The Technical Prerequisites for Microsoft Teams for Remote Work

Many organizations have rapidly shifted to remote work. The scope of the shift to remote work varies widely depending on the status of the technology stack at an organization at the beginning of Q1 2020.

For example, here at Sikich and with many of our clients, we are already fully digitally enabled with Microsoft Office 365, including Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, and Teams. Our journey to the Microsoft Cloud has been over the course of many years and in multiple steps. We started with Exchange Online and Skype for Business for email, presence, instant messaging, audio/video/web conferencing, and phone system. We next introduced OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online as a replacement for on-premises file storage to enable modern file storage/synchronization and collaboration.

Microsoft Teams History

We started using Teams in preview as soon as it came out in 2017 and introduced group chat and collaboration quickly as those were new features. We quickly realized the conferencing experience is superior to Skype for Business and added that workload next in our pilot program. That was our status in Q1 2020.

From that strong position, our shift to remote work has consisted mainly of accelerating the rollout of Teams conferencing. We already had end-user and IT knowledge of the tool, so the implementation of additional users has been quick and painless.

This history can be used as a roadmap for any organization. To understand this further, some detailed explanation of Microsoft Teams is helpful.

Teams for Working Remotely

Microsoft Teams is not a marketing rebrand of Skype for Business (like Skype for Business was for Lync). Teams is also different from Skype for Business in that it isn’t really a standalone product as much as it is a browser that ties together AND DEPENDS ON existing Microsoft Office 365 products. Those products are Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive for Business, and Office 365 Groups. Teams depends on Exchange and SharePoint/OneDrive for messages and file storage and Office 365 Groups for security. These dependencies are important to understand because they equate to prerequisites for effectively running Teams in production.

Therefore, the road to Teams for remote work includes deploying an Office 365 tenant with Azure AD Connect and Exchange Online (hybrid with modern versions Exchange on-premises is also supported). Many clients are already in this state and have been waiting to take further advantage of Office 365. Now is a great time to take the next step with Teams. SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business can be effectively deployed as part of a Teams rollout, and Office 365 Groups is part of any Office 365 tenant deployment.

Now that the technical requirements are understood, you can move on to the fun part (real challenge): training, rollout, and adoption. If you have any questions about doing any of this fun part, please contact us at any time!

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