The global market for collaboration tools for remote and hybrid teams is booming and competition is fierce. By the end of 2023, revenue is predicted to reach USD$14.6 billion of which Microsoft Teams will have the lion’s share of users. Teams’ growth has been partly fueled by it being part of the Office 365 bundle, however, Microsoft has announced its intention to “unbundle” Teams in a bid to avoid accusations of “uncompetitive behaviour”. This follows rival Slack’s formal complaint to the European Commission. As competition opens up and both these tools continue to evolve, you might be evaluating Slack vs Teams and wondering which will be best for your business.
Slack is a real-time messaging and collaboration app in which participants can share, search and archive files. You can also use channels, team groups or direct messaging. There is a free version or a paid version (if you need more features or storage).
Microsoft Teams is known most for its additional video-conferencing and its deep integration with Microsoft business applications. At the time of writing, it is part and parcel of Office 365 and available for Office 365 users at no extra cost. For businesses not in a Microsoft environment, there is a free version and a paid version.
These tools are all about collaboration so how well do they perform?
Teams integrates seamlessly with Outlook, SharePoint and OneDrive, making file sharing and collaboration much easier than it is in Slack. While Slack also allows for file sharing, it doesn’t have the same level of integration. If you are already in a Microsoft environment, Teams is a natural fit. We’d recommend you look no further. Adding Slack to your Microsoft tech stack will add a level of complexity you are unlikely to need.
On the other hand, if you’re operating in an alternative environment such as G Suite, its worth taking a closer look at Slack although you might not need much more than what is already available in your Google Workspace with Chat (messaging) and Meet (video conferencing) and Spaces (channels and groups).
Teams wins, hands down. You get enterprise-grade security and compliance in Teams that includes end-to-end encryption, data loss prevention, frequent updates, automated security patching and Multi-Factor Authentication. If security is paramount or if compliance is an issue in your line of business, Teams should be your first choice. Slack has security features too but these are not as extensive; Microsoft spends an unrivalled $1 billion USD a year on security that protects their customers’ data from cyberthreats.
Slack has a strong fan base in certain communities; software developers don’t just prefer Slack, they love it. If you’ve recently hired someone who is used to working in Slack, be prepared for a pretty strong argument for your business to adopt it. Custom web hooks, APIs, extensive use of bots and automations, and a wide range of integrations in Slack appeal to the techies. While Teams’ integration with core office applications makes file sharing easier, Slack has an extensive library of third-party app integrations and a robust API. This means that Slack makes it easy to connect with a wide range of tools and services. If you have a “best of breed” approach to building your digital workspace, Slack is a strong contender.
On the other hand, core business and service teams tend to prefer Teams. Its (Microsoft) familiar interface, deep integration with other Microsoft apps and heightened security wins over Slack.
Slack’s interface focuses on simplicity and customisation and has a comparatively “clean” user interface. Although Teams might not feel so smooth, it leverages the power of integration and file sharing in a workspace where everything you need is in the same place.
Teams organises communication into channels within a team. It’s well-suited for organisations with multiple departments and project teams. Slack uses channels and workspaces for organising conversations. In the Slack vs Teams debate, you will want to make sure you have evaluated both tools in line with your specific business needs.
There are common problems with all collaboration tools: “Where can I find that file that we were all just working on?” and “Did you send me that file on email or on chat? I can’t find it.”
The trick is to set rules around what purpose channels have and where data is stored. Microsoft Azure has lots of tools that help administrators automate file storage and control user access. This helps to prevent chaos and problems finding files. But you will never beat good old-fashioned training in best practices, drawn up for your specific needs, around file storage and channel usage.
You might be wondering whether you should bend to employee pressure and allow some teams to use their app of choice.
There might be times when your staff are invited to join another company’s Slack or Teams channel. For example, you’ve outsourced a piece of development and the external team work on Slack. Your internal project sponsor will need access to that channel. That’s okay. But the situation that’s not okay is when a department in your organisation decides to create its own internal channel, using a different tool. This internal adoption of multiple collaboration tools is a fast track to chaos and promotes a culture of working in silos. It also gives you double the administration time and costs. If you are having trouble controlling usage of one tool, adding another won’t help.
We recommend you choose one collaboration tool over another and focus on embedding it in the culture and operation company-wide. Putting rules and processes in place around file storage and usage will be fundamental to success.
Slack is a popular choice for non-Microsoft businesses and smaller operations. Its snappy, clean interface and extensive integration makes it a powerful tool in your tech ecosystem. You will need to add on a video conferencing tool and other applications but there are literally hundreds to choose from. And your dev team will love it!
When it comes to Slack vs Teams, Teams should be first choice for any business already in a Microsoft environment and it should be the only collaboration tool in use internally. It’s also the top contender for businesses that put security and compliance first. You will be in safer hands and have more control over user permissions and access.
We can’t help you with Slack, but we can help you implement Teams and help you set the rules and processes that will help make it a success. Get in touch if you’d like to know more.