VOSS Solutions

Staying on Top of Your Microsoft Teams Service

Tim Jalland, Solution Manager (Microsoft Teams), VOSS

In a recent blog post, I commented on how Microsoft Teams has played its part in supporting organizations as they cope with uncertainty and change over the last 12 months – accelerating remote and home working and driving the need for robust and usable collaboration tools. I also commented on how to stay on top of delivering such a service. Organizations are now highly dependent on Microsoft Teams and the old saying of Cloud First has become Cloud NOW!

Customers are asking, demanding that control and administration of their Microsoft Teams service is at their fingertips: self-service management. They will no longer tolerate logging calls with a service desk and waiting for a request to be actioned at some future time. Delivering this across a myriad of components, configuration data and connectors in a typical Microsoft Teams deployment is not as straightforward as you may think, as you can see from the diagram below.

Central to getting self-service management working is the concept of digitizing the service delivery process (#DigitalServiceDelivery) – to do away with manual systems, disparate portals, non-integrated systems, duplication of data and the need for highly skilled technical staff to operate and manage the service.
Here are my thoughts – a checklist – on what to look for in a solution:

  1. One (non-technical) portal – a single place for fast and immediate access to implement configuration changes and raise service requests – but with comprehensive RBAC controls, menu selection, branding, data visibility and audit logs to ensure its robustness in light of the various types of administrators, users, departmental managers and personas that will make use of it.
  2. Multi-step workflows underpinned with automation, and with the flexibility to present full controls to technical staff, whilst streamlining and hiding the complexity of the underlying operations for staff involved in the day-to-day operations and change management functions. Do not forget to ask about a rollback facility if a particular request goes astray and for detail in the transaction/audit log to track changes.
  3. Integration – particularly with regard to reporting, billing and expense management systems –so that self-service can offer the widest range of options, including items that may result in a charge to the service bill. It also ensures that you will be accurately billed based on services requested and consumed.
  4. A full range of drivers to support each of the application sub-components that make up the service – so that configuration data can be managed through one portal but then deployed across a range of disparate but working together components. The minimum set should consider REST, Microsoft (PowerShell, Graph), Active Directory, Browser Support (for those systems without APIs) and Cisco/Avaya (for migrating users from these existing systems or operating in hybrid during an orderly transition).
  5. APIs – it may well be that customers choose to integrate self-service with their existing systems and processes, ServiceNow being one of the most popular, allowing service requests to be raised through this route. You will require a comprehensive REST API to provide the flexibility to meet the requirements of the different systems involved.
  6. Planning for the future – as systems evolve, so will self-service requirements, and it is critical that any solution can respond dynamically and without the need to revert to traditional software development and testing. Can your system be easily adapted and extended through system configuration or not?
  7. An integrated assurance platform that manages quality, end-to-end, across the customer network to and into cloud services, and does not just manage what is happening in the cloud part of the service. This can significantly impact SLAs and quality of service being delivered, and the user and customer experience from the estate.

One final thought – Microsoft Teams is hosted out of Azure. Why not host your management solution alongside it?

Please drop me a line with your thoughts and feedback.