Please find below a highlights from Dharmesh Patel’s session, Leveraging Office 365 and Microsoft Teams for Project Management, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.
What is Microsoft Teams Chat? Microsoft Teams Chat is at the center of everything that Microsoft Teams does on a one-to-one basis, in a group, or in the teams or channels area. Managing communications effectively and efficiently is paramount to project success. An older, but still relevant, article from PMI Institute describes Project communication as the foundation for project success. The PMBOK 7th edition describes how the effectiveness of communication can be influenced by the communication medium. Teams chat is a powerful tool for project management, to ensure effective and efficient communication. Knowing how to use the chat tool in teams optimally will ensure better collaboration and communication between team members and project managers.
Getting Started with Microsoft Teams Chat
The chat panel on the left-hand side allows you to find colleagues to chat with on a one-to-one basis. To create a new chat, simply click on the chat Icon in the left panel, then click the pencil icon to create a new chat. You can then search to add your colleagues, or if you already have an open chat, just click on their name.
When you select a colleague, you can see their status, whether they are online or offline, away or busy. When you send a message to someone who is offline, they will still get the message as soon as they come online. This is the benefit of Persistent chat. It allows you to create topic-specific discussions that are accessible at any time, for anyone with required permissions. It’s important to remember that what you type in these chats is permanent, and visible to everyone who has the required permissions, until the chat is deleted.
Creating a Group Message in Teams Chat
To create a group chat for your project team, click on the contacts dropdown from within the chat tap, then navigate to the bottom of the panel and select Create new contact group. In the pop-up tab, you can then enter the name of your group and click create. Once created, navigate to the group, click on the ellipsis button to the right of the group name, and add new members.
You can also create a group from the search field. To do this type out the names of the project members in the search field that you’d like to add to your group. After you send them a group message, scroll up to the pencil icon next to everyone’s names, and enter the group name, such as “Project Team A”, and click “save” to add a group in MS Teams.
Formatting a message
Next, we will discuss the formatting features when typing a message. To begin typing a message, move your cursor to the field that says “type a new message,” and begin typing.
The current view allows us to enter a single line message, but simply holding down shift+enter allows us to create another line of text.
Now, if you were sending a project status update or you wanted the message to be more enriched when you send it, you have an option right at the bottom to select the text editor. You will see the ribbon at the top, very similar to a lot of the office applications that you use, that contains options to highlight text, change the font, change font size, create bullet points and create links to other pages, to name a few.
Once enriched, and when you are ready, you can then send this message by hitting the “send” arrow. Messages that you send are located on the right-hand side of the screen, and the messages you receive are on the left-hand side.
Emojis and other Chat Functions
Another feature of chat is the ability to respond to messages with emojis. For example, if a project deliverable was completed early, you can respond with a surprising look, which will send a notification showing the author that you are surprised by the message.
Clicking on the ellipsis next to the emojis will allow you to select different options, such as saving a message. If you are in threaded chat, you can reply to a specific message by clicking reply, which allows responding to a specific message. The author of that message will be notified that you have responded to their message.
To access saved chats, you can navigate to the top right of your screen, and click on your profile icon. When you click on “Saved,” it will open a tab on your left-hand side of the screen, displaying all of your saved chats. Clicking on “save chat” will open a thread containing the chat.
Finding a chat in Microsoft Teams Chat
Once you start using chat in teams, the list of messages can add up quickly. You might want to find a message, but can’t remember who exactly sent it. To find a message, click in the search field, and type the word or part of the message you remember. Maybe you only remember the person who said something, and you’d like to find a chat based on that person’s name. You can do this by typing in the person’s name, and selecting chats that they are a part of. Another option is to filter messages by clicking on the filter button and typing.
Sending Urgent Messages
Back in the chat tab, as your list grows, it could be that you want to pin the chat for specific project team members that you work with the most often. You’re able to do that, and make sure that their chat stays at the top of your messages all the time. To pin a message to the top of your chat list, simply hover over the chat, then click on the ellipsis to bring up more options, and select “pin.”
Clicking on the exclamation icon below the text input field brings up the option to send different types of messages. You can send a standard message that will be sent as usual, or you can send an important message that will be marked as important. If it’s really urgent, you can send an urgent message that will notify the recipient every 2 minutes, for 20 minutes.
To add files for collaboration or sharing, simply click on the paper clip icon next to the exclamation mark icon, and choose between uploading the file from your PC, or choosing a file from your OneDrive. Using OneDrive allows you to collaborate with project members in real time.
Let’s use Microsoft Word as an example. To attach a file, make sure you have created or uploaded your document to Microsoft Word in Office 365. Once your file is uploaded, or saved to OneDrive, choose the paperclip icon then select OneDrive. In order to collaborate with the receiver, you need to give them the required permission by selecting one of the options presented in the options section.
Once the person has received the document in chat, they will have the option to open the document either in Teams, Word web client, or Word desktop client. To open in Teams, they will click on the ellipsis, and select Teams to open the document within Teams.
Teams will then open a live view of the document with collaboration tools, such as the comment function. This allows the receiver to type a comment in the comment field, which will automatically update on your side. Like most Office products, the document allows version-controlled editing, meaning that all edits are easily viewable at any time.
To share a document with multiple users you can simply type the names of all those you intend on sharing it with, or share it with a pre-created group, like Project Team A.
Loop components is a new collaboration feature introduced by Microsoft that allows teams to collaborate on components like a table, task list, or paragraph in a live, collaborative way. For example, a loop component can be added to a chat to manage a team’s actionable items. To create a loop component, scroll down to the loop icon below the text input table, and select whichever component you would like to add. In the loop task list example, you can assign tasks to members, and select the due dates.
Scheduling a Meeting in Microsoft Teams Chat
Another feature available right from within team chat is the ability to create a meeting. To create a meeting, simply click on the calendar icon with the + sign and it will open up the meeting planner within Teams chat. From here, you can schedule a meeting for time slots that your team members are available.
You can also create a meeting instantly by selecting the video call button, on the top right, from within the chat of the person you would like to have a meeting with.
Streaming Company Videos
As part of Office 365, you are able to watch corporate videos, if your corporation makes use of Microsoft’s stream services, by clicking on the Streams icon.
Sending Team Praises
Sending praises is a feature that allows colleagues to acknowledge one another by sending them praise. Simply click on the “praise” icon, choose from the range of badges, and even add a message.
Linking to 3rd Party Planning Apps
Lastly, Microsoft Teams Chat allows powerful integration with 3rd party Project Management apps like Jira, Azure DevOps, Power Apps, and many other applications. To link an app simply click on the ellipsis, and either scroll to the desired app, search for it, or click more apps to see a bigger selection of options.
For more about how to use Office 365 Microsoft Teams to enhance Project Management, see our other article in this series: Webinar Highlights: Using Office 365 Microsoft Teams to Enhance Project Management – Teams and Channels and Webinar Highlights: Using Office 365 Microsoft Teams to enhance Project Management – Video and Audio Calls