12 Days of Microsoft Teams | Day 3

How MS Teams Replaced Outlook at PixelMill

Welcome to Day 3 of PixelMill’s ’12 Days of Microsoft Teams’ series! Today we offer a story of a scrappy fighter from Davis, CA took a big leap and how it paid off. Enjoy!

Over a year ago, PixelMill dove head first into Microsoft Teams and we haven’t looked back. A lot has changed in a year, but one welcome constant remains; PixelMill is nearly email free (internally that is). Gone are the days of sifting through email chains, the dreaded reply-all fails, dropping important members out of conversations, and working off the wrong version of documents.

Why did we do it?

Things get lost in an email inbox, easily and often. It’s difficult to remember who is on a thread and people often get removed (intentionally or intentionally) from important conversations. Multiple versions of important documents were being sent causing a lot of unnecessary heartache.


How did we do it?

  • Choose and commit

We chose Teams for many reasons, but one of the most significant deciding factors was because of its deep integrate with Microsoft 365, in particular Office 365. We had been actively using Slack, and although it’s a useful tool, it did not have the integration points we wanted. Once we chose the platform, we agreed as an executive team to fully embrace and commit to the change.

  • Rip off the Band-Aid

Besides cutting off Slack, as well as finalizing migration to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, we knew we had to stop using the other duplicate tools to effectively activate the Teams potential. Skype, Outlook, Dropbox, and GoToMeeting have their time and place in our governance but are near extinction in our day-to-day use.

  • Set your goals and ground rules

To effectively adopt this new platform, we had to define how our organization planned to use it and clearly illustrate our goals (one of which included ‘reduce the quantity of emails). We knew we wouldn’t have all the answers or perfect governance from the start, but you can’t play a game without any rules. We began with a loose living governance document that we updated weekly to ensure we were following practices that made us more effective.

Initial governance included how Teams and Channels would be defined and named, guidelines on when to create a new team or channel, and how best to organize tabs and files. Each week we discussed what was working and what wasn’t working as a team and adapted our governance until we got to a place that worked for the collective.

Today, we have a Best Practices governance document that all departments follow. Individual department governance documents outline department specific use cases, including specifics on when to use email vs. Teams as well as when a conversation should be in “chat” vs. a channel’s conversation thread.

  • Be the change you want to see in the world

Leaders, we’re talking to you. Your employees are watching to see if you do what you say—so, do what you say. It’s really that simple. If you should send a message in Teams vs. Email, do that. If you see a conversation in email that should be in Teams, move the discussion. Lead by example and follow your governance. After all, if your governance is thoughtful and strategized you should want to follow your own rules. That being said, you should open to feedback. The team will be much more likely to adopt governance of a tool that they feel they’re part of.

  • Foster champions for change

It’s crucial to have Team advocates throughout your organization that can help encourage adoption. For example, when someone emails you outside the Team environment, your team should feel empowered to kindly direct them to Teams to finish the conversation. If you see someone not following governance, help them get back on track—nip those unhealthy habits in the bud.


What does the future hold?

Our goal is to be as e-mail free as possible, so we’ve begun taking the next step in the process—moving client conversations from email to Teams; thanks external sharing! Once a project launches we use an externally shared team to communicate with clients throughout the project process. This is also a great way for clients to get a solid hands-on introduction to Teams.


Would you like freedom from a congested email inbox? Chat with a PixelMill team member today and learn how we can help you unlock the power of Teams.

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