Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) is fast becoming the go-to business tool for organisations of any size. Why? Because it can do a lot of things. Not only is it a video conferencing tool, but it allows your team to message each other, co-work on files and share information from wherever they are.
In this blog post, we will be looking at the MS Team's journey to date, what it can do for your business and how to set it up effectively for your staff.
Microsoft Teams history
Released in 2017, MS Teams didn’t become popular as a communication platform until the pandemic. This is because of the wide nature and success of other video conferencing platforms already on the market, for example, Zoom.
What made the difference to their growth in popularity was that Teams comes with such a wide range of applications and integration into the MS business suite. Further to this Microsoft made it its purpose to provide easy access for free, in some instances, which allowed business owners the opportunity to move to remote working models quickly.
Its popularity grew further still with the introduction of hybrid working and daily active user numbers grew to 270 million in 2022 according to Statistica - a rise of 13,400% in just 6 years.
What can Microsoft Teams do?
Teams is like a virtual office in the cloud. It is a centralised hub where team members can communicate, collaborate, and manage tasks. You can use the software to video conference or message anyone in your contacts list.
What we particularly like, here at IT Soho is the
Siloed chat channels - making communication private
Access to your business files and systems from any device
Enhanced security - something we talk a lot about here on the blog
Integration with all of your favourite Office and M365 apps
Ability to integrate with a network of high-quality 3rd party apps
VoIP phone system (extra add-on)
Is there a free version of Microsoft Teams?
Yes! If you already have an Outlook or Hotmail account, then you can set it up via your Microsoft 365 menu (menu link in the top left corner).
Or you can hop on over to the Microsoft Teams page for the free version, which is available for small businesses and individual users.
Please note that a free account has several limitations, including creating groups and channels for chats.
Why we think a paid option of MS Teams might be better
For just a few pounds per user per month you can create teams and channels which is a great way to follow up on communications and keep your staff actively focused.
A paid option also gains you access to the wider Microsoft business suite, which we think is the best option for full business applications.
Want a full rundown of our comparison of each offer? Read our guide to Microsoft Teams free plan vs Teams Essentials vs M365 Business.
A simple checklist for setting up Microsoft Teams (paid)
Whilst simple video conferencing apps can give you instant video calling at the touch of a few buttons, MS Teams can take a little setting up.
You see, the very thing that makes the software so incredibly important to a huge host of businesses is the nature of its integration with your entire cloud system. Microsoft Teams has many moving parts and to use them effectively they need to be well organised.
Let’s show you what that looks like.
1. Set up your language
Go to settings and under general settings you can set your MS Teams language.
2. Invite your team and set up your groups
Take some time to invite all of your team members - start in-house and add contacts from clients and suppliers afterwards. We find batch creation makes it easier to set up the process in a more coherent way.
One of the advantages of Teams is that it allows you to set up specific groups for collaboration. This means that you can organise your internal comms by departments and, or by management levels.
Here at IT Soho, we believe that you should start with your departments and include management levels as a second step.
Creating a team from scratch
Choose “teams” on the left side menu, then select “join or create a team” at the bottom of your team's list
Press “create team”
Choose “from scratch”
Name your team and add an optional description
When you're done, press “create”
Repeat for as many teams as you need
Then to add members
Go to the team name in the team's list and click “more options” and “add member”
Start by typing a name or a Microsoft 365 contact (or group) and add people to your team.
When you're done adding members, press “add”.
You can also choose if a new contact is going to become the owner of a team. You can have several owners, so make sure you have established who should act in this way for each team before you add members to the team.
The people that you add to a team will receive an email letting them know they are now a member and the team will appear in their MS Team list.
3. Set up team channels
Channels are a great way to organise specific conversations, allowing you to create focused spaces for topical discussions. Let’s say you have an accounting team and you want to discuss key topics throughout the year; end-of-year accounts, payroll and cash flow forecast spring to mind. You can set these up and they will appear just under the team icon for that department.
To create a new channel
Select “more options (...)” and “add channel”
Add a name and description
Select a privacy level: Standard or Private
Choose to automatically show the channel in everyone's channel list - a great way to help with Teams onboarding during an office meeting
When you're ready, press “add” and the channel appears in your team's channel list
4. Set up team tabs
For a quick and easy way to access important files, folders or website links use tabs on the Microsoft Teams header menu.
You can do this within each channel too, setting up important productivity hacks for each team.
To create a new tab
Open the team you wish to make a tab for
Select the plus sign on the top right of your screen
Add the tab name and enter a relevant link
Press “add” to finish
Having that setup means that your team can access everything they need during your conversations and video calls.
5. Create and schedule MS Teams training business-wide
One of the reasons that company initiatives fail is that users aren’t properly enabled. Providing training on MS Teams negates the benefits of moving to Teams when not everyone is on board. It also avoids failure in communications, so that meetings are smooth and efficient.
Work with a Microsoft professional to train your teams. Here at IT Soho, we can provide tips on the most productive features, as well as deliver full training.
Need help implementing Teams in your business?
Are you in the central London area and need help setting up MS Teams across your business? Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your collaboration and productivity.