CIO, Cloud, Data Center, Opinion

The Great Slack to Teams Migration: 1 Year Later

On a fateful day in August 2018, we made the decision to extricate ourselves from Slack and jump headfirst into Microsoft Teams.  I’ve previously written about our early experiences here and here.  It was September of 2018 when we officially cut over from Slack to Teams, but we’d been doing a lot of configuration and testing up to that point.

Since then, we’ve expanded our use of Teams and I’m still very happy that we made the jump.  Since my October 2018 update on this migration, we’ve cancelled our SmartSheet service since everything we needed to do with that tool can be more easily accomplished inside Teams.  As I mentioned previously, one of our big reasons for the switch was to bring more context to our work. Everything was too scattered. We’ve achieved that with Teams, perhaps not quite to the level that I’d like, but this will always be a work in progress.

We now have teams and channels in Teams that are dedicated to projects and activities, with each channel having its own file storage area, wiki, link to Asana if we want it, and more.  Collaboration is far easier than it was before since everyone can have a doc open without stomping on each other.

We’ve also implemented a Teams-based weekly staff catchup where the whole team jumps on a video call to review the week.  We could also have done this with Slack or Zoom, but it’s one more way that we can keep things in one tidy place.

Further, Microsoft vastly improved guest access to Teams.  This was dead simple in Slack.  For guests, the invitation process can still be a little bit cumbersome, but it’s not bad.  An Azure AD account has to be created for the guest and that guest has to be granted access to specific teams.  Unfortunately, it’s not possible to limit guests to specific channels in a team, so we do have a bit of “team sprawl”, but that’s far from an insurmountable problem.

In what was a big win for me personally, Microsoft did enhance the OneDrive client to support syncing Teams-based folder to the local file system.  I like to have things local so I can work when I’m disconnected.  The initial sync process is a little more cumbersome than I’d like but once it’s set up, it works well.

I mentioned previously that Teams’ Dropbox integration was laughably bad.  That hasn’t changed.  It still just shows your Dropbox hierarchy in random order, which is super useful (/sarcasm).

Early on, we had some troubles with channel notifications.  Personally, I don’t see much of a problem anymore.  Maybe we’ve just gotten used to it, but I don’t have problems here anymore.  The only remaining annoyance here is that an incoming Teams call may not ring on my computer unless Teams actually has focus.  It rings my phone, which prompts me to switch back to Teams.

There are still some areas that I wish Microsoft would do better:

  • Teams is updated pretty frequently and the upgrade is silent and just happens. And then things just change.  Wording here, a menu item there.  There is a “What’s New” button, but unless you know an update happened, it’s not really top of mind to click it.
  • It’s still not possible to archive inactive channels in individual teams or move channels between teams. This is all on Microsoft’s backlog and, again, they’re mostly annoyances, but would be fantastic to clean up.
  • You still can’t be logged into multiple Teams instances at once unless you use a program like Shift. This is, in my opinion, one of the biggest things holding it back.  I’m still in a number of Slack teams that are easily accessible.  Teams needs to seriously catch up here.
  • Teams likes to try to show people’s current availability and it’s never right. None of us can figure out how it’s showing certain people as busy and others as available.  It’s seemingly random.  We know it looks at calendars and such, but it’s so bad that we just mostly ignore status.  This is another thing that Microsoft needs to do a whole lot better job at explaining.
  • I would absolutely love it if Microsoft would improve Office 365’s Planner tool to let us replace Asana, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

We haven’t yet dropped Dropbox, mostly because of time.  It’s a big lift and the team has been really busy with client projects this year, so I haven’t felt the need to pull them away for something non-critical.  But, our goal is still to move our Dropbox hierarchy to Teams sooner rather than later.

In short, I’m very pleased with the transition.  I still use Slack for my non-ActualTech Media stuff when I need to, but for our work here, the transition has been, while not perfect, very positive.  I would absolutely make the same decision again.