Keeping Up With Change: Planning For Microsoft Teams Public Preview

With the ‘evergreen’ nature of Microsoft Cloud services, we get a constant stream of new features and fixes that could never be matched in an on premises environment. The technical change itself would take up way too much time to plan, implement and support. Many organizations are still running legacy, out of support versions of Microsoft apps for example (Office 2010 is still hanging around in a lot of environments).

No service has seen as much innovation at such a rapid pace as Microsoft Teams. Coming from a new concept in the Microsoft ecosystem to being the fastest growing product Microsoft have ever seen, reaching 115 Daily active Users in October 2020, jjust three years after launch. The support and development of Teams has scaled to match this, with new major features being released at a monthly, if not weekly pace.

Adoption and Change Management

For large organizations, the key to keeping up with the pace of technical change in the cloud is a proper Adoption and Change Management plan. If we’re not training our users on how to use all these new tools correctly, we are not seeing the full productivity benefit or return on investment from our licensing costs.

This doesn’t just go for Teams, all cloud services are subject to constant updates and feature releases. Recently I’ve posted about ‘Project Moca‘ and the ‘Pin Email feature in Oulook‘, just two recent updates that I now can’t see myself going without!

Managing change for Microsoft 365 is different from a lot of on premises applications as it’s not just a single push for training and adoption, but a mindset and ongoing process to keep our users up to date on the tools available to them. True, the initial gap needs to be filled to get users up to date on the service as it is, that is generally a larger program which may include classroom based training, webinars, training material etc. But after this initial upskilling, there should also be a constant stream of much smaller communications to ensure our users stay up to date with what new features are available to them and benefit from them.

Assess the Features Early

With Microsoft Apps for Business and Windows 10 Enterprise, there have always been ‘update channels’ to allow us to deploy the newest features early to a set of users. This is critical to assessing and embracing what’s coming as we can test with a real world group of users, build any comms or training packages we need to and discover/mitigate any potential issues the new features could have in our environment.

These early adopters are generally key members of the business who can help by being ‘Change Champions’ and essentially singing the change management song to the rest of the organization while also assessing and giving feedback on any new features not yet deployed to the rest of our users.

Teams Public Preview Option

Along with the Microsoft Apps for Business and Windows 10 update channels, in November 2020 Microsoft Teams is getting it’s own public preview policy. Admins will be able to specify the group of users who will receive updates early and get to assess them.

A new section of the Teams Admin Center will be made available called ‘Update Policies’ where, similar to Apps and Windows, an admin can determine who has preview features available to them by creating and deploying update policies.

Select the Update policies option

Once this feature rolls out to your tenant you will be able to onboard your targeted users and enable all the new cool features for them to test (and possibly break) before finalizing any comms or training material/

Teams update policies are set to roll out in Mid-November 2020. For more information check out the Microsoft Article here.

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