20 Aug Design Teams Structures To Fit Your Firm’s Business Model
6 Tips for Designing Teams Structures
that Fit Your Firm’s
20 August 2021 · 4 min read
Microsoft Teams has become a pivotal platform in enabling collaboration and productivity across organizations. But many firms still struggle to deploy and structure Teams with proper Teams and Channels to fit their business model.
A key element for firms to keep in mind when designing Teams structures is simplicity. Simple Teams designs enable effective adoption, while allowing governance. This is not to say that the design will be the same for all firms and complexity will not be part of the picture. But all firms must understand their core business processes across departments for them to be able to properly design Teams to ensure user adoption.
Since law firms have different teams and departments, it’s important to design Teams and Channels to best fit their needs. To kickstart the design process, you must first go through a few simple, but sometimes overlooked, steps that will better help design Teams to fit your departments core needs.
Yes, Teams has many features and that can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you want to take advantage of them all. But it’s better to start creating Teams with only a few Channels (3 to 5 Channels) so that you don’t face instant resistance from users and end up with low adoption and lost investment. With a low number of channels, your users won’t be bombarded with information and can clearly see the benefits of having a platform such as Teams.
Matter Centricity for Legal Teams
Starting small is not the only thing you should consider. It is also important to decide on a type of structure around your files. In Teams, contrary to the DMS where workspaces are organized and structured around document types, files do not necessarily need to follow this. As matter phases are a key factor across a firm’s departments, it only makes sense that your Teams and Channels are structured following matter centricity.
For example, in litigation you have phases such as Case Assessment/Strategy, Pre-trial pleadings and motions, Discovery, etc. In corporate or Merger & Acquisition matters, phases are around Financing, Due Diligence, Real Estate, Closings, etc. So, organizing your Teams with Channels around matter phases may make more sense.
It’s important for these matters to be structured in a consistent way so that users don’t have to wonder which Channel to go into next for a certain discussion or task.
Teams could also easily spiral into chaos if users are able to create custom Channels. To avoid this, it’s important for this feature to be turned off so that users don’t find themselves in a pile of irrelevant Channels.
Teams Design for Administrative Teams
Besides legal teams, firms also have several non-legal departments such as IT, accounting, marketing, and more. And each department has different requirements based on the type of work they do.
Within each department, you might have a Team for each distinct group. For example, Accounting might have a Team for each major area – Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Compensation, Audits, etc., as members within each of those Teams will likely differ. Talent Management or HR might have a Team for Recruiting and Employee Benefits. Marketing might have individual Teams for Events, RFPs, Marketing Collateral, etc.
You could create a basic template for each department or group within the department. Once templates are in place, you can allow for more custom Channels to be created with approval workflows.
You could also take advantage of the tabs option. Within each Channel, you could set up tabs that are automatically shared with the entire Team. The five most recommended tabs for your firm are:
(1) the Files tab, where you put relevant documents,
(2) a Tasks tab to keep track of relevant tasks related to the project,
(3) a OneNote tab to track meeting notes,
(4) a Lists tab to track and prioritize issues encountered on that project, and
(5) a Document Management System tab linking the matter in Teams with the relevant workspace in the DMS.
Teams Design for Committee or Practice Teams
Committees or Practice teams are other types of groups encountered inside a law firm. The simplest way to design Teams for this group would be to create a Team for each committee. And then the Channels would reflect each project or event for that committee.
Committees often have confidential information that cannot be shared with all members. Teams has a solution for that. If there are confidential items such as partner compensation, you could create a private channel within the committee Team for that sole purpose.
You can start off with a simple template for each Committee or Practice Team, for example a Channel for news, recruiting, events and compensation, but allow for ad-hoc custom Channel creation to make it more relevant to specific groups.
In addition to matter, department, and committee Teams, you might have a Firm team where users can get relevant information about the Firm, employee handbooks, firmwide news, etc. Firms with multiple offices could have a Team for each office to centralize office-related information or alerts, such as cafeteria menus, office closings due to weather, etc.
Teams Design Training
When all of this is set, it’s important for your firm to have user training programs for each practice, department, or committee. Find representatives within each group and give a short demonstration of Teams and Channels creation for organization and collaboration. Having demonstrative examples for users is also important so that they easily see the value of Teams and Channels.
Demonstrate how users could essentially make the most out of Teams by engaging in conversations, posting files, collaborating on documents, planning tasks, keeping meeting notes, and much more. This will help showcase the value of Teams and that it’s more than just “another chat and meetings platform.”
If you’re looking for more best practices and Teams designs, look through our whitepaper on ‘Teams & Channels Design for Legal’ written by Prosperoware CEO & Co-founder, Keith Lipman.
Teams channel structuring for different groups allows for flexibility and add on features. But when this process is done manually it requires a large number of resources and time. That’s why you need a software solution to automate the process and carry your organization to the next level.
How Prosperoware Helps
Prosperoware CAM is a Software-as-a-Service platform (SaaS) for adoption and governance of collaboration systems. It allows organizations to provision, classify, protect, move, and minimize data, mitigating data chaos and reducing risks related to privacy & cybersecurity.
CAM enables organizations to create logical locations for users to place data. It provides rich custom metadata, empowering users to locate documents, and risk management teams to understand business context in order to apply the right security & data minimization policies.
CAM integrates with Microsoft 365 (Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, OneNote, Planner, Lists), iManage, NetDocuments, HighQ, and more to come.
Here is what CAM can do for you:
- Provisioning of workspaces, Teams, Channels, Lists, users & groups, and folders from Project Portfolio Management, CRM etc., or through a human workflow using readily available templates.
- Rich, custom metadata for project or document context.
- Unified project directory for content location for end users and risk management teams.
- Provision automatically or on-demand internal & external users, manage permissions across collaboration systems, and integrate with leading ethical wall systems.
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP) with activity monitoring and bulk security & metadata changes.
- Data protection by creating a separate archive of documents to access in case of incidents.
- Minimize data by setting automatic data disposition policies or apply litigation hold.