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July 3, 2020

Microsoft Teams: For the Rest of Us

Microsoft Teams provides a range of features that are very powerful but it can be difficult to understand what it does and when to use it. Is it a chat tool? Is it a collaboration tool? Who are Teams made of?

In this article, we will give you an explanation of Microsoft Teams that you can hand to anyone in your organization when they ask: What is Microsoft Teams? It will help you explain Microsoft Teams in a way that it resonates with anyone you speak to – from tech experts to novices.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams helps organizations collaborate more efficiently by allowing them to do a number of different activities in a single tool. This includes meetings, chat, and collaboration.

When we talk about collaboration, we mean working with a group of people across your organization to create documents, manage tasks, discuss ideas, or have meetings. Microsoft Teams brings this all together in one place.

What does Microsoft Teams do?

Microsoft Teams has the capability to do a lot, but you have the option on both the organization-level as well as the user level to decide what to use and when. Here is an overview of the features that Microsoft Teams provides:

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams (the software tool) allows you to create Teams (a collaboration space for people who work closely together). Often made up of people who are invested in a common outcome: full or part-time employees, vendors, or guests of the organization. Teams are made up of Channels that allow you to group conversations, files, tabs, and applications together in a logical way.

The power of these Teams is that they provide a very rich collaboration experience in a single interface for users. Teams is a great way to collaborate together as everything you need to collaborate on is right there: files, conversations, meetings, tasks, etc., all with the added security and scalability that Office 365 provides. Microsoft Teams really is the new way of working and is making a huge impact on how organizations collaborate both internally and externally. 

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams workspace

Microsoft Teams Calendar and Meetings

Meetings are crucial for effective collaboration and Microsoft Teams has a number of features in this area. Your calendar is available directly in Teams, so you don’t need to go to Outlook. Plus, you can instantly launch a virtual meeting from Teams, allowing you to have audio and video calls. It also makes content-sharing quick and easy.

Microsoft Teams has many other virtual meeting capabilities, such as real-time captions, translations, and white-boarding capabilities for easy exchange for ideas. Meetings can be planned and sent out in advance, or you can quickly meet with anyone at any time for a quick chat.

Screenshot Desktop View of Microsoft Teams Virtual Meeting
Image: MS Teams - Virtual Meeting

Microsoft Teams Chat

Microsoft Teams allows you to have private conversations with one or many people, as well as public conversations with a Team that you are a member of. Chat tools like Slack have become extremely popular because it’s a better way to communicate compared to email. The chat in MS Teams allows for responses, replies, reactions, sharing of files, and many more features, making it more real-time compared to email.

Screenshot - Desktop View of Microsoft Teams Chat

Microsoft Teams Calls and Telephony

Say goodbye to real hard phones. Microsoft Teams is an all in one communication and collaboration solution. The Microsoft Teams application allows you to access your contacts, make calls through its integrated dial pad, leave voice notes and add speed dials (if you want), making it extremely useful just like your phone

What is Microsoft Teams? Screenshot Phone Call Functionality

Sharing Files in Microsoft Teams

There are a number of ways to use Microsoft Teams to interact with the files you have. Microsoft Teams offers a number of options to edit files – you can open them in your desktop applications or directly within Microsoft Teams. This means you can create, edit and interact with any file directly from within Teams instead of navigating to SharePoint sites or OneDrive.

Microsoft Teams file management
Image: Viewing Files in Microsoft Teams

You can edit files stored within Teams that you are a member of, OneDrive, or in third-party cloud storage providers such as Box, Google Drive or DropBox.

Adding a cloud storage provider for Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Integrations

Most organizations use a number of different tools in addition to Office 365 as part of their digital workplace. Microsoft Teams allows you to integrate tools directly into the Microsoft Teams experience, so you can work with them alongside everything else that Office 365 offers.

Screenshot - Microsoft Teams Integrations Options

Why Was Microsoft Teams Created?

Teams was Microsoft’s response to new ways of working and to compete with hugely popular tools like Slack. Like most of the tools that Microsoft makes, Microsoft Teams has got much better over time. Now, Microsoft Teams is an extremely appealing tool with a range of capabilities that put it in a category all of its own. 

Who can I ‘Team’ with? 

This depends on how you have set Microsoft Teams up, but the answer is really with anyone: 

  1. People that you work closely with. For people that you need to be in constant contact with, you can use Microsoft Teams for one-to-one chat, quick virtual meetings, and document sharing. 
  2. People within your organization. For projects, topic-based stuff, or collaborating with cross-functional people, you can create a Team and do all your activities within. 
  3. People outside your organization. For partners, consultants or external parties, you can invite them to join your Teams and collaborate.

The nice thing about Microsoft Teams is that physical location and time doesn’t matter – you can collaborate with anyone at any time.

Why is Microsoft Teams So Popular?

Microsoft Teams is popular for a number of reasons: 

  1. It’s the default tool: Microsoft Teams is becoming the default tool when collaborating with others on Office 365 so users are compelled to use it. 
  2. It’s the replacement to Skype for Business: Microsoft Teams will be replacing Skype for Business in 2021, and many organizations are already making the transition.
  3. Chat-based tools are all the rage: It provides real-time collaboration, like Slack, but with the integration to SharePoint, OneDrive and Outlook.

Work Smarter in Microsoft Teams with Orchestry

Hopefully, this has helped you understand the functionality of Microsoft Teams and that you’re now capable to explain ‘What is Microsoft Teams?’ if someone ever asks you about it.

Orchestry makes work simple in Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, by empowering your IT Administrators and employees to define a winning Microsoft 365 adoption and change management strategy, with a roadmap of what to use when, for what purpose. Orchestry increases usage and adoption while empowering through governance and simplifies through intelligent provisioning in Microsoft 365, organization-wide at a fraction of the cost, on a subscription basis.

To see Orchestry in action, send us an email at or start your free access now!

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