When it comes to office collaboration and communication tools, Microsoft Teams and Slack are the significant competitors that come to mind. Slack is best known around start-ups and digital agencies circles. It has been the first such collaboration tool of its kind, providing companies and organizations with chat and file-sharing capabilities.
With so many businesses now partially or fully remote, these tools are more important than ever, and even have benefits for teams in the same building. In this article, we'll compare the two and look at both similarities and differences so you can make a well-informed decision on what's best for your business.
What Do Microsoft Teams and Slack Have in Common?
Since both Slack and Teams are communication tools, there is some similar functionality between the two. The major commonalities include:
- Quick Commands - In both cases, quick commands allow users to take certain actions easily. These include things like status changes or adding to team members, among others. With Slack, you type "/" into the message bar and the full list of quick commands appears. With Teams, "/" or "@" in the search bar will generate a similar result.
- The Search Bar - Both tools present a search bar at the top, allowing users to search through files and chats with ease.
- Conversation Threads - Another useful feature that both tools have in common is conversation threads. These help users quickly understand which messages are part of which conversation, as well as who is talking to who.
- Channels - Each tool has channels, which are groups that are specific to different topics. This helps users stay organized and focused on the topic of the channel when conversing in said channel.
The Differences between Teams and Slack
Slack’s strength is that it was built for startups so it's easy to get started - plus it integrates with ~800 third party applications. Microsoft Teams' strength is its built-in security features and strong integration with Office 365.
Truth be told, these two tools share a lot of the same features but the differences are in the details. Let's dive in and take a closer look.
Third-Party App Integrations
With over 800 third-party apps that it can integrate with, Slack beats Teams, which can integrate with over 200 apps. That said, Teams can integrate with all Office 365 apps (Skype, Outlook, etc.), making it the ultimate collaboration hub on top of its communication features. Teams is constantly adding new third party app integrations to try and keep up. If you're an Office 365 user, Teams is definitely the way to go when it comes to integrations. If you use Google or otherwise, Slack might be better suited for you.
Sharing Files and Content
If your primary collaboration source is Google Drive, Slack allows you to create and share these kinds of documents easily while Teams operates on the Office 365 package. You can view, collaborate on, and edit files within Teams, without having to leave the platform, which is not possible in Slack. This is a game-changer when it comes to productivity. Teams users can access, share and edit files with just a few clicks and within one single application. It also allows for co-authoring documents and simultaneously working on a document with your colleagues in real-time.
Both tools are built for communication and therefore instant messaging, calls, meetings and video conferencing are built into both tools. However, with Slack you can only video conference with up to 15 users at a time. Within Teams, you can have up to 250 users in the most basic plan. So again, if you're a startup or small business, Slack will work, but if you have an organization with more than 15 people, then you should look at Teams. Both have features within their video conferencing to change the background, share screens, and more, but this does depend on the plan you have.
Both tools provide users with security measures to encrypt files, data, and messages. They both offer two-factor authentication, channel controls, and data loss prevention, but Teams has the edge over Slack thanks to its integration with the Microsoft Admin Center and Slack only provides some of these features at the Enterprise plan level. Microsoft is known to bake security into every product and because of its integration with Office 365 the security policies spread across platforms making it extra secure. Additionally, Microsoft has Advanced Threat Protection, communication compliance, secure guest access, cloud app security, sensitivity labels and more. If you’re in a highly-regulated industry or are concerned about compliance and security (as all businesses should be), then Teams has the advantage here.
Both systems are fairly easy to deploy, though due to some of its security and accessibility layers, Microsoft Teams takes a bit longer to add a new user. Depending on how sophisticated you want your Teams to be, it may require someone with technical skills to set up and deploy Teams, where as with Slack, you can get set up pretty quickly. However, once Teams is set up by your admin, it's quite user friendly and easy for new users to set up new Teams, channels, and start sharing files. If you're a startup or without a technical resource, then Slack is the way to go.
Regarding cost-effectiveness, both platforms have a free version, making them available for small companies that don't need the extra features. The open Teams version offers more capabilities than Slack. Also, companies that have an Office 365, Teams is available in many different licensing SKUs or is an easy add-on. Slack's plans start at $6.67/user/month and Microsoft Teams starts at $5/user/month.
In summary, both tools are great options for communication in the office. If you're a startup or small business that is simply looking for a communication tool, Slack should solve your needs.
However, if you're looking for something secure with more features (even in its free plan) that not only has many communication avenues, but acts as a collaboration hub for your business, then Teams is your answer.