Microsoft Teams has recently had great success in the business world. The team collaboration tool now boasts more than 20 million users. Teams is perfect for small or large enterprises that need their members to collaborate digitally. But is Microsoft Teams the alternative to the Intranet?

With a robust range of internal tools perfect for collaboration, communication, and document sharing, Teams is becoming integral to many businesses. But can it replace the company intranet? The answer is no, and here are the reasons why:

What intranets do better

Microsoft Teams is an excellent tool for file sharing, conferencing, and organizing workloads, but it has limitations.  Here are some basic things that an intranet can do better than Teams:

Communication: Intranets are perfect at being the one source of internal company news, as well as departmental and team noticeboards.

Collaboration: Intranets have great tools for expertise finding, file sharing, working on files collaboratively, and internal conversations. Teams also does this but it has some downsides such as the potential for a closed communication structure. This means that if you are not in a team you won’t get all the information you need.

Business processes: Intranets have workflows that make essential business processes such as HR and training easy to handle. They are tailor-made for this type of document-heavy work.

Knowledge management tools: Organizations tend to collect a lot of static information and knowledge. Intranets are great repositories of this important company resource.

Where Microsoft Teams does not even compare to intranets

There are important differences to note in the ways Teams does not act like your intranet:

Microsoft Teams doesn’t do publishing well

Teams is designed to be navigated through people, not subject matter or content. In Teams, when you search for information, you look for a hub or team of people. This could be like finding the HR department team channel when you want to find HR material. This is not as intuitive or effective as simply searching by HR material on the intranet.

There are content monitoring challenges

Business content needs to be curated and managed. Intranets have built-in publishing approval mechanisms as well as conventions around the deletion of material. Microsoft Teams might have permissions tabs, but that is as far as it goes in the important task of content management.

It only takes one document to be published incorrectly for a business to realize the limitations of Teams in this regard.

Capturing complex organizations is hard

Large enterprises would not be able to use Teams as their entire intranet. Intranets are great at replicating the size and complexity of organizations through menus and mega-menus. A robust navigation system will allow a user to find whatever they need in the maze of a large enterprise. Teams is not built for that.

Branding

Besides inserting your own logos, Teams cannot fully support your branding needs. Intranets can be tailor-made to support your brand. This is very important for group belonging and team collaboration.

Ways in which Microsoft Teams can integrate with your intranet

Despite their differences, there are ways that Microsoft Teams and your intranet can co-exist. Here are some ideas:

Increased productivity

Good intranets provide great findability. Teams alone cannot do that, but if you combine SharePoint with Teams, you can get the best of both worlds. This is because each team in Microsoft Teams is given its own SharePoint site.

But whichever intranet you use, you can integrate it into Teams. You can do this by creating a new tab in a team channel and add the ‘Website’ app and paste in a link to your intranet. This is the equivalent of inserting a browser window into a tab.

Better engagement

The typical intranet is great for top-down communication but can sometimes lack the capacity for communication in the opposite direction. This type of feedback is important for a business to run effectively. Teams is excellent at peer-to-peer engagement but can also provide great communication between staff at all levels, provided they are on the same Teams channel or team.

With Teams, you can create an org-wide team that can include every member of the organization. You can even set it so those team members can’t leave. This means that internal communications can be enterprise-wide and far-reaching. The subtle difference is that in org-wide teams, the most junior staff can send messages that leaders can see.

Brand presence

Microsoft Teams cannot be customized in a similar way to corporate intranets. Aside from inserting company logos, the look and feel remains very much a Teams look. One of the important parts of having your own intranet is that accessing it feels like dropping into a virtual version of your office.

But you can go some way to bridging this divide by creating a corporate news page inside Teams. You can retain your intranet by creating a mirror page on Teams where you can publish official news. As it is your own website, it will contain your branding, and the company-specific information will make you feel at home.

You can use other apps in the Teams side-rail

To make Microsoft Teams function more like an intranet, you can think about inserting complementary apps in the Teams side-rail. There are bolt-on apps such as learning management systems that can be integrated into Microsoft Teams. Company training Is an important part of company life and this can be conducted together.

Other examples of integrated apps are project management apps, as well as drawing apps that turn rough drawings into data visualizations. More apps include mind-map apps to help teams brainstorm. Meeting note-taking apps and voting apps can also be added to the side-rail.

Conclusion

Microsoft Teams will never replace your intranet. There are crossover areas, but there are also areas that each application does better than the other. If you choose to go for a blended approach, you will have to be prepared to take the time to understand which application you wish to be the go-to application. You will also have to think carefully about how you integrate the branding and company information that you post in Microsoft Teams. With enough research and a good understanding of both systems, you can reach a workable compromise.