Improve your teamwork with a collaboration platform – my checklist for a tool/service selection

Did you read my previous article about the basic questions you should ask when you plan to launch a collaboration platform? Now, we should take a closer look at the services offered by Microsoft in Office 365. We will check the offered services from a technical point of view and then we will change our perspective and consider the main use cases for each service.

Use cases

If we evaluate the services offered in Office 365 from a business perspective, you will see that several tools can be considered for certain requirements. In these cases, you should evaluate which tool you and your colleagues would prefer. My personal recommendation can be found in the order of the tools listed. I would personally choose the first tool for a collaboration platform.

Use caseWhich tool should you use?
Support TeamworkTeams
Work together on documentsSharePoint
Teams (includes SharePoint supplemented by a chat functionality)
Exchange information ad hocTeams (private chats)
Skype for Business (deprecated but still in use in many companies)
Yammer (private chats)
Spread company-wide informationSharePoint
Yammer (public groups or corporate channel)
Teams (public or org-wide teams)
Build a corporate network or external networksYammer
Manage tasksPlanner / To-Do
Support business processesDynamics 365
Flow and PowerApps (AI Builder)
Knowledge ManagementStream (with recordings)
Teams (wiki feature)
SharePoint Online

I would start with Microsoft Teams to support teamwork in many different variations. SharePoint would be used for document management and could be used as a central information share (e. g. an intranet) while Yammer could connect the people in open communities.

Main purpose of the Office 365 services

Each tool has a dedicated purpose and related strengths and weaknesses. I share a list of the main services in Office 365 which you may extend with future services or some services I don’t consider at the moment.

ToolHow does this tool support collaboration?
Exchange Onlinee-mail communication
shared inbox and group calendar
Skype for Businessinstant messaging
video conferencing / meetings
Teamsinstant messaging
video conferencing / meetings
workspaces for teamwork
integration of additional tools into a workspace
Yammercorporate network and open communities
external networks
OneDrive for Businessmanage and share personal documents
offline functionality for documents
SharePointdocument management
workspaces for teamwork
social intranet
Streamknowledge management (recordings, videos)
OneNotenotes and documentation
knowledge management
Plannermanage tasks
project management light
To-Domanage personal tasks
Projectproject management
resource planning
Swayinformation management (especially presenting information)
Dynamics 365support business processes
Power Automatesupport business processes
integration of external systems/applications
Power Apps (with AI Builder)support business processes with custom forms and mobile applications and forms processing
Security and Compliance Centercorporate policies (retention, compliance, governance)
handle GDPR requests
permission management
Create your custom checklist for your collaboration project!
I use the basic questions and the standard checklist for most of my projects and workshops but every company has some different needs and use cases. Use this material as a blueprint and create your own checklist with your use cases and your first tool selection and then follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Define the purpose of your collaboration platform
  • Step 2: Identify the main use cases you want to support
  • Step 3: Check which tools/services fit best for your use cases and choose as few as possible
  • Step 4: Think big, but start small!
Please don’t forget to involve the end users during the whole process and ask for their feedback. The feedback will help you to build a custom collaboration platform for your company. And keep in mind that after the launch of the platform you should implement a champions program to develop your platform and to adjust it to future requirements.

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