IT Passport: Supporting a Community

The IT Passport campaign’s primary focus is listening to the collaborative needs of groups within our institution, then reacting with appropriate solutions. When we asked about the collaborative challenges our users were facing, we heard that faculty staff and students want to collaborate easily with users outside of our organization, co-author documents within their own groups, build consistent workflows in spite of rotating team members, document processes, reduce the number of ‘reply-all’ email threads, improve videoconferencing and meeting options, have reliable mobile access, and have the opportunity to build communities based on shared interests.

As we looked at IT tools and services that might meet those needs, it became apparent that Microsoft Teamswould be the starting point for IT Passport. Teams is a central collaboration portal with integrations throughout the Office 365 system and far beyond. This means that co-authoring documents produced in Office 365 is a snap. Just upload the file to your Team, and it’s securely stored in a place where everyone on your team can communicate and collaborate about what needs to get done. After we have a large user base in the Teams platform, IT Passport will move on to highlighting exciting integrations and supercharged workflows using other tools and services alongside the Teams platform.

Since we wanted to allow our institution to direct the priorities of the Passport campaign, we have entered into a partnership with Microsoft to provide introductory assistance to selected pilot groups. These groups will allow us to build our own support plan around the specific needs of the WashU community while remaining involved in the ongoing conversation about what works and what doesn’t in real-world applications.

This Microsoft and WashU IT pilot partnership runs through the end of this semester. Our current pilot groups include, MyDay, WashU IT Administration, WUSM Public Affairs, and we are working to identify grant research teams for our final two pilot spots. Nick Smith from Microsoft’s Teams product Team has been onsite at our 4480 Clayton Ave. building delivering training sessions for beginners, advanced users, and IT professionals. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend these sessions. We hope you will help us let people know about the advantages of using the Teams platform for collaboration.

As the Microsoft portion of the pilot program winds down, WashU IT will begin providing guidance to groups as they migrate their collaborations into the Teams platform. Starting next semester, WashU IT will begin promoting the Microsoft Teams platform to users across our university. This is where the fun really begins. All WashU groups using the Teams platform will have the opportunity to connect and discuss shared goals through Teams specifically dedicated to the topics that are most important to this great institution.

The ability to host and attend virtual meetings is baked right in to the Teams platform. Most of the functionality of Skype for Business has already been ported to Teams, with seamless integrations across mobile and desktop platforms. Teams meetings also feature a ‘record’ button that is accessible to meeting organizers. After pressing record, all of the attendees will be notified that a recording has started. When the meeting concludes, Office 365 works in the background to upload the recording to Microsoft Stream and automatically produce a searchable transcript that will take you directly to the places in the video where certain topics were mentioned. This is a great example of how Teams is a platform built from the ground up to streamline workflows and free up our time to collaborate on the tasks that matter to us most.  If you would like to take a slightly deeper dive into this great Teams feature, check out Microsoft’s page on recording meetings in Teams.

If you’d like to get started with Teams, you can download and install Teams on all of your devices from the Teams download page. After you download the app, be sure to join our Microsoft Teams Users Team. That is the best place to explore Teams features and discuss anything related to Teams and collaboration with your colleagues. The IT Passport team and Nick Smith, our Microsoft Teams representative, are all members of that Team and will be available to answer any questions you may have.

You can learn more about IT Passport here, and if you’d like to reach out to us directly, send us an email here. We look forward to working together to build a more connected WashU community