Microsoft Teams – Right for My Team?

microsoft teams - a way to share and collaborate without using slack
Microsoft Teams is about to integrate with Skype, and more organizations are moving to use this collaboration tool. See if it's right for your organization.

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It’s probably no surprise that communication often surfaces as one of the top barriers in the workplace to effective productivity. In fact, if your company has completed any employee engagement surveys recently, it’s likely one of the top issues listed in those results.

Regardless of the tools your organization’s technology leaders and champions suggest to collaborate, communicate, and engage, there are likely many tools available at your disposal – including email, chat, or even the occasional phone call. But as offices are becoming increasingly open to virtually connecting workers from locations across the globe, the need for providing tools to connect these workers effectively continues to drive change.

Welcome to Microsoft Teams

If your company offers any products in Microsoft’s ever-evolving suite of business tools, you’ve probably already heard of Microsoft Teams. As with most team-chat tools, Microsoft aims to use Teams to connect staff and enhance collaboration, providing an alternative to – or even replacing – email communications.

In fact, Teams has been compared to Slack – a real-time communication chat device available on many devices to connect teams, employees on the same project, and co-workers with specific interests.

Organizations are moving to Teams

teams and teamworkChances are, your IT and communications professionals already know about Teams. Communicators love collaboration, and IT professionals are always piloting new technology. In addition, IT personnel always appreciate Microsoft’s integration and support within existing licensing.

A recent Spiceworks survey of 900 IT decision makers reveals the impact of Teams in the already-cluttered enterprise chat and collaboration tools marketplace. According to that survey, Teams has edged out Slack to become the second most popular business chat app. What’s number one? Microsoft’s Skype for Business, Microsoft’s other and more established chat client, remains at the top of the list. And with the announcement of the merging of Teams and Skype for Business as one product beginning this year, chances are Teams is here to stay.

IT also likes Teams because it has the potential to reduce “Shadow IT,” employees installing and using apps (such as Slack) without their department’s knowledge or permission. Issues for Shadow IT typically involve risk, such as fraud or storing data that can’t be maintained. Teams helps eliminate the need for Shadow IT.

Integration with Teams

Integration goes beyond Skype. As Teams goes mainstream, with more organizations moving to use it, more integration is coming. Companies are looking to enable communications professionals to take advantage of what makes Teams great, while promoting more of their communications system.

For example, ElevatePoint’s intranet has integration with Teams, enabling more real-time communication as well as point-in-time communication. Our artificial intelligence-driven chatbot connects to Teams as well as the intranet, providing links and answers to routine questions (such as benefits questions).

As Teams continues to develop, no doubt more integrations – including outside ElevatePoint – will crop up.

One tool to rule them all?

team collaboration to improve productivityLoved by IT, used by communications professionals, Teams solves a lot of problems around sharing, communicating, engaging, and collaborating. But there’s no “one size fits all” product for all organizations. Your organization should consider its needs.

Teams is great for:

  • Real-time, chat-based communication
  • Using text and images, including links, to convey information
  • Project or team communications, especially when the co-workers aren’t in the same building or location
  • One-on-one communications, where employees have a quick chat to solve a business issue
  • Special interest groups empowered by your company – such as your community involvement or green teams
  • Organizations that have an established Microsoft footprint, using Office 365
  • Organizations trying to move away from Slack or Google Hangouts to manage risk
  • Integration with chatbots and intranets, such as what ElevatePoint has developed

Teams isn’t great for:

  • Communicating with your entire organization, unless you’re in a small business (with fewer than 50 employees); although Teams may be good in an emergency – such as when there’s inclement weather
  • Longevity, reviewing old discussions (though those discussions are discoverable, reducing risk); that’s why you need an intranet
  • Video discussions; Skype and Teams aren’t integrated yet

Your organization may still want to use social collaboration, including on your intranet as well as provide video capability through Skype. And Microsoft Teams Sites are, of course, sites. Because Teams is a Microsoft product, these “sites” are actually SharePoint sites; the same architecture behind your OneDrive for Business files, or even your intranet.

One more tool for digital transformation

Regardless of your intranet solution, Teams should never be considered a replacement for it. Instead, most organizations are adding Teams as a real-time communication option. Organizations are also waiting for additional announcements of how Teams will integrate more thoroughly with other Microsoft products and with it, Microsoft Certified Partner products.

In fact, it could be said that Teams is simply another tool to increase your organization’s transformation to a more digital workspace. Your company may or may not be the ideal environment to foster and encourage a remote-friendly environment. However, this should be a decision based on choice, not limitation.

When to use Teams

  • Collaborate and share content with dynamic project contributors
  • A conduit between staff and external users to collaborate on the same project or task
  • Skype savvy users who thrive on real-time sharing and communication beyond phone and email
  • Communicators who work in organizations that support and promote Office 365 solutions

When not to use Teams

  • Replacement of intranet content
  • Sharing of sensitive or confidential information
  • Use in organizations that prioritize security and governance
  • Groups looking to adopt new solutions without a solid business need

The more tools available, the more choices you have, and therefore the more options you and your colleagues have for deciding what makes you more productive. This reason is probably why communicators love it – it’s another way to reach employees quickly and easily. Best of all, you can try it if you already have Microsoft licenses.

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