Microsoft Teams is now one year old! In this article I want to cover the most common tasks and guidelines you should know when working with Microsoft Teams.

If you want to check out the other parts of this series “Mastering common challenges in Office 365” don’t be afraIT to check out the articles about PowerShell, OneDriveSharePoint and SharePoint Hub Sites.

As always, a brief overview of the topics and links to the sections:

The digital hub – Microsoft Teams

Microsoft says: First and foremost, it is the new chat-based workspace in Office 365 which brings together people, conversations and content.

I say: First and foremost, it is the umbrella over all Office 365 services to creates a single point of entry to empower people around the world.

Microsoft says: Second, Microsoft Teams brings together the full breadth and depth of Office 365 to provide a true hub for teamwork.

I say: Second, it connects the services seamless into the daily workstyle of each person to help beyond traditional collaboration.

Microsoft says: Third, since all teams are unique, Microsoft Teams offers rich extensibility, open APIs, connectors and supports full integration for the Microsoft Bot Framework.

I say: Third, since every person is unique, Microsoft Teams has the ability to give you the choice to set up your Team and Channel as you prefer. You don’t need to use Microsoft-Only-Applications if you don’t want to and can integrate 3rd party tools easily with built-in connectors, open API and full support of the Microsoft Bot Framework.

What Microsoft says: Microsoft Teams provides a modern conversation experience for today’s teams and supports persistent, as well as threaded chats for public and private discussions.

I say: Teams offers a state-of-the-art chat experience for the baby boomers, generation X and generation Y (millennial’s) workforce on a global scale.

For real, I think we can all agree on saying: Microsoft Teams is already super great and a prime example what Microsoft can accomplish in just one year! But I also like my phrasing 😉

Start using Teams

Alright, we briefly have now an overview what Teams is, but how to start this journey? The bad news: You currently need one of the following Office 365 plans: Business Essentials, Business Premium, F1, Enterprise E1, E3, E5, Office 365 Education, Education Plus or Education E5. If you need more information about licensing you can check Office 365 licensing for Microsoft Teams. Tip: If you have an F1 license in your tenant, check the Teams settings. For those users, the service was disabled by default and needed to be activated in my tenant.

Microsoft Teams setting for F1 license
Microsoft Teams setting for F1 license

There are rumors that we will see a free version soon. I highly recommend following the official Microsoft Teams Twitter account to stay tuned for upcoming features!

If we are talking platforms, then you have a great choice. Microsoft Teams has clients available for web, desktop (Windows and Mac), and mobile (Android, iOS, and Windows Phone). To get more insights in e.g. supported browsers you can check the official documentation about Get clients for Microsoft Teams. Spoiler: No Safari support yet.

For this guide I am using the Microsoft Teams application on my Windows 10 device, Microsoft Teams in the Web (Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge) and the Teams app on iPhone and iPad.

There is so much already possible in Teams and to be honest, I think it is almost too much and too fast to keep track on everything. But well, that’s what my Twitter is for to keep track! 🙂

You are already following the mentioned accounts above, right?

Thumb up!
Thumb up!

Structure your Team and Channel

You can create a Team from the Microsoft Teams application, within the web and even inside the mobile app. As shown in my last article about How to use 7 tools to create 1 simple survey the way via iOS is incredibly fast.

Each Team starts with one channel called “General” by default. (Not the best name in my opinion “General Channel”, well if you are a HIMYM-Fan, it’s cool). 🙂

Yes Sir, Major General Channel Captain Sir!
Yes Sir, Sergeant Major General Channel Captain Sir! 🙂

Each channel has the conversation and files tab.

Conversations and Files tab
Conversations and Files tab

You can structure your favorite Teams quite easily just by selecting the Team and selecting “Favorite”.

Favorite a Team
Favorite a Team

Chat

If you want to stay up to date and need a knowledge base you should check out T-Bot. He, she or it gives you already a good insight in the structure of Microsoft Teams. You see tabs as “Conversations”, “Help”, “FAQ”, “Videos” and “Whats’s new”. To start learning with Teams I recommend to start with conversations. Everybody can chat and with T-Bot you have at least a response. The responses don’t always make sense, but it is a good start.

Structure of T-Bot
Structure of T-Bot

The best option of course is: Just try it with a few friends if you have a chance. Again T-Bot can help here a lot. You can check the help section and the “Messaging” part in there to see what you can do.

T-Bot help section
T-Bot help section

One thing I really want to mention is the “how to reply to a chat” / “What is threading”. In the section in T-Bot you have an answer:

T-Bot Help Section

Threading makes sure that your reply to a post stays grouped with the original post and its subsequent comments. By clicking Reply below the last comment posted in a threaded conversation, you ensure that your response will be a part of that thread.

You might have noticed that Reply only shows up in channels. That’s intentional. For now, threading is only available in channels, and there’s no way to turn it off. If threading really isn’t your style, you can always stick to using your primary compose box at the bottom of the app.

When you’re replying to a thread, you have all the same formatting options that you do in your normal compose box.

I have seen it several times, that this is “new” to people. Even IT people. As mentioned above there is no option to disable threads in channels. If some people use thread and some don’t, you have a real pain to figure out where it starts and ends.

A bad example for threading
A bad example for threading
A good example for threading
A good example for threading

Editing of messages is also possible and for all the quick writers, it is awesome. To be honest, I need it!

Edit a message in Teams
Edit a message in Teams

Fun-stuff in conversations is important. It is often underrated, especially at the senior management level, but it is often a big door opener for people to use the chat component. So, if you are introducing teams to an audience don’t miss out showing that. A little office drama is always fun.

Teams sticker - Office Drama
Teams sticker – Office Drama

The chat component of Microsoft Teams is incredibly strong. Kind of clear, since it learned from an already great chat application with Skype. As I mentioned above, you don’t need that much “googling” or “binging” to find guidelines for Teams. Just chat with your new buddy “T-Bot”. 😉

Meeting

You can setup a meeting in Teams, you can call people or you can have video calls with people. A way to start here is “Who”. Just click on the left side of the Microsoft Teams app on the three dots and open “Who”.

Who-Bot in Microsoft Teams
Who-Bot in Microsoft Teams

Allow the Who-Bot to help you and you can start asking questions. You get also some ideas while typing what you can ask.

Who-Bot help section in the chat
Who-Bot help section in the chat

I know there is someone called “Diana” and I really need to talk to her… Let’s find out if “Who” can help. Just type “Who is <name>?”

Asking Who - Who is Diana?
Asking Who – Who is Diana?

If you want to chat, call or video call the person just click on the icon. Video call is not supported from your browser. At least not from Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome. If you call a person from the Teams app it looks like this:

Call from Teams app on iOS
Call from Teams app on iOS
Receiving a call on iOS via Teams
Receiving a call on iOS

Even a video call is surprisingly working well. This looks promising! Maybe I can provide a recording with Diana for the future 🙂

If you want to learn more about bots and how you get stated to develop one on your own, check out the documentation about Add bots to Microsoft Teams apps.

As mentioned I really need to have a meeting with Diana. You can easily set up a meeting within your browser. Just open the meetings section from the menu on the left and click on “Schedule a meeting”.

Schedule a new meeting in Teams
Schedule a new meeting in Teams

Then create you meeting with the participants you need. Note: You can select a channel to meet in.Plan the meeting in Teams

Plan the meeting in TeamsAfter scheduling the meeting in a specific channel, you will find the meeting directly in there.

Teams meeting in channel view
Teams meeting in channel view

Files

If you open any team channel you will find the tab called “Files”. If you wonder where those files are stored, well in the backbone of Microsoft Office 365 file management which is SharePoint.

It is a modern and clean design, but with one big disadvantage. It has no metadata column.

Office drama - No metadata
Office drama – No metadata

See, Office Drama stickers make sense 🙂

You can also pin / add a document directly as a tab in your channel, so your team can collaborate on for instance current project documents.

Add document as tab
Add document as tab

Lastly you can add another cloud storage, if you work with Dropbox, Box or Google Drive etc. Currently those are directly available if you allow this in the settings of Microsoft Teams via the admin center.

 

Add other cloud storage
Add other cloud storage

Teams tip

Here a quick tip regarding indicators and notifications for downloading files.

  • If you just click the files icon in the menu and there is no indicator, you get to your files.
  • The round blank indicators shows you, that you currently downloading a file. You also get a notification on your client in the bottom right called “Downloading…”
  • A green indicators shows you a successful download. You get also a notification banner again on the bottom right. For example “1 file was downloaded”.
Files indicator explained
Files indicator explained

Admin center

It was rumored that we get a separate Teams Admin center. And now it starts. The combined admin center for Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business is here. Currently I can not show you anything from my own tenant, it gets rolled-out and I hit “F5” every few minutes to include things from my experience in this article. 🙂 On a positive note you can already see insights at the article from Microsoft. I will update this article as soon as possible! Stay tuned and follow me on Twitter to get updates.

Integration with other Office 365 services

The integration portion is already great. By clicking the “+ icon” in the tabs you will find a bunch of different services you can add to Teams.

Add a tab in a channel
Add a tab in a channel

Listing of available tabs on 13th of March 2018

If you want to check how to integrate other services, well you can always check out Microsoft Flows capabilities. Some insights are already available in my article How to use 7 tools to create 1 simple survey. I also have something specific in mind for more depth in Microsoft Flow. Let me know on Twitter if you would like to see more about Microsoft Flow.

You can add easily several services out of the box as a new tab. My two favorite tabs are Planner, because… well I love Planner and Power BI as shown in the article about surveys mentioned above. I would also really like to see a direct integration with SharePoint lists which is currently not available. The workaround is by embedding the list via the “Website” option, not awesome, but a at least a way which is alright.

If you want to see a multi part series about Microsoft Teams you should definitely check out the series Guide to Become a Microsoft Teams Rockstar at Sharegate‘s blog! They are also linked within my Mastering common challenges – SharePoint article.

What is on the horizon?

There is no service in Office 365 which is that hard to foresee than Microsoft Teams. There are several things we already know which are coming. Go to the filtered Office 365-Roadmap Microsoft Teams. As mentioned earlier there are rumors of a “free” version of Microsoft Teams.

I think we get a free version, just because there are too many vendors out there which offer a similar services (workstream collaboration / persistent chat) in a free subscription mode.

Microsoft published also great new features for Teams which can be found at Office blogs.

Last but not least you can always check the user voice for Microsoft Teams. You will find a major feature to compete with other vendors which is “private channels” which is already in “working on it” status. So check those topics out and give them a vote!

To sum it up: It is incredible how far Microsoft Teams already is and what happened in just one year. I am 100% sure, that Microsoft Teams will become one of the best and most important service within Office 365.

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