Just over a year ago I wrote a blog about building an intranet with Microsoft Teams (only in Finnish then). Since then Teams, SharePoint and Microsoft 365 ecosystem have evolved in really daunting pace, so I though to wrap up my thoughts about relationship between intranet and Teams, and also challenge my own thoughts from years back.
Intranet – what it is currently?
The role of the intranet as a traditional data drain, centrally from top to bottom begins to be history. There is a multi-channel source of information for end users, which also provides important information (from intranet) to where the user is already (in Teams).
Modern SharePoint has brought a lot of intranet-backed features over the past year. Hub sites, better roll-up capabilities, better news capabilities, and visual enhancements have been the expected improvements. But even these won’t get end-users to actively use intranet. Although intranet is easier to manage, content is easier to produce, and mobile use is just from different galaxy than old SharePoint, people doesn’t come to the intranet front page every day and are not interested in any distant news from the organization.
However, the intranet is still required, and so called intranet content should still remain in the intranet. Content is just consumed in a different way, and it should not be assumed that the traditional intranet site and front page would be the main (and only) place what end-users are using.
Teams adapts to user needs
Integrations between Teams and SharePoint make it possible to make better use of the lists and content in SharePoint as part of Teams. Things will get even better, when full document library experience is included on Files tab. Recently published preview of SharePoint Framework development model enables adding custom SharePoint solutions to Teams tabs.
Each team can customize their experience to suit team’s needs. Channel provide context to conversations and documents. In turn, the user can choose which channels are displayed and what channels are followed actively. The tabs can easily make things available, raise information from external systems, or even raise important intranet news into a tab.
The team can bring notifications to the discussions with connector, for example, from an external task management system.
The organization can help teams in the right direction by providing a team provisioning tool that will duplicate teams from a variety of templates that suit different purposes. The templates include necessary channels and tabs. In templates, you should also consider whether something in your intranet might be included to a channel. You could include at least news on the intranet, frequently used forms of the organization, or business applications with PowerApps.
Teams – user interface to work
I still think that Teams cannot independently act as a intranet platform and that still other Office 365 services and organization’s business applications are required to produce information.
Again, let’s consider this from the end-user, who is consuming services with mobile device, point of view. With the Teams mobile app, the user can access organization’s news and content, can participate to conversations on different channels and process documents. The end-user can quickly see which team he or she is in and what activities are in the team. He or she can participate in team meetings directly from the field on the mobile device and, if necessary, distribute, for example, a video from work currently in progress. In addition, he or she can report, create deviations, manage and document tasks. All this through a single user interface.
Teams is user’s interface to work, where one important content source is the intranet.
We have outlined with Sanna Keränen and Vesa Nopanen what types of content Teams could provide for the employee through the interface to work. Most importantly, users have the tools and content they need for their daily work.