Since its inception, First Bank of Nigeria has regarded its people and partnerships central to its long-term success. For more than 125 years, this pioneering Nigerian institution has been steadily pursuing its vision of empowering people by providing the best financial services possible. Now, Microsoft Teams has made it easier for the company to realize that goal with a single platform where thousands of employees across the country can work together simultaneously and efficient.

For an organization of First Bank’s size and prominence, effective communication is one of the most important ingredients of success. Staying connected takes work, especially when teams are dispersed and employees are frequently on the move. “Our department is at one of the head office annexes, and as most of our internal stakeholders are head office departments, we attend quite a number of meetings, explains Folake Ani-Mumuney, Group Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications at First Bank.

Before, bank employees were using a variety of tools, including email, phone, text messages, Office Communicator, and Microsoft Skype for Business to connect and keep the business running smoothly. The multitude of communication streams and solutions would sometimes create inefficiencies and didn’t cover all aspects of effective collaboration, like online document sharing and co-editing. “With Skype, you could have a meeting, but working together as a team, having documents shared in one place and people collaborate on it at the same time was difficult,” says Folasade Ajanaku, Service Delivery Manager at Descasio, a local Microsoft partner retained by First Bank to carry out the implementation.

When the need for a new solution became apparent, First Bank opted for Teams. “Our evaluation showed that Microsoft Teams had the features we desired for overall enhancement of business efficiency, hence the decision to go with it,” explains Akeem Adesina, CIO at First Bank. “The project was part of the strategic initiative leveraging technological advancement to drive and achieve business goals with a productive and conducive workspace for business efficiency and enhanced productivity.”

Communicating with less noise, more productivity
Although most employees were satisfied with Skype for Business as a communication tool, the main challenge was to show the advantages of Teams, creating “stickiness” from day one. To build employees’ confidence in the solution, First Bank adopted a step-by-step approach, starting with the deployment of Teams in the Financial Control department. “When Teams was first introduced in the Bank, there was the usual resistance to change. Adoption has, however, been on a steady rise,” notes Ani-Mumuney.

Although most employees were satisfied with Skype for Business as a communication tool, the main challenge was to show the advantages of Teams, creating “stickiness” from day one. To build employees’ confidence in the solution, First Bank adopted a step-by-step approach, starting with the deployment of Teams in the Financial Control department. “When Teams was first introduced in the Bank, there was the usual resistance to change. Adoption has, however, been on a steady rise,” notes Ani-Mumuney.

In every single department, the new tool created value that extended way beyond essential video conferencing features. In the past, First Bank employees dealt with considerable email noise, slowing down task execution. Now, Teams covers all aspects of holding meetings and sharing documents.

Cultivating staff engagement
With time, the solution has built effective, enterprise-wide staff awareness and engagement through new, better ways of working, according to Ajanaku. “First Bank had each person work on a document separately, and there was one employee who would stay after work to collate each individual’s feedback and work done by everyone on the team.” This way of working devoured time, led to errors, and caused enormous friction. Staff work-life balance also suffered. Teams has changed all this by providing First Bank’s employees with an enhanced mobility and agility that has proved especially invaluable for employees located upcountry, outside metropolitan areas.

Now, employees no longer have to travel to bank headquarters to participate in meetings. Since Teams is compatible with several different operating systems, they can join from anywhere, and work on any device. According to Adesina, the application’s comprehensive sharing and collaboration support led to a significant reduction in the risk, time, and cost of travel for meetings and workshops. “With Teams, there has been over 10 percent reduction in the cost of travel and hotel accommodation for internal meetings, training, and workshops,” he adds.

Building connections beyond corporate walls
Currently, Teams is the main internal collaboration tool within the company. However, several bank departments also use it to streamline external communications, such as the procurement team. “They looked to use Teams for communication with their external vendors. So, we also showed them how to add guests in Teams,” says Ajanaku.

Going further with Teams, First Bank has gained the opportunity to expand its organizational reach and engage a broader audience. The company’s 125th anniversary was the perfect occasion to test the tool’s live streaming capacity. “The Anniversary Lecture by Daron Acemoglu was streamed live to enable staff to watch the events, as they were held during working hours and we were not all able to attend,” explains Ani-Mumuney.

“It was a week-long program, and First Bank had many events scheduled to have its customers, users, and staff who were outside the country join the celebration. The bank used Teams broadcast to stream that event to all of these groups,” adds Ajanaku.

Envisioning an exciting future
By now, First Bank of Nigeria has incorporated Teams into all of its business processes. For Adesina, the results couldn’t have been more spectacular. “Any organization in need of an efficient collaboration tool that can transform work and make employees feel like doing more should consider Microsoft Teams. Our experience with Teams has been simply amazing.”

Looking forward, the bank aims to integrate the solution with third-party applications, further strengthening team cohesion, and empowering every employee to work toward common goals.