Case study / August 27, 2019

GovTEAMS à Paris – GovTEAMS in Paris

Did you know you can use GovTEAMS abroad? With GovTEAMS, you can reach your counterparts across the globe. Our records show that members have used the service in New Zealand, the United States of America, Canada, France, Spain, India, Malaysia and Japan… just to name a few.

The Department of Agriculture successfully used GovTEAMS to organise the Australian delegation’s attendance at a conference in Paris.

World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) General Session

On 26 - 31 May 2019, the OIE hosted the 87th OIE General Session in Paris. This conference was attended by approximately 130 countries, including Australia. The General Session is used to help set the standards for international trade in animals and animal products.

Dr Mark Schipp, Australia’s Chief Veterinary Officer, is the elected president of the OIE and was responsible for chairing the session. This meant all eyes were on Australia and the pressure was on to ensure the delegation was available to meet with other members of the OIE, at any given time.

The Australian delegation at the General Session included representatives from the:

  • Department of Agriculture;
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO);
  • State government;
  • Australasian Veterinary Boards Council;
  • Australian Veterinary Association; and
  • Wildlife Health Australia.

The General Session is an important event for Australia to attend due to the volume of our international trade of animals and animal products. In 2018, Agriculture reported that Australia exported more than 1.8 million tonnes of red meat and over 2.3 million livestock. These stats emphasise the importance of Australia’s involvement in setting the standard for trade in this industry.

The General Session gives countries and non-government organisations the opportunity to connect to determine best practice and identify emerging trends. While at the session countries get together to discuss bilateral trade agreements and demonstrate the work they are doing, which helps guide the future industry.

‘I needed a tool to make my job easier’

The future of work requires modern tools that make it easier for people to do their jobs. Jennifer Davis, from Agriculture, was responsible for coordinating and organising the Australian delegation’s presence at the General Session. The bilateral trade meetings are generally not scheduled in advance, as they occur on an ‘as required’ basis during the breaks and at the same time as the main session. This makes it difficult for Jennifer to ensure ‘...everyone is in the right place at the right time.

Previously, Jennifer used excel spreadsheets and Word documents to keep the delegation on track and ensure they were where they needed to be. This process was made even more difficult by hardware restrictions. Up until recently, Agriculture employees were required to travel with tablets, not their work laptops. This made it difficult for them to update and manipulate their files on the go.

‘We needed a tool that enabled us to notify staff of schedule changes, alert them to upcoming meetings and share information. A member of our team was already familiar with Microsoft Teams and suggested we use that as a solution, however it had not been rolled out in our Department yet. That’s when we started looking for other options. We found out about GovTEAMS and we thought we’d give it a go.’ – Jennifer Davis, Department of Agriculture

Australian delegation at the 87th OIE General Session in Paris
Australian delegation at the 87th OIE General Session in Paris (image source: World Organisation for Animal Health 2019)


GovTEAMS à Paris – GovTEAMS in Paris

The team only found out about GovTEAMS 2-3 weeks before they were due to leave for the session. They had limited time to familiarise themselves with the service but decided to take a chance on it.

‘We thought we’d dip our toes in the water and trial GovTEAMS in Paris’ Jennifer Davis, Department of Agriculture.

Jennifer thought it was best to use GovTEAMS to connect with Agriculture staff in Paris and back home in Australia. They only used the service for Agriculture staff because they were the most complex group to organise and needed to be involved in the bilateral meetings occurring on the side of the General Session. They setup a community specifically for their attendance at the session and used GovTEAMS to schedule meetings, chat and share files that were too large to be emailed.

‘What we found really useful was the size limit for sending files. A lot of the files we needed to share exceeded the size limit for Outlook. GovTEAMS ensured we were able to connect with our team overseas’ – Richard Niall, Department of Agriculture

Challenges faced using GovTEAMS

A key challenge faced was the lack of time zone functionality in the Microsoft Teams app. This made it difficult for Jennifer to schedule meetings and she had to use a world clock to convert the meeting times to ensure they were scheduled appropriately.

The time limited functionality for time zones was not the only challenge the team faced. At first, they were unsure of how notifications worked when using Microsoft Teams. They made it a habit to regularly check their community channels and chats to ensure they didn’t miss anything. One of the main issues they faced was the difference between how they were notified when something was sent to them in a channel or chat.

Another key challenge the team had to overcome was the short timeframe they had to register, setup their community and learn how to use the service. The multi-factor authentication was made more difficult for the team as they had setup their accounts using their office phones and were only given the phones they were travelling with 2 days before departure. This resulted in them having to change their account settings prior to departure and change it back when they returned. Members often find this process to be a bit fiddly.

Has GovTEAMS passed the test?

“I genuinely see the use of GovTEAMS for when you have to work collaboratively across the department, with other agencies, state government and industry.” – Richard Niall, Department of Agriculture

Despite the challenges faced by the team they have indicated they will continue to use GovTEAMS. They will be spending more time familiarising themselves with GovTEAMS in the lead up to their next event in September, so they can use more functionality the service has to offer. Jennifer also indicated she would look at setting up her personal phone for her multi-factor authentication settings so that she doesn’t have to worry about changing it next time.

‘I think members should gradually familiarise themselves with functionality in the service, it worked well for us and we felt comfortable using the features that we did. I think if we’d thrown ourselves in the deep-end with the short time we had to get to know the system we would have become a bit unstuck. We’ll definitely increase our usage of the platform next time, now that we have become more comfortable with some of the features of GovTEAMS.’ – Jennifer Davis, Department of Agriculture

Tips and tricks from the GovTEAMS team:

Here are some tips and tricks the team recommends to help you if you’re facing similar challenges to Jennifer and her team.

Use the authenticator app on your mobile phone

Approve sign-in requests at the click of a button! This will stop your text messages from being clogged up with one-time use code and will streamline your login process.

To use this verification method, you must set up the Microsoft Authenticator App.

  1. Download the app for android or iOS
  2. Select the contact method:
  • Receive notifications for verification (tap Approve or Deny).
  • User verification code (open app to view the verification code)
  1. Click setup - A configure mobile app screen shows. Follow the instructions listed on the screen for setting up the mobile application verification.
  2. Click next.

Make the most of the notification functionality in Teams

The @ symbol ensures a notification is always sent. You can use either @name to send a notification to an individual or if it is important for the whole team, use @team.

Download the Teams app on your mobile when working on the go

You can download the Teams app on your mobile. This will allow you to receive notifications while you’re working on the go.

GovTEAMS à Paris – GovTEAMS in Paris