Tech Tip: A Guide to Using Microsoft Teams

September 16th 2019 / By David Smetana

Improved collaboration is often a fundamental reason why businesses look to move to a modern IT infrastructure and applications. Microsoft Teams is here to facilitate this.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Part of the suite of applications in Office 365, Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace for internal and external teams to use. Using one window, the communication application is designed to enhance teamwork at all levels of your organisation. Teams can be accessed via a desktop or mobile application or a web browser.

What are the benefits of using Microsoft Teams?

Improving communication and collaboration is key to the pull of Microsoft Teams. The integration with other Microsoft services means that it also enables users to seamlessly switch between chats, calls, document editing and sharing, all whilst remaining secure. This improves productivity and efficiency.

An added benefit is that Teams enables businesses to collaborate with parties outside of the organisation. External users can use Teams through invitation, without the need for extra licenses.

What can Microsoft Teams do?

Alongside the instant messaging, calling and meeting properties, Microsoft Teams offers one-window functionality.  This means that users can create, edit and collaborate on documents saved in SharePoint, OneNote and OneDrive without having to navigate through various windows.

Calendars and Microsoft Planner can also be accessed from the application, meaning that meetings can be organised, and projects managed, from the centralised hub.

Further to this, Microsoft Teams can be integrated with external applications such as Salesforce and MailChimp, all to be accessed directly from the app. 

Getting started

If you have already used applications such as SharePoint to improve team collaboration and communication, there will be a few new features to get used to. Here we run through some of the key Microsoft Teams terminology and features to help get you started:

Navigation

The buttons on the left-hand side of your screen will let you navigate your way through the Teams you are a part of, your activity feed, chats, meetings, projects and files.

Teams

A team is a group of people, conversations and files, found in one place.

Upon clicking on the ‘Teams’ button, you will be able to view all of the teams or channels that you are a part of. They are likely to be split between department, projects, product launches or social elements such as company events.

The order that they appear in can be changed by dragging and dropping. Users can search for a specific team and join with a code, or they can create a new team. 

Channels

A channel is a dedicated discussion belonging to the (aforementioned) range of departments and projects.

Every team will have various channels. By clicking on each channel, you will be able to view the conversations that have taken place and files and documents that have been shared.

Chats and conversations

Chats can take place as group conversations or as private one-on-one messages. Conversations are organised by date, before being threaded.

If you feel like you want to liven up a chat, fear not! Along with sharing files, you can send emojis, GIFs and stickers.

When replying in a conversation, replies will be attached to a specific thread. To mention and notify a specific user, you can @ them. To notify everyone in a team @team can be used, or @channel lets everyone who has favourited that channel know that your message has been posted.

Activities

‘Activity’ found on the left-hand side of the screen is a general feed that displays all your notifications and a round-up of the happenings in the channels that you follow

Files

By adding and sharing files, other members of the channel can either view the document or collaborate and work on it with you in real time.

Tabs

Adding a tab means that you can add a short cut to an application or file. Examples of these include OneNote, Planner, SharePoint, Excel, Power BI or even specific websites.

Search

The search functionality in Teams allows you to search for specific people, items, documents and application, before launching them from the results.

You can use the ‘filter’ option to refine your results.

Profile

You can manage your profile settings under the icon in the top right-hand corner of the screen. In here settings can be changed, a profile picture can be added, updates can be found, keyboard shortcuts implemented, and the mobile app can be downloaded.

Files

Files can be uploaded via the attachment icon under the conversation bar. The files can be found and uploaded in the standard way, after selecting the file location and subsequently, the file you want.

There is also an intuitive option to be used under ‘recent’. You can efficiently browse locations using the ‘Browse teams and Channels’ and ‘OneDrive’ options.

Calls

You can make both video or audio calls from teams. This uses Skype functionality, and therefore, you can call someone from a chat, dial a number to call, and view call history and voicemail details from the same location.

Meetings

A meeting can be started in a channel using the ‘meet now’ icon under the ‘start new conversation’ bar. A meeting will be based in that conversation, a name for the meeting will need to be entered before you invite users to the meeting.

 

Of course, this is a brief insight into the functionality that Microsoft Teams has to offer. Should you wish to further explore the bespoke benefits that Microsoft Teams can bring to your business, please contact a member of the Chalkline team today.

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