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How to Use Microsoft Teams & Guide
What is Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is a combination of multiple different software programs. Instead of having to open up different programs such as Skype for Business, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, Word, chat and other programs you can add on or build, you simply open Teams instead where you will be able to use all of these programs in the same place.
In addition to these programs listed above, you can also add applications from inside Office 365 via tabs and countless 3rd party applications and websites too.
Teams can be accessed via a mobile, web or Windows installed client. In the screenshot below, I have displayed what a typical Team layout looks like and how to use it.
Teams is best used for a goal, project or work task where multiple people will be involved each contributing or collaborating on pieces of whatever your end goal is.
Here are some links to other great resources, videos, articles and whitepapers on Microsoft Teams:
Collab 365 Team Community - collab365.community
Microsoft Tech Community for Teams - Microsoft
Microsoft Teams Website
The official Microsoft Teams site is located at https://products.office.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/group-chat-software
Microsoft Teams End User Guide
There are a few Teams end-user guides and videos available to assist you in understanding how to use the product. I have listed a few below:
Microsoft Teams: Step-by-step intro for using, enabling and managing the experience - Microsoft Mechanics
Teams Quick Start Guide - Microsoft
Teams End User Interactive Demo / Walkthrough - Microsoft
Microsoft Teams Help Center - Microsoft
Microsoft Teams Licensing
Licensing and cost to use Teams depends on a few things. First, you cannot just "buy" a Teams license, it is a part of the Office 365 suite of products which has a monthly subscription fee. Office 365 is a group of software so you get far more than just Teams when subscribing to it. Price ranges for monthly Office 365 plans range from $8 to $35 per user a month. For educational facilities, the costs can be as low as $0 (free). Check out the links below to learn more about which subscription plans to Office 365 that includes Teams is right for you.
Microsoft Teams Administration
There are two parts to administering Teams:
1. Managing a Team (you are the manager of a Team)
2. Administration via the Office 365 administration console (you are the network / Office 365 administrator)
I have included links below to learn more about these two roles and functions below:
1. For Team Managers:
- Assign Roles & Permissions in Microsoft Teams - Microsoft
- Use Office 365 and custom connectors for Microsoft Teams - Microsoft
2. For administrators:
- Managing Teams with PowerShell - Vlad Catrinescu
- Teams IT Readiness Training - Microsoft
- Teams.rocks (a great admin / PowerShell site) - Magnus Sandtorv
- Teams Quick Start Planning Guide - Microsoft
Microsoft Teams Governance
Teams is a powerful application. Sometimes that comes with not knowing the best way to use it to avoid pitfalls and poor planning that could make your Team a bit messy. Using Teams the right way is usually referred to as governance. I have included a link to a great article below on Teams governance and some others below:
Microsoft Teams Governance Planning Guide - Melissa Hubbard with Jared Matfess
Microsoft Teams Use Cases
Microsoft Teams is a unique combination of software. Thus, it usually appeals to specific types of people performing specific types of projects. It also is important that it is not used for projects that the software does not "mold" to or with people who dislike it. That being said here are a few tips and use cases for Microsoft Teams:
1. Preparing for a Webinar: A good friend (Melissa Hubbard) and I were preparing for a webinar on Microsoft Teams (which you can view if you like here). This was great as we were able to upload documents, take notes, chat questions back and forth and if needed, invite external users to our meetings. The keys to success in this scenario were that it was a small group of interested people performing a collaborative project that had a short time span and not too much content.
2. Managing Small Agile Projects: Visual Studio Teams Services is a great tool, but I admit that it can be a bit time consuming to set up and train others on how to use it. If you are looking for something less powerful but much easier to get going, Microsoft Teams can be a good solution for this. The best use case of this would be for projects that probably will not have more than 30 people involved, and not all of them using the application at once. It also would be best for projects that a moderate number of features you are building in sprints. Since most people will create a channel for each sprint, if you start to have more than 30-40 of them, it will get a bit messy as sorting and collapsing isn't quite there for Teams as of yet.
3. Planning the Launch of a New Product / Market Plan: Microsoft Teams can be great for a small to mid-size marketing team planning to launch a new product or service. One example was launching a new IT related instructional product. It started with the combination of the authors creating the content. The Marketing team joined in with naming. An external SEO consultant joined in to provide their work regarding search engine discoverability. Finally, a few random persons were added as external users to preview the product prior to its launch. Users were able to share files, make calls, setup meetings, create an external Kanban board (Planner) and add it as a tab to organize the course and much more.
To wrap this section up, a few ideas of where Microsoft Teams would probably not be the best fit are:
- If you are looking for an immediate replacement for Slack with "slack lovers" (Teams is not quite up to Slack in its features yet, however, it will get there in time.)
- Projects where there are hundreds of people who will be using the Team all at the same time.
- Project with massive sized media files.
- People who have old, not very powerful computers as Teams consumes a decent amount of your computer's memory.
Microsoft Teams for Developers
Development in Teams is rather broad. You can program different things such as connectors, tabs, bots and apps, but most of them are compiled under the title of an "app" regardless. Node.js appears to the flavor of programming currently being used, however there are other options that are less popular such as connecting to the API via C# or Python. Here are a few articles to get you started:
Develop bots for Microsoft Teams - Microsoft
Develop tabs for Microsoft Teams - Microsoft
Q & A on the Teams REST API - Stack Overflow
Microsoft Teams Vs Slack
Teams is often compared to another software titled Slack. Slack has been around longer as a stand-alone program. Although Microsoft Teams is built on top of Skype for Business, which has been around for many years, the other features within Teams are not quite as advanced yet. This topic is definitely a topic that can cause heated discussion amongst users depending on their angle. A couple of notes I can mention right off where Teams is not as strong is:
- Although Microsoft's official documentation says Teams can handle around 2,200 (or 2,500) users, I have not yet found anyone that has created and used a Team for that many users
- There are some features that Slack has that Teams does not, one important one is the ability to embed code
Now that being said, there are some advantages Teams has over Slack because it is a part of Office 365. Most notably, the integration with other Office 365 software and the security and compliance features that are second to none in Office 365.
Here are a few more articles on opinions and comparisons between to the two software products:
Depending on your role when using MS Teams, your need for reference material might vary. I have built this interactive reference how to guide based on my work experiences which are usually where I end up having to perform all job roles for the product. Thus, if there is too much information for you here, just select the areas you need and go from there. Enjoy!
Image Credit: Matthew J. Bailey (me)
I hope to add more content to the MS Teams how to guide and interactive reference from the feedback I receive. I also am intentionally focusing on finding work done by the community to highlight all of the great contributions us techies provide at no cost to help others. Make sure if you have any great Teams related content to let me know!