Communications Blog • 9 MIN READ

Enhancing your UC performance with Microsoft Teams monitoring

Skip Chilcott

Written by Skip Chilcott

Early this fall Microsoft announced that 125,000 organizations in 181 markets use Microsoft Teams, its group-chat tool that competes against Slack. That's up from 30,000 organizations in 145 markets at the beginning of this year.

Clearly, Teams usage is making inroads with the enterprise. And it's doing so because within Office 365 this is a new way for users to get communicating and collaborating. It enables teams within organizations to work faster and use their time more effectively. With the Microsoft Teams service, users can pivot their communications channels by project and topic, instead of by people and meetings.

What Benefits can you Expect from Microsoft Teams?

The chat element to Microsoft Teams is a helpful capability for users when working on projects or discussing certain topics among team members. Anybody who has ever used Slack or another team chat service knows how useful this is. Teams also allows you to aggregate related content from other sources for inclusion in your Teams channel. So, instead of forcing users move SharePoint document libraries, OneNote notes, OneDrive files, or other Office 365 content, Microsoft Teams allows them to just add a pointer to it from within the team channel. And you can do the same for content accessed through third-party applications like Asana for project/task management.

With real-time voice/video calling and online meetings via Skype for Business integrated into the Teams experience, you can instantly start a scheduled or ad-hoc video conference, online meeting, or 1:1 call with others actively working on the same project/topic. Real-time communications in the context of the project or topic, where most people spend a great deal of their time, is a great way to change the paradigm for success and team productivity.

Using Teams requires a new way of thinking and organizing, and I've personally now created all my teams and topic channels in Teams for product launches, campaigns, content project teams, and more. I've also added all the related supporting content like project plans, document libraries, meeting notes, action lists, etc. Adding the virtual team meetings that we have several times per week, plus ad-hoc virtual discussions with people I see in the project space, has definitely resulted in a more productive way to work.

Since Teams is a fully cloud-based solution, the move to the cloud is seamless. Being able to search for and access information from anywhere on any device is a huge benefit for any business, allowing users the benefits of big data processing and artificial intelligence to work smarter.

Is your Network Provisioned Sufficiently for Microsoft Teams?

Adding Teams isn't so easy for everyone. One of the greatest challenges that exists in the world of unified communications is maintaining that great user experience. Some organizations aren't prepared for the increased demand on the network that comes with Teams and other tools that make real-time communications easy to use. If everyone in your organization is suddenly connecting on Teams, which is a cloud-based service, your network may not be able to handle the load. If it can't, everyone stands to have a poor usage experience. The addition of new UC channels like video and chat can put a strain on IT teams if not correctly provisioned for. This can put user productivity and broad adoption in jeopardy. Adding new services means collecting more performance data. Additional data means that organizations need to implement more effective monitoring.

Today's new collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams can be highly effective, yes. But they require a robust network and Wi-Fi to deliver optimal performance that all users will expect. Also, new services need to have the built-in ability to respond to a problem quickly and see the root cause immediately. If you can't clearly see the problem, you can't fix it - or predict when it might happen again. Unfortunately, many organizations are still operating with makeshift legacy networks and using monitoring and troubleshooting tools cobbled together by IT teams over a period of many years.

Does that describe your organization? Don't worry, it's not all doom and gloom. You can implement a leading-edge UC tool like Microsoft Teams as long as you take the proper steps to prepare first. Before you get started deploying a new full-featured UC and collaboration solution, you must ensure that your network is optimized to cope with the demands of vigorous, real-time communications.

Efficient Microsoft Teams monitoring is as easy as deploying the use of a leading third party monitoring tool. IR's solutions include world class performance management and analytics tools for enterprise communications,and collaboration.

Prepare your Network Before Deploying Microsoft Teams

You must prepare in advance of deployment. Sounds obvious. But many organizations still fail to assess their network environment prior to roll out and adoption. Only after the roll out do they discover that their network can't handle the new demands.

They've got their shiny new collaboration tool, but they've also got a poor user experience. They've got jitter, echo, and latency. They've got dropped calls, garbled communications, and speakers who sound like they're six feet underwater. This doesn't make for the best user experience.

You can do better. You can get started by pre-assessing your infrastructure thoroughly, so you can find those potential performance issues for voice, video, and desktop sharing before users have a bad experience. With Microsoft Teams, users are connecting to the cloud. So, you must test your network connections between sites and up to the cloud edge points to ensure readiness and quality for successful user adoption. Network assessments also provide you with the visibility you need to quickly identify the weak points and trouble spots in your already-complicated network configurations.

Be Proactive: Monitor Microsoft Teams

After you roll out a tool like Teams, you need proactive Microsoft Teams monitoring. Assessment of your infrastructure is vital, as is managing the user experience all day, every day. Proactive monitoring, data collection and usage analytics is critical, because your network is always evolving just like user collaboration and any communications services. If you don't monitor and constantly assess usage after Microsoft Teams deployment and throughout the life-cycle of your new solution, your teams will have a less than acceptable user experience.

When you're proactively monitoring the quality and performance of your communications, you're in a position to troubleshoot issues and isolate problems before they can impact the user experience. This means that your workers and teams are more efficient - and your company is more productive across the board.

Every great structure rests on a solid foundation. Before you use your new UC tool, whether it happens to be Microsoft Teams or some other solution, you must make sure that your network can support it. And you must constantly monitor your network to ensure the efficient functioning of your UC tool. Do these things and you'll put your organization on the path to a prosperous digital transformation.

Common Microsoft Teams usage problems

Sometimes the addition of a UC service can create problems or usage issues within your communications environment. Microsoft Teams for example, may not be working properly for your users. Here are some of the common problems:

Messages and threads - one of the most common issues relates to not being able to see the latest messages or threads

Webcam or microphone - nothing is more frustrating than your webcam or audio not functioning properly during a call. If this is the case, the issue could likely be a hardware usage problem with your webcam or microphone itself. 

Teams keeps freezing - another frustrating usage issue which usually requires force-quitting the app.

Failure to receive notifications - If you’re not properly receiving notifications for certain things in Teams, then it could be something to do with your app settings.

Consistent monitoring can help to prevent, predict or troubleshoot all the problems associated with any UC service. At the end of the day, the aim is to ensure that all users have a great experience.

Microsoft Teams monitoring: Key takeaways

User satisfaction

User satisfaction is highly dependent on Microsoft Teams performance, whether you…

  • Send an instant message,
  • Use a channel to upload or download a document or post a message,
  • Search for users, or check their presence,
  • Use Teams to perform all your internal and external calls and hold web meetings.

So, to get the highest level of performance, Microsoft Teams monitoring is essential. This is where IR's solutions can help ensure a consistent positive user experience with higher up-time, faster problem resolution and a solid level of satisfaction.

Smooth deployment of Microsoft Teams

Because MS Teams consumes a lot of network and bandwidth capabilities, you want to make sure that all your sites can handle the load to provide the expected Microsoft Teams performance. Two important steps: First, deployment must go smoothly, then you can enter the adoption phase. To ensure that these steps happen, it's essential to continuously monitor the end user experience. With IR’s solutions you can test your route to the cloud as well as the end user experience before deployment to users. This way you can spot any critical service delivery issues before you onboard the users.

Continuous Teams monitoring can prevent unexpected issues and delays, for example you can see if adding users to a site is degrading the quality of service.

Monitoring ensures Microsoft Teams security

While Microsoft Teams is a powerful tool for supporting cross-functional and cross-organizational collaboration for users, its openness raises concerns about security. Unfettered file and data sharing between an unlimited number of users can present IT professionals with security challenges. With the Microsoft Teams' open permissions model it means that users can add apps, tabs, bots or connectors that potentially open the door to improper transfer of sensitive information to external third parties. While Microsoft Teams does have its own built-in security features, data leakage, data life cycle management and other issues can all be proactively addressed with consistent monitoring and troubleshooting tools using leading third party monitoring tools.

Topics: Communications Microsoft - Teams - Skype

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