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How to Tame the Combo of Slack and Microsoft Teams

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Embracing a Multiplatform Workstream Collaboration Environment

Ever wonder how many collaboration platforms your company is running? If you haven’t, you should. In our recent study, we found that 85% of end-users report using multiple platforms. And, according to Nemertes Research, companies average 3.8 different providers for their collaboration and communication needs. Multiplatform is here to stay, which means, if you’re like most companies who are working through the pros and cons of the two market-leading workstream collaboration apps, you may be battling the combination of Slack and Microsoft Teams.

How do multiple platforms come to surface if IT has likely only approved one? There’s a growing disconnect between IT and end-users. One of the biggest areas of disconnect is how end-users go about getting work done. More and more workers will turn to other applications and platforms if they feel it will help them be more efficient or effective – leading to multiple platforms. While IT teams may deploy Microsoft Teams in a top-down manner due to its inclusion in Office 365, Slack may creep into an organization in a bottoms-up direction based on usage from departments or Slack power users.

So can you synergistically connect Slack and Microsoft Teams? It depends. From the technical side, the answer is maybe. Depending on what the usage scenario is, there is an emerging set of connector apps that help tie chat conversations together. From a company culture perspective, the answer is yes – there are ways to connect Slack and Microsoft Teams usage harmoniously. IT teams can help organizations and end-users connect their Slack and Microsoft Teams usage by helping them understand how to successfully navigate a multiplatform world, prevent a loss in productivity, and avoid miscommunications.

High-Level Look at Slack and Teams

microsoft teams and slack logo

Microsoft launched Teams in the Spring of 2017 to act as a collaboration hub for Office 365 products. It was built from the ground up to integrate with the entire Office 365 suite and includes functionality for workplace chat, calls, meetings, and attachments. Current subscribers to Office 365 also have access to Teams, allowing enterprises who already use the suite to deploy it at no additional cost. At 13 million daily active users, this fact alone gives Microsoft an immediate competitive advantage within the workstream collaboration platform market.

However, Slack largely popularized this form of modern collaboration. With ten million daily active users, this app appears to be Teams’ biggest competition. However, while Slack has had no problem growing its free user base, it has struggled to gain large momentum in the enterprise. It launched Enterprise Grid to rectify that, scoring clients like IBM, Oracle, Target, 21st Century Fox, and Capital One for a total of 150 customers as of the beginning of 2018.

How to Connect Slack and Microsoft Teams Usage

connect slack and microsoft teams

Unlike different email service providers where @gmail.com can email @icloud.com, Microsoft Teams and Slack can’t communicate with each other without help from third-party vendors. These third-party vendors work to turn messages across multiple platforms into API events that are then translated for the recipient’s platform of choice. Without a service like this, here’s what IT teams can do to help end-users juggle communicating in multiple platforms:

Understand What Platforms Are in Use Today

zoomtopia discussion

Before IT teams can begin to connect the dots for multiple platforms, clarity for what collaboration platforms are already in use is imperative. This starts with utilizing workplace analytics to check in with different teams to understand what they are using to get work done every day. Take caution in just assuming that your teams are only using approved apps and pulling from that list. 54% of end-users report using unapproved apps at least a few times per year, yet 83% of IT believe that changes in app usage are driven by IT.

Embrace Workplace Analytics

Workplace analytics can make a world of difference for organizations trying to understand which platforms are in use, how they are being used, and who is using them. By implementing workplace analytics software, organizations can understand where inefficiencies and roadblocks lie between platforms and create best practices and policies to help guide end-users.

Using workplace analytics software, an IT team can look and Slack and Microsoft Teams usage to confirm that these two workstream collaboration platforms are used within the workplace, evaluate who is regularly logging into them, and understand the time it takes for people to respond to communications on each platform.

Evaluate Risk vs Utility

workplace by facebook enterprise social network workstream collaboration

Once settling on what platforms are in use today, IT teams should still consider what platforms may be in use tomorrow. With shadow IT in every organization, it’s important to know that whatever policies or guidelines put into place today will need to scale. This doesn’t mean that IT needs to be prepared to tame every platform in existence. When approaching Slack and Microsoft Teams, for example, IT teams should look to evaluate their different security risks and confirm that both meet the overall needs of the company before adopting them into the strategy. This risk assessment needs to consider more than just basic platform functionality but also the available integrations and goes back to understanding what’s already in use.

For organizations navigating the multiplatform ecosystem (i.e., everyone), serious consideration should take place for collaboration security tools to help monitor, measure, and manage collaboration security. These tools create a harmonious process for creating and implementing collaboration security policies by implementing a “trust but verify” model.

Develop Usage Policies and Best Practice Recommendations

workplace by facebook connecting people

Findings from both collaboration security and workplace analytics can be used to create policies to guide users on how to work together. The data might uncover that finance never logs into Slack and therefore a policy may need to be put in place that lets end-users know that for any communication that needs to include financial information or the finance team, they need to use Microsoft Teams. This may also lead to a best practice or policy refinement that says guest users will not be allowed in Microsoft Teams as these teams often contain confidential information.

Managers and executives can be your key champions in helping implement usage policies by helping direct employees on how, where, and when to use certain apps.

Implement Policy Management

SfBO EOL Gameplan

Once policies are in place, it’s a whole different equation to make sure they’re not too restrictive or too open and to make sure the policies stay current in reflecting the evolving collaboration ecosystem. Software tools like PowerSuite can be used to manage and control these usage patterns proactively. This is incredibly useful if a policy is too restrictive, perhaps leading end-users to take on a shadow IT role and find alternative platforms or apps to bypass these restrictions. With policy monitoring and management software, workflows can be put in place to not allow for the creation of Finance-oriented workspaces (continuing on the scenario begun above) and then to subsequently trigger a bot to help steer end-users to the workspaces (and the associated collaboration platforms) which might be most appropriate for them given their title, department or geographical location.

Employ Monitoring Tools

monitoring tools

Finally, IT teams can help connect Slack and Microsoft Teams even better by utilizing monitoring software. Monitoring software will continue to evaluate if usage changes, if new platforms are entering the mix, if policies and best practices are ineffective or not being used, etc. It’s also great for identifying if some meeting rooms are utilized more than others. If Microsoft Teams and Slack each have their own dedicated meeting rooms, but Slack meeting spaces are actually being used to conduct meetings on Zoom, IT teams can make adjustments to meet end-user needs and preferences.

It’s possible that as time goes on, companies will iron out their multiplatform world and land on a single platform. If that is the case, monitoring can be helpful to identify if either Slack or Microsoft Teams experience a decline in active users, enabling IT to gauge and better plan for a proper end-of-life plan for a particular platform.

Learn more about how monitoring tools like PowerSuite can help your organization tame the combination of Slack and Microsoft Teams.

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