Channel-based collaboration is here: Slack at U-M is now available; Microsoft Teams coming to Michigan Medicine in late 2021


As Michigan Medicine becomes a Flexible First workforce, modern collaboration tools are a key to enabling distributed teams to be at peak effectiveness. Two new tools are being introduced this year to improve our ability to collaborate in real time. 

On August 11, ITS rolled out Slack at U-M, which is available across all campuses and Michigan Medicine. Later in 2021, HITS will release Microsoft Teams for Michigan Medicine as part of our Microsoft 365 rollout.  

Slack and Microsoft Teams are channel-based tools that allow invited members to participate in conversations and share content in real time, enabling a more natural flow of information within a specific context (like an active project or on a particular topic) or across a common role (like members of a lab or everyone answering support questions).  These things are difficult to do in email due to the asynchronous nature of messaging.  They also allow for ‘public’ channels to share announcements, recognition, or ask questions.  

“Channel-based communication is a wonderful way to get out of email and share real time information with the many different groups we interact with daily.  Slack has been adopted organically by many faculty, students, and staff and the rollout of Slack at U-M will help to ensure we are using the product in safe, aligned way,” said Michael Warden, senior director of HITS Business IT.  

Slack is designed to support collaboration across the broader U-M community when not handling sensitive information.  For channel-style communication within Michigan Medicine units, HITS will be rolling out Microsoft Teams – which will be designed for sensitive data, including HIPAA.  

Warden shared, “We already use Slack today to help coordinate issues between the ITS and HITS service desks, simplifying the support experience across units and improving our response in real time.  Slack at U-M will help other units benefit from similar cross-campus coordination and will be beneficial to so many users as we work to get out of email as our primary method of collaboration.  We believe less email and more real time communication plays a significant role in feeling connected and avoiding burnout.”  

 If you work for Michigan Medicine and regularly collaborate with campus colleagues and do not utilize PHI, U-M Slack can be an important collaboration tool to connect across the greater U-M community.  Collaboration within Microsoft Teams will be limited to users within the Michigan Medicine community initially.  

“We are very excited about rolling out Microsoft Teams as part of the full Microsoft 365 suite later this year,” said Warden. “The native integration with OneDrive, SharePoint Online, and the Office suite are going to help bring a common approach to collaboration across the nearly 40,000 Michigan Medicine users, all aligned to handle high data sensitivity data.”

For more information about Slack at U-M, visit the Slack at U-M page on ITS’ website.  To learn more about the ongoing Microsoft 365 rollout at Michigan Medicine, visit

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