Collaboration on documents and communicating within a team is an ongoing and important tech trend at work. Clear and efficient communication between teams in the same city, or across the world, is crucial to success in today’s competitive international business environment. Microsoft have recognised and now addressed this trend with their Microsoft Teams app.
In my role at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, all staff and students have an Office 365 account, and are starting to use Microsoft Teams more often.
Not ANOTHER tool!
The response from colleagues and students – and my own feelings too – is initially to resist learning to use yet another tech tool. On the plus side, it’s not too difficult to pick up, and there are some good guides to help. Here’s a start:
Benefits of Microsoft Teams
The main benefits of Teams are:
- Easier interaction with a team than say email – conversations, documents and more, all in one place.
- Relatively easy collaboration on documents: Word, Excel, Powerpoint
- Team members can communicate easily 24/7, whether they are in the same city or on the other side of the world
- Plug in apps add lots of extra functionality
- Conversation interface is similar to Facebook, so quite familiar to most
- It works (at least in theory) on Apple products as well as Android
- Accessible on desktop, tablet and mobile
- Notifications can be set to suit you – for example, receive emails, pop ups or none.
- Seperate teams can be set up and still easily accessed in one place
- Do you have benefits to add? Please comment below.
Disadvantages of Microsoft Teams
Despite really wanting to love Microsoft products, I seem to have ongoing problems. These are generally quite random and I’m not sure if these are issues as I often access Microsoft products via an Apple MacBook, or could be related to my university’s internal systems. In general these issues are hard to clearly identify and solve, but I’ve had quite a few cases where I just get the impression it just “doesn’t work”. I acknowledge this could also be mistakes I’m making as I learn to use it. Hopefully this will diminish.
For example I’ve had one frustrating issue a couple of months ago where an important document just “disappeared”. I don’t know whether this mistake was on my part, a colleague deleted by mistake or some other problem. A few other disadvantages I’ve discovered are:
- Another tool to learn
- Pushed towards using/downloading the app instead of browser option
- Not one of the most common tools, so anyone you want to collaborate with also has to put the effort into learning
- It’s confusing when you open a document to edit – you are given the option to edit in Teams, online or on desktop app. It seems functionality is different in all of these, but it’s not clear. This also makes me nervous as to whether it’s correctly saving my changes.
- Potential for other team members to (accidentally) delete or change documents in a way that you may not wish them to do
- Not yet clear to me if you can easily collaborate with people outside your organisation, and whether it’s free for them to do so or if they must have an Office 365 paid account
- Do you have other disadvantages to add? Please comment below.
Microsoft Teams verses Sharepoint, Groups etc
I’ve been a Microsoft user for many years, and teach IT related subjects, so am not unfamiliar with tech. However I still have a lot of trouble getting my head around the Microsoft tools structure. It also seems to keep changing. So I can’t clearly describe the differences between Sharepoint, groups, teams etc and neither can most of my colleagues. Working on it. Personally, I prefer Google Docs, which is much more simple and straightforward – however Teams does offer functionality that Google Docs doesn’t yet.
Comparison of Microsoft Teams to Trello, Slack, Asana and other tech tools
I’m a big Trello fan, and have heard good things about Slack and Asana. The main reason I’m leaning towards using Microsoft Teams is that it’s an official tool for my work at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. Though students and colleagues do use “non official tools” in our work, it’s strongly encouraged to stick with the official ones.
So have you tried Microsoft Teams? Would love your experiences in a comment. Also for other tech tools you like.