In August of this year, AI and Data Platform MVP Leila Etaati, based in Auckland, NZ, reached out to the AI MVP community to see who might be interested in collaborating on a book project about Microsoft’s AI solutions.
A result of the hard work of 17 MVPs using Teams to coordinate and collaborate, the book was completed and released just three months later.
The contributing MVPs made up a truly global team, spanning North America, Central America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand - you can even check out the locations of each contributing MVP on this Power BI map!
Leila and Microsoft Azure MVP Has AlTaiar recently took part in an interview with Office Apps & Services MVP Loryan Strant about how exactly they used Teams to bring the whole project together. We also spoke to AI MVP Veronika Kolesnikova about her involvement in the book. Here’s what they had to say.
Coordinating the project
The project first got started when Leila pitched the idea to the MVP AI community, which immediately generated interest from several MVPs. With the responses she received, Leila was able to sort the topics into five main categories and set up Teams as the collaborative tool to be used for the project while the contributing MVPs developed their abstracts. Topics covered in the book include Machine Learning, Cognitive Services, and Bot Framework.
When asked why she got involved in the project, Veronika said she loves seeking out challenges and new adventures. “Leila was very encouraging when I reached out and ask if I could join the initiative without any experience,” she said. “So I decided to share the knowledge I have about Cognitive Services.”
Leila created a Teams channel for each topic and folders for each author’s chapter. In the channels, they would discuss the problems each MVP was trying to solve and make sure they avoided any overlap.
While in the beginning several MVPs were proposing to cover the same topic, this was resolved quickly as Leila created a spreadsheet with authors’ names and topics. “Based on that file, we discussed our chapters and were able to split the content,” said Veronika. “I’m glad it was so easy to discuss it and figure out other things along the way with other authors.”
Teams really proved itself to be the best tool for the job. “It would have been hard to manage the chapter via Mail,” said Leila. With experience using Teams in her company, Leila knew it would facilitate open discussion and effective management. “Using Teams really helped a lot. We were able to get answers or discuss things way faster with the help of the tool,” said Veronika.
For Has, the highlight of using Teams was its native integration with SharePoint, as well as the way it categorizes folders. With each chapter being reviewed by two authors, the team needed a way to ensure that they were all reviewing and contributing to the same files. “Teams worked really well to group and categorize all of these files,” he said.
The power of MVP collaboration
In addition to the power of Teams, Leila’s leadership was also key to smooth execution. “Leila was great at managing the timeline and providing information, so everyone knew what to do and when,” said Veronika. “It was really easy to reach out to her when I had questions and challenges.”
To others looking to collaborate in a project in this way, Leila advises first establishing what the main project is and the structure of how you want to complete it. In addition, sticking to the schedule and keeping constant communication are extremely important, according to Veronika.
“I’m very happy I had a chance to work with so many smart people who were also very nice. I hope readers like the book and I’m also very happy that all the profits will go to charity,” Veronika said.
“We were all busy with other projects, but we tried to meet all the deadlines,” she added. “And we did it: the book was released before the Global AI Bootcamp and we were able to promote it at that event.”
“I am really lucky to have been able to work with these MVPs,” said Leila. “They did a great job.”
Profits made from the book will be donated to a charity of the purchaser’s choice, you can find it available online here.