Recast | Microsoft 365 Campus Update

From: Computing and Communications Inbox <>
Date: Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 2:35 PM

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since we provided an update on the Office 365 project and now the Microsoft 365 project. We’ve received many questions and are pleased to offer the following overview in response. Ongoing, updates will be posted to the project website at:

Project Status

Phase 1 – Office 365 project is complete

  • All active Outlook mailboxes have been migrated to the Microsoft cloud.
  • We have shifted focus to decommissioning back-end infrastructure replaced by M365 technology. This activity will not impact daily users of Microsoft applications.  

Phase 2 – Microsoft 365 (M365) Teams project is underway

The project charter has been defined and our cross-divisional steering committee is engaging in the work of visioning how the M365 suite of collaboration tools will work for Evergreen. 

What’s the difference is between Office 365 and Microsoft 365?   


In the long term, Microsoft Teams will be all staff member’s home base and cross-team collaboration hub.  Faculty, staff, and students will use Teams to share files, chat, collaborate, and participate in governance. Eventually, even phone calls and voicemails will be managed through Teams. Students and Faculty will be able to access it seamlessly from within a Canvas integration sharing files and chatting with peers.

We have a long way before we achieve this vision, but the capabilities are already there and improving every day.

Why we have selected Teams as Evergreen’s platform?

Moving aging services to current solutions: M365 is replacing systems that will eventually become deprecated. We are starting the process now to give our community as much time as possible to adjust to the coming changes.

Integration and Improved Usability: TheTeams app integrates chat, meetings, shared documents, project/task planners, and collaborations into a single application. The Teams mobile app makes accessing these resources readily available for staff that don’t have frequent access to a desktop computer.

Improved Communication with Less Email: Posting to a Team channel is an anchored communication that is easily searchable, available to all future Team members, consolidates attachments in one place, and with reactions, reduces email replies. Moreover, it eliminates the need to manage cumbersome DLs.

Access Management: Owners of cross-departmental collaboration teams will have full control to manage access to Team resources. Eventually, Departmental Team membership will be automated, and new hires will automatically gain access to the resources they need.

Consolidation: Teams will eventually replace Slack, Zoom (for staff), departmental file shares, and other applications supported by M365 and provide an opportunity to consolidate tools for improved security, integrations, usability, support/management, and overall cost savings.

Slack as an example – Technology staff previously used Slack as an integral communication tool but have begun to transition over to using Team Posts and Team Chat as an alternative.  

Additional services M365 provides:

  • Forms: surveys and polls
  • Bookings: online calendar reservations
  • Streams: video hosting
  • Shifts: frontline staff scheduling (like ZoomShift)
  • Planner: Team-based project and task management  

Teams Implementation Strategy

Looking ahead, the short-term is going to be challenging. The Microsoft 365 suite of tools is vast and powerful and our community’s need for improved technology is pressing. We have a lot of work ahead to match needs securely and effectively to appropriate solutions.

Where are we now?

To test the waters, we have begun to slowly implement Microsoft Teams for a few staff work areas and cross-team collaborations. However, we’ve had to significantly slow down on this deployment while:

  1. The project steering committee works to ensure that Teams supports the organizational vision and operational needs of the college moving forward. 
    • This may include new or different organizational structures necessary to implement the New Academic Directions (NAD) initiative.
  2. Our technical staff work to:
    • Learn how to use Teams and develop recommended best practices
    • Ensure proper security controls and configurations are in place
    • Develop governance/management processes and request/provisioning tools
    • Prepare training and transition resources for the community

Note: As we move from our A3 to A5 license, be prepared to receive an email notification about “Audio Conferencing.” This new capability will now allow people to call into Teams meetings on their phone (similar to Zoom).

Guiding Principles for Teams Creation

Evergreen is not alone in implementing Teams right now, in fact, many WA State governmental agencies are on a similar path as well. Fortunately, there are some great resources for rolling out Teams to large organizations. Here are a few principles that are informing our implementation:

  • Add teams gradually
  • Create teams with a larger set of members and more channels.
    • Bigger Teams = Fewer Silos
    • Minimize the number of teams that require a person’s participation.  
  • Each team should craft channels based on their work, priorities, and communication needs.

Teams for Academic Offerings

We continue to recommend using Zoom and Canvas with your students. We currently do not have automated provisioning/de-provisioning tools in place to manage broad availability of Teams. Additionally, students and faculty just completed a huge adoption of Zoom in the curriculum during a crisis. We would like the transition to Teams to be more thoughtful and less traumatic for all.  

Looking ahead, Teams will work in combination with Canvas and provider better collaboration for students and faculty working across the two platforms. To be clear, Teams will NOT replace Canvas. It will replace most productivity technologies that are currently cobbled together with an integrated suite of tools for document and file creation, storage, sharing, and collaboration. Eventually, Teams shared files will replace Orca file shares.

Timeline for Teams

It’s slow, it’s taking longer than we had hoped to understand, configure, and get folks trained. Most likely it’s going to take years for us to become experts so don’t fret if you don’t get it right away. The legacy technologies will remain in place until the new technologies are fully adopted. Over time, you’ll find the new technologies to be easier and more intuitive to use.

Starting with staff offices – we have already begun creating departmental “Home Teams” and will continue working to ensure a smooth experience as each group comes online. This includes making sure staff have adequate computer hardware to run Teams and proper training and guidance.

Academic programs – we hope to pilot a few offerings for Spring 2021 with broader availability for Fall 2021 (provided we can automate the process to add and remove students to/from their program Teams).

Project and Cross-departmental Teams – are in progress; we are working to streamline the Teams request and provisioning process. Requests can be made at  

Training and Support

Right now, the best thing you can do is dedicate a little time each week to learn something new about Teams and Microsoft 365. Like learning to play the piano, a little bit of practice on a regular basis goes a long way. Here are a few places to start:

  • Get to Know Teams – Everyone is invited to join this Team to practice, ask questions and gain access to training materials.
  • Instructor-led training for Microsoft Teams  – Register for these Free workshops with Microsoft training professionals.  Any office can register for these free workshops led by Microsoft professionals to learn how everything from the basics to maximizing features.

Stay tuned! Follow the progress at the project website:

Thanks, everyone, and Happy New Year!

The Microsoft 365 Steering Committee

Tony Alfonso – Project Sponsor

Amy Greene – Project Manager

Amy Betz, Eric Pedersen, Dave Kohler, Andy Corn, Farra Hayes, Yahui Chi 

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