Microsoft Teams

One of the most highly anticipated parts of the Microsoft Office 365 suite has been the new Microsoft Teams application, a chat and collaboration platform designed to simplify group work.  UT is now rolling it out to early adopters on campus, and so far it is getting great reviews.

Microsoft Teams' core feature is a persistent and searchable voice, video and text chat app ideally suited for teams or projects. The strength of the service comes from its ability to connect and interact with other Office 365 applications, as well as third-party applications like Box, fostering and enhancing productivity and collaboration among teams.

To use it, you create "Teams", each of which is a hub for multiple chat rooms, which are called channels.  Multiple channels can be created within a Team. To help keep chats easy to follow, conversations are threaded, flow from top to bottom, and notify users of any updates. If users need face-to-face conversation, they can jump straight into Skype voice or video chats with other channel participants with just a single click.

However, Teams is more than just a chat hub. Teams is integrated with Microsoft's Office 365, which means it works with other Microsoft Office apps, such as Word, Excel, One Drive, SharePoint. PowerPoint, OneNote, and Planner.  This integration with Office 365 means that any documents, spreadsheets, or presentations that are shared within a Team are synced with a copy stored in Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage and a local SharePoint environment, so that every Team member always has access to the latest version. Collaborative editing of this shared content is also possible, with each user's changes reflected in the Office software in real time.  You can also use shared calendars with collaborative scheduling capabilities.

Team channels can also communicate with outside third-party services via Connectors. Connectors already exist to integrate with Box, Trello, Google Drive, YouTube, GitHub and more.  Users can now share content from integrated apps by directly embedding the information into the conversation, rather than by hyperlinking or taking a screenshot. Users can search for specific information in an app such as Trello or YouTube, and include an interactive card with the information in a chat.

Microsoft has also integrated its automated workflow service, Flow, with Teams. The integration allows users to create and manage workflows, review approval requests, and launch workflows from within Teams.  It allows streamlined workload delegation and task management with built-in tools like Planner.

Microsoft Teams is easily accessible via browser, desktop clients in Windows and Mac OS X , and mobile apps in Android or iOS. It is available free of charge to UT faculty and staff via Office 365.

If you would like to learn more about Teams, you can visit the Service Now Teams page at KB0016487 or view the recent "FYI" presentation, which includes a demo of the service. If you'd like to participate in the Early Adopters Program, you can get started by completing the Microsoft Teams Early Adopter Survey so that UT Information Technology Services (ITS) can plan onboarding and training designed specifically for your college, school, or unit based on your familiarity and utilization of current Office 365 applications. UT ITS can then provide a demo, consultation, or deployment.

Written by CNS OIT staff
Questions or comments? The best and easiest way to contact us is via the CNS Help Desk form.

See also: Software