Microsoft Teams and Slack are currently the biggest competitors in the market of technological solutions for communication and collaboration. Many organizations, which already use Office 365, may find it hard to justify paying for an additional license when Teams is already included. But how does MS Teams differ from Slack? When should you choose one tool over the other, and when does co-existence make sense?

The Architecture

The purpose of a modern communication tool should be clear: smooth and comprehensive communication within and outside of the corporate structure, without creating a flood of emails. Automated workflows and seamless integrations of other used tools should also be part of the basic functionality.

Slack offers a flexible, channel-based architecture for this purpose, which can be used regardless of existing applications and operates without additional applications. A “channel” can be created by any user for a specific topic. The good thing about it: only colleagues involved in this topic will receive notifications and can join the conversation. Nevertheless, all users can access the content of other channels through the search function, as long as they are public or shared, which ensures that information is available quickly. The number of channels and the members within a channel are unlimited.

Communication in Slack should preferably take place in channels rather than in 1:1 chats, so that the benefits of the application can be fully utilized. This allows a highly flexible environment to be created in order to successfully bring a project to its goal within the team, in the department, in the entire company or even across companies.

Microsoft Teams is based on an older technology structure, which results in some disadvantages compared to Slack.  Built on Skype for Business and Share Point, which are loosely connected through the use of Office 365 Groups, MS Teams cannot act as a unified, cross-functional tool. The existing architecture also creates a user interface by turning each team into an Office 365 Group.

A significant disadvantage of teams also consists in the creating of new features for common use cases. For example, Microsoft required a comparably long period of time for the development of private channels.

An Integrative Platform

Slack offers the ability to interact with a wide range of internally and externally developed tools to customize usage according to your business needs. The platform with a solid system makes the integration of numerous apps pretty easy, even for business users. Along with this, Microsoft 365 instruments, Google Apps, Salesforce applications or Atlassian products can be used integratively with Slack. In total, there are over 2300 apps in the so-called App Directory, Slack’s app store, and over 700,000 custom apps have already been created. In comparison, Microsoft Teams offers only 300 services to be integrated.

Scandio also already developed a custom app for Slack, which is now in permanent use: “Estado” is used as a location tracker for Scandio employees. This works via an interface between Scandio’s Confluence and Slack. By writing commands such as “/ho” (home office) or “/biomuc” (back in office Munich) in the Estado channel, an overview of the colleagues’ whereabouts is displayed in a Confluence widget on our start page. Very handy!

The Scandio Estado Application - Knowing where your colleagues are at any time

MS Teams and Slack are often used sidy-by-side. This co-existence is particularly beneficial if Slack represents a further added value for the Office 365 investment already made. It should be noted that the majority of Slack’s top 100 customers are also Office 365 customers and take advantage of the excellent integration capabilities for existing Microsoft tools. For example, Outlook emails can be easily sent to the respective Slack channel or into direct communication.

Why it could make sense to swap MS Teams for Slack

Often MS Teams is used in companies which already use the Office 365 stack, as it comes as a free integration.  Which doesn’t mean, however, that this ensures a smooth experience. Often, upgrades are required to increase acceptance and improve the user experience, which can ultimately lead to higher costs again in larger companies.

When doing so, you should ask yourself, “Which single collaboration tool can meet the needs of our business?”

After all, a collaboration tool only works to its full extent if it’s used equally by everyone. Experience shows, that employees using Slack initiate more conversations and more actions than in MS teams.  Ultimately, Slack users are significantly more active in their communication than in MS Teams.

Advantages of Slack over MS Teams for your organization:

  • Scalability for connecting the entire organization
  • A tool that both technical and non-technical teams love to use
  • Improved transparency for smooth, cross-functional collaboration
  • Compatibility with tools such as Zoom and Service Now, as well as Atlassian and Salesforce products

Slack impresses with bonus points in terms of scope, engagement and platform depth. It also provides employees with new ways to advance the company, such as:

  • Increased visibility of leadership: Q&A channels with the company’s leadership extend throughout the company and help employeesto  stay in touch.
  • Faster resolution of issues through open, transparent channels and participation of multiple people in troubleshooting a critical issue.
  • Communication with external partner agencies: In shared channels, the team can communicate directly with its creative agencies via Slack.

A Matter Of Size

The pros or cons for a tool mostly depends on the individual use case and the size of the company.

Microsoft Teams is just one of several applications from the Microsoft suite that is needed to communicate inside and outside of the organization. This often leads to confusion for the user as to which tool should be used when and which app can be used to initiate communication. Slack, on the other hand, doesn’t care if you want to communicate with your own team, customers, or within your company - Slack was designed for cross-collaboration. In this context, decisions no longer have to be made about where to communicate.

The main purpose of a collaboration tool: Easy Teamwork and communication!

Slack considers the company size and structure, especially of corporations, and actively supports collaboration within the organization. Microsoft Teams is particularly limited in terms of the scope of teams, which consequently means that a separation is necessary. Often, the limitations can only be overcome by creating new teams. With Slack, up to 250,000 users can collaborate in a single workspace and organize themselves into unlimited channels. In addition, there is also no limitation for the creation of workspaces and the members per channel.

Slack Connect - Slack Connects Organizations  
Every organization needs to communicate and collaborate with people outside of it's organizational structures on a regular basis. In this regard, Slack Connect offers the ability to easily communicate with suppliers, customers, partners and vendors - a service that Microsoft Teams doesn't provide as readily. If you'd like to learn more about how customers collaborate with Slack Connect and how clearly Slack differentiates itself from other comparable tools, feel free to read this blog post by Slack or reach out to us directly!

Slack vs. Teams - what now?

To begin with, the tools should less be seen as competitors than as two options which also complement each other very well. The decision on how and to what extent the tools should be used should be made in the context of the respective use case and should not be taken lightly. Because overall, it is a strategic decision that greatly affects the communication and collaboration of the entire organization.

In general, however, the following should be said about the comparison: MS Teams impresses with its enormous scope of services, which is also available at no additional cost to companies that already rely on Office 365. But even free users have to tolerate only a few restrictions. The focus of Microsoft Teams clearly lies in the area of video conferencing solutions. Slack, on the other hand, offers only limited functionality of its own here, instead preferring to integrate tools from specialized companies such as Google, Zoom or Cisco Webex. With Slack, however, a link to the Microsoft Teams video solution can also be used here. In addition, it convinces with the enormous integration possibilities of other applications and also appears in a fresher design. Slack`s primary mission is to increase the efficiency of collaboration within the organization and with its partner companies.

If there is not a preference yet for for one of these products, a free trial period is recommended for the time being. Thanks to the easy-to-use, free versions, it is so simple to find out which tool best suits your needs. For moving to a paid version, both programs offer a seamless upgrade. However, in order to take full advantage of these tools, it’s always a good idea to include experienced consultants in the onboarding process of the platform. Scandio will be happy to assist you!