Email alone is no longer keeping up with the demands of the modern workplace. Collaborations are getting more and more complex, and people need the ability to communicate with their team members in a way that is organized. Successful collaboration tools have to be simple to use but have the ability to handle complex tasks.
There are many apps vying to be the leader in this relatively new realm of applications. Slack has emerged as a strong contender, with many people praising its ability to connect team members in productive ways. Microsoft Teams, however, is coming forward as a viable alternative with increasing attention to detail that makes the app a formidable opponent for Slack. Let’s see how the two stack up.
Slack was launched in 2014 as a platform for team collaboration. It has since earned a reputation as being a very useful tool for teams who need to communicate in multiple ways.
- Key Features: Slack allows for group messaging, direct messaging, video and audio conferencing, file sharing, and app integration.
- Pricing: Slack offers a free version, but it has limited functionality. Standard access costs $8/person/month and Plus access costs $15/person/month, making full access much more expensive than many of its competitors.
Part of Slack’s appeal is that it can be used in so many different ways to meet so many different needs. It is designed to be adaptable. Small teams can use it to help cut down on email inbox clutter. Large teams can break their groups into subgroups to help streamline communication. Creative teams can share drafts with the touch of a button and edit collaboratively using app integration.
That flexibility, though, comes with some downsides. Some users find the app overwhelming, and there isn’t a clear-cut user manual because there isn’t a single way to use it. This leaves a huge learning curve for Slack users both on an individual level and for companies that want to set some guidelines for how to use it best for their particular needs.
Microsoft Teams Details
Microsoft unveiled Teams in November of 2016 and began rolling it out in early 2017. It was clearly designed to be a direct competitor for apps like Slack, and Microsoft’s announcement got a somewhat-snarky open letter from Slack.
For some time, Slack’s smugness seemed warranted, as Teams wasn’t able to compete with Slack’s smooth integration with other apps. That’s changing, though. Microsoft has announced some big updates that will make Teams more directly competitive with Slack.
- Guest Access: One of the downfalls for Teams was that every user had to have an account, which was sometimes not feasible. It is now making changes to allow guests to have access as well.
- Pricing Changes: One of Slack’s major draws is that it has a free version, so companies could try it out on a small scale before committing to a monthly fee for full access. Teams had no such free entry point, but Microsoft has announced plans to create a free version. (Users will still need a Microsoft 365 account, though.)
- App Integration: Teams has always integrated well with Microsoft 365’s other apps, but it hasn’t had the functionality of Slack when it comes to interacting with external apps. The new updates change that as well, giving Teams users more options for integrating across multiple platforms.
Making a Choice
It’s clear that productivity is directly linked to the tools available, so many companies are going to be making a choice about which platform to use in order to allow their teams the most flexible, productive interactions.
The choice at this point will largely hinge on what other platform choices the business has made. Slack integrates directly with Google Drive, so businesses that have been built around that platform will likely stick with Slack. However, companies that are already using Office 365 as their primary platform will have no reason to pay an additional fee to use Slack. Teams will have comparable functionality and flexibility with the added bonus of being smoothly integrated (both financially and functionally) into the existing platform.
Microsoft Office users should perk up at the changes to Teams. Getting people working and collaborating together is about to get a lot easier. If you’ve got questions about how to make these changes work for you and your business, contact us today.