With so many of us thrust into a remote work environment over the past few months, we've had to find new ways to collaborate when we can't work together in person. Many of our clients leverage Microsoft Teams, a full suite of collaboration and communications tools. If you have an Office 365 subscription, then Microsoft Teams is yours already – but if you’ve just opened it up and are wondering where to start, we’ve got you covered with this quick guide.
What is Microsoft Teams?
Over the last few years, we’ve seen the rise of what’s known as workplace collaboration tools. These augment or replace more generalized workplace communication tools. Communication tools are largely designed to provide communications – such as chat, voice, and videoconferencing – with those outside your organization. Collaboration tools exist to further communications with your colleagues.
Microsoft Teams is organized into two major functional units – Teams and channels. You can generally imagine a team as consisting of a department, a group working together on a single project, a supervisor riding herd on a group of contractors, and so on.
Channels exist within Teams in order to further conversations on specific subjects. For example, within an accounting department’s Team you might have a channel devoted to an upcoming tax filing deadline, a channel devoted to the budget spreadsheet, and a channel devoted to general workplace chat.
Posts within a channel work like updates on social media. An administrator or a Team member can create a post in a channel with a critical update on a project (or just a post about a funny meme they found), and other channel members can post comments underneath the update to foment discussion. Team members also have the ability to communicate amongst themselves privately using voice, chat, or video calls.
As such, using Teams is straightforward on the surface. It’s designed – like most Microsoft products – to be very easy for newcomers to simply pick up and use. With that said, there are some more deeply buried features that can dramatically expand the functionality and usability of Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft Teams – Tips for Power Users
One thing many don’t know or take advantage of is that Teams has deep integrations with other Office365 products. In products like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, you can request that colleagues simultaneously view, edit, and comment on your assets by uploading files to a channel. You can also create new documents from within the application itself.
Teams is also a great way to eliminate version control problems within your organization. Any file you upload automatically gets copied to OneDrive, which reflects changes that are made across the department. Any team member that accesses the file through Teams or OneDrive will instantly have access to the latest version of the file.
Microsoft Teams users can also use the service to connect to some of the more specialized applications within the Microsoft family, including applications such as SharePoint and PowerBI. There’s also out-of-the-box integration (known as Connectors) with apps like GitHub, MailChimp, and Salesforce.
- GitHub lets you access pull requests and issues from the Teams dashboard, search for issues, and converse on topics related to the GitHub repository.
- MailChimp can send you notifications in Teams when a subscriber gets added to an audience, add messages to a campaign, and can help you manage your lists.
- Salesforce lets you view and edit data on your prospects via the Teams dashboard and can automatically notify your Team when something changes (like a closed-won opportunity – yay!)
This functionality is only this tip of the iceberg, however. Applications such as Microsoft Flow and Azure Logic allow you to create custom functionality within your Connectors and can also help you create integrations with applications where Connectors don’t already exist.
Imagine that you’re a sales manager, and that you want to get notified not just when certain activity occurs within your CRM, but when certain activity (such as initial connections with prospects) begins to change in frequency. It would be possible for you to integrate PowerBI, your CRM, and Teams together in such a way as to create a detailed visual dashboard that would alert you via Teams whenever this activity started to change.
Here at Nexxtep we’re dedicated to finding new ways of helping companies collaborate with Microsoft Teams. No matter where or how you’re working, there’s a Teams configuration that can help you increase productivity or just have more fun at work. Contact us today for more information!