For streamlined, unified communications and extensive collaborative capabilities, Microsoft Teams is currently one of the best solutions in the market.
For much of the last 3 years, many businesses around the world have been relying heavily on Microsoft Teams – a platform designed for collaboration and communication. Though it has been around since 2017, it is safe to say that its rise in popularity has been most prominent between now and 2020. We spoke with a company that has been using and provision businesses with Microsoft Teams since its launch – the company in question has been providing Office 365 consulting services since 2010. According to them, Microsoft Teams was a crucial solution while they were adapting to remote working. But the usefulness of the platform is by no means limited to that.
The Basics of Microsoft Teams
For anyone that is not entirely familiar with Microsoft Teams, it is a very straightforward platform to understand. As the name suggests, it is designed for team-based work and collaboration. Organisations can create teams in the platform – i.e. a marketing team, a sales team, an IT team, etc. Within these teams, there are channels, which can be created for different topics and conversations. Then, within a channel, you have a dedicated chat, a SharePoint-linked file library, a OneNote notebook, a channel wiki, and you can create custom tabs.
Best Features in Microsoft Teams
While most people think of Teams as primarily a video meeting platform, its main purpose is as a collaboration platform – and this is where most of the great features come in. Some of the different collaborative features in Teams include:
- Site Templates – teams in Microsoft Teams are linked to SharePoint, and when a team is created, a SharePoint site is created alongside it. A great feature in Teams is the ability to create team/site combos based on templates – thus making it easier to configure the team according to specific needs. The company we spoke with also provides IT support for Construction, and they said that Teams templates helps many of their clients streamline project management by create teams with channels tailored to their work.
- Teams Apps – Another great feature in Microsoft Teams is the range of apps and workflows that can be added to it. There is an entire ‘marketplace’ in Teams dedicated to apps that have been designed to be used within the platform; as well as workflows, which are automated processes that enable teams and organisations to streamline their work. Teams includes a range of Microsoft-built apps, and many more third-party apps.
- Microsoft 365 Integration – probably the best thing about Microsoft Teams is the way it integrates with the rest of the Microsoft 365 stack. It has already been mentioned that Teams integrates with SharePoint and OneNote, but it also integrates with apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint. For example, colleagues can open a Word document within a team channel, and work on it together. Similarly, Excel spreadsheets can be added to tabs in a channel. There are plenty of examples of how M365 apps can be used seamlessly in conjunction with Teams.
How to Get Microsoft Teams?
Luckily, no matter what route you take, accessing Microsoft Teams as a business is quite straightforward. There are two main options:
- With Microsoft 365 – Microsoft Teams is included in all professional M365 plans (business and enterprise). According to the Microsoft 365 consultant we spoke with, this is the best option if you can afford it, because it means you also get access to all the other products and services included in M365, which tie into the various Teams functionalities.
- Microsoft Teams Essentials – A standalone plan for Microsoft Teams also exists. This plan is designed for small businesses and micro-entities that want to access the communication and collaborative features of Teams, but might not be able to afford a full Microsoft 365 Business plan.