Introduction to Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams logo
By James Mallalieu on

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is the latest addition to the Office 365 suite and offers a new, unique way for co-workers to collaborate.

Teams are collections of people, content, and tools that centre around different projects and jobs within an organisation. In Microsoft Teams, team members can have conversations and share files, notes and more all in one place, via either a browser, desktop or mobile app.

Each team contains a set of channels that enable conversations to be organised around specific topics, themes or subjects.  Conversations between co-workers are persistent and threaded, enabling everyone to keep engaged as and when they are online. Users can add personality to their digital workspace with emojis, stickers, GIFs and custom memes to make it their own.

Team owners can customise their experience by adding tabs to access information related to the Team such as, tasks in Microsoft Planner or videos in Microsoft Stream.

Image of Teams screen on laptop

What makes Microsoft Teams different?

Microsoft Teams is not the only collaboration option within Office 365, we already have SharePoint, Yammer and email to name but a few, so you might be wondering how this new offering differs from those well-established applications.

The simple answer is that Microsoft Teams brings everything together in one place, conversations, files and notes. A single application where users can check and update project progress, share, co-author and review documents with co-workers, and discuss deliverables with the project manager.

Image of Teams screen on laptop

Yes, this could all be done using a combination of Outlook, SharePoint, Planner and Yammer but that would rely on a lot of pre-requisite knowledge about each of these individual applications, not to mention the need for users to navigate around the Office 365 suite.

What if we want to use SharePoint and OneDrive for managing our documents?

For those organisations that are using or planning to use SharePoint and OneDrive, there is a perception that introducing Microsoft Teams will result in yet another file repository.

The reality is that Microsoft Teams uses SharePoint for managing and storing files, so whilst you can access these files from within the Team, there is a corresponding SharePoint site that hosts the actual documents.

The benefit of this approach is that all the rich features of SharePoint are available for files within Teams, such as using Microsoft Flow to drive a workflow process. The files will also be available within the wider Office 365 application eco-system, so can be surfaced in search, sent as email attachments in emails and covered via your security and compliance policies (e.g. auditing and Data Loss Prevention).

When a new Team is created, an Office 365 group, along with the appropriate resources (e.g. SharePoint site) are automatically provisioned and the members granted access. If you want to know more about Office 365 groups, please read my previous blog “What are Office 365 groups” for more information.

Does Microsoft Teams replace Yammer?

Microsoft Teams does channels and chat, Yammer does groups and conversations, it’s the same thing, right? Wrong, Microsoft Teams and Yammer focus on solving entirely different problems, of course there are some overlaps in terms of capabilities (e.g. they both use SharePoint to host files, that’s the magic of Office 365 groups) and there are certain scenarios where either application could provide an effective solution, however it is not simply a case of one or the other, most organisations would benefit from both!

A simple way of positioning Microsoft Teams and Yammer is as follows:

  • Teams is great for small focused teams looking to collaborate on projects and jobs in real-time.
  • Yammer is great for discussing ideas, sharing updates, and crowdsourcing answers from the entire organisation.

If you are planning on using both Microsoft Teams and Yammer it is very important to clearly position each application within your user communities.

How can I get started with Microsoft Teams?

You could simply enable Microsoft Teams within your tenancy and let the user community loose to see what they make of it, or alternatively, you could take a more measured approach and consider the following sequence of activities:

  • Understand the capabilities and limitations
  • Understand security and compliance implications
  • Conduct an early adopter/pilot rollout
  • Plan user adoption

How can Silversands help?

At Silversands we understand the importance of getting to the heart of the matter and talking to the right person with a clear agenda. We are offering a complimentary 1-2-1 Skype session with one of our top specialists in this field. This will give you an opportunity to ask any questions that this blog raises or start a dialog on the best possibilities when planning for Microsoft Teams within your organisation.

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