Case Study: Microsoft Teams to support a new work culture for Adra

TSG’s partnership with Adra started a couple of years ago when working together on a Microsoft Teams deployment project. Most recently, TSG has been assisting Adra with its new SharePoint intranet.

Adra is north Wales’ largest social and affordable housing provider and was established in 2010 to take on the housing stock from Gwynedd Council. Formerly known as Cartrefi Cymunedol Gwynedd. Adra looks after 6,400 homes and provides services to over 14,000 local customers.

The biggest challenge Adra faced before the implementation of Teams was co-working. Operating on a network drive system, Adra was presented with all the usual kinds of challenges, the most prevalent being groups of disparate people trying to work and collaborate on documents.

The management of workflows proved difficult, with duplicate documents often the case and as a result, no single version of the truth. This led to inefficient collaboration, as well as employees time being wasted attempting to find the correct or most recent draft of a document.

Adra was missing out on a collaborative workspace and needed the right tools to be put in place.

Adra’s IT department recognised early on that ‘the tide was changing’ and wanted to become more agile in its approach. They identified that they wanted to move away from traditional on-premises platforms to cloud-based. This is where Adra began its journey with TSG.

As a cloud-based application, Microsoft Teams presented the perfect solution for Adra as it offers a collaborative workspace within Microsoft 365, allowing for workplace conversations, collaborative teamwork, video chats, document sharing, and more.

By adopting Teams, Adra employees can work closely with one another, regardless of whether they are in the same physical space. They can enjoy real-time collaboration; co-editing Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents, with their changes being synced and merged as they work. Teams also brings together other M365 tools (e.g. SharePoint, Tasks, etc.) in one centralised place. The platform therefore serves to help Adra’s distributed team work better both together and individually.

In addition, the search feature within Teams allows people to instantly find what they’re looking for, whether it be content, tools, contacts or conversation threads. This means Adra employees would no longer have difficulty finding the most recent and relevant material, with team members always working from the latest version of a document.

A set of ‘Teams Champions’ also received extensive training from TSG before deployment of Microsoft Teams to ensure better adoption of the platform across the organisation.

The implementation of Teams happened before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, therefore Adra were ‘ahead of the curve’ in terms of remote working. As opposed to rapidly implementing Teams in response to COVID-19, Adra staff were already familiar with and confidently using Teams, making the transition to working from home far easier and therefore alleviating pressure on employees.

Due to the knowledge transfer from TSG, Adra became very self-sufficient and were able to establish Microsoft Teams champions – taking full responsibility for managing the Teams infrastructure. Going into lockdown with the Teams implementation policies and processes in place meant that Adra could focus on what matters most, talking to and supporting customers during this difficult time.

Adra set a goal for 85% of staff to actively use Teams by April 2021. This goal was surpassed with 87.7% of employees now actively using Teams. The platform is now the preferred method of communication and sharing documentation amongst Adra staff, including the senior leadership team. Now part of the company’s culture, Teams has enabled Adra employees to streamline the way they work day-to-day. For some departments, such as the IT team, Teams has helped cut down on email overload, with most emails now coming from external sources only. Having a whole team working heavily in Teams means they can spend less time in their inbox as they use Teams for most of their conversations. It has been transformational for Adra staff, especially as the different teams are spread over 4 different offices, as well as their home office locations.

Moreover, the implementation of Teams has been a great way of introducing/’trickle feeding’ to Adra employees the other applications within the M365 suite. The simple knowledge and visibility of the other apps within Teams has allowed staff, in a controlled way, to explore and experience what else is possible. For example, while the uptake of the Planner app is not yet widespread, there are some great and powerful pockets of it being used. This process of adoption has allowed the uptake to be manageable for the IT team with all the other work they have going on.

The use of the different apps is snowballing – Adra has used PowerApps to create a suite of staff self-service applications (leave, expenses, over-time) and are now focusing on using Microsoft Lists and Dataverse (instead of spreadsheets) to empower much better automation and reporting through Power Automate and Power BI. As a result, not only is Adra maximising its return on investment (ROI) of M365, it is also improving key elements and functions of the organisation.

“The way of working that Microsoft Teams provides has been transformational to our company and is now simply part of the Adra lexicon. Thanks to TSG’s thorough training and support, we are incredibly self-sufficient, but we know that we can always lean on TSG as and when we need that extra resource.”

Geraint Vernon, Business Systems Support Manager

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