Microsoft Teams is a central software hub for workplace communication and collaboration and a key part of the Office 365 suite - one that many organisations and users are still figuring out.
Microsoft’s solution for content creation, group-file sharing and messaging between users in the modern digital workplace is powerful and easy to use, yet more than 18 months after its official launch, we speak to many customers who are still unfamiliar with its broad range of benefits - for both IT admins and end-users themselves.
If you are yet to familiarise yourself with Teams, our team has taken the time to breakdown the top 5 business benefits of the service for both IT and your end-users, so you can get a better idea of what it brings to the table.
Microsoft Teams - IT business benefits
Teams is cost-friendly and up-to-date
Microsoft Teams is a cost-effective collaborative software platform, with no upfront costs.
As it’s part of Office 365’s monthly subscription model, it also benefits from automatic, regular feature upgrades in addition to cumulative updates and security patches, meaning it’s never outdated.
Instead of having to pay for Teams as standalone perpetual software like the old days with Office 2016, its current delivery model helps organisations plan their IT expenditure far more easily.
If you have Office 365 Business Premium/Business Essentials, or Enterprise E1, E3 or E5 subscription, your company most likely has access to Microsoft Teams as part of the Microsoft 365 services package included (Exchange, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Yammer, etc).
Teams is secure as the rest of Office 365
Teams is a key compliment to Microsoft’s broader office productivity suite, but it also shares many of its benefits - namely multi-factor authentication (MFA), single-sign on (SSO) via Active Directory (AD), secure guest access and automatic encryption of data in transit and at rest.
It’s also built on the same enterprise-grade cloud platform as Office 365, meaning you get the same advanced compliance and security standards of those services, such as:
SOC 1 and SOC 2
EU Model Clauses (EUMC)
Teams also has Conditional Access (CA), which lets your IT department restrict access to data to only devices permitted under your organisation’s current set policies - and it also regulates MFA, domain-joined devices and blocking access to services by IP addresses or user location.
Finally, the in-built Audit Log integrates with Office 365 Security & Compliance Center, so you can set alerts and report on audit events and log data as you would with other MS services.
Teams has over 150 connectors to Microsoft and third-party services
Microsoft Teams leverages the cloud-based and on-premise connectors of Azure.
As a result, your business can connect Teams to over 150 (and counting) Microsoft and third-party services to easily source data, collaborate on projects and receive updates from your network in Teams.
Analytics: Google Analytics, etc
CRM: SalesForce, etc
Customer Support: Aircall, Groove, Zendesk, etc
Developer Tools: Azure DevOps, GitHub, Stack Overflow, etc
HR: CATS Applicant Tracking System, SimpleInOut, etc
Marketing: CheckMarket, GetResponse, MailChimp, etc
News & Social: Facebook Pages, RSS, SharePoint News, Twitter, Yammer, etc
Project Management: Asana, JIRA, Trello, etc
Others: Cloudbot for Azure, Flipgrid, SurveyMonkey, etc
Connectors are organised into 9 distinct categories, and MS Teams’ current broad range of connectors help IT admin and users from multiple departments collaborate and work easier.
Teams has mobile device management with Microsoft Intune
Microsoft Teams gives your IT department substantial control over all work mobile devices with Teams by using mobile device management (MDM) capabilities of Microsoft Intune in Office 365 Teams.
By using Intune, you can:
- Protect your corporate data stored and shared with mobile work devices
- Manage which workforce personnel and mobile devices have access to company data
- Control how authorised users access and share data
- Ensure all work applications and devices are compliant with your organisation’s security requirements
If you're not already familiar with the mobile counterpart, Teams is just as accessible and feature-rich on smartphones and tablets. There’s an official Microsoft Teams app available on all major mobile operating systems (Android and iOS), meaning collaborative work and communication can continue on-the-go with minimal roadblocks.
Teams makes meeting/scheduling easier
Microsoft Teams currently syncs with your Office 365/Outlook calendar and can integrate your Google Calendar and other third-party schedulers thanks to its extensive list of connectors.
The dedicated ‘Meetings’ tab on the left-hand side of the interface displays all scheduled and past appointments, with details of the agenda if included. You can set up meetings in this tab via Teams or do it in Outlook; regardless, they will show up in both applications without issue.
Setting up meetings in Teams lets you host it in a channel, meaning everyone will be able to see a meeting is happening without having to individually send invites. If you don’t choose a channel, meetings are automatically private and only those you invite will be able to join.
Microsoft Teams - User business benefits
Teams is natively integrated with Microsoft Office 365
If you work from the office desktop, remotely on your laptop or on-the-go via your smartphone and tablet mobile devices, Teams is highly accessible and seamlessly integrates with all your Office 365 productivity software applications such as Excel, OneDrive, PowerPoint and Word.
Because it brings all your apps together, Teams makes managing files, messages and emails easier for the end-user and allows you to use everything without leaving the program interface.
For example, instead of having to juggle back-and-forth:
- Multiple background applications (maybe a Word Doc is open and you have to shuffle between PowerPoint?)
- Several conversations (ever have to flick through more than two Skype windows and an Outlook email chain?)
- Dozens of open Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome web browser tabs (we’re definitely guilty of this)
You can manage and use all of these Office apps within Teams itself.
Heavy users of Microsoft Exchange or Skype for Business (which Teams is intended to eventually replace) will especially appreciate being able to use both email and messaging apps to contact colleagues or business contacts without having to leave the Teams interface and sort through multiple conversations windows unnecessarily.
You can customise your Teams workspace with third-party apps
Outside of being able to create your own team channels, add files, create tasks and even maintain wikis, Microsoft Teams is compatible with several third-party applications, which your business users can integrate in a similar way to the Office 365 productivity application suite.
Using in-built connectors, your marketing team can, for example, send information to specific Teams channels using data sources such as Bing News, Facebook Pages or Twitter - or your analytics team can have Google Analytics statistics regularly update in their own private channel.
This functionality is simple but flexible and allows teams to easily keep track of key business updates or information coming in from their connectors, in a manner specific to their job role.
Real-time messaging and historic tracking keeps everyone in the loop
The core of Teams is its real-time chat functionality and its threaded conversations makes it easy to keep track of every private and team discussion, as it’s all recorded in one easy-to-find place, keeping collaboration and productivity flowing.
Whether you’re assigned to one channel or multiple, you can @mention individuals to bring important messages to the attention of relevant co-workers effortlessly.
The group conversations are there for the whole team to view, like, share and add to the discussion, and newly added members can easily get up to speed with important work updates as everything is archived.
In comparison to the traditional workplace communication method of email - Outlook Groups, for example, where conversations often splits into personal and group messages fairly quickly - Microsoft Chat in Teams ensures everyone is always kept in the loop of the latest updates.
It has helpful Slash command shortcuts
Taking a page out of Slack’s playbook, Microsoft Teams lets you speed through common tasks faster and share files easier with a set of helpful slash commands.
If you don’t use Slack or other messaging apps, think of slash commands as basic shortcuts that let you, for instance, view recent files, set your status or switch to a specific communication channel more efficiently by typing in the command box right at the top of the Teams interface.
Most useful slash commands in Teams
All you have to do to start using slash commands is type ‘/’ in the command box, and a drop-down menu will appear to show all the current command shortcuts supported by Teams.
You can also press Alt + K on Windows or Option + K on Mac to open the command list. Everyone in Teams can use commands, and system administrators can customise which commands are disabled for further streamlining.
Teams lets you make memes
It’s the killer feature that makes any collaboration tool essential: Teams lets you make memes.
Instead of using shoddy third-party meme generator tools for your low-brow digital workplace banter, Teams has an in-built meme creator ready to use for your various messaging needs.
The meme picker includes most pop-culture memes to-date (who can resist Doge or Grumpy Cat), but Microsoft also included exclusive “Office Drama” memes reminiscent of the 1950s pop art cartoon style for staff to do their very best to ruin with in-jokes nobody actually understands.
All in all, it’s an injection of humour in an otherwise very serious communication tool, but one that’s appreciated by the Xello office - as you may gather from some of our favourites above.
Using Microsoft Teams today: Next steps
We've seen the many communication and collaboration benefits of MS Teams first-hand and the positive impact it has on customers we work with who are actively fostering a more modern workplace. Get more familiar with how Teams can benefit your organisation and watch our on-demand webinar: Microsoft Teams: Best practices, standards & governance in adoption.