BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO MICROSOFT TEAMS
Today, we will take a closer look at Microsoft Teams and its features, so that beginners can get a handle on the software.
WHAT IS MICROSOFT TEAMS?
Microsoft Teams is a relatively new piece of software that seeks to improve teamwork at every level. While the program has many functions, the improvement of team cooperation is surely the most important one. Unless you have the kind of business that involves nothing but solo work, you can probably put this software to good use. Today, we will take a closer look at Microsoft Teams and its features, so that beginners can get a handle on the subject and (hopefully) learn how to use Microsoft Teams at the same time.
HOW DOES MICROSOFT TEAMS WORK?
This software works by using the framework provided by Microsoft Office 365. Your office may already have Office 365, and this will be a significant advantage. Microsoft Teams was designed from the ground up to work in conjunction with Office 365, OneNote, and various other pieces of software from the same company.
The chat function is probably the heart of the program, as it is the part that will be used the most. In fact, many team members will use nothing else. While other team management software uses the outdated IRC protocol, Microsoft designed infrastructure for this program based on their previous work.
HOW TO CREATE A TEAM IN MICROSOFT TEAMS
When you start using this software, the first thing to do is to create a team. To do this, you first go to the app bar and click “teams.” You should then receive a message prompt that says, “join or create a team.” Click on the button and then look for the words “create a team.” You will then need to enter a name for the team and a short description of what it does.
You will have to choose between the creation of a public network and the creation of a private network. In a private network, no one is allowed to join without approval from the team leader. As a side note, your team leader should always be the one to create the team because the program will designate them as the leader and owner of the team. In a public network, anyone in your organization can join without approval.
When making this decision, you need to think about how often your team works with outside professionals. If your team does a lot of collaboration with people outside the company (independent contractors, etc.), a private network could be problematic. With a private network, there will be an extra step before you can communicate with these outside people. They will have to obtain guest access, and some of them could have problems with that.
After choosing your privacy mode, you are ready to add the individual members of the team. You can use their name, email address, or any other kind of identifying information. It doesn’t really matter which identifier you choose as long as the person can be readily recognized. If your team is already organized on a mailing list, you can add that mailing list directly to Microsoft Teams to save time. The maximum size for a group is 2,500.
HOW TO MANAGE A TEAM IN MICROSOFT TEAMS
For the team owner, there is a little more work to be done. In the app bar, next to your name, you should see a line of ellipses with options that can be clicked. Let’s take a closer look at these options.
First, there is the “manage team” tab. This allows you to add or remove members. For larger groups, this will also allow you to search for a specific member. If you are dealing with an extremely large group, this feature is indispensable. This tab will also give you the option to change the assigned roles for each team member.
Next, there is the “add a channel” tab. It is important to understand how channels work, and the concept is pretty simple. Channels are a way to divide the group into functional sub-groups. Most teams will have a “general” channel where team members discuss anything that is relevant to the project. However, you might also want to add some smaller channels for specific working groups. Small teams might be able to make do with only one channel, but they are a great organizational tool for larger ones.
The “edit team” tab is pretty self-explanatory. This panel allows you to alter any of the team details that you set at creation. This is a very handy thing, as it can often keep you from having to create another team from scratch. There is also an option to delete a team and a tab with the Microsoft Teams URL address. This can be given to new members so that they can access the group chat.
VIDEO CALLS IN MICROSOFT TEAMS
As you may or may not know, Microsoft owns Skype. Since Skype is the most famous video-calling app of all time, you can imagine how helpful that can be. Since they are owned by the same company, you can have faith that these two pieces of software will work together seamlessly. In fact, Microsoft is planning to scrap its “Skype For Business” platform and integrate everything into Teams.
This seems like a good decision because Microsoft Teams can do everything that Skype For Business can do, and a whole lot more. The idea is to consolidate all the most important business communication tools into one convenient interface. In most cases, Skype is used to speak with a team member one-on-one, but you can also arrange video chat meetings.
FEATURES OF MICROSOFT TEAMS
As a way to begin, we should mention the fact that Microsoft Teams offers a free version. While you won’t get all of the features, it’s hard to complain about anything that is free. For businesses that are unsure about its usefulness, this free version provides a great way to evaluate the software at no cost.
This program will also allow you to set up team meetings in advance. All the invited parties will receive invitations through a notification system. You will need to provide a name for the meeting, a time frame, a channel location, and any other details that you think might be important.
From the app bar, click “meetings.” In the bottom-left of the panel, you will see a button that says “schedule a meeting.” click on that, and provide all the relevant information. At this point, you can also use another really handy feature: The “Schedule Assistant.” If your team members have posted their work schedules on Microsoft Outlook, the “Schedule Assistant” program can interact with Outlook and give you that person’s entire schedule.
Whenever a meeting of any sort is arranged, it can be very difficult to work around the schedules of all involved. While Microsoft Teams will not remove this issue, it will give you a quick-reference tool that makes it easier to coordinate the busy schedules of many employees. Once you have finished with the scheduling, you are now ready to click the approval button and post the meeting details for all invited team members to see.
This software also allows for the uploading and downloading of various files. At various points, your team will be discussing facts and figures. It can be very helpful in such cases to present the entire report for the group to evaluate. This provides evidence that can be used to settle disputes, and documents can also be used to bring a new member up to date more quickly.
Uploading and downloading files within Teams will work just like an email attachment. You compose your chat message, and then hit the button marked “attachments.” You can then attach any sort of file to your message, and both will be posted at the same time. In other words, it’s exactly like sending a file over email. Some people like to use .gifs, memes, and other visual humor with this attachment tool. While you don’t want people goofing around too much, a little humor can do a lot to create unity within a team.
VERY GENEROUS STORAGE
For any business, good record-keeping is a must. Microsoft Teams has accounted for this fact by providing plenty of message storage for each account. In fact, message storage has no limit on this program. Even if you are using the free version, the program can store all of your conversations for later reference. While it’s a good idea to clean out the folder on a regular basis, it’s good to know that this program won’t delete your data. Other programs of this type do not offer such generous terms.
When it comes to files, the terms are slightly less generous. Rather than being unlimited, Microsoft Teams has two different storage limits. For free accounts, each user gets 2 GB of personal file storage. Each team can have up to 10 GB available. If you go with one of the paid plans, you will get 1 TB of file storage per organization.
AN EASY INTERFACE
Although installation can sometimes be difficult with this software (due to the need to connect it with other Microsoft programs), it does offer an easy-to-use interface for regular team members. If you aren’t a team owner, there is no real learning curve regarding the use of this program. It works a lot like a social media site, and everyone knows how to use those. This is a very nice advantage because you don’t have to spend as much time explaining the program to those who haven’t used it before.
Speaking of interfaces, it is worth mentioning the fact that this program integrates flawlessly with Office 365. Since these two pieces of software are built on the same foundation, and since they are designed to work together, they are often bundled together. All paying users of Office 365 can download and use Microsoft Teams for free. After all, they are already paying a subscription fee. Because many businesses use Office 365, it is a relief to know that they won’t have to add another expense.
Microsoft Teams is a very ambitious project. So ambitious, in fact, that Microsoft is scrapping older and more established programs to make room in the market for their new product. Only time will tell if this gambit pays off, but things look pretty good for Microsoft thus far. Microsoft Teams has been a very big hit in the business world, where anything that increases productivity is sure to be popular.