy file-sharing capabilities, mobile access, and real-time synchronization. Similarly, virtual assistants can be a great asset in helping with the transition period, offering employees decision support, contextualized content recommendations, and advice where needed.

Do, however, keep in mind that all of these systems need to have a cohesive architecture and not a haphazard patchwork of technologies that will only add to the complexity of day-to-day operations and processes. Lastly, you should encourage employees to bring their input here, rather than imposing new systems on them.

To help you with this transition, Managed Solution is at your service. Contact us today and find out what we can do for you and your digital workplace.


How SharePoint Can Increase Your Productivity

SharePoint is a web-based collaboration platform, used by staff members across all levels of the organization. It functions on the company's intranet. The platform acts as a secure place where users can share, store, organize, and access data from numerous mobile devices. It facilitates and streamlines team and cross-departmental collaboration, as well as document storage and retrieval, all within the confines of enterprise-grade security and compliance.

Thanks to its easy-to-use features and low maintenance requirements, SharePoint has become a go-to platform for diverse organizations around the world. With various customizable capabilities, SharePoint offers an almost unmatched level of flexibility to those that use it, which allows for easy scalability, and an increase of productivity, in the process.

Nevertheless, it has a high degree of customization, and many organizations aren't fully aware of all its features or what SharePoint can do for them or use the platform to its full capacity. Since every company is, more or less, unique, each can use and customize SharePoint to best suit their needs. That said, here are some ways it can help you increase productivity across your organization.


Thanks to its new app, SharePoint can be accessed by users even when they're not in the office. So, if your businesses have employees that work remotely or are usually in the field, they can still use SharePoint to work with the same level of coordination as those who would, otherwise, be all located in the same office.


When companies start using SharePoint, they usually do so by first utilizing its basic features. But as time goes on and users become accustomed to the platform, they can personalize it as the business develops. Similarly, they can tailor the platform's features so that it best suits the organization's processes and means of operation.

Having too many unnecessary features or access to unnecessary files and data can at times overwhelm and distract the users, decreasing their overall productivity. SharePoint does take this factor into account, allowing organizations to tailor the interface for every level, department, or each employee.

Seamless Integration with Your TechStack

Some fear that SharePoint will only add another level of complexity to their already intricate TechStack. Luckily, however, this is not the case with SharePoint. It was specifically designed to integrate with a wide variety of other software, web applications, RSS, WSRPs, email, and all sorts of commercial software and cloud applications. It implies that there are far fewer technical glitches, less downtime, and more productivity.

SharePoint Analytics

Collecting, storing, and sharing data is all fine and good, but as long as you are not adequately analyzing it, that information is next to useless. By making use of SharePoint's analytics tools, you can investigate and discover any potential issues that may be affecting the productivity of a given department, problems in collaboration, etc. You can use that information to generate the best possible solutions to fix those problems.

SharePoint is a great tool to improve a company's productivity. It all depends on how well you know how to use it and how best you customize it to fit your organization's needs. If you need any help in optimizing your company's performance, Managed Solution is at your service. Our professional consultants will answer any questions that you may have. Contact us today!

What Is SharePoint and What Is It Used For?

For those of us that don't know, SharePoint is a web-based system used for collaboration. It makes use of list databases, workflow applications, and other features as a means of enabling teams to work better together. SharePoint also gives businesses the ability to control access to information and automate various workflow processes.

SharePoint can increase productivity and visibility for IT workers across all levels of the organization. Features center around the company's private network, allowing for secure sharing, workflow collaboration, and content management, among other such features.

Due to its easy maintenance and use, SharePoint is a favorite with many businesses, big and small. Similarly, the platform also offers a high degree of flexibility and scalability, allowing companies to increase productivity and get a high ROI, based on their individual needs.

Also, SharePoint Online, which is the Microsoft Cloud version of the platform, has additional integration capabilities with other cloud applications such as Microsoft 365 or Office 365.

SharePoint truly shines when employees work together on ad-hoc projects or when they want to establish standard business processes regarding data sharing, data recording, or document publishing. It's many features that also include co-authoring, versioning, or security controls, allow users to do more work on only a fraction of the time, all the while maintaining the quality of their product.

SharePoint and Content Management

On a similar note, SharePoint makes it easy to add metadata so that users can quickly and easily understand the origins and purpose of a document without having to open it. Likewise, it also allows for the easy creation of custom databases, as well as the recording of numerous documents, which can them be integrated into business processes and workflows.

Once the metadata and content are on the platform, SharePoint can automate specific workflows such as the processing of end-user information, enabling record disposition through content lifecycle tools, and the disposal of data based on various business policies.

SharePoint and Team Collaboration

When it comes to uploading documents, users can either share it with other users or utilize OneDrive as personal storage where nobody else has access to. They can later share that document with others by granting them access. These workflow features, as well as others, can control how documents are being shared between them, as well as how they use that information within the organization.

Learning SharePoint

When you start using SharePoint, it's always better to learn a few basic tasks that will help you familiarize yourself with the platform and form some foundational skills. It's essential to remember that SharePoint holds a central role in a Microsoft-dominated environment, streamlining operations for everyone from the C-suite, all the way to customer service.

The best way to learn SharePoint is to start using it simply. The more practice you have with its essential features, the easier it will be to navigate. Some training courses will help you solidify the platform's fundamental principles and tasks. Even though the platform is intuitive and easy to use, it's numerous features that allow for more flexibility also increase its complexity. It means that, after you've mastered the basics, there remain many other ways to utilize it. Only with practice and use, will you take full advantage of what it has to offer.

Don't let this discourage you, however, since the benefits are well worth the effort. Most Fortune 500 companies have used SharePoint and for a good reason. If you want to learn more about SharePoint and how to use it, feel free to visit our website or contact us directly.

What Are the Best Ways to Leverage SharePoint and Microsoft Teams?

Traditionally, collaboration tools divide into numerous silos, based mostly on the type of communication which they are involved. When it comes to the Microsoft environment, for instance, Skype for Business is for real-time communication; Outlook is for messaging; SharePoint is for document and data sharing. All of these tools provide for all the communication an organization needs to function correctly.

The problem, however, is that all of them are separate programs that need to run independently and you continually have to flip between them. Likewise, the information is organized differently with each of them. Emails, for instance, are arranged by date, Skype messages are by person, while SharePoint is by teams or projects.

Microsoft Teams, on the other hand, manages to align all of these tools under one roof. It becomes particularly useful when it comes to team communication.

Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Working Together

When it comes to SharePoint and Teams, they both organize team sites based on project, topic, or organization. Microsoft Teams has SharePoint team sites associated with it. It means that every channel in Teams is related to a folder in the SharePoint document library. Also, every document sent outside of Teams is also stored in the sender's OneDrive business folder.

Storing Teams Documents in SharePoint

There are several advantages to storing your Teams documents in SharePoint and OneDrive. For starters, it's easy to sync all files for a Team on OneDrive since it works for both Windows and Mac. Also, SharePoint allows previews for more than 300 file types, which can also display in the Teams file tab.

SharePoint has a series of comprehensive data governance and compliance features such as automatic classification and labeling, data loss prevention, document retention policies, etc. These are also transferred to Teams documents when used together. What's more, users don't necessarily have to leave Teams to work on their SharePoint files since these will appear in their Files tab.

Adding SharePoint Pages as Tabs in Teams

When you add SharePoint pages as tabs in Teams, you will have a much easier time when building a custom website than you would with your typical approach. It is because all of the information that's on a team site home page will also appear here, making it the best of both SharePoint and Teams on the same interface.

You can also put an entire document in a tab, which can prove useful when you share a presentation or want to track information in a spreadsheet that available to the whole team. Similarly, you can use SharePoint Framework web parts as tabs in Teams. It allows for their seamless reuse and allows SharePoint developers to be in easy reach of Teams tab development.

Highlighting News and Conversations

Say, you are at a new stage of a project, or you want to emphasize a particular piece of news. Most often, this type of information will be misplaced in the Teams conversation thread, and people will lose track of them. To counteract this, you can use the News web part on a SharePoint page to make sure that this doesn't happen. SharePoint sites will include a publishing system for news pages. These appear on the web parts, Hub sites, the home page, the SharePoint app, and in Teams.


These are some of the best practices when leveraging SharePoint and Microsoft Teams. If, however, you need help, our consulting services team is at the ready. Sign up for our webinar to learn hands-on how you can best leverage these tools.

Why Doctors and their Leaders Need to Embrace Technology -- And How

Let's face it, a lot of doctors hate their computers. After reading through the article published by the New Yorker, I couldn't help but notice a lot of similarities in the various stories of different health professionals (nurses, health admins, neurosurgeons, etc) that are struggling with the adoption of new technologies in their fields. There seemed to be quite a few similar themes and patterns with each story. More and more organizations are adopting various technologies, and those technologies are rapidly advancing and always changing, so it can definitely be hard to keep up. However, instead of getting frustrated as an end user or forcing technology onto your organization "because it's the next greatest thing" as a leader -- you should have a strategy in place as well as an open mind.

Technology is a powerful thing and if implemented or used improperly, it can have adverse effects.  However, when done the right way, it can be life-changing, especially in the field of health and medicine. I've compiled a list of health professional's generalized complaints and frustrations, and how embracing technology can actually help solve the very problems the users seem to be encountering.

"A 2016 study found that physicians spend 2 hours doing computer work for every hour spent face to face with a patient growing the average workday to 11.5 hours"

Listen, no one wants an 11.5 work day. No one wants to have to do monotonous tasks that seem trivial or repetitive. That's not what technology is here to do. One of technology's main roles in your organization should be to automate and essentially increase productivity. For this, it starts at the top. The new technologies need to be rolled out properly by the organization's leaders. When introducing a new technology to your company, make sure there is significant training beforehand and deploy the technology in small groups. Start with one department and learn about their challenges and successes and build from there. Make sure there are plenty of resources and a support team for them to reference once completely immersed into using this technology on a regular basis. For example, one thing Managed Solution does for new Office 365 users is offer a Customer Immersion Experience (CIE). This is a hands-on discovery of the Microsoft Office tools. It's not a demo. It's not a presentation. We allow the new users to use dummy devices with real-life scenarios built into the devices and they experience it as if it was their own. We also only do this in groups of up to 12 users for one-on-one interaction. With this kind of implementation, we see user adoption increase incredibly versus those who don't. Oftentimes, when migrating and not opting for a CIE, we have customers come back and ask for it months later to ensure their teams are using the tools correctly.

"During the implementation phase, IT folks logged 27,000 help desk tickets"

Now that is a whole lot of support tickets! How could this have been prevented? Again, it begins with the training and deployment of the new systems, services, and tools. I can't emphasize enough to take things slowly and adopt one shiny new toy at a time. Migrate your data and information in phases. Test, test, test and then test again before rolling new software out to an entire organization or even an entire department, depending on the size. Start with small groups. As a leader of an organization or department, it's important to get feedback from those actually using the new software. How they use it in their day to day is going to be vastly different than a VP or CEO or someone in another department. That said, as a leader be sure to get input and consistently check in for feedback. As a user, make your challenges known as early as possible to reduce the probability of others running into the same one. At the end of the day, this technology should increase the users' productivity, not become a burden so it's important to communicate both challenges (and successes) to share with others.

"The new software/tool/etc allows multiple organizations/people to modify information you've already input."

There might not be anything more frustrating than doing your work and having someone else completely override it, whether intentionally (no matter if it was good intentions) or accidentally. There's no good in having to do the same work twice, especially when it's taking up hours of your time. To avoid this, you need to make sure you have identity management implemented.  Identity management determines whether a user has access to systems, but also sets the level of access and permissions a user has on a particular system. For instance, a user may be authorized to access a system but be restricted from some of its components. Another example is that your administrative assistant could have access to view certain documents or files, but only you can edit them. There becomes a chain of hierarchy and roles that allow for certain rights and access. Lastly, any modifications or changes should be backed up and stored somewhere in an archive that is easily referenceable to those who would need it.

Employees getting burnt out by technology is no surprise but shouldn't be so common. Doctors and other healthcare professionals are spending too much time trying to input data or find the right data, and not enough time with their patients, family or friends. With the work they are doing, if anyone deserves a work/life balance, it's them. We need to make sure we're equipping them with the right training, the right deployment schedule, the right resources and support throughout the technology adoption.  This could all start with building out the right technology roadmap. A technology roadmap or an IT roadmap can look one year or even three years ahead to plan for the adoption of new infrastructure, systems, and technologies. It outlines budget, timeline, adoption phases and more. Having this all outlined in paper and agreed upon by leadership helps to ensure success in the long run.

While in the short-term, there will be many headaches, especially for generations who didn't grow up using email, AOL Instant Messenger or Facebook. However, aren't most things challenging when we first start them? Change is never easy - it's not supposed to be. We need change. We thrive on change. Albert Einstein once said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results." Without acceptance for change, there cannot be growth. What would happen if we always gave up when things were hard?

It comes down to focusing on the long game. Create a deployment schedule. Implement training. Have multiple training sessions. Roll out things in small doses. Just like some doctors have to wean some patients off medication, they need to be slowly introduced onto technology and increase their technology dosage. Little by little, increase the functionality, increase the availability of new software and they can more easily adapt.

Lastly, I'd like to end on a positive note. Instead of looking at all the negative that these technological advancements may be bringing to the world of healthcare, let's look at positives: You can now remotely check vital signs of a patient recovering from surgery who's still at the hospital while you're on the go.

Technology is a mighty powerful thing, but technology is empowered by people. Make sure you're empowering your people to leverage the right technologies and offering the right resources to digitally transform your business, leading to growth and success.