A lot of attention is being given to online collaboration platforms that allow document sharing, task setting and basic management of projects, especially given the amount of remote teamwork happening today. Connectivity, file transfers and more can be affected by the choice of a platform. Mechdyne IT’s 30+ years of working with a variety of clients in a variety of environments gives our team a unique perspective on these tools.
Microsoft Teams and Slack are two of the most popular tools. If your IT team is evaluating a new platform, or just wants to make sure the right tool is currently used, the categories below help evaluate each tool to find the one that fits your organization best.
Microsoft Teams – Teams is an Office 365 component so it has the advantage of direct integration with other Office 365 components. It works seamlessly with all. Beyond Office 365, Teams offers over 150 third-party integrations, such as Zendesk and Hootsuite. Microsoft is in the process of increasing functionality and enabling new collaboration connections, like allowing external contacts who are not using Office 365 to send a request to join the platform.
Slack – Despite being a standalone messaging platform, Slack does provide a good level of integration with other collaborative platforms like Google Drive and other third-party apps including Office 365, albeit through Zapier.
Slack allows conversation over documents uploaded to Google Drive and any of the other repositories it provides a connector to. While within Slack’s interface you can see accompanying conversations, the same is not true in the reverse. When you open a shared document in its native application, you can no longer see the conversation notes that accompany it in Slack.
Slack is launching a new app to integrate Microsoft Teams calling features into its chat app. Slack users will be able to set Microsoft Teams Calls as the default calling provider and get to see who’s already on a call and when it kicked off before joining a meeting. Event reminders from the Outlook Slack app will also support the ability to join Microsoft Teams calls direct from Slack.
Security and Compliance
The threat of compromised information and data pilferage is a serious issue with any platform.
Microsoft Teams – Teams users are covered under Office 365 Security & Compliance scope and therefore Teams users enjoy privileges like Threat Management and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) through the Azure Information Protection feature. Content shared within Teams is automatically classified and labeled for sensitivity and appropriate actions are taken using DLP. The Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection feature safeguards Teams users from malicious content being uploaded and stored.
Slack – Slack also provides strong security features including DLP, eDiscovery etc. Slack’s data protection encrypts data at rest and data in transit. Comparatively, many of these features come as 3rd party solutions and do not have the same level of tight integration at every process step as Teams enjoys.
Mobile Versatility through Mobile Device Management
Slack & Teams can both be accessed from any mobile device through their respective apps.
Microsoft Teams – Teams supports mobile adoptability & provides a seamless user experience across mobile OSes like iOS, Windows, and Android. Teams works with the desired control over mobile devices with the use of Intune in Office 365 under Mobile Device Management.
Slack – Slack works with several 3rdparty providers for Mobile Device Management like AirWatch, MobileIron, and BlackBerry.
Microsoft Teams – Teams supports over 18 languages. Another cool feature is the inline message translation for Teams members using a foreign language in their app. Teams also comes with localization features that help a lot of organizations have a presence across the globe.
Slack – Slack supports six languages English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese as of the date of writing. This is still useful to many international organizations, but does not have the same coverage as Teams.
UX Design and Navigation
The user interface can be key and comes down to user preference. It is best to test both platforms and assess the experiences directly.
Microsoft Teams –Teams developers put a lot of focus on making this tool robust and user-friendly. Recently, Teams has launched a new feature called Tabs. This allows users to collect intuitive content inside the platform. Users can differentiate types of shared content to lessen undesirable information in a discussion thread.
Slack – At this time, Slack’s interface is not as extensive. Slack also lets you customize and change the skin of your UX with a long list of different theme options – something Teams cannot yet do.
The ability to communicate effectively is the most important of all collaboration tools. People appreciate tools that provide the ability to reply or comment on conversation threads as well as features such as in-line reply, direct replies, feedback etc.
Both tools mentioned herein come with many features for messaging, including threads.
Microsoft Teams –Teams has a few additional features which hugely improve various topics of conversation, allowing users to reply directly to comments or questions. These apps can be added via Teams store. Also, with the latest updates in Teams, users no longer need to take screenshots of their content and upload them to initiate a conversation. As a substitute, content can be attached quickly using a process akin to adding an emoji or GIF to a conversation.
Teams has included an improved search bar that allows chat-wide searching and data integration, at the top of the interface. Search is done using the bar and desired results pushed into the chat. Fast actions can be driven using slash commands in the search bar, such as making changes in status or adding users to various teams.
Another top feature of Teams is the ability to make conversation threads within a chatroom. Rather than getting lost in a pool of messages about different things, direct responses to a message or topic within a thread can be added just under the original message. This helps users avoid wasting time or having to catch up on who is responding to what messages. Teams comes with built-in tools to conduct polls & surveys, while Slack requires a plug-in to enable the same.
Slack – Slack allows users to set reminders for messages. This can come in handy after viewing a message that requires a response, but the user cannot message at the time of reading. Slack also allows users to mark messages as “unread” so that when moving from the mobile to the desktop app, important messages can be easily found.
File sharing and collaboration
Microsoft Teams allows sharing of Office files and collaboration in a single tool. Conversely, Slack does not come with any built-in tools to allow collaboration at any one single point. Editing a .doc File in Slack requires downloading the file and opening it in another tab to edit. Slack also heavily relies on 3rd party apps/tools for both collaboration and file sharing.
The observations above come from working with clients in a variety of settings and industries. Actual experiences with each tool or preferences may differ based on use cases. This being said, fully integrated tools that allow a simplified, seamless user experience. Any major change, like adding or changing collaboration tools, to work environments creates new issues for users and typically increases support needs for a time. Your IT services partner should be able to help evaluate which tools fits your organization’s needs.
If you need an IT partner to assist in evaluating a communication and collaboration tool, talk to one of our experts today.