Microsoft Teams strives to improve the heart of every successful project: good communication and team collaboration. Stakeholders, managers and teams must set expectations, deliver directions and collaborate for greater productivity. Whether people are under one roof or distributed across the globe, a shared platform with an open channel for communicating is the glue that holds projects together.
The market is saturated with team collaboration apps that promise the moon, but often deliver far less. Microsoft Teams is a dominant player in the field and with good reason. Microsoft offers a suite of products that are designed to keep businesses working more efficiently.
Is Microsoft Teams a new Microsoft Project alternative? Is it the one tool you need to deliver a project on time and within budget? No. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. The Microsoft Teams app has a lot of benefits, and when used with dynamic project management software, can give you everything you need to plan, monitor and report on your project right at your fingertips.
We’ll review the main features of Microsoft Teams to help you understand what it is, how it works, and how it can be used for project management.
What is Microsoft Teams?
The Microsoft Teams app is a chat-based collaborative platform for online meetings and other business communication needs. It is used to keep teams connected and organized.
The tool also features video conferencing, screen sharing and group chats. There’s even a “together mode” that makes it appear that you and whoever you’re talking with are in the same room. For collaboration beyond conversing, there is file sharing.
Microsoft Teams is part of Microsoft 365, which features its Office apps, cloud service and security. Though it was only introduced in 2017, it has become a go-to tool for small to medium-sized businesses. It costs $5 per month, per user.
What Is Microsoft Teams Used For?
The popularity of MS Teams is easily explained. As work grows increasingly online and teams work remotely, they require a collaboration platform that can keep people connected in real time, and working productively together becomes a paramount concern for businesses.
There are, naturally, many chat and video conferencing apps. So why choose Microsoft Teams over Slack, Zoom, Google Drive or GoToMeeting? Certainly, as part of the larger family of Microsoft products, it’s an attractive option. It’s already seamlessly integrated with ubiquitous apps such as Excel and Word.
Plus, Teams has a simple design, is cloud-based and it’s easy to set up. Notifications can be set up so they show up on the screen, which helps to keep everyone updated and on the same page. Also, Microsoft Teams offers task management functions such as to-do lists through Microsoft Planner.
Another benefit is that everything is in one place. Because the Microsoft Teams app is integrated with Microsoft 365, teams can move from instant messages to email and document collaboration. On top of that, the Microsoft teams app is always being improved. Because of the evolution and integration, Microsoft Teams can be a real crowd-pleaser. Even with Mac users, as it can run on Mac operating systems, unlike Microsoft Project, which isn’t compatible with Apple products.
How Does Microsoft Teams Work?
Teams are first divided into channels that let participants chat, share files, schedule meetings and attend video conferences. There can be channels that address the entire organization, but if every conversation was posted in one place it would become too distracting.
If you want to bring someone into a channel to respond to a question or just update them, you can tag them. This invites them into the channel. Chats can happen one-on-one, too, for conversations need to be private.
Outside of conversation, everyone who uses MS Teams has a site on SharePoint Online, which is Microsoft’s collaborative platform to share files and work together. It provides document storage and is fully integrated with Office 365.
Microsoft Teams Features
Here’s a list of some of the main features of Microsoft Teams:
- Cloud-based team collaboration platform
- Real-time team chat
- Audio or video calls
- Schedule meetings and video conferences
- Screen sharing
- File sharing
- Top-notch cybersecurity standards and multi-factor authentication
- Available on Linux, Mac, IOS, Android and Windows devices
- Integration with Microsoft products such as Planner, Sharepoint, Forms, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Project, among others
- Integration with third-party apps such as Twitter, Github, Adobe Creative Cloud, among others
What Are the Pros and Cons of Microsoft Teams?
It’s important to understand that MS Teams isn’t perfect. It does some things well, and in other areas, it falls short. Let’s take a look at where the program’s assets and deficits are.
The Pros of the Microsoft Teams App
Microsoft Teams sells itself as a way to increase productivity and strengthen communications, and it does well at both. It connects teams individually and with online meetings. You can share files and tasks, all from one app. On top of that, it partners with a lot of third-party applications that further enhance the experience, especially if you work from home.
This leads to another advantage. Because you’re only using one app, you can better focus your attention on the work that must be done. There is less sifting through old emails and looking for files you need to get your work done.
All this is to say that the app provides transparency and keeps everyone on the same page and updated. This means the team is always aware of what it has to do. You don’t have to worry about disseminating materials, because there’s a depository in which to store them. It’s easy to notify people and tag them to bring them into a channel to help with the work.
The biggest pro of MS Teams is that it provides a seamless transition to the digital workplace. As work continues to migrate online, teams need a tool that can connect them to their work and coworkers. Having a portal to chat and share files makes remote work possible.
Cons of the Microsoft Teams App
One of the challenges of using Teams is getting off Outlook. That mail system is embedded in most people’s digital lives. Moving off it can be a pain point. But for MS Teams to deliver all it promises, users need to migrate to Microsoft Teams.
This is all the more difficult as Outlook is a part of Office 365. For instance, if you’re editing a doc in Word and want to share it, there’s no option to do this with the Team chat. Instead, it goes by email. Microsoft Teams also doesn’t support group calendars, so you have to return to Outlook for this.
If you’re looking for files, it can be a problem. While they’re accessible with a search, if you want to know where they reside on the program, that can prove complex. Teams have a byzantine folder structure. If you try to organize your files and move them into new folders, the links will break.
The online meetings are not great. Microsoft is working to integrate Skype, but currently, a lot of functionality that would make the experience of meeting online better is not available. It’s also not possible to bring guests into the project. There are other aspects of the software that aren’t flexible, and that can cause some frustration.
Can Microsoft Teams Be Used for Project Management?
While the Microsoft Teams app is a great team collaboration platform, it’s not a project management software. It lacks important project management features such as Gantt charts, kanban boards and project dashboards to track and control the costs, schedule and scope of your project.
Microsoft Teams integrates with several single-purpose project management tools, which means that project managers and team members have to learn how to use several different apps in order to keep up with a project.
In addition to the training required to familiarize your team members with those tools, they’re not free. The project management tools that integrate with Microsoft teams such as Asana, Trello, Jira, and even Microsoft Project require subscription fees that are an extra cost for your project.
Can Microsoft Project Integrate with Teams?
The traditional desktop version of Microsoft Project can’t integrate with Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Project for the web, which is a different version with limited features, can integrate with Microsoft Teams.
The worst part is that your team members will need a subscription to be able to edit projects. If they don’t have one, they’ll only be able to access Project files in a read-only view.
Add ProjectManager to Teams and Manage Projects Better
The advantages of Microsoft Teams outweigh the disadvantages, but while it connects teams and gives them a platform in which to dialogue, it doesn’t have project management features. If you’re managing a project, the Microsoft Teams app can’t do it alone. It needs the robust project management tools of ProjectManager.
ProjectManager is award-winning software that can manage unlimited projects and tasks with unlimited file storage to act as a central hub for all your documentation. Unlike Microsoft Project, our tool works with both Apple and PC products. It’s also a lot easier to share work on our software than with SharePoint, making it an excellent Microsoft Project alternative. We’ve outlined some of our top project management features below.
Plan with Gantt Charts
Our online Gantt chart makes it easy to plan your projects with powerful features that control every aspect of your schedule. Just upload a task list, list them manually or use one of our industry-specific templates to help you get started. Managers can also import, view and edit existing Excel and Project (.mpp) files, providing more features than a basic Microsoft Project viewer.
Collaborate with Your Team
Microsoft Teams only takes baby steps towards collaboration. With our software, you can easily invite team members, contractors and others and then create tasks for them quickly and easily. Because the tool is cloud-based it works on any computer web browser and you can create and update projects in real-time.
Comments can be added at the task level to foster collaboration. Image files and documents can be added to tasks to help teams work together or provide detailed direction on how to execute the task. As tasks are updated, assigned team members receive email alerts and in-app notifications to keep everyone in the loop.
Work Flexibly with Kanban Boards
Besides creating dynamic project plans and collaborating in real-time, ProjectManager has multiple project views. You can create a task list to schedule your work or use Kanban boards to visualize your workflow, manage backlogs and plan sprints. Calendars save important dates and much more.
Keeping your teams productive is why we have resource management tools, such as a workload chart that is color-coded to show you who is overallocated. You can then reallocate resources right from the workload management page and balance the workload for greater productivity.
Track and Report
Use our tool to manage your budget and resource costs. Plus, one-click reports give you detailed data that help you make better decisions. Reports can be filtered and shared with stakeholders to keep them updated. Real-time dashboards automatically calculate several project metrics and shows them in easy-to-read graphs and charts. That high-level project view helps you monitor progress and performance.
You can manage projects, programs and portfolios with our tool, with portfolio dashboards and roadmaps. We also have timesheets to streamline payroll and track the hours your team logs on their tasks. You can’t do that on the Microsoft Teams app. Unlike Microsoft, we have a three-tiered pricing plan. Choose the subscription that works best for you and your organization.
MS Teams doesn’t have online backups or file sharing or even a free trial to see if the software is right for you. ProjectManager has unlimited file storage, easy sharing and manages every phase of your project. Plus, you can try it for free with our 30-day trial. Do it today and see how MS Teams and ProjectManager can work together to make your project successful.