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January 28, 2021
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Everything IT Professionals Need to Know About Microsoft Teams

With a 44% increase in remote working worldwide in the last 5 years and 91% growth over the previous ten, continuing to optimize for digital interaction within your organization is a top priority. Microsoft is just one of many software providers that understand the paradigm shift and has also adjusted to offer companies an effective way to communicate and work.

Enter: Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration and video interface for Microsoft 365 users–and has become increasingly popular since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Specifically, Microsoft reported a huge increase of 75 million Teams users in April 2020, which was followed by a report of 115 million Teams users in November 2020. In addition to having millions of users, Teams is Microsoft’s fastest growing business app ever and is available in over 181 countries. Microsoft Teams has logged up to 2.7 billion meeting minutes a day. Meanwhile, Slack, Microsoft Teams’ main competitor, currently trails behind at about 12 million users.

However, Microsoft Teams’ popularity isn’t just about numbers. To learn about Microsoft Teams and why it’s so successful, read on.

What is “Microsoft Teams”

As previously mentioned, Microsoft Teams is an integrated collaboration and communication platform developed by Microsoft.

Essentially, Teams allows companies to chat, call, video chat, and collaborate in one place in real time. Within these different tools, there are a number of beneficial features that can help your business function better. Teams is available to all Microsoft 365 users, though some of the features may be limited depending on what plan you have.

Teams does have a few service competitors, two of which are Slack and Zoom. Teams differ from these apps in a few different ways.

  • Teams is an integrated platform that bundles instant messaging, calls, and video calls with Microsoft 365, which can be a desirable feature for some companies.
  • Slack is primarily an instant message platform, with supplemental features like document sharing and basic call features.
  • Zoom is mainly a video call platform, though it does have some chat features during live meetings.

While these three are similar in their goals to connect businesses, Teams offers a bundled set of applications.

Here are some main features that Teams offers. We’ll break down how to use them in the next section:

  • Chat
  • Meet
  • Call
  • Collaborate

Benefits of Teams

Teams offers an array of tools you can add to your business strategy and organization’s armada.

If you’re already utilizing a Microsoft 365 business account, Teams offers you an already integrated platform. As a Microsoft 365 user, Teams enables you to communicate in various ways with your company with all the perks and capabilities of Microsoft 365. That means sharing files, working together on files, and so on. This enables your company to increase productivity, communicate effectively, and improve your overall functions.

When using Teams, it’s important to know what’s at your disposal and how to use each tool. Below is a brief explanation of each feature and its capabilities.

  1. Chat: You can connect with your team members one-on-one or in group chats. This can help reduce email clutter, keep your team focused, and work together in real time. In chat, you can create private and group chats. Within chat, there are also a number of helpful features, including tagging users to get their attention, notifications, voice recording messages, easy search options, and even rich text editing for your messages. You can also create channels that correspond to whatever topic and include necessary individuals. There are also stickers and emojis available as well.
  2. Meetings: With Meetings, companies are able to host both audio and video calls in a secure environment. You’re able to host one-on-ones, team meetings, or even event meetings that can host up to 10,000 people. And, you can also share your meeting agenda prior to, record meetings, and share content during and after. Additionally, Teams offers “Together Mode” for meetings that creates a virtual meeting room/coffee shop to make users feel more connected–and ease virtual meeting fatigue.
  3. Calls: With Calls, you can make and receive calls internally and externally. This includes Microsoft Teams Calling, Phone System, Calling Plan, and Direct Routing. Within the Call tool, there are features such as auto attendant, cloud voicemail, call queues, audio conferencing, and Microsoft calling plans.
  4. Collaborate: Since Teams is already integrated in Microsoft 365, users can readily utilize apps like SharePoint, Excel, and Word within Teams. Users can share, create, store, and collaborate on files within Teams. Essentially, any collateral created or shared within Teams is synced and stored in the OneDrive cloud storage and SharePoint. You can also collaborate within private or shared channels, work on a file together in real time, and set up workflows to better suit your team. All of the tools within Teams are designed to help you and your organization work together and communicate in a seamless environment.

What is the Price of Teams?

Microsoft Teams has a free version available for users and three paid plans. The free version includes all of Teams’ features, and up to 10GB of storage for a company. You’ll also have access to:

  • Unlimited text and chat
  • Maximum of 500,000 chat users
  • 300 meetings and call users
  • Group video conferences
  • One-on-one video calls
  • 2GB cloud storage per person, 10GB for the whole team
  • Web-based versions of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel
  • Guest access
  • 250+ apps and services integrated for teams

While the free version boasts use of all of Teams’ features, it’s important to note that the free version lacks some security and administrative features. It does not include:

  • Enforced multi-factor authentication
  • Single sign-on management
  • User management
  • Exchange email hosting with custom email domain address
  • Personal file storage and sharing with OneDrive
  • Additional Microsoft 365 services including SharePoint Online, Yammer, Planner, and Stream
  • Advanced auditing and reporting

Aside from the free version, there are three different Teams plans you can purchase. Each plan has a different price point and inclusion of features and services:

  1. Microsoft 365 Business Basic: $5.00 user per month. This plan includes all features of the free version, is limited to 300 users, and includes some productivity apps and services, security and compliance, administration, and support features.
  2. Microsoft 365 Business Standard: $12.50 user per month. This plan includes all features of the free version, limited to 300 users, and has more features than the basic plan.
  3. Office 365 3E: $20.00 user per month. This plan includes all features and advanced security services offered by Teams and allows for up to 10,000 users for meetings and calls, and 500K users for chat.

The type of plan reflects what your company needs, whether that’s hosting many users, needing a large chat and meet capacity, or having a more rounded-out security, administrative, and support system. If you need stronger security and administrative features, a paid plan may suit you better. You can learn more about plan specifics here.

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