9th November 2018 DigitalWorkplace By

Microsoft Teams Review: Clearing up the confusion

Microsoft Teams is a Slack competitor, aiming to be the hub for chat, collaboration and meetings in the Microsoft suite. Teams can be used to schedule and launch meetings, collaborate on documents in real time, chat with colleagues and has the full power of o365 behind it with smart integrations. The Teams product uses ‘Teams’ to group together people of shared interests, ‘Channels’ to divide up their topics of discussion and ‘Tabs’ that showcase integrations. The main focus is on collaboration and getting ad-hoc work done in real time

With over 200,000 companies now using Microsoft Teams to collaborate there are some great use cases out there but it isn’t always clear how that works for you and your people. We’ve pulled together an honest overview of some of the most frequently asked questions about Microsft Teams we get and how you can use it to take your collaboration efforts to the next level.

What is Microsoft Teams good for?

Microsoft Teams can be a real power player inside organisations that are ready to move to real-time collaboration. With a focussed adoption effort, I can see Teams making a real difference to how people work together. The pure-play chat function is a step away from the never-ending email chain reply-to-all and allows groups of people to continue conversations over weeks, months or years.

Being able to schedule a meeting for a channel, and automatically post the recording of the session thereafter takes the difficulty out of meeting admin which can be a real time suck. And the ‘Meet now’ option takes the formality out of previously scheduled meetings which is always a good thing.

The real game changer for me is being able to edit docs in real time together in Teams, bringing collaboration, chat and meetings altogether in one place. Being able to make changes at the same time to a document without overwriting each other’s work is the sweet spot in the collaboration journey.

When to use Microsoft Teams

 Microsoft pitches Teams like the ‘inner loop’, it feels very mean girls-esque but describes quite well how people feel comfortable collaborating. It’s no secret that quite often smaller groups of people will pull together on a piece of work before taking it out to the wider team. This is where Teams fits into the Office suite. It’s a hub to get work done as opposed to a place to communicate about getting work done, its key to understand the two are very different.

Microsoft Teams is confusing

Not surprisingly we hear all too often that Microsoft Teams is confusing. Partly that’s down to the huge number of menus and options in the tool, but also in part to the positioning of Teams. Microsoft could certainly do some work to simplify the options but we’re seeing similar with Cisco’s Webex Teams. Bringing together traditional conference calling with document collaboration and persistent chat is never going to be easy.

Although a barrier to adoption, clear training and support for new users though launch, alongside clear messaging and an adoption plan will alleviate some of that pain.

What are Microsoft Teams channels?

It’s worth pointing out here that you can have more than one “team” in your Microsoft Teams instance. The overuse of the word ‘Teams’ here can be confusing in itself. Channels live within those Teams and allow you to break the conversation out into topics. So, for instance, the Communications team might have channels for PR, Marketing and Internal Comms. Each team will always have a General channel to get you started. A very similar format for those that use or are aware of Slack.

What is a Microsoft Teams meeting?

A Teams meeting is a scheduled or ad-hoc meeting that happens in one of your Team channels, annoyingly you can’t do this from inside your channel and have to flip to the meetings tab to schedule.

One of the most impressive features here is how the channel and meeting interact together. Whilst you are in the meeting, notes can be captured in a sidebar and are automatically posted in the channel chat, meeting recordings are automatically posted in the feed and the Wiki tab. Very handy to take away some of the meeting admin and free up some more time to get work done. A true win for me.

Bots and Apps in Microsoft Teams

Like most platforms these days, Microsoft are leveraging integrations and automation to help Teams become a work hub. Of course, you have native integrations with the res

t of the o365 suite, but integrations with productivity apps such as Jira and Asana, document management apps such as Egnyte, and Survey monkey bring the tabs to life.

The Tabs are a great way to pull in these integrations but with the already overloaded options and menus in Teams, it can be quite overwhelming. Some guidance to Channel and Team owners for setting these up and a clear understanding of value for the users will certainly help with this.

When to use Microsoft Teams and When to use Yammer?

This one threw us too, there’s so much overlap and misunderstanding about what each product can do that it’s important to understand how that fits as part of your digital suite. Simply, use Teams to work together with the people you collaborate with every day and use Yammer to share updates about what you are working on with Stakeholders, the wider team or company.

Is Microsoft Teams replacing Skype for Business?

Yes! Microsoft announced earlier this year that Teams has now reached feature parity with Skype for Business. The upgrade to Teams will obviously take some work as the products are very different. In the long run, Skype for Businesses reputation was always a barrier to adoption and the move to a ‘Slack like competitor’ should help but a serious adoption effort will be needed throughout the transition.

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