How Santa uses Microsoft Teams to plan for Christmas

Background

It’s already October and Christmas is fast approaching. Santa begins to feel sick to his stomach from the annual stress this entails. Considering how big his belly has now become, you can imagine the discomfort he is experiencing.

As far back as Santa can remember, he has used paper and pen to keep all his chores in order. The goblins must know where to go. The reindeers must be prepared and in good shape for all travel. Santa himself must get his clothes in order. That’s right, the Christmas gifts too. After all, he must get hold of all the Christmas presents that he will later distribute to the children.

Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash

Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash

But how will he be able to keep track of what each child wished for? There will be so many wish lists.

Santa’s bad habit, his health problems and his green transition

Santa has promised that he will stop using paper lists. After all, his wife has told him that he must become environmentally certified and think “more green”. However, he refuses to accept the concept of “green Christmas” recently proposed by his wife (there must be certain limits). Replacing the reindeer with a battery-powered sled is also out of the question. One must be allowed to be a little conservative in this area, right?

Feeling pressured, he pours a cup of glühwein. With shaking hands, he brings the cup to his mouth and greedily drinks the entire cup. He knows he must cut down on the consumption of glühwein. He is very fond of this specially imported Swedish variant of glühwein called “Glögg” but unfortunately too much consumption of it means that his nose starts to resemble Rudolf’s.

Photo by Judith Prins on Unsplash

Does life really have to be like this that every year at this time he must have an elevated heart rate and trouble sleeping? That can’t be the meaning of life, can it? He needs to see what he can do with the help of smart and simple use of IT. Everyone says that it is so fantastic and that he must keep up with the technological development.

Which tool should he use?

Santa himself is completely blank when it comes to Information Technology, but luckily his wife Patti has a good grasp of this. Santa therefore consults her about how and where he should start.

Patti is happy to help. Finally, the old lazy snowy old man has realized that the use of Information Technology is not something he can get away with anymore. Because Patti already set up their own tenant for Santa’s company three years ago so that they would have e-mail in any case, they have access to many other applications and solutions in their existing tenant. Since she ensured that they would have full freedom from the start, she bought the most comprehensive licenses available so now only the imagination sets the limits.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

She likes to give Santa good strategic advice, but it’s actually time for him to learn for himself how IT works and what opportunities he has with Microsoft 365. There’s only one thing to do. He needs to learn quickly and efficiently what he can do with the various applications in Microsoft 365, so she puts him in front of the computer screen and goes to Training | Microsoft Learn.

Patti knows that Microsoft Teams solves all of Santa’s needs, so she searches and shows him the modules that he will study and learn. Browse all – Training | Microsoft Learn.

She fills up the fridge for him with turkey, Swedish meatballs and Norwegian herring, which are Santa’s favorite foods. Then she tells him, “Now you’re going to stay in here for two weeks and go through all the modules. You’re not just going to read through them, you’re going to actually take all the tests and make sure you really understand.” When you are done with this, you will know how to build a simple solution that will make your Christmas much calmer this year and you can actually use the same solution in the coming years as well. Any questions?”

Santa mumbles something inaudible, but at least he doesn’t protest. Patti goes out and locks the door behind her and says “See you in two weeks. Good luck!”.

Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

Full of knowledge and ideas

Two weeks had passed. The beard was now longer than ever before. He also felt that it itched both in his beard and on the rest of his body. Now he really needed to roll in the powder snow and change his clothes. Santa jumped when the door lock suddenly rattled.

“Hey little old man, how’s it going?” Patti said.

Good, replied Santa, now I am full of both knowledge and ideas. This is actually simple. I was afraid that I would have to learn to code, but there is no need. I have decided that I will set up a Team for us and customize it with some smart features so that we can use it for the planning, preparation and execution of Christmas.

Great Santa, (said Patti) I knew you would fix this. But before you start, you need to freshen up. Go outside and roll in the snow now, then put on the new Santa costume that’s on your bed. Then you can start building your Team.

Santa rushed out the door to finally take a well-deserved bath.

Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

Clean and fresh with a new suit and back at his desk, he sees that Patti has really arranged a good workplace here. He smiles and thinks she is truly amazing. Not only that he has a flexible and powerful Laptop. He now also has two extra screens so that he has an overview of several different things at the same time.

He calls out for Patti and asks her to make sure all the goblins and other helpers get basic Microsoft 365 and security training. When they are done with this, they should focus especially on Microsoft Teams so that they are prepared to use it when he is done with the Team he is now going to build. By the way, they also need to get their own laptop and a user account in the tenancy right now.

Patti is impressed by Santa’s forward thinking and that he, more or less, takes charge. What has happened to him? Has the knowledge made his self-confidence increase so much?

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

She suddenly remembers the feelings she felt for him when they first met, and she finds herself blushing a little as she now feels the old beats starting to show again.

But how are things going with the training and User Adoption?


Santa’s helpers love their new laptops. Ideally, they just want to be on social media and play so Patti has had to block access to the most used sites. It is not a popular measure, but now they must focus on their education. After a short coaching conversation with each of the goblins, they are fully aware of this.

Image by Andrew Tan from Pixabay

Christmas is approaching far too quickly

Christmas trees are both bought and stolen in forests around the world. People are starting to look forward to Christmas and beginning to prepare their homes.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

Santa begins to feel the stress creeping in again. He needs to complete the Team so that they can focus on the tasks required for Christmas to be perfect, both for him, Patti, and the helpers, but also for all the children out there in the world.

The specification and configuration

Here, any Digitization Santa or Management Consultant could have sold a comprehensive case management system that would have cost several millions. However, this is completely out of the question because Santa is a big supporter of “Keep it Simple” and he himself now has the knowledge needed to solve the concrete needs and challenges.

He has decided that the solution will consist of a single Microsoft Team. In this Team he will add a few functions and make some simple settings. That’s all he must do this year.

He knows that he can use Power Automate to automate certain workflows and Power BI to visualize everything from stock status to where the helpers are and not least to see what shape the reindeers are in now, when they will soon, via a chip, be connected to the network with positioning and pulse measurement and more.

The possibilities are many, but this year it is necessary to limit the scope, so he would rather improve and further develop the solution for next year. The time he now saves by not loitering around, he can invest in actually automating large parts of the work next year. Then he may not even need so many helpers anymore and in the best case he can go from eight reindeers to six.

Santa jumps into his chair and realizes that he is starting to think like an IT consultant.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

He shakes his head and pours a large glass of hot apple juice with a cinnamon stick in it. Now he’s going to get to work!

The Team

He knows that he needs to create a Team and that all his helpers must be members of the Team. Patti gets to be owner number two of the team. He knows that you should never have just one owner of a Team. The team must be “Public” so that any new employees can easily become members and that everyone can see, find, and use all documents also from SharePoint (if they might need it in the long run).
He knows that several of his helpers can be very creative and don’t always think ahead before doing something. Therefore, he needs to make some settings on the team that limit the members’ opportunities to mess with its structure.

Channels

The team must have several channels that correspond to the main areas/main themes that they will work with. Since everyone is in the same organization and everything must take place with full transparency, there is no reason to use either Shared Channels or Private Channels. It may simply become completely ordinary channels. The channel “General”, he does not want the others to write lots of posts in.

He will use this channel himself to communicate general information to his employees. Here he also intends to add tabs that contain common information that everyone should easily find.


Since he knows that you shouldn’t put all the files in “Files” in the General channel, he needs to create several channels. After going through all the course documentation and reading many useful posts on the Microsoft Community Hub, he knows that it is smart to have both dialogue and documents in the same context. The dialogue (posts) should be as close to the files/documents as possible and then it is smart to think that each main theme/main area should have its own channel. Then it also becomes more intuitive to understand where existing information is and where new information should be placed.

The channels he decided to start with now are the following:

Functionality in the channels

After two more glasses of apple juice with a cinnamon stick, he feels he has good control over what additional functionality he needs in the channels. You don’t get very far with posts and files alone, so he has identified the following needs.

Wishlist

A wish list that any child can fill out and send him. He simply intends to use Microsoft Forms to create a Form and post a link to this Form on his website. This way, all children can fill in information about three things they want, as well as their name and address. They can even specify the dimensions of their chimney so he can avoid getting stuck this year again.

The form is very simply structured with a number of questions you have to answer if you want to be sure that you will receive a Christmas present.

Of course, Santa has customized the thank you message with a nice little text that appears when you fill in and send the form.

He realizes that there will most likely be some creative children who may try to fill out the same form multiple times and that he cannot avoid that when he allows anonymous responses, but he simply has to take on the work of quality assurance for this.

Regardless, it will be easier and fewer sources of error than if he must handle a physical piece of paper/letter per child. Not least, he saves many felled trees per year and thereby contributes a little to improving both the climate and the environment.

This year he is content to manage the results in a giant Excel file that he can filter and sort.

Next year, however, he intends to ensure that all responses are recorded in a Microsoft List that he can later use Power Automate to manage all requests and assign to his helpers. Next year he may even use Dynamics 365 Customer Voice as it is said to be more sophisticated.

In a couple of years, he might even automate everything so that the kids get a portal that they can go in and order on, and so all orders are handled completely automatically from order to delivery.

Santa looks up and sees himself in the mirror and wonders what is happening to him.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

He realizes that his current thoughts may result in him eventually rationalizing himself away. What is he up to? The knowledge of IT and its possibilities has really changed him.

He thinks that if he uses his knowledge for good deeds that make many people happy and satisfied, he is satisfied. After all, his main purpose is to spread joy.

Tasks

After all, there is a lot to remember and many tasks that everyone must perform in order for everything to flow as it should. It can quickly become messy if he only uses the Teams Planner for everything to be done. Therefore, he decides that almost every channel should have its own Planner where the assistant responsible for that main area can record tasks for himself and his colleagues. At least we’ll start with this, he thinks. Santa knows that in the future he will most likely take a closer look at the use of Azure DevOps to get a more structured and comprehensive administration of all the tasks that must be done every year. However, this requires that both he and his helpers gain a little more experience and knowledge.

The Launch

Santa’s helpers have now trained so that they have a good knowledge of both Microsoft 365, general security and in-depth knowledge of Microsoft Teams and what Collaboration means.They know what to use, when to use it, how to use it and why. Santa himself has finished customizing the Team and he is very happy with how it looks. Finally, the day is here when he will launch the team to his assistants.

The Santa Factory conference room is full.

Photo by Mikael Kristenson on Unsplash

and the Snack bowls are full of gingerbread and sweets.

Image by Gerhard from Pixabay

Santa himself begins by welcoming everyone and asks how the training went. Almost everyone is satisfied and feels very motivated to work in a more modern way. Of course, there are some who think that everything was better before, but that’s how it always is.

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

They will probably soon see the benefits of the technological development and slowly but surely change their minds.


When the introduction itself is finished, Patti presents the work schedule for Christmas. She has of course created this year’s work schedule using Shifts in Microsoft Teams. Here you can see an example of how Shifts work and can be used.

Diego, who is in charge of HR, talks about how much better our working situation will now be. Reduced stress and that everyone gets a clearer overview of what to do.

Photo by Kevin Gonzalez on Unsplash

Everyone applauds when they now understand the benefits of the new way of working.

Photo by Hayley Murray on Unsplash

Time for Santa to take the stage

Now it’s time for Santa to present the new solution. Unfortunately, the IT manager Allan managed to run over the broadband router with his electric scooter just before the meeting so they can’t show the solution Live now.

Image by Mircea – See my collections from Pixabay

Santa grunts a little and looks a little seriously at Allan, who looks down at the floor and blushes.

Photo by Jesson Mata on Unsplash

Since Santa was prepared that anything can happen (and usually does) when running a live demo, he has, of course, prepared a PowerPoint presentation with screenshots showing the solution and its functionality. He shares the presentation to the large monitor in the conference room, clears his throat and pushes forward the slides one by one and demonstrates as he explains.

Santa begins by showing the channel “General” and explains what it is to be used for and what they can expect to find here.

Santa then shows how they can and must now use Viva Learning to gain even more and continuous competence on Microsoft 365. Here, all employees have been given access to all relevant courses that Santa believes they should undergo.

The new wish list, which is based on Microsoft Forms and which everyone has access to, will facilitate the work significantly. Here, the helpers can get a quick overview of all requests that have been received. The detailed consolidated wish list is available in Santa’s Excel sheet which he must wash before it becomes fully usable. The more he thinks about it, the more he sees and realizes that by next year he will have to make a more advanced solution for this functionality.

Route planning is now much easier thanks to the access to Bing Maps and will be of great help to the logistical planning handled in the Operations channel. Here, the helpers who are responsible for the route planning can sit and simulate which travel routes are most efficient so that they can save on time and distance, which is in direct proportion to Rudolf’s consumption of hay and water. Every liter of water and every blade of grass counts in Santa’s environmental impact calculation. Here, Santa can make a difference and he is very proud of that.

Santa ends his presentation by explaining that this is only a first version that is far from optimal.In the coming years, the solution will be developed bit by bit. Santa explains that we now have a solution to start with. They must now learn how this works and then work with continuous improvement and constantly increase the business results. Therefore, immediately after Christmas, they will start working with OKRs in Viva Goals. In the long term, Santa plans to automate everything we do, and the big goal is that in principle everything will be fully automated in 5-7 years and then we will almost no longer have to work hard but just enjoy a well-oiled machinery.

Standing ovations and deafening shouts of joy

The applause is deafening! Never before has Santa experienced such enthusiasm among his employees. He laughs with pleasure so that his shoulders jump up and down and his stomach jumps in and out.

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

Patti looks at him admiringly and thinks “I knew he still had it in him”.

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

To be continued… 🙂

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

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