Slack vs Office 365 Groups

Communication through email is vital in every organization.  However, sometimes email can be quite distracting to what is most urgent and important.  This is why services such as Slack and Office 365 Groups were created.  Slack launched back in August of 2013 and has had exponential growth since.  In just 6 months, Slack reached over 15,000 users and now they have over 3 million users!

Slack Exponential Growth

Source: Tech Crunch

After seeing how successful Slack is, Microsoft knew they needed to create something to compete with them, so they created Office 365 Groups.  Office 365 Groups are tightly integrated with their existing Office 365 services.  You can send group-wide emails, tag groups, and much more.  Below we are going to highlight a few of the key differences between Slack and Office 365 Groups.

Slack is available in both a mobile and desktop application.  There are various tiers of service listed here.  From a free plan with access to a few features, to an Enterprise plan (available soon) that has tons of exciting features.  The key differences between the plans are the amount of file storage you get for your team(s), the percent of up-time SLA, and the tech support services you get.  You can also connect various external apps to your groups in Slack such as Google Drive, OneDrive, Sway, Twitter, and much more.  One of the best features of Slack is the ability and quality of search.  You can search through conversations and even within documents inside of individual conversations.  This makes it significantly easier to find what you need, when you need it.

Office 365 Groups is quite different from Slack, it is not available as a stand-alone product.  You must have an Office 365 subscription to take advantage of Office 365 Groups.  You can learn about the different Office 365 personal subscriptions tiers here and the Enterprise and Government Office 365 tiers here.   For right now, unfortunately, Office 365 Groups is not available for personal subscriptions.  When you create an Office 365 Group, you get a mailbox, calendar, document library, OneNote notebook, and a planning tool for each group.  This makes it extremely easy to collaborate and communicate with your group/team throughout your Office 365 subscription.  In the coming weeks, Microsoft will be enabling a guest access feature for Office 365 Groups.   This means that you will be able to share your information with external users in Office 365.  Microsoft will also add Office 365 group capabilities into Yammer.  This will give users the ability to share information through Office 365 groups via Outlook or Yammer.

Just like Slack, there is a mobile app, but there is not desktop specific application for Office 365 Groups, instead it is integrated within the existing Office 365 apps.  But the key feature of Office 365 Groups is that it is integrated within Outlook 2016 as shown below:

Office 365 Groups in Outlook

In simple terms, Slack is just a chat room for your business, while Office 365 Groups lets users share common calendars, files, and OneNote notebooks.  Since Office 365 Groups is tightly integrated within Outlook, it feels very “right.”  Groups sit below your inbox, drafts, and other email folders, right where they should be.  Putting groups directly below your inbox and other mail folders makes users more likely to take advantage of it.  Using a separate app like Slack, may not have as high of an adoption rate among some users.  Soon, Groups will integrate with SharePoint team sites, enabling you to take advantage of these key features inside of your SharePoint sites.  Planner, a new Office 365 agile project management tool, is integrated with Office 365 Groups in the current preview version.

Slack and Office 365 Groups are similar in several ways.  They both are designed to decrease the amount of emails in your inbox.  Often, users have many things going on at once.  Email can actually be quite distracting when you are trying to stay focused on a particular topic or task.  With Slack and Office 365 Groups, you have one place for each topic or task so it is much easier to stay productive.  This is ideal of small teams, projects, or even larger departments.  The ability to connect to external apps is also available on both Slack and Office 365 Groups.

In conclusion, both Slack and Office 365 Groups are revolutionary ways to collaborate more effectively with your team.  However, they both offer some advantages and disadvantages, just as any other technology.  Slack is great for simple collaborative group chats, while Office 365 Groups includes much more features and capabilities due to its integration with the existing Office 365 apps and services such as SharePoint, Skype, and the Office apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc).

If your organization already has Office 365 or is considering moving to Office 365, we recommend testing out the capabilities of Office 365 Groups.  If your organization does not currently have Office 365 and will not likely move to it anytime soon, we recommend trying Slack.

If you have any questions or would like a free 30 minute consultation to see if Office 365 is right for you, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Update:  Microsoft recently announced Microsoft Teams to compete with Slack.  Teams is a chat-based workplace located inside of Office 365.  Your administrator can enable Teams in the Office 365 Admin center.

Microsoft Teams builds further on active directory groups.  If you like the functionality in Groups, you will likely benefit from the features in Teams.  Microsoft Teams has been in preview for months, but was released worldwide in March 2017.  Jeremy, from our friends at Hyperfish, released this article highlighting the features and the future of Teams: