Unpacking and Exploring Microsoft Teams

Discover Microsoft Teams
Source: Microsoft

Cloud-based communication platforms like Slack are currently all the rage. If you’ve used one of them before, you know they allow everyone on a project to communicate with each other. Each individual also gets to access all resources, and depending on their clearance, they can add to, or edit different documents. Every aspect of a project is accessible in a single location, which makes them simpler to manage; and for those of us who are less organised, or even those who are always on top of things, it is a bit like hitting the jackpot at a casino! No more chasing people for something you need as it is all at your fingertips.

If you knew it was only a matter of time before software behemoth Microsoft jumped on the unified collaboration platform bandwagon, you were right! Their version is called Teams, and has been favourably likened to Slack, which is arguably the leading product in the industry right now. Since the basic package is included with Office 365 and works seamlessly with Office resources, it’s as convenient as it is user-friendly. Find out more below and see if you should be playing on Microsoft Teams.

Getting Started

To start using Teams you’ll need to go to the Teams Microsoft products page, sign up and choose the access plan that’s right for your company. After that, you can access the communication platform in the browser of your choice or download and install the app to your desktop or mobile device.

To set up your teamwork collaboration, you’ll need to give yourself a Teams name and description. Companies usually go with their official business name and information, but there’s no reason that you couldn’t get creative here. If you’re using the software to manage the planning of a wedding, for instance, you might call your group The Bridezillas!

Each Team that is launched is given an automatically-generated Office 365 Group, SharePoint site, OneNote account and Plan – which is the plan you chose when first signing up. All these elements work together in an integrated hub, to make your life easier. For example, the SharePoint site grants you access to all your team’s Office 365 documents and OneNote reminders.

Using Teams

On the shared platform, each team’s site has subsections known as Channels. A General Channel is created automatically for basic collaboration, and thereafter you can add as many as you wish. Each Channel will be dedicated to something specific, such as a product launch, social media posts, blogs or departments within your company. New activity or notifications in any Channel will bolden its title on your screen, so that you know to check it out immediately.

Microsoft Teams in action
Source: mspoweruser.com

The Channels are further divided into Tabs, with Conversation, Files and Notes instantly created in each to support group chats, shared documents and notes respectively. You can add as many Tabs as you wish; a Channel dedicated to social media might have different Tabs for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

The Conversations Nexus

The Conversation Tab is central to any Teams hub, and is essentially where all the magic happens. Think of it as the world’s best meeting minutes-taker, and you’re not far off. Video calls, file sharing and all other teamwork is recorded here, and @mentions allow you to tag anyone and notify them of any new developments. Since so many people now report that they work more effectively remotely than they do in an office, communication is more important than ever, and Conversations facilitate effective communication flow.

Managing Teams

Since the communication platform is part of the Office 365 ecosystem you can manage the settings from in the Groups control panel. Here, you can say who will be able to create teams in the first place, which features are prohibited or permitted, and whether or not extensions can be used. This flexibility allows Teams to maintain your organisation’s company policy on important issues. Since adopting the Teams platform is so simple and cost-effective for Office 365, this robust collaboration solution comes highly recommended. The simple feedback programme has also been shown to take public comments under advisement and make active changes on products. To track these adjusted features, users can visit the Office 365 road map. Under new Microsoft director Satya Nadella, Teams and other tools and resources seem to respond to and accommodate user needs.