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As Microsoft Teams Adoption Grows, MSPs Can Add Value with Automation

Third-party automation tools help MSPs optimize Teams for clients.

February 2, 2021

5 Min Read
Automation
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By Willie Cash

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Willie Cash

Reliance on Microsoft Teams has increased dramatically in the past year, driven by the sudden shift to remote business operations. As companies around the world seek ways to optimize collaboration among employees and boost performance of their newly dispersed workforce, Teams has become one of the primary tools.

However, that growth also has spawned a new set of challenges for IT teams working to effectively manage and embrace this relatively new technology. The good news is automated solutions are available to provide a substantial boost in the management of Teams, allowing managed service providers (MSPs) to play a critical role helping clients optimize their Teams environment and solve problems proactively.

Evaluate the Teams Environment

Monitoring a Teams environment requires time and resources that are finite in availability. Automated Teams assessments allow MSPs to efficiently manage their client’s Teams environment with increased visibility and control.

Starting with a baseline assessment, MSPs can set a regular cadence of automated reports to assess trends in usage and adoption, unused teams and channels, and security policies. This level of insight across the Teams environment enables valuable conversations with clients. It presents an opportunity to add value by offering best practices, training and change management services, as well as opportunities to improve the Teams environment based on findings from the assessments. This can be a crucial step toward ensuring optimized usage.

Manage sprawl: Teams sprawl happens over time as users within companies create new teams and channels, while older ones become inactive or abandoned as needs change. This can result in a disorganized Teams environment and raise security concerns as sensitive files languish in unused channels. It also taxes what is a limited amount of storage space within Teams. Using an automation tool to consolidate channels, MSPs can easily decommission, delete or archive old channels, keeping their client’s environment in check.

Copy and merge channels: Speaking of sprawl, there is often a need to consolidate or archive channels. Common scenarios include an internal reorganization, a company merger, or the need to convert a private channel to public as a project evolves. The ability to copy and merge channels isn’t available natively within Teams, despite it being one of the top-requested features on Microsoft’s Teams forum, with more than 20,000 users requesting this functionality. As a result, users must merge channels manually by creating a new channel and copying and pasting the content between channels. By leveraging third-party automation tools, MSPs can help their customers easily copy and merge channel content, including the history and all related details, from one channel to another. Automating this process reduces manual work, saving time and reducing the chances of errors.

Conduct ongoing maintenance: To effectively maintain an optimized environment, assessments need to happen regularly. An important capability for ongoing maintenance is the ability to schedule automated reports and assessments. With scheduling, this routine but important work isn’t at risk of being delayed or overlooked as more pressing work is prioritized. Using an automation tool with the capability to schedule and deliver this work on a regular cadence is incredibly valuable to MSPs, as it gives them one less thing to worry about. It eliminates manual intervention, enabling them to save time and reduce costs, while delivering an essential service to their clients.

Drive adoption strategies: One of the challenges with implementing Teams is getting end users to adopt the new technology. An automated adoption report that tracks usage over time is a valuable tool MSPs can use to help their clients drive adoption and achieve the best possible return on investment. These reports provide a detailed view of individual users and insight into adoption across the organization. For example, reports can identify users or departments who use Teams the least and could benefit from training services. Or reports can highlight when the leader of a team isn’t using the technology and may be contributing to low adoption among their team members, indicating a need for change management services.

You can also set up automated reports to allow the leadership of a client company to have instant access to the same insights as the MSP partner to help manage Teams adoption internally. This enables a more integrated relationship, adding value to the client and reinforcing the value of the partner.

Track usage over time: Additionally, the ability to track usage over time can help MSPs demonstrate their value to clients. While some usage data is only retained by Microsoft for 30 days, automated solutions can help MSPs capture and aggregate data. These metrics can then be displayed visually with trends lines for greater insights. Having this level of instant access across the client’s Teams environment enables MSPs to proactively address customer pain points and add value long term.

While companies continue to optimize their remote operations with technology such as Teams to enable collaboration, having the support of a trusted partner is essential. With the help of third-party automation tools, MSPs can keep their client’s Teams environment in top shape and identify opportunities to offer valuable services to support their ongoing needs.

Willie Cash is the general manager of Voleer Americas at BitTitan. He works with SMB and enterprise partner companies to identify and implement effective ways to drive solutions, grow revenue and increase profits in their day-to-day businesses by leveraging technologies like Microsoft Teams, Microsoft 365 and more. Learn more about Voleer here. You may follow Cash on LinkedIn or @Voleer on Twitter.

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