Slack vs. Microsoft Teams
by Adam Arnold
Which is better for your business?
As a technology consultant, I talk to clients every day that are looking for better collaboration tools. In the void for newer and fresher collaboration, Slack sprang up as a replacement for email and traditional communication methods. It has done well in this void without many strong competitors. Our web team has used it for years and loved it. Once Microsoft Teams released, I took it upon myself to take a deeper look at both products to see how they can better benefit my clients.
Full disclosure: the visual appeal is not taken into account…because I am not qualified to give a reasonable evaluation of that. So, below is a quick run-down of my notes:
A Look at Slack
TO be completely honest, I found Slack slightly underwhelming. As much as some of the folks I know swear by it, I was expecting some incredible functionality. At its base, it’s group chat. From what I know of good products, they tend to do one thing very well, and that seems to be Slack.
Slack Pros/Cons as a Client
The application runs great; the mobile app and desktop app work seamlessly together. Slack offers highly-organized open communication channels organized by topic or group. It also has a direct messaging feature. Slack integrates well with Google Docs as well. The addition of code snippets makes for a neat twist for web folks. Nothing to dislike here, it worked great.
Slack Pros/Cons as a Consultant/IT Admin
Administration isn’t challenging, and the controls are fine, but I don’t see much from an admin regarding management (which makes it a very easy application to implement). There are no compliance features in the native version. Also, I don’t love that deletion is permanent, but technically, it should be. Finally, there are a million different third party connectors, which make it an open source delight and a security administrator’s worst nightmare.
The application just works, and sometimes, that is all you need. I don’t love the lack of integration with 365 applications and suites, but that is probably due to the slow-moving enterprise environment. No compliance makes it a difficult sell for a large section of our clients.
A Look at Microsoft Teams
Teams is a relatively new product, and writing this article was my first chance to dig in to evaluate it. I didn’t have many expectations here and, quite frankly, I was surprised at how well it worked. Microsoft has a track record of releasing less than great (crappy) first revision programs. It has some bugs in the desktop app to work out, but I found the mobile suite to work well. It does a lot that Slack does, but with many added integration features.
Pros/Cons as a Client
The team building and channels are intuitive. Not as much as Slack, but still decently easy to understand and navigate. The tabs to add in files, Microsoft planner, Word, Powerbi, and websites, etc. are a nice addition and make project collaboration a snap inside of this suite. Teams also makes it easy to build a channel or team for a particular project and invite the customer in to participate in the project with feedback and ideas. I also liked the deleted item recovery for 30 days. It does still have some bugs that need to be worked out. The call feature that uses Skype underneath was pretty slick to get some clarification on an issue on the fly. The application was up and down for one of our team members.
Pros/Cons as a Consultant/Administrator
Lots to like and a little to dislike here. HIPPAA compliance is a big deal here for our clients, especially healthcare providers. The integration with Office 365 is great. It relies heavily on SharePoint for the file tab collaboration, which could be a hassle to an administrator, as those build in size. The meeting integration tab that syncs with Outlook is awesome. The call features using Skype also works well. All of these pieces integrating into one system makes for a much easier administrator experience.
And … the verdict …
So, which is best for your business? As a consultant, my favorite phrase is: it depends. If you need a simple group chat application that works great and you use Google docs, I think Slack is a good choice. If you are using Microsoft applications currently for collaboration, Microsoft Teams is a great tool for project collaboration. The added level of compliance and integration with Skype and Sharepoint make it a very useful project collaboration tool.
Moving forward, any clients I have using Slack and Office 365, I will direct towards Microsoft Teams. The features it has now are quite nice and it is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of collaboration.