Microsoft Teams for Project Management
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE
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The number of organizations using Microsoft Teams is steadily growing and the need to understand how to use the platform in the most efficient way is increasing accordingly.
Microsoft Teams is changing the game for project managers. Considering the involvement of multiple players in the project management process, and its complexity that especially increased in recent years due to the rise of remote work, project management teams now more than ever require a solution that will allow them to:
Microsoft Team has numerous capabilities that enable them to achieve just that and more. Its tech team is constantly working on upgrading its products, answering new needs of its customers.
To help you better understand how you can use the platform for project management to its full capacity we have prepared for you Microsoft Teams for Project Management: Ultimate Guide, where we put together all you need to know to successfully manage projects and your team.
Table of Contents
Project management challenges that Microsoft Teams can solve
Project management comes with its challenges, and the project manager’s job is to successfully overcome them and deliver the best result. Luckily, there are various tools and methodologies out there that can help you address most of them.
Let’s walk through the key project management challenges that Microsoft Teams can help you with.
Challenge #1 Stakeholder alignment
Project management always involves a lot of people. Besides internal stakeholders that include the project team, managers, and executives, you also have external stakeholders. These are your customers, suppliers, contractors, investors, vendors, etc.
Aligning all of these different stakeholders can be a real challenge. You don´t want to play the broken telephone and send the same message separately to everyone involved in the project. You need to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the project’s progress without having to mediate between different parties.
Microsoft Teams allows you to do just that. You can bring together different teams, departments, and even third-party members and create a single workspace for them where you can communicate and collaborate together.
Challenge #2 Lack of communication
Lack of communication is always at the top of the challenges faced by project managers. It comes as no surprise since poor communication can cause major project delays and cost overruns.
It often happens that different stakeholders involved in a project work in silos – i.e., without sharing important updates and results of their work with the entire team.
To address this challenge, you can leverage several Microsoft Teams capabilities that foster working in the open. By following best practices of the use of Teams you will make sure your team will always have the right information available to them at any moment for further reference.
Challenge #3 Knowledge management
Oftentimes, there’s not enough knowledge sharing after the project has been completed. Meanwhile, all the insights – both victories and failures – can be lessons to learn from for future projects.
Knowledge management is key for efficient project management as it allows to develop best practices and reference points for project teams. With Microsoft Teams you can address this challenge and create a knowledge library where you can keep all important documentation.
Challenge #4 Data Management
Project teams work with tons of different data and keeping it structured and organized can be tricky. If not handled properly, it can lead to a total mess in your data storage. As a result, navigating and searching for the right documentation can turn into Mission Impossible. Due to these inefficiencies, you lose precious time that is of key importance in project management. And then, the productivity goes down along with team efficiency.
Microsoft Teams and its seamless integration with SharePoint, OneDrive and other Microsoft products can help you better manage your data while ensuring its security.
Challenge #5 Adherence to project management guidelines
Any team that works on projects has a set of project management guidelines with detailed instructions and steps to follow. You collect all the best practices, build the guidelines, and share them with your team, provide them with all the necessary tools that automate certain process and administrative tasks to make sure they focus entirely on the project.
Still, the guidelines are not always followed, and you get stuck with old practices that slow down the project management process.
You can solve this challenge with Microsoft Teams that allows you to translate your project management guidelines into an actionable plan that your team can easily follow.
Challenge #6 On budget, on time
This is the goal of any project manager – complete the project on budget, on time. There are many reasons why things can go wrong and cause project delays and additional costs. However, if the reasons lie in silo working, miscommunication, lack of accountability and collaboration failure – this is something Microsoft Teams can help you solve.
Due to its seamless integration with other native and 3rd party tools you can use Microsoft Teams to communicate and collaborate with absolutely anyone, no matter what platform they use – even if they are not Teams users themselves. You can connect task management apps to make sure everyone knows what they are assigned to do. Additionally, with Teams all the conversations stay documented, allowing to enforce accountability of everyone involved in the project.
How to use Microsoft Teams for project management
Now let’s delve deeper into Microsoft Teams use cases for project management and some of the platform’s capabilities that can help you solve aforementioned challenges.
Align your project team with all the parties involved
Depending on the type of the organization you’re working at and the projects you run, there’s a variety of different teams you can have.
You may want to have an org-wide team, a team per department, a team for all the people involved in project management, teams per client and teams per project.
Since our main focus is managing projects with Microsoft Teams, we’ll stop at the project team. This is a separate workspace that you create for a specific project and where you and your team are working on.
You might want to have specific naming rules for your teams to make it easy for your users to navigate through them. The name can include your project’s location, name of the client, name of the project manager, etc.
For this example, let’s call our team Project – Alpha – Austin.
Example of a project management team
Here are some channels that we can build for this team:
Steering Committee 🔗 Create a shared channel where you would invite the members of the steering committee, including your client, partners, and other external stakeholders to communicate on project strategy, the course of the project and its progress.
Budget 🔒 You can also build a private channel accessible only to certain team members where you can discuss sensitive information such as budget, legal matters, and others.
Planning. You may want to dedicate one channel to all the planning work. Here you will discuss project milestones, add tasks, and coordinate activities among the project team for timely project completion.
Quality. Have focused discussions about quality control, audit, compliance, and regulations. You can make this a shared channel, if needed, where you can talk with your suppliers and contractors.
Resources. Create a separate space for communicating around all the resources required for the project: building materials, equipment, vehicles, immovables, etc.
Execution. You can have a channel dedicated entirely to the execution process as well as other stages of the project management.
Reporting. It can be a good idea to have a channel where you will collaborate and communicate with your team about reports. This way, you will have a dedicated space around this subject, making it easier for everyone to store and search for the right files.
Closure. Use this channel to work on the project close and the follow-up actions such as getting and analyzing feedback, preparing best practices, etc.
Hold video meetings
One of the great ways to stay in touch with the project team is through video calling. You can use Teams mobile app to hold meetings even on the go so that you’re always up to date.
With Teams meetings you can organize brainstorming sessions with Whiteboard. This app allows the entire team to add their notes and ideas in real-time while having a meeting just like an actual white board. Share the results of your work later on with the entire team through channel posts.
You can also turn on live captions during meetings. This can be especially useful if there’s some language barrier between the participants. Additionally, you may record your meetings and then share them, for example, with those who couldn’t attend but would like to stay up to date with the course of the meeting.
To keep all your meetings organized and let your team see all the upcoming meetings, you can add Channel calendar tab to your team’s channels – for example, in Steering Committee. Add recurring weekly meetings and the members of the channel will always know when a new meeting is coming.
Promote knowledge and expertise sharing
Microsoft offers a variety of products that allow effective knowledge sharing and interactive communication within an organization. Even if you have branches all over the planet, you can still connect all your employees working in the same field who would otherwise never know about each other.
With Yammer you can create a Project Management Community that will bring together all the experts as well as newly hired project managers.
With Yammer you can create a Project Management Community that will bring together all the experts as well as newly hired project managers.
They can use this space to share their experience and ask for advice. This way, you can leverage internal knowledge and even save resources on consulting services.
Another way of keeping everyone informed and engaged is through Viva Connections. It gathers all the information employees need in the dashboard: internal news, resources, and data from other applications they use daily. In this way, they won’t need to switch between apps and will always have all the information they need ready at hand. Viva Connections allows to connect content and conversations across the company. All the information relevant to your employees is easily accessible.
A team for knowledge sharing
Additionally, you can create a dedicated team for knowledge and expertise sharing. You can do it just for project management where you will invite only those employees working in the field or it can be open to anyone in the company.
Note that currently the number of people in a team cannot exceed 25,000 users.
This team can be your knowledge depository. Like this, everyone has a space where they can share anything they have to say, find useful information, and ask for advice. Here are some channel name examples for this team:
Safely store and share your data
With Microsoft Teams and its seamless integration with SharePoint you can safely store, share, and collaborate on documents while keeping them structured and easily accessible.
By default, each time you create a team in Microsoft Teams, its own SharePoint site is created as well. This is where all the information you share through channel conversations and upload in Files tab is stored.
Let’s see how you can effectively work on documents for project management.
A library per project
You can use your team’s own SharePoint site as your project’s library. Each channel within your team has a dedicated folder in that site. Make sure to create relevant folders in each channel and upload or create new files accordingly so that all data is stored in a structured way. Whenever you need to share a specific file with other, you can simply copy the link to it and paste it in a conversation.
Here are some examples of files and folders that you can share and work on together with your team in Teams.
A communication site for project management
At the same time, you can create a knowledge repository for all of your projects that each project team will have access to. You can do that through Communication sites in SharePoint. Your Project Management Communication site can gather all the finalized documentation from each project team created in Microsoft Teams. It may also contain other information such as company news, articles, useful resources, etc.
Create the site and add it as a tab in the relevant channel of each project team. Everyone who has access to it can equally contribute, upload documentation, and share updates.
You may also want to create a form in Microsoft Forms and ask you project team to submit finalized documentation and corresponding details in the form directly. With a Power Automate flow you can make sure it’ll end up in your Communication site. You can learn how to do it here.
Translate your project management playbook into Microsoft Teams
Adherence to project management guidelines and lack of accountability are some of the key project management challenges we outlined in the first chapter.
Microsoft Teams allows you to digitalize your playbook, make it easily accessible and visible to everyone as well as translate it into actionable tasks assigned to your team.
Guidelines in SharePoint
SharePoint can be your organizational knowledge repository. Use it to translate your written guidelines into a digital playbook. Then, add it as a tab in the right channel to all your project management teams. Adding it as a tab increases its visibility and ensures easy access to essential information.
Project tasks in Planner
You can also create tasks for your project teams that correspond to the steps outlined in the playbook. Planner is a perfect tool for that. Separate the tasks into project stages – these would be your buckets in the plan, for example:
White Paper: Microsoft Teams for Project Management
Learn how to successfully manage projects in Teams. Each time you start a new project, get a new team with the same structure, pre-built set of tasks, and all essential content
Then, add required steps for each stage of the project implementation and specify details. For instance, you can add checklists, timeframe, and level of priority; attach links and files, leave notes, and assign tasks to the right people in your team. In this way, no task will be abandoned, and everyone will be clear about their responsibilities.
Organizing projects with Lists
Another way to organize your projects and encourage your team to adhere to project management guidelines is by leveraging Microsoft Lists. This tool allows you to structure all your data and processes. There are various templates you can choose from: issue tracker, event itinerary, asset manager, work progress tracker, and others.
Let’s take Work progress tracker list to organize project management activities. This way, you can use Lists as a task management tool. There you can list all the tasks your team should complete and customize it with necessary fields such as:
You can also add other fields that correspond to the needs of your projects. Then, add this list as a tab in your team and have conversations around specific list items right in Teams.
Connect your tools
Project teams collaborate with various stakeholders throughout the day through multiple platforms. Oftentimes they need to switch from one platform to another, depending on who they’re communicating with, and then pass the same information through all these platforms to different people.
The good thing about handling project management in Microsoft Teams is that you can integrate your everyday apps in it and collaborate with everyone from a single location without the need to juggle between apps.
You can connect native Microsoft products, third party tools, and your own internal apps with Microsoft Teams and synchronize your process. Additionally, with Power Automate you can create advanced flows to automate some repetitive tasks such as issue tracking, request processing, approvals workflows, notification settings and other.
While Microsoft Teams integration with third party apps can offer limited capabilities, you may opt to adopt additional solutions that can create customized integrations according to your business needs.
Repetitive project management in Microsoft Teams
You created a new team for your project, uploaded all the right documentation for your team to work on, added tabs with important files and apps, including project tasks, and invited the right people to this team. The preparation part is done, you can now start working on the project implementation.
But then a new project comes, and you need to do it all over again. To increase your team efficiency and save time on performing repetitive tasks, you can use Collaboration Templates.
Collaboration Templates allow you to:
The latter includes naming rules for your teams. This capability makes sure the right people get immediately involved in the project as soon as it appears. Thus, you limit access to project management teams only to specific people in the organization.
Here’s how it looks like.
Go to the Template Catalog that contains templates for key business processes in your organization.
Select the Project Management template that was pre-built beforehand. Give it a name, add a description as well as owners and members. Then, click send.
After your request is processed, you project management team will be created within a few moments.
All the channels added at the template level, including its content such as files, folders, tabs with apps, guidelines, and tasks are already there. Additionally, the owners and members assigned while creating the template will be automatically added to new teams.
In this way, you and your team no longer need to start from scratch. You have all the right structure, content, and framework to start working on your new project straight away.
Apps for project management in Microsoft Teams
What makes Microsoft Teams an excellent platform for project management is its capability to seamlessly integrate other tools into its interface.
You can use multiple apps to handle different types of tasks without having to leave your Teams environment.
Here’s a list of apps that can be particularly useful for project management teams.
This is a great tool to manage and collaborate on tasks with your team. Assign them to the right team members and separate them into different buckets that can represent your project stages. With Planner you can set up the priority level for each task, define the timeline, modify its progress status, leave notes and comments and attach links and files. You can also connect your Planner with Outlook so that you always receive notifications about upcoming tasks.
This relatively new Microsoft app helps you keep track of all your data and better organize your work. Lists is a system of records: you can use it to organize your contact base, prepare events, track issues, record all your equipment and hardware, create project management checklists, etc. Through its integration with Teams, you can have conversations around list items, leave comments, @mention team members and even visualize any list with the date column in a calendar view.
Approvals app can save you a lot of time and nerve on the approval process. This is something you can’t do without in project management. All the requests will be properly documented and easily accessible for further reference. You no longer need to send back-and-forth emails requesting a signature or approval, especially if it requires multiple approvers. The app perfectly structures the entire process. You can use it for requesting approvals from anyone in your team. That also includes guest members such as your contractors, partners, or clients.
Use forms to create polls, quizzes, and questionnaires to collect your team’s or client’s feedback, measure their level of satisfaction, share ideas for improvements, etc. You can also use Forms to ask your project team to submit finalized project documentation. With a Power Automate flow you can connect Forms with the right SharePoint library so that all submissions land there directly.
Depending on the level of complexity of the projects your organization handles, you may require third-party project management tools. The good news is that you can connect them with Microsoft Teams so that all you can collaborate with your teams on different projects without having to juggle between platforms.
Here are some apps that can help you manage your projects more efficiently with Teams integration.
Trello allows you to create project boards and cards with all the details required to duly complete tasks: checklists, notes, comments, attachments, timeframes, and assigned team members. To connect it with Teams, just add your Trello board as a new tab in the right channel. You can also set up a flow to receive notifications in Teams each time changes are made in Trello.
You can see all Asana projects, status updates and Portfolios as well as search for the right information directly in Teams without having to leave the platform. You can also create, assign, and view Asana tasks during Teams meeting so you don’t need to switch to your browser.
This visual platform allows you to centralize all your work, processes, tools, and files into one workspace. With Monday.com you can align teams, reduce silos, and keep everyone on the same page across your organization.
You can embed its boards as channel tabs in Microsoft Teams, share and receive updates, and have channel conversations around specific tasks.
With nBold you can build an entire structure for the project management process that you can templatize and then replicate as many times as you need. Translate your Project Management Playbook into a digital workspace with already pre-built spaces for focused discussions, guidelines, tasks, document libraries, and other necessary content and tools. No more starting a new project from scratch – get everything you need to successfully run a project in a few clicks.
You can build a Project Management template with standard, private and shared channels, tabs with apps, uploaded files and folders, and more. In this way, you, as a project manager, can quickly create fully provisioned teams from the Project Management Template with all the required data already in place.
Microsoft Teams for project management: best practices
On top of handling projects, as a manager you also have to manage your team. You need to coordinate their activities, make sure everyone is on the same page, give and receive feedback as well as watch out for burnouts and team conflicts.
Microsoft Teams has numerous capabilities that make it much easier for managers to work with their team. In this chapter we’ll be sharing with you some best practices in Microsoft Teams for project management that you can apply straight away.
Use this tool to make sure your meeting participants are available for the time slot you choose. It allows you to see other team members’ agenda and select the time that suits everyone.
If many people should attend the meeting and you need to agree on the best time slot, you can use Forms to create a survey. Just post it in a channel and let your team members vote. Then, add it to the team’s calendar and share the link.
Alternatively, some meetings can easily be emails instead. Or, since we’re working in Teams, a detailed channel post or announcement. Mention the right groups of people, deliver your message, and ask your team to share their thoughts and ideas.
Use OneNote during meetings to record important information. OneNote is great for taking meeting minutes and then sharing them with the entire team. Hence no task or decision that you agreed on during the meeting will be forgotten.
If you need to have a virtual brainstorming session, Whiteboard is an excellent tool that can help you with that. Use it the same way you would use a regular whiteboard: draw, write, add stickers, and record your ideas. Everyone can contribute in real-time – the tool is as interactive as it can get.
Many will agree that we’re often overwhelmed with meetings. And sometimes they are not even necessary, at least for some of the participants. To make sure this doesn’t happen, have a clear meeting agenda, keep your meetings as short as possible and make sure only required participants are involved.
If needed, you can record the meeting and then share the recording and transcripts with the rest of the team who didn’t participate.
On top of your responsibilities as a manager, you have lots of other duties. So, without a clear agenda for the day/week/month you can easily get lost with all the tasks you need to complete.
We recommend using OneNote as a personal organizer. Make a list of daily tasks or things you need to complete during the week. There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to ‘check’ all the things you have planned.
If needed, you can record the meeting and then share the recording and transcripts with the rest of the team who didn’t participate.
For team task management you can use Planner or 3rd party project management tools listed above. Add the app as a tab in the right channel, prepare tasks and assign them to your team members. Thus, no task will be abandoned, and everyone will be on the same page regarding the next steps.
Translate your Project Management Playbook into guidelines that you can build in a SharePoint site. Then, pin it as a tab to a relevant channel in your team to make sure everyone has an easy and quick access to it.
To facilitate information search and make sure everyone in your team has easy access to key information, consider creating a space where you can share it with your team. For example, it can be a Wiki tab in the General channel of your team. Use it to add FAQs, share best practices, instructions, links to useful resources, etc.
Onboarding new hires
A team per new hire
One of the key responsibilities of a manager is to help a new hire successfully onboard and form a part of the team. It helps when the onboarding process is structured and pre-defined. We recommend creating a team for each new hire where you’ll be able to share all the necessary information and communicate.
Use Planner to organize the onboarding process. Think of all the aspects of work new hires need to master – these will be the buckets for your tasks. Then, create all the needed tasks, add checklists, and attach files and links to each task.
Provide your new team members with all the resources they need to onboard as quickly as possible. You can share useful web pages, training videos, articles, handbooks, and other content.
Maintaining work-life balance
There are times when we feel overwhelmed with work. And when the project deadline is coming up and there’s still lots to do, we all stay till late to finish everything in time. However, when it’s not critical, it is important to disconnect and not to bring work home to avoid burnouts.
To keep track of your employees’ wellbeing you can leverage Viva Insights. They will give you an idea about how well your team is doing and give recommendations if you need to take action.
You can also encourage your team to set up quiet hours and quiet days in your notifications settings in order not to get disturbed after work.
Being the hub for teamwork in Office 365, Microsoft Teams is a perfect collaboration and communication platform. It offers multiple capabilities that help project teams be more efficient, organized and coordinated as well as empower them to drive better business results.
Talk to our team to find out how you can streamline your project management with Microsoft Teams and achieve operational excellence on every project.