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Microsoft Teams: what it is, how it works and what are its advantages

Microsoft Teams is a collaborative platform that brings together different Microsoft applications and services in one place. Through Microsoft Teams, it is possible to develop projects collaboratively between different users, an issue that is possible through all the tools focused for this purpose and that are made available on a single platform.

Microsoft Teams is an “all in one” that allows a wide number of possibilities. From generating documents and sharing them with the rest of the group while it is hosted on OneDrive, to the possibility of collaboratively modifying them and storing changes automatically. Plus useful features like instant chat via apps like Skype for Business. It is even possible to add external apps to the same platform so that team members can make use of them.

This service was launched to the world in 2017 and since then, it has not stopped growing and becoming one of the leading platforms in the field of business work. Its success is largely due to the different updates and new functions that Microsoft is adding to its service. By 2020, Microsoft Teams registers a figure of 44 million users.

How does it work

Microsoft Teams works as a work tool through which team projects can be organized and tools for collaborative use can be provided to the virtual environment used by members. Thus, when starting a project, it is possible to create business units, work teams, collaborative groups and other modules in which the responsible users will have access to one or other functions of the platform. In the same way, communication between users can be carried out through group chat rooms that function as a “channel” to manage or work on the different stages of a project.

Work teams also have other tools to stay focused on achieving their designated goals. For this, different chat rooms (channels) can be created for the same work group, where depending on the purpose of each channel, it allows to discuss separate topics and keep the purposes of each stage of the project in focus.

In general terms, all Microsoft Teams functions are easy to use and provide a comfortable experience through popular applications, which are used through devices such as PCs or mobile phones. In this way, Teams is a versatile and flexible platform for its users.

How to use

Using Microsoft Teams is not as complicated as many might think. To get started on the platform and learn how to operate in this application, just create an account and begin to familiarize yourself with its different functionalities. Here are the first steps to using Microsoft Teams.

  1. You can use Microsoft Teams from different devices. To have Teams on a PC or mobile device, the application must be downloaded from theMicrosoft’s official page.
  2. After choosing the desired version of Microsoft Teams, press the ” Download Teams ” button and wait for the download of the .exe file to finish.
  3. Once the application download is finished, it will simply be necessary to run the installer and complete the installation of the program. This installation is the same as that of any program, so it is enough to accept the terms and conditions, select the location where the program files will be hosted and complete the installation.
  4. After installing the Microsoft Teams app, the application will be accessible through the shortcut generated on the desktop.
  5. To access Microsoft Teams, you need to register on the platform. To do this, just sign up for Microsoft Teams frommicrosoft.com. If you already have a Microsoft account (an Outlook.com / Hotmail account will do), you don’t need to create another account.
  6. Once the account is created, you can log into Microsoft Teams from the downloaded desktop version or from the browser.
  7. After logging into the application, you can start managing the platform, add new users to the work team, create chat rooms, add third-party applications to the environment and more.

Utilities

There are many Microsoft Teams functionalities that are made available to users when planning almost any type of project and managing everything related to it. These functions are provided by different applications and tools integrated to the platform. The most important ones are outlined below:

Meetings

An important part of business work is based on meetings between team members, so Microsoft Teams has Skype for Business integrated into its platform and provides all its benefits to Teams users. In that sense, thanks to this tool you can create channels, upload files, plan meetings, designate roles and of course, hold group video conferences.

Microsoft Teams Chat

The Microsoft Teams chat works in a similar way to Skype, allowing to generate group channels for collective conversation or individual conversations. It is also possible to add bots to chats, which allows you to organize rooms, solve problems quickly and more.

Every time a work team is created, a collective chat is enabled that contains all the team’s users. After this, it is possible to give a personalized name to the channel, assign roles to each user, link a calendar to the chat and add documents or other types of files.

Channels

Channels are different types of chat rooms that can be created within the same workgroup. The intention of the channels is to have independent conversation threads that allow conversing or dealing with different objectives in parallel and thus have better control of the information.

External apps

Microsoft Teams has a board in which it is possible to add different tabs with applications external to the platform that can be useful for the purposes of a project. In this sense, the freedom offered by the platform is great. Thus, for example, you can add a Trello task list, integrate an Excel table, a Word document, etc.

Member management

The owners of each Microsoft Teams team can manage the list of members who are part of it. Thus, through the same panel, it is possible to add members, designate roles, configure and customize different elements of the group and more.

Advantages and disadvantages

Microsoft Teams has become one of the best platforms of its kind, something achieved from its multiple utilities. However, there are some disadvantages in the use of this service that it is necessary to know. To understand this contrast and decide if Microsoft Teams fits the needs of a business, it is necessary to consider what are its most important advantages and disadvantages.

Advantage

  • It is a versatile platform that allows linking a user’s account with different devices such as PCs, Laptops, tablets and smartphones.
  • It has the possibility of using comfortable, intuitive and easy-to-use chat rooms that allow you to keep track of all activities.
  • Thanks to the integration of Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams provides all the benefits of this service, allowing you to enjoy video conferencing and voice calls at all times.
  • Thanks to Planner, an application integrated into Teams, you can plan tasks and set goals on a calendar that the entire work team has access to.
  • Microsoft Teams offers the ability to add third-party applications to its platform. This allows its users the ability to use media such as Twitter, Trello, RSS, Yammer, and many more.
  • All kinds of documents and files can be created and edited collectively through Microsoft Office applications.
  • The files stored on the platform make use of OneDrive, Microsoft’s storage cloud.
  • Microsoft Teams is fully tied to Office 365.
  • It has a free plan that provides a good number of tools to its users.

Disadvantages

  • Since it is a platform that allows remote work between different users, it is essential to have an internet connection.
  • Unlike other services such as Yammer, Microsoft Teams does not allow you to create work teams with more than 300 users.
  • As in this type of platform, it is necessary to pay to have 100% of its functions.
  • Despite its growing popularity, it is still not as widespread as other collaborative software such as Slack, so many users may still not be able to adapt to their environment.
  • It does not have an interface as easy to use as that of other platforms of this type.

Alternatives

In addition to Microsoft Teams, there are other similar platforms that allow you to create projects collaboratively. The following list outlines the main alternatives to Microsoft Teams that exist today:

Slack

Slack is arguably the most popular collaborative work tool today. It was launched in 2013 and since then, it has become one of the most used platforms of this type in the world. Through Slack, it is possible to use external services such as Google Drive, GitHub, Trello, Heroku, and many more. Likewise, it allows you to create chat rooms, have private conversations between users and carry out task lists.

Spike

Spike is a different space than other alternatives of this type, since it focuses on offering different chat messaging formats and provides an alternative to the use of business emails. This platform allows you to make voice calls, video conferences and in its free version, it is one of the most complete applications of this type. One of the great advantages of Spike is that it is possible to invite users to collaborate without the need for them to create an account on the platform.

Fleep

Fleep works as a cloud platform with different functionalities for working together remotely. To use Fleep, you need to configure a space in the cloud from an administrator account and from there, form a workspace with the necessary applications to achieve the desired objectives. To do this, Fleep has a large number of third-party tools and applications available. As expected, Fleep also has chat rooms and the ability to enjoy instant messaging. All of this, not to mention voice calls and video conferencing.

Rocket.Chat

It is a platform similar to Slack designed with open source. Rocket.Chat is open source and provides almost all of Slack’s functionality in a free form. Through this space you can perform all the usual tasks that collaborative software of this type allows, making it possible to make voice and video calls, create and manage chat rooms. In addition, there are many external applications that can be integrated into the use of Rocket.Chat, where some stand out such as Google Calendar, Trello, Jura, Zapier, Azure Alerts and many more.

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