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Microsoft Teams

The Ultimate Guide

 teams - The Future of collaboration

Online collaboration is a must for the modern-day business. There is increasing market competition to see who can create the best product in terms of features, usability and value for money. Microsoft is becoming a major player with its communication platform Microsoft Teams. As of July 2018, a free version of Teams was made available, which makes it worthwhile exploring what Microsoft has to offer us and how it compares to close competitor Slack.

 

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Microsoft Teams Highlights

Chat-based interface 

Groups can be created to share files and have conversation between relevant members

Able to run Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote apps

Video and voice calling options available

Available on phones and tablet for Android, Apple and Windows

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What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is cloud-based team collaboration software that is part of the Office 365 suite of applications. The core capabilities in Microsoft Teams include business messaging, calling, video meetings and cloud file storage. Microsoft Teams comes fully integrated with other Office 365 productivity tools such as Skype for Business, SharePoint, Exchange, and Yammer, making it the one-stop software for all your communication and collaboration needs.

 

CHAT

Microsoft Teams is best at being a space for virtual chats with co-workers and colleagues. Multiple chat rooms or channels can be created within a Team and to help keep chats easy to follow, conversations are threaded, flow from top to bottom and notify users of updates. If users need face-to-face conversation, they can jump straight into Skype voice or video chats with other channel participants with a single click.

 

 

CHANNELS

Channels are used to ‘separate’ content and conversations which will help you focus on specific topics or areas in your Team. A General channel is added by default but you can have as many other custom channels as your heart desires. You can now add your own channels to suit your team. Keep in mind that the channels added also creates folders in your document library (which sits on SharePoint). Channels minimize silos within team communication as well as improve transparency. Channels are most valuable when extended with Apps that include Tabs, Connectors, and Bots that increase their value to the members of the team.

 

 

TABS

Tabs in Microsoft Teams allow you to display rich interactive web content. You can build a Microsoft Teams tab from scratch or adapt your existing web-app experience. You can connect to different things – a document, some SharePoint Site, external website, Power Bi dashboard and more. Tabs allow you to integrate the tools and services you love right into your chat or channel. Tabs are always visible at the top and stay with the conversation, so everyone can get to them easily. By default, you automatically get a couple of tabs: Conversations, Files, Wiki.

 

Online Meetings

Sometimes you'll want to bring your team together for a meeting and Teams can provide you with a powerful virtual meeting room. You can schedule your meeting, hold your meeting, share screens and collaborate in real time, right within the Teams app on your desktop. Start an online meeting with one-touch join, project it to a room display, and share it with remote participants on smartphones or laptops. Consolidate your phone systems in the cloud and add Audio Conferencing and Calling Plans. The online meetings feature of Teams is a real standout in its field. It is also important to note that Microsoft Teams will soon be replacing Skype for Business.

 

 

Connectors

Connectors allow you to connect to other 3rd party software and bring in the content inside of the Channel. Since there will be a direct interface between Teams and the other software, when you add a Connector, you have to authenticate and provide software credentials to connect them. Connectors are a bit more straightforward: They pipe data in, and optionally format it into cards that provide a richer experience. Any user can connect a team to services like Trello, GitHub, Bing News, or Twitter and get notified of the team's activity in that service. From tracking a team's progress in Trello to following important hashtags in Twitter, Office 365 Connectors help your team to stay in sync and get more done.

 

 

 

Bots

Another cool and innovating feature of Microsoft Teams is an ability to communicate with Bots. Bots are artificial intelligence applications which can complete tasks using chat-based commands. A big step forward in interactivity over Connectors, Bots can be added that users can direct message, or they can be dropped into channels. Microsoft suggests using them for managing workflows, checking in on team morale and status updates, and answer internal questions. It's all built right on Microsoft's Bot framework, so there's already a lot of Bots that should be easy to bring into Teams, with many more on the way.

 

 

File Storage

Microsoft Teams is deeply integrated with SharePoint in Office 365. For example, every team that you create gets a team site in SharePoint, allowing the team to share and store their files in an effective way. Simply put, files stored in Teams are actually stored in SharePoint. In the Files area of each Channel, you can open the files in SharePoint and it will open the SharePoint document library where the files are stored. When a Channel is created, Teams automatically creates a SharePoint document library to hold the files and simply displays them for viewing and editing inside the Teams app. Each organisation gets 1TB of shared company storage in Teams. With an additional 1TB of storage in OneDrive for Business for each user, most organisations find this to be enough space. Additional space in SharePoint can be purchased.

 


Mobile App

Of course, lots of communication these days takes place on mobile devices. As such, Teams has its own Mobile App. Moreover, it also has a separate desktop app as well. The mobile app is a sleeker design of the full desktop/browser version of Teams, with consistent user experience and the ability to do all your work in one place.

 

 

Download Free Teams Planning Guide

 

Slack vs Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is not the only collaboration software available taking advantage of a shift in how people work today. Atlassian’s Stride, formerly HipChat, has recently merged with Slack, which began the chat-based online workspace movement in 2014. Microsoft Teams launched in late 2016 and in terms of market penetration, it is obvious that Slack, despite the enormous buzz and head start of several years, is already far behind Microsoft, with its still immature Teams offering. Teams is finally gaining more momentum and with its enormous user base of Microsoft/Office 365 customers, will ultimately reign supreme as the chat-based workspace king. However, before declaring Microsoft Teams the winner, it is worth a comparison between Slack and Teams before you decide what’s best for your business.

Below is a table that compares the two side by side.

 

 


SLack


Microsoft teams

 

PRICING MODEL

Freemium

Standard $8 user/month

Plus $15 user/month

Freemium
 
Office 365 Business Essentials
$7.95 per user/month
 
Office 365 Business Premium
$17.95 per user/month

You can try both paid plans for free for
30 days

MESSAGE HISTORY LIMIT

10K messages in Free plan,
unlimited in Standard and Plus plans
Unlimited in all plans

AUDIO & VIDEO CALLS

Unlimited 1:1 voice and video calls in Free plan

Conference calls for up to 15 participants in
paid plans

Voice/video calls with up to 80 people 
in a meeting.

INTEGRATIONS

10 integrations limit in Free plan, 800+
integrations in paid plans
180+ apps and services (as of
July 2018)

FILE STORAGE LIMIT

Free plan: 5GB file storage for a team

Standard plan: 10GB per user

Plus plan: 20GB per user

Free plan: 2 GB/user and 10GB of
shared storage

Paid plans: 1 TB per organization

SCREEN SHARING

Unavailable in Free version,
available in Standard and Plus versions
Available in all plans

INTERFACE COLOUR OPTIONS

Custom sidebar themes. 3 themes (light, dark, high contrast)

CONVERSATION THREADS

Yes Yes

 

 

Key Differences between slack & teams

Let’s dig a little deeper into the features. Below is a summary of the findings from Chanty.com

PRICING

Both Microsoft Teams and Slack offer the Freemium plans. As for the paid versions, the most affordable Teams plan is less expensive than the Slack’s cheapest tier.

GETTING STARTED

While Slack is easy to deploy, you can spend a lot of time getting everything structured and inviting users into Microsoft Teams. It would be better to delegate the deployment and setup of Microsoft Teams to a IT admin or consultant.

LAYOUT AND DESIGN

Microsoft Team’s layout is more saturated with tabs. Slack, in its turn, tends to wrap up its features to improve UI. It also provides wider possibilities for customizing a workspace.

MESSAGING

Both tools have many instruments for messaging, including threads. Microsoft Teams provide more built-in options for formatting, while Slack allows setting a reminder for a particular message.

FILE SHARING & COLLABORATION

In Teams, you can share Office files and collaborate on them while right in the workspace. Slack doesn’t have built-in tools for that, so to edit a .doc file, for example, you’ve got to download it and switch to another tab for editing.

VIDEO CALLS

Teams has a built-in feature for recording video calls. In Slack, you can do it via app only. Also, in Teams you can have a video meeting with up to 80 people in a call, while Slack limits you with only 15 participants (even in paid plans).

INTERGRATIONS

Teams has native integrations with Office applications and some third-party apps, However, Slack has way more of them – 800+ (comparing to 180+ in Teams).

  

 

SEARCH

 

Both tools search within messages, contacts, files, and even within the content of the files you share.

HELP & SUPPORT

Both Microsoft Teams and Slack provide support via different channels, such as bots and help sections.

 

Slack vs Microsoft Teams Summary

Slack vs Microsoft Teams Summary The best collaboration platform for your business depends largely on which one you use to manage your content and other apps and services, Google or Microsoft.

 

go with slack if :

  • You’re already using Google Drive, using Google Hangouts for calls and meetings
  • You want something very lightweight and easy to setup and use
  • Slack has your favorite integrations with third-party apps while Microsoft Teams doesn’t have them.

 

go with teams if :

  • You are a business that is already using Microsoft Office products or Office 365. If you’re not on Office 365 yet and you’re not on the cloud, start with Office 365. If you’re on Office 365, with Essentials or Premium licensing, you already have Microsoft Teams included
  • You want a fully integrated experience with all of your Microsoft programs.
  • You are not afraid of challenges with deployment and administration (we recommend using an IT expert to help with this)

 

using Slack with an Office 365 subscription doesn't make sense – why pay extra for a service that is already free with your subscription package?

 

Download Free Teams Planning Guide

Deployment Challenges

 

For anyone interested in getting started with Microsoft Teams, chances are a technology poses challenges to setup for the first time. Preparation for the journey to Microsoft Teams is critical to ensure setup is correct from the start and adoption is swift. If one does not prepare, as a company expands its usage of Teams, it can quickly snowball into an unmanageable mess. Microsoft has created helpful documentation on Teams deployment, found here.

 

Developing governance and security strategies and processes, then putting the organisation’s weight behind proper training, are steps that many companies overlook. This can lead to situations where staff are either are not utilising the new software or, the exact opposite, utilisation spins out of control before anyone can steer organisational processes toward even a modest amount of structure.

Below are steps from Microsoft of the typical journey to Teams and the planning one needs to consider before setting up Teams. Some deployment can vary in their structure and planning, as can the setup of every company, but this should give one direction for how to get started.

Plan. Deliver. operate 

 

Step 1: Technical & Legal Evaluation

Technical and legal assessment in the early stages to identify and define what controls are required to implement Microsoft Teams in your organization.

Step 2: Assess/Prepare

Undertake a network assessment and prepare for the rollout. At this point you can start to create the adoption and change management strategy and key user stories that drive user engagement during and after the rollout.

Step 3: IT Pilot

Test these change management and adoption strategies with an IT Pilot.

Step 4: Business Pilot

Refine and run a business pilot in one or two business units leveraging these strategies.

Step 5: Rollout

Refine and leverage the strategy and learnings for a wider rollout.

 

Download Free Teams Planning Guide

 

Leverage an IT Professional

Often times, companies don’t have bandwidth, resources or the IT expertise to appropriately plan and rollout Microsoft Teams for their organisation. Leveraging a Microsoft Partner and IT expert is highly advised and a popular decision to kick off such new technology in an organisation.

At Cloud Made Simple, we specialise in the complete setup and deployment of Office 365 and Microsoft Teams for any size business. We can assist your team in every area of Microsoft Teams setup from start to finish, including:

Consultation - comprehensive planning of your Teams technical requirements, structure and permissions

Deployment - customised configuration and setup of your Teams structure and permissions

Integrations – configuration of 3rd-party applications through tabs, connectors and bots

File Migration - moving files from their current location into Teams, a hassle-free migration service that will save you headaches

Training - in-person or video conference training for your entire company once your Teams environment is setup to increase adoption and usage of Teams.

CLOUD mADE SIMPLE - Our teams deployment objectives

At the end of a Microsoft Teams deployment, our goals for your organisation include:

A fully-functional Teams environment based on your business requirements

Organisational - wide Teams adoption and proficiency

A more collaborative and efficient working environment

Download Free Teams Planning Guide

 

SUMMARY

Teams caters towards businesses who are seeking to enhance themselves through digital technology. Office 365 has a vast number of functions that are compatible with Teams.  Microsoft had created Teams to benefit its Office 365 users, but now it welcomes more people to join by offering a free version of the collaboration tool. There are over 200,000 organisations that use Teams and the number is increasing. Teams also offers regular QA sessions for its 72.2K follower base on Twitter. It is a major focus of investment for Microsoft and will change the way you work.