On 3/14/2017 Microsoft Teams was generally released to Office 365 tenants around the world. Being that I am an Office 365 consultant I had already been tinkering with it for a while during the testing phase. Prior to my fiddling I read through the various blog posts from experts in the field and the two posts that stuck with me were by Benjamin Niaulin and Naomi Moneypenny. I highly suggest reading both of those articles if you or your organization is interested in learning more about where Microsoft Teams fits in with the rest of the Office 365 capabilities. I am adding another link to a great post at the bottom of the article as well but those are the two that I started with and suggest you do the same.
We have been working with clients with Yammer and Office 365 Groups for some time now but have yet to fully implement them internally. Microsoft Teams on the other hand provides us with a real-world solution we can start using internally immediately. Most of the work we do is considered managed services in that we are creating custom solutions for organizations in the web, mobile and Office 365/SharePoint spaces. Every project comes with its own nuisances as does every customer so finding a “silver bullet” for managing projects can be next to impossible but Microsoft Teams comes close.
At a high level, we currently use GitHub for source control, Trello for task management, Instant Messaging varies greatly from client to client, Skype for Business for Video Conferencing and SharePoint Online for project documentation. Those tools all vary from client to client but this would be our “ideal scenario”. Granted we could have integrated many of these tools in a custom application and did to a certain extent but wouldn’t it be a great if you could get everything to place nice together.
It is a great day! I easily setup Trello and GitHub integration with Microsoft Teams as connectors in a channel along with plugging in our project information from SharePoint Online as tabs. I have an easy to use chat experience with teammates and a desktop and mobile app to boot. One of the main drawbacks to using Office 365 Groups or Microsoft Teams in any situation is going to be the lack of external sharing so being able to create tabs for SharePoint Online document libraries and sites is a nice compromise as we can share the content via SharePoint Online but still access the information from the Microsoft Teams interface. I would still like to see Microsoft Teams opened to external users at some point though and I assure you I am not the only one.
One thing that it seems Microsoft is doing significantly better on is documentation and tutorials and Microsoft Teams is no exception. Open Microsoft Teams and click on the Chat icon and review the Help, FAQ, Videos or simply ask the T-Bot a question…it is that simple. To ensure I have not gained Microsoft “fanboy” status I also have some complaints on usability that I would love to see addressed in the very near future as well.
I already threw out my desire for external user access to Microsoft Teams but I also hope Microsoft creates a way to filter or show/hide the conversations on the channels sooner rather than later. I realized you had to use the Search bar to get to a specific conversation immediately but it is not very user friendly. I can see users having difficulty recalling what was input into a conversation 2 weeks ago and needing to scroll through hundreds of conversations to find what they are looking for because it isn’t showing up in the search results or even worse it is showing up in the search results they just cannot make it out.
My last complaint is not user related but as an administrator I would love a way to distinguish between Office 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams in the Admin Portal. Many of my clients use Office 365 Groups and SharePoint Online sites and it’s not uncommon to have a “name collision” between the two leaving the creator confused. Adding Microsoft Teams into the mix is probably going exacerbate the issue moving forward as I have a feeling it’s adoption rate will be high in the coming months.
All in all, I believe that Microsoft Teams has a lot of potential. Not sure if I would consider it a “Slack Killer” yet but I can see why Microsoft went this route. Parting words of wisdom…if you are unsure of whether you want to use Office 365 Groups, Microsoft Teams or SharePoint Online sites I would recommend checking out Jeremy Thake’s post titled Groups in Outlook vs Microsoft Teams vs SharePoint Online vs Yammer. While every situation is different this article presents a lot of good information to help folks make informed decisions regarding collaboration options in Office 365.
If you would like to see what others are asking for or put in your two cents check out the Microsoft User Voice forum for Microsoft Teams. If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it!