Leveraging OneNote: Working with a Distributed Team
Working with a distributed team is typical for many teams today. Finding the right tools which assist collaboration and are not too cumbersome can be a serious pain point. If your company uses Office 365, then OneNote should be a core tool for every team whether it is distributed or not.
What is “Inside Microsoft Teams”?
“Inside Microsoft Teams” is a webcast series, now in Season 4 for IT pros hosted by Microsoft Product Manager, Stephen Rose. Stephen & his guests comprised of customers, partners, and real-world experts share best practices of planning, deploying, adopting, managing, and securing Teams. You can watch any episode at your convenience, find resources, blogs, reviews of accessories certified for Teams, bonus clips, and information regarding upcoming live broadcasts. Our next episode, “Polaris Inc., and Microsoft Teams- Reinventing how we work and play” will be airing on Oct. 28th from 10-11am PST.
Teams need more than chat, email, voice, or video calls to communicate effectively. Tools like Outlook, Teams, and Skype for Business are all essential for getting work done at many businesses but they are only part of the equation. Building a library of lessons learned, customer information, product history, and more, all happen outside normal channels of communication. This information could be stored in Excel or Word documents but the best place for it would be organized and curated in OneNote.
OneNote can be a source of information for teams to build on their history, make improvements, and save success or failure stories to learn for the future. OneNote delivers a flexible canvas for text, files, images, inking, audio, and video that the whole team can access and use. OneNote’s search is incredibly powerful and linking between notes easily makes information discovery easy and fast.
Emails and chats are organized by time but OneNote is organized by you. There is no single method for organizing notebooks. Make the tool fit your business model instead of the other way around. Notebooks can be stored on SharePoint making them accessible to your global team. When you make a discovery that you want to share with coworkers current or future, just add it to your OneNote.
When organized well, a OneNote notebook can become a tool to reduce retraining, while making your team more knowledgeable. Use OneNote like an intra-company wiki where anyone can improve the knowledge for everyone. The wiki paradigm is proven and an effective way for information to be organized and relearned.
Information Processing Systems
For many teams, processing jobs, tickets, requests, etc. becomes a tedious process. OneNote can be used to organize the flow of a project from start to finish. Team members can instantly understand what needs to be done, where to find work, and how to express that progress is being made. Using OneNote like a Kanban board works well and keeps information together in one location.
Keeping everyone in sync becomes almost impossible when a team spans more than one location. By building a hub on OneNote, your team can refocus and stay up to date.
With a clear Kanban system in place, progress gets communicated naturally to all the interested parties. Now account managers can stay updated as to the status of other departments without adding to the email or chat noise. Communicating straight on the OneNote keeps everyone on the same page and reduces miscommunications and re-communications.
The Digital Whiteboard
Replacing standard meeting room equipment with digital alternatives has been a trend for decades. Recently Microsoft and Google have been trying to replace the whiteboard with a digital alternative. While the Jamboard and the Surface Hub seem like cool products, they do not really acknowledge the reality that many meetings occur with everyone sitting at their desk. This means that a big digital whiteboard does not help. OneNote, on the other hand, works perfectly in this situation.
Usually, the whiteboard is used to take meeting notes during a meeting and then distributes notes to all the interested parties. In the modern world, we can do better with OneNote. Everyone at the meeting can have access to the notes before and after. Meeting preparation and notes archival become managed by OneNote. If you are working with a customer or supplier who does not have access to your SharePoint, OneNote makes it easy to send a static copy via email.
A big selling point of the digital whiteboard is the ability to work with more than text. As you may know, OneNote is an infinite digital canvas that works with any range of content types. OneNote can be used as a whiteboard with digital ink, shape recognition, and intelligent text searching capabilities. When meeting attendees are each on modern touch and pen-enabled PCs, OneNote becomes a distributed whiteboard where anyone can add content, view, and edit.
Bringing it All Together
OneNote’s power comes from its flexibility. It can be used in different ways for different scenarios. How one person uses it on one computer will be different than how a global team uses it to track their shared work. If you have not taken a hard look at how OneNote can fill in the IT gaps at your company, you should.