Could Microsoft Teams benefit your business?

December 10, 2019

We’ve had a lot of clients ask us recently whether they should be using Microsoft Teams in their business. So we thought we’d summarise our views about the benefits it can bring, alongside some of the pitfalls.

What is Microsoft Teams?

In short, Microsoft Teams is an online chat-based system, designed primarily to make collaboration easier amongst teams within a business. Once you create a ‘Team’ on a project it enables online conversation amongst the full Team and sub-teams within it, as well as integrating with other Microsoft and external apps. So, depending on which apps you choose, documents can be stored and collaborated on, meetings scheduled, video conference calls arranged and run and much more..

Accessing Microsoft Teams

Microsoft is available as part of three Microsoft business plans Office 365 Business essentials, Office 365 Business premium and Office 365 enterprise – however it is not available to users of Office 365 Business, so they would need to upgrade to the premium plan to access it.

How can Microsoft Teams help improve collaboration?

Imagine you have put together a team to work on a project to develop a new product. Historically, Microsoft has offered you a plethora of services and apps which you could utilise to help you – from Outlook and Yammer for communication among team members, Office 365 to develop documents, Sharepoint to store those documents so people can access them, Skype for conference calls etc…

Microsoft Teams brings those services together, enabling you to do everything the different services previously offered, all within the Team that has been set up inside the software. Within the Team, ‘channels’ are set up for specific groups enabling them to chat easily with each other online – and if required, with the click of a mouse they can then change to a video or voice call. In fact Microsoft is withdrawing Skype for Business (from July 2021) as the use of Microsoft Teams is expected to replace it. Team members can also collaborate on documents with tracking, share images, share calendars, arrange meetings, screen share and more.

This means that everything to do with the Team is in one place, with access permissions set by the owner of the Team for each team member, making it easier to quickly see what is happening in real time and collaborate on the latest versions of documents.  Because Teams is integrated with Office 365, documents, spreadsheets, presentations etc are also stored and synced within OneDrive or Sharepoint. In addition to the integration of Microsoft Apps, Teams can also communicate with outside services via ‘Connectors’ – those already in existence include Connectors to push updates from Mailchimp, SAP, Evernote and more to channels within a team.

If used effectively, this means Teams has the capability to improve the way teams work,  and can also be a powerful conduit to encourage project teams to increase collaboration as well as collaborate more effectively. This can make the development of a product for example a quicker more integrated process.

The flexible environment of Teams allows logos, images, news streams etc to be added to the home page of the team, so each Team can be made to look unique – almost like an individual website.

Before you rush off and start using Teams however, there are some pitfalls that you should be aware of.

Downsides of Microsoft Teams

1.      Backup – Documents are not automatically backed up, so this needs to be done manually unless companies move to Microsoft’s virtual server – Microsoft Azure, where automatic backup is available at additional cost. The main issue with this being that Microsoft have become notorious for increasing the pricing once companies have moved their server across.

2.      Syncing – When you create a Team, all access permissions and rules are unique to that Team.  This is independent of any file structure you may have already created elsewhere, so if you add a document from Sharepoint for example into Teams, the original document within your file structure will not be synced. Instead, Teams will create its’ own ‘site’ within Sharepoint where the file will be added and synced to. This means without careful consideration when setting up Teams, it can mean people are working on different versions of the same document without realising it.

3.      Security – this is again linked to backup. If a team member was to leave the company and decide to make trouble, they could potentially delete a document within Teams meaning that you could no longer access it. Similarly someone might delete a document by mistake  not realising others still needed it.

Using teams effectively for your business

Despite the drawbacks detailed above, we believe that Microsoft Teams could benefit many businesses. With the introduction of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft is really coming of age in our opinion and has introduced a product that can really help collaboration within a business – as long as it is set up internally in a way that overcomes the pitfalls.

So our advice would be not to jump straight into Teams without first discussing it with your IT team – whether they be internal or external, so that they can help you plan how best to use it.  We have successfully set up a number of our clients on Microsoft Teams, helping them to deploy it in the way that is most effective for their business. We have worked with them on developing procedures about how best to use it, as well as implementing plans to ensure all data and documents are backed up.

Next steps

If you are reading this and would like to discuss how Microsoft Teams might help your business to collaborate and thrive, please give us a call on 01275 400300 to arrange a meeting.