How Microsoft Teams is Perfect for Agile Projects

Collaboration and flexibility are key tenets of Agile.  Many Agile practitioners once believed in order achieve collaboration and flexibility, a team needed to be face-to-face.  Reasons sited were that colocation means more ad hoc conversations, more communication, and therefore more collaboration.  Now modern tools exist that allow teams to communicate as openly and easily as shouting over a cube wall.  One of those tools is Microsoft Teams.

Open and persistent communications.  With Microsoft Teams, you can create a Team for your project with access given to your development team, scrum master, product owner, and even key stakeholders.  You can create channels, such as a channel for the development team, where team  members can openly discuss issues and solutions.  I’ll even argue that a persistent chat in a team channel is BETTER than face-to-face communication since others who may not have been present for the conversation can later see what was said, as well as having a record or place to go back and grab that link you forgot to look at.

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Important discussion about the product backlog, obviously

Schedule meetings and provide content.  From within my project Team, I can create meeting invites for my daily scrums, my sprint planning meetings, the sprint reviews, and sprint retrospectives.  For meetings like the sprint review, I can invite an entire channel so anyone may attend.  I could add everyone to the review meeting individually, but it takes a long time and I might forget someone.  Plus, once I’ve created the meeting in Teams, a chat is automatically and immediately created for that meeting (meaning we can chat before the meeting), where the team can discuss agenda items, or post links to documents or other content.  Lastly, scheduling the meeting from Teams, generates your online meeting, complete with chat, voice, and screen sharing.

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File Sharing.  Each channel can have it’s own file sharing.  This helps reduce time wasted looking for where that wireframe for the user story was saved, as well as allowing the team to generate conversation around a given file.

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Integration with other tools.  Just one example of integration with other tools is Visual Studio Team Services and your product backlog into your team. From within your development team channel (or channel of your choosing), you can update backlog tasks, and of course, maintain a persistent chat about items.  The Product Owner and the development team can quickly access the backlog from directly inside Teams.

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And more.  That’s really just the tip of the iceberg of how Microsoft Teams works great with an Agile framework.  I hope to start sharing more tips in the future!

4 comments

  1. Thanks for posting this, Kathy. I’ve been using Teams for 5-6 months, but not quite as fully as you (mail migration is still pending). I’ve found it to be mostly a good solution, but the lack of exposure of functionality in the Teams container (SharePoint and Planner features in particular) really hamstrings its utility. Have you found the same?

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    • I’m not sure what you mean. We have/use SharePoint and Planner inside of Teams. My only complaint so far is that Planner isn’t yet available to external guests in the team. Other than that, no issues. For SharePoint, the documents folders are linked (synched?) so that when you drop a file in a conversation, it’s also viewable in SharePoint. Other than that I haven’t tried to do too much with SharePoint inside Teams. What is it you’re trying to do that you can’t?

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      • For me (and even more so for my colleagues), adding something useful like basic tagging metadata to documents/files is doable in SharePoint – but isn’t exposed in Teams. You get basic SharePoint in teams, and that’s about it. Same for versioning – not exposed in the Teams interface. I know the Graph search mitigates a lot of that, but coming from a “tag everything” mentality, that’s a tough usability hurdle to clear for many.

        For Planner, there some options (like charting) that again aren’t exposed in Teams. I think there are a few other things like that, but escape me at the moment.

        If Teams is supposed to be the “go-to” interface for collaboration (and by all accounts, that’s the direction), then asking users to open & manage multitudes of browser tabs/windows to view all of these “integrated” products won’t work. I think it’s a very interesting tool, just not quite fully baked yet.

        External access in general continues to be an issue because of the way Microsoft does their licensing (it’s why we’ll be using Slack for some time, because it’s far easier to do there). I know they’ve made strides there, but still a way to go until external users to be able to collaborate. Saw a similar Twitter thread for Connections this evening – easy external access for collaboration is increasing as a must have requirement.

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      • Ah I get what you’re saying. Even though I use Teams daily and for much of my work, I haven’t had the need to use SharePoint or Planner as you are. We use VSTS a lot, which can be embedded, but I do tend to use that separately. If I’m seriously collaborating on a document with others, again, I’ll go straight to SharePoint. And I really don’t use Planner all that much because of the external user issue. And totally agree with your point on external users. I know Gab Davis had a post about this as learned there should be more availability for external users any time now.

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