Why Microsoft Teams is the best way to collaborate online
Remote working was already on the rise before the pandemic, but the periods of lockdown made it a necessity for most businesses. Part of the process of adapting to this new model of working was finding ways to replicate the benefits of the office environment. For most employers, this came with one key question: how could employees best work together on projects while they are miles apart?
Numerous software solutions sought to fill this breach, catering to different aspects of remote working. While we’ve helped businesses to implement many of them, one was not just particularly popular during the pandemic, but has persisted ever since: Microsoft Teams. Here’s everything you need to know about Teams, and why we think it’s the best way for businesses to collaborate online.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a software platform that merges together both communication and productivity tools. With similar capabilities to popular competitor Slack – or the consumer software Discord – Microsoft Teams aims to bring colleagues together to discuss projects and collaborate seamlessly on projects online.
Teams allows users to have conversations over text chat or voice calls, share files, and plan meetings through built-in video chat. It also offers a range of integrations, allowing features from other software to be plugged into Teams. This makes it not just a hub for company communication and collaboration, but also a central repository for information from a variety of other platforms.
How does Microsoft Teams work?
Microsoft Teams is based around the creation of ‘Teams’, and the different channels inside of those teams. Those channels can represent different departments in your organisation, locations, projects, or any other useful category. Teams channels can be public or private, and you even host meetings inside these channels, and schedule them into your calendar.
This siloed approach to online communication allows you to communicate instantly and directly with the people on a given project, or in a given division, much in the same way you would at work (and without distracting anyone else). Each channel also retains a chat history which is easily searchable, preventing key details from going missing.
Of course, some situations will require you to partner with individuals outside of your organisation, such as freelancers or consultants. One of the great advantages of Teams is the ability to add guest users, who can access the channels you allow, with specific controls on what they can see and do in those channels.
We consider the biggest pro of Microsoft Teams to be how seamlessly it connects with all the other Microsoft 365 collaboration apps and tools. Here’s a little bit more info on our favourite things about Microsoft Teams…
1.Integration of all tools in one place
One of the most valuable aspects of Teams is the ability to integrate with other tools and softwares. Teams currently supports over 700 apps and counting, including Trello, Asana, Salesforce, DocuSign, Creative Cloud and more. Each app plugs features directly into Teams, allowing you to share and even work on files without leaving the Teams interface.
Teams’ extensive app integrations mean you can make video or audio calls, work on files while chatting with colleagues, and seamlessly schedule meetings or share tasks with different channels. Its flexible API and development environment even allows you to make new connections yourself, or develop your own app to integrate your company’s proprietary software.
2. Cost effective with Microsoft 365
Many competing software solutions that offer a similar set of features represent an expensive investment, and one that quickly scales up the more users you have, and more storage space you require. A great benefit of Teams is that it is part of the Microsoft 365 software suite, rather than being a standalone product.
Simply put, if your company already has a Microsoft 365 licence – including software like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint – the Teams platform won’t cost you anything. This gives you immediate access to an incredibly powerful and flexible piece of software – and the impetus to try it out for size, and see if it works for your business.
3. Helpful bots
A feature familiar to users of other chat software is bots. While bots in consumer chat software might typically be used to download files or play music, bots in Microsoft Teams can fulfil a range of responsibilities. Any feature which might normally require a person to be present in Teams could feasibly be replicated by a bot.
Bots can have limited conversations with people or complete repetitive tasks, making them perfect for Q&As or for issuing reminders. You could for instance create a bot that answers set questions posed by new members of staff, or which provides a reporting process for inappropriate behaviour. Teams provides both existing bots and the capacity to create new bots, which can be as extensive and powerful as your programming knowledge allows.
4. Microsoft Planner
An underappreciated – if not underutilised – part of Microsoft teams is the Microsoft Planner app. While Planner is a standalone part of the Microsoft 365 suite, its integration with Teams has become such a common means to use it that it’s almost like a native feature of the software.
On a simple level, Microsoft Planner helps to keep track of people’s contributions to different tasks, and provides notifications when tasks are completed. A competitor of solutions like Asana and Monday.com, Planner benefits massively from its close Teams integration, allowing tasks to be tracked, discussed and adjusted more quickly and dynamically than its rivals.
There are a multitude of great features to Teams, including:
- Video meetings
- File sharing
- Wiki functionality
- Channel customisation
- Apps and connectors
- Search customisation
If you want to learn more about Teams, or stay aware of any future updates, keep across the latest news about the Microsoft 365 suite. To explore Microsoft Teams or Microsoft 365 integration and how they could benefit your business, get in touch with our expert team today.