Which Collaboration Option is Best in Office 365?

Office 365 has some of the best team collaboration options on the market today.

But as you start to use these tools more and more (you can connect Office 365 and BrightWork by the way!), it can be hard to wrap your head around the various collaborative options available.  You could use Teams, Planner, SharePoint, or other some combination of apps and tools!

So which collaboration tool should you be using?  How do you pick?

I don’t think you should or really even need to pick one winner.  What you have to keep in mind is that with these collaborative tools, each one has slightly different use cases.  In this blog, I’m going to cover three that we utilize here at BrightWork, and how you can use them to suit our different collaboration needs.

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Teams for a chat and conversations

Teams is a Slack-like app within Office 365 that provides a chat-based workspace for teams to talk and collaborate.  At its heart, Teams is a messaging app.  You create different “Teams”, or channels, for a department, or a team, or even a sub-set of people working on a particular project.  By default, threads are visible to the entire team to keep them engaged and involved in the conversation.

It’s great to have an open forum like that, where people can flesh out ideas and collaborate with input from everyone.  It also gets those conversations out of email and into a place where everyone can participate and contribute.  Tightly integrated into Skype, Teams enables has private chats, voice calling, and video conferencing capabilities as well.

Not only is Teams a modern conversation tool for today’s workforce, it also provides access to relevant content through the full suite of Office 365 apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Planner and more.

 

collaboration-tool-microsoft-teams
Image: Microsoft

Planner for small group collaboration and task management

Planner is perfect for basic team collaboration and task management.  The Planner app is a simple card-based task list where you can bucket work into different categories like “To-Do,” “In-progress” and “Done”.  The drag-and-drop lets you easily organize and prioritize tasks in a flexible way.  It’s nice visual way to organize and manage a set of tasks.

You can add comments and attachments to tasks in the Planner for the easy collaboration right in the app.  Also, your Planner “hub” provides a “My Tasks” that provides a summary fo all your open work across all the plans you are a part of.

So Planner is great for a small team who needs to collaborate but on the lighter side of a full blown SharePoint team site.

 

collaboration-tool-microsoft-planner
Image: Microsft

 

SharePoint Sites for more process and structure

Of course, some projects require more process and structure, so that’s where SharePoint sites come in.  You’ll need to plan and manage a project schedule, use a Work Breakdown Structure, manage goals, risks and issues, provide project status updates, and so on.

In this case, you might like to use a SharePoint team site where you can have that more structured approach to project management.

If you’re looking for a handy way to get started managing projects on SharePoint, BrightWork offers two free SharePoint project management templates that will get you started quickly and easily.

Summary

There is no one tool that we rely on.  For different collaborative scenarios, we use the app that provides the team with the right amount of process for the task at hand.  We also use Skype for Business for instant messaging and screen sharing, OneDrive for Business to share files, etc.  So there is immense potential for collaboration and productivity gains among the many apps in Office 365.

Learn more about managing projects and portfolios with Office 365 and BrightWork.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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