Working collaboratively using Microsoft Teams requires people to store their files and have conversations about their work within teams. Teams work well within the context of storing files and allowing people to initiate conversations about the work they are completing, however filing, storage, and reviewing of email has been lacking in ease of use and essential features.
There are many use cases for teams, and one that is extremely popular the ability to quickly create a collaboration space for a project. Successful projects require large amounts of communication and whilst channel conversations may replace email in many scenarios when discussing work conducted within a team, email isn’t going away and will continue to be utilised. Hence moving emails into teams is essential.
To date, filing emails into a teams channel has been a cumbersome task with no quick and simple solution. To send an email from your inbox to an appropriate channel requires that you obtain the email address of the channel to which you need to forward the email to the address obtained. Once sent, the email is then processed and placed into an ‘Email Messages’ directory within the files tab of the channel. The email is stored as an .EML file format accessible using Outlook, and any attachments are extracted and placed into the email messages file directory; which becomes messy with large amounts of email. The email is then viewable from the conversations tab and if required there is the ability to move file attachments to a different location within the channel, same team, or another team.
Microsoft recently concluded it’s annual Ignite conference where numerous announcements regarding feature enhancements were made. One of the announcements was a new method to file emails into a teams channel from Outlook which is expected to be available early 2020. Gone is the need to obtain a channel’s email address directly from teams, a new button is made available from the ribbon titled ‘Share to teams’. I’m not currently sure of the depth of this new feature and how it works, however how it functions will determine the productivity efficiencies it will introduce and the ultimate adoption by people.
This new feature goes a long way to encouraging people to move emails into a team channel, ensuring all communications and files pertaining to a piece of work can be accessed by everyone involved. Unfortunately over the course of it’s young lifespan teams didn’t play too well with Outlook. Due to the lack of a streamlined process email was typically orphaned within Outlook and thus created an information silo causing critical information to be missed as it wasn’t accessible by everyone who needed to do so. This is typically evident when someone leaves an organisation or is on leave and the need to find and access certain communications is unavailable due to where it has been stored and the restrictive permissions applied to these locations.
Hopefully the features do not stop with the additional button available within Outlook. Another key area needing to be addressed is the ability to easily and quickly review emails that have been filed into teams. With the current implementation of how teams stores email, there are two ways to review these emails. This includes reading the email within a teams channel conversation, not ideal once additional conversations have been added over time, or by navigating to the email messages folder and individually opening each email. What’s required is an interface allowing search, browsing, and reading of these emails that is similar to Outlook or public folders. This would significantly increase the uptake and adoption of moving emails to be stored with like minded files and conversations.
The ability to easily file and review emails within a team will benefit many industries and verticals. Industries such as legal and finance have been using 3rd party document systems and applications for years to do these very tasks, therefore it’ll be a welcome feature to arrive to Outlook and become native to teams. Having all information placed into a team has the benefits of assisting with the application and monitoring of governance, security, and compliance policies as it can be applied to a single location.
More information: Link to Microsoft article