Microsoft Teams review
Microsoft Teams has become a firm favourite with businesses during the lockdown. As employees work from home, the functionality that Teams provides, such as all of your team's communication channels can finally happen in one place, has been a welcome change. There's no need to open multiple different applications; you have a single platform on which all of your internal discussions can occur. But is Teams worth it? And what are the drawbacks?
Is Microsoft Teams any good?
Microsoft designed Teams from scratch to bring together the functionality of several other Microsoft applications in a manner that would streamline communication and enhance workplace collaboration. It has become one of the most popular Microsoft applications and features as a crucial part of the Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise offering.
However, for companies who have been perfectly happily using Outlook and Skype for Business, it's natural that they might have to pause to think before transitioning over. One of the biggest questions they are likely to ask is whether Microsoft Teams is any good? And what benefits it would bring to their business to make the change? Is the time and energy that would go into changing ways of working worth it?
There are advantages that Microsoft Teams offers over other platforms - but also some negative points that companies should bear in mind. The pros and cons are laid out below to help you judge whether Microsoft Teams is right for you.
What are the pros and cons of Microsoft Teams?There is lots to love about Teams - the platform simplifies communications and can streamline messages and chats. But what else do you need to think about?
The pros of Microsoft Teams
Because of the way that Teams structures messages, your team don't need to worry about filling up inboxes - you can quickly and easily send information in a way that people can access if they need/choose to. If people are less self-conscious about "spamming" their colleagues' inboxes, they are more likely to share information and communicate freely. There is also the option to quickly acknowledge messages through the 'like' functionality, which simplifies things compared to exchanging a long string of messages.
When it comes to chats, Teams also offers another advantage over Skype for Business and Outlook: the ease of accessing chat histories. Bear in mind that you would have to switch between Skype and Outlook to access your chat histories, whilst Teams brings all this together in one place.
The programme also offers different options for handling external communications, allowing you to differentiate and prioritise your workload. On top of this, Teams also provides the opportunity to set up collaborative workspaces, so you can set up an area for your team, sub-team or project group, to communicate and collaborate in just a few clicks.
Users will easily access ongoing meetings happening on the channels that they are a part of, which arguably increases transparency and productivity.
The cons of Microsoft Teams
The single biggest drawback that some companies experience when using Microsoft Teams is a constant internet connection. Conversely, Microsoft Outlook would regularly cache information, which meant that temporary drops in connectivity did not necessarily harm productivity. For those working in an office, this is unlikely to cause too much of a problem. If your workforce has to travel a lot, the unreliability of internet signals may make this a genuine concern.
Hand in hand with this internet connectivity issue is the fact that Teams is also a pretty demanding programme to run on your systems. It uses a lot of storage space and can take time to open and run, mainly if working on an older system. Hardware is worth bearing in mind when choosing the right programme for your business. If you are concerned about your IT's ability to cope with resource-intensive programmes, Microsoft Teams may not be the right solution for you.
The application is also quite draining on battery life for those using it on a mobile or laptop. Again, that shouldn't be a problem for home workers or people using these devices in an office. After all, as long as you've got access to a power socket, you can keep your device charged, no matter how long you are on Teams. However, much like the internet connectivity issue mentioned earlier, any application that quickly drains battery life is unlikely to be a good choice for companies whose employees have to work on the move.
The filing structure associated with Teams can take some getting used to because each Teams channel is assigned a root folder - this is where users will store all files uploaded to the conversation. However, as people move files and folders around, these links can break, which can sometimes mean that changes to internal filing systems and structures are needed to get the best out of what Microsoft Teams has to offer.
Finally - Microsoft Teams is still a work in development. There are arguments to say that this is not a bad thing. It's helpful to know that the company is still investing considerable amounts in improving its functions. As it gets more and more users, the company uses advanced analytics to understand what does and doesn't work for its customers, and make changes to the programming that will help provide enhanced functionality.
You may also find that the programme lacks some flexibility when it comes to establishing groups. Each time you create a new Team on the platform, you have to start from scratch rather than replicate or sub-divide an existing team.
That does mean, though, that the programme might not yet have all of the features you would like. Whilst Skype for Business has now been retired; there has been a time lag in embedding some of the functionality it offered into Microsoft Teams.
The positive news is that Microsoft is very open about the approach they take. You can see their published Skype for Business to Teams integration roadmap. The roadmap explains when features like uploading PowerPoints during Teams presentations or sharing meeting notes will be included in Teams.
In conclusion, there are some clear pros that Microsoft Teams offers over its competitors; the ability to collaborate easily, a straightforward messaging system and easy access to chat histories. There are also some disadvantages - most notably the constant need for an internet connection and the fairly power-heavy processes that can make Teams quite hard on battery life.