Implementation of Microsoft Teams improves digital work environment

In March, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly changed how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and its employees had to operate. Many shifted to working virtually and had to rely on online collaboration. John began working remotely seven years ago, so he knew what the CRA workforce would be facing. John is a technical program manager for the CRA’s Information Technology Branch (ITB) and has been a leader in the development of the CRA’s online work environment implementation of Microsoft Teams.

The pandemic demanded rapid digital collaboration improvements, not only so CRA employees could effectively work remotely, but to also support the wellbeing of those now working in isolation. Microsoft Teams would allow for virtual check-ins, team meetings, and an improvement in connectedness for CRA employees, an aspect which people said they missed when work moved home. In addition, new working teams needed a way to connect in order to serve Canadians by delivering the COVID-19 emergency benefits in record time. John knew he could help.

“I learned about the new Digital Workspace team at the CRA. They needed help to implement Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft collaboration tools. COVID-19 expedited the implementation of technology solutions that benefit people and the environment, so a six month project needed to roll out in six weeks!”, he explained.

With years of working virtually under his belt, John was confident it could be done. He was tasked with developing and maintaining a technology roadmap while initiating and managing projects. The Service 365 program was established to leverage the Microsoft 365 cloud productivity suite, as well as complementary technologies to improve the CRA’s service delivery and work experience. He also saw a silver lining with time and location no longer being bound to traditional commutes and locations.

“Before the CRA, I worked as a Solutions Engineer for a consulting firm that implemented Microsoft collaboration and information management tools to meet vital business needs in various industries,” John explained. One such project was creating a Critical Care Information System for Ontario in response to SARS, which is now being used for COVID-19.

John’s passion to empower virtual collaboration helped drive CRA’s successful adoption of Microsoft Teams, the first piece of the technology road map. “Individuals have different needs and preferences for collaboration—some want to talk face to face and others want to use chat. Microsoft Teams provides several options that provide a rich communication experience,” John says. In the span of six months, Teams has accumulated 41,309 very active users, improving the overall digital work environment. In the last 90 days there has been:

Although John recognizes there is still work to do, he is extremely proud of the transformation that has happened. His team has now expanded to 7 people, and he is excited about what they will continue to accomplish together. Whatever challenge comes, John believes his team is ready.

“I appreciate the opportunities to develop and drive effective solutions for the CRA. When I joined the CRA Service Council in 2018 we were asked what our unique superpower was. We only had a few minutes to think about it. I wracked my brains and came up with my cheesy but true response: I am unstoppable like water; I will always find a way!,” he said, while adding that he still falls off his paddle board regularly.

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