Have you heard of MS Teams Essentials and wondered whether it’s the right plan for your small business? Looking for more information on what you can do with the all-new MS Teams Essentials?
A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft announced the MS Teams Essentials plan. And apart from a few media and PR outlets, practically no one seemed excited or even bothered to discuss the launch — it came, and it went.
Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Modern Work at Microsoft, said: “We know how difficult the past 20 months have been for small businesses. They’ve had to demonstrate extreme flexibility to adapt, often with limited access to tools and technology…Teams Essentials is built specifically to meet the unique needs of small businesses, enabling them to thrive in this new era of work.”
But why did a tool that’ll (as claimed) help small businesses “thrive in this new era of work” didn’t get any buzz? Well, you’ll understand it once I lay down what Teams Essentials is and what you can (and can’t) do with it.
What Is Microsoft Teams Essentials?
Microsoft Teams Essentials is a standalone offering of Microsoft Teams, the popular business communication platform. Users had to pay for the Microsoft 365 Business plans to fully access MS Teams until Essentials launch.
The Teams Essentials package includes all the features needed for internal business communication:
- Online meetings (both calls and videos)
- Simple, easy invitations,
- Calendar integration
- Up to 300 participant limit for the meetings
- 30 hours of maximum meeting duration
- Screen sharing and Customized backgrounds for professional meetings
- Noise suppression
- Unlimited chat messages and searches in Teams
- File storage of 10 GB per user
- File attachments of 2 GB per chat per user
- And more.
However, this plan wasn’t applauded or talked about much because:
- It misses a couple of communication features like meeting recording and transcripts and guest access.
- The Business Basic plan that costs $5/user/month (i.e., a mere $1 more than the $4/user/month Essentials) has the missing basic features and more. For example, The Basic plan allows you to access the 250+ apps and extensions, host your custom email, etc. Moreover, the Business Basic plan includes access to Microsoft’s other products like Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneDrive, and more.
How to use Microsoft Teams To Grow Your Business
Here’s how you can use MS Teams for your business:
1. Communicate and collaborate with your team
Quantitative analysis by Deloitte suggests that “SMBs with higher levels of digital engagement do indeed have a superior business performance to those with lower or more basic engagement with digital tools.”
With MS Teams, you can chat with your team members and also communicate cross-team. Moreover, it allows you to quickly and seamlessly jump between calls, video chat, and instant messaging.
You can even host interactive virtual meetings and conferences on Teams. Using its together mode and custom layout capabilities, you can make users feel more connected and engage better. Moreover, the screen sharing feature allows hosts to give great presentations virtually.
On the collaboration side, you have access to Office apps such as Excel and Word, as well as cloud solutions like SharePoint. As a team, everyone can work on a document in real-time. For example, permitted users can make edits, add comments, and share feedback right in the docs to collaborate better.
2. Communicate with customers or clients
I discussed how to use Slack with clients for better communication and collaboration in one of my previous articles. You can similarly use MS Teams to communicate with your customers/clients:
- The Essentials plan allows you up to 300 members on the Teams workspace. So if you are a services business, perhaps you can invite all clients to your Teams. Remember, though, you’ll need the Business Basic plan or above if you want to give them guest access.
- However, if you are in a B2C business, you’ll easily have more than 300 customers, even if you are a very small business. In that case, you can set up MS Teams as Help Desk with Social Intents and give customers a live chat interface to chat while you answer from inside MS Teams.
3. Use Microsoft Teams Integrations
There are over 1200 small and big apps on Microsoft AppSource. So it’s highly probable you can find your daily use apps on it and integrate them with MS Teams to quickly access functions of each app from your communications platform. For examples:
- Social Intents: Social Intents’s Live Chat for Teams integration lets you chat with your website visitors and customers from MS Teams channels. You can accept chat requests, forward chat, send canned responses, and use all typical live chat functions from MS Teams.
- Trello: Trello is a Kanban-style collaboration and project management platform. With its MS Teams integration, you can view Trello boards, create cards, set due dates to cards, move cards between lists, and basically manage Trello from Teams.
Side note: MS Teams integrates with Trello alternatives like Asana and ClickUp too.
- Attendancebot: AttendanceBot helps you track and analyze employees’ work hours, vacations, time off, sick days, etc.
- Polly: Polly helps you engage employees and clients on Teams with polls, surveys, quizzes, Q&As, and more.
Overall, you’ll find apps for all industries across categories like analytics, AI + ML, customer service, collaboration, commerce, compliance, finance, geolocation, supply chain, operations, productivity, product management, sales, and more on MS Teams.
The MS Teams Essentials as a standalone plan is excellent for small businesses. However, just a tad bit costly Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan is superior to Essentials by every measure: it has more features, more storage, and more access.
And even if you need just a little of that more, it makes sense to get the since-the-beginning Business Basic plan over the new Microsoft Team Essentials.
What do you think? Related read: How to Use Microsoft Teams Effectively?