Microsoft Teams is a great application for teams to collaborate. In contrast to Office Groups, Microsoft Teams is a chat-based collaboration application, which means that quick and easy exchange of short messages is the major feature in Microsoft Teams that drives collaboration.
The chat engine which is used by Microsoft Teams is offering some great features to make chatting efficient and fun simultaneously. One of those cool features is how uploaded files are managed.
To see how Microsoft Teams is dealing with files that got uploaded to a chat, let's first have a closer look on how to best organize multiple chats.
A heavily used chat stream can get confusing if team members are discussing multiple topics in a single chat stream. That's the reason why Microsoft Teams is offering channels. With channels, chats can be organized by topic. To create a new channel, just click on the three little dots on the right side of the team name and select "Add channel" in the context menu.
Each channel needs to have a unique name and (that's my recommendation) a meaningful description.
Once the new channel has been created, the team can start to use this new channel immediately.
One of the cool features I like is the ability to add files to a chat. Let's assume there is a channel "Sales support" and a team member is uploading a file with the current sales activities.
Members of this chat are now able to open the file or to download it by clicking on the three ellipses shown to the right of the filename.
However, the most important question is: where is this file actually saved to? To understand, how the underlying chat engine is dealing with uploaded files, let's have a look at the top of the client area.
Right next to 'Conversations' there is an additional tab called 'Files'. If you click on the 'Files' tab, a list of files related to the current team is shown.
Here we find the file 'Sales Activities' that has been uploaded to the 'Sales support' channel. You'll also notice, that the name of the channel is mentioned in the headline as well.
This files overview lists all the files that are belonging to the current channel. If you have worked with Microsoft Teams before, you might know, that Microsoft Teams is utilizing a SharePoint document library under the hood to save files to.
Let's see how this is looking like if you are using channels. In the navigation bar just below of the name of the current channel, I click on 'Open in SharePoint'. A new tab is opened in my browser showing the document library that is used by the current team. You'll notice that there is a folder with the name of the channel I have just created.
shows that files belonging to a chat channel are saved to a folder with the
name of the channel. When clicking on the
folder ‘Sales support’, this folder gets opened and displays the file that has
been attached to the chat previously.
Saving files that get uploaded to a chat to a folder in a document library has many advantages. All members of the team can access the most recent version of the file, because it is saved to a single location – in contrast to sharing a file via email. The team members can collaborate on the file by using Co-Authoring and if the file gets shared with others, the security policies and the data-loss-prevention rules applied by the organization are in effect.
Many external online services are offering chats these days to enable users to exchange short messages in an informal manner. Chats are usually adopted by users very quickly because most users like the straightforward way of exchanging information. Microsoft Teams is going far beyond that approach by adding security and compliance features to their chat to make it a valuable option for organizations with dedicated security and compliance requirements.