Microsoft Teams vs SharePoint: understanding the differences
Office 365 is one of the most popular software suites in the world. It has been adopted by millions of organisations, of all sizes, and powers businesses in almost every sector.
As more organisations seek digital transformation and continue to adopt cloud technology to unlock its benefits, the tools provided by Microsoft 365 are becoming ever more popular.
When it comes to boosting collaboration, improving communication and breaking down silos, there are two applications which you can’t afford to miss out on – SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
However, businesses often get confused about what each tool brings, what they should be used for and how they can work together, as part of a broader cloud strategy, to improve productivity and efficiency.
Here, we take a closer look at both SharePoint and Microsoft Teams to help you understand the difference and the benefits each can bring to your business or organisation.
What are Microsoft Teams and SharePoint?
Before we start getting into the detail, here’s a quick overview of both Microsoft Teams and SharePoint and what each one can offer.
SharePoint has been around for almost 20 years. It is a web-based collaboration platform that integrates with Office 365 and is used primarily for secure document management and storage. It also provides a space where a group of users can come together to work on a project.
Microsoft Teams, by comparison, is the relative new kid on the block. Launched in 2017, it is an all-in-one cloud-based collaboration hub which enables users to meet, chat, send instant messages, share files and work with other business apps in a shared workspace.
Because of its voice and video calling functionality, many businesses have benefited from using Teams to stay connected with their people during coronavirus lockdown.
What are the advantages of Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is a collaboration tool which allows users to communicate and share information instantly within a single workspace.
Each team can have multiple channels and within each one, multiple tabs can be set up for different purposes, allowing for multiple topics of conversation within each team.
Teams brings together several communication channels, including instant messaging and one-to-one or group calls and meetings via voice or video, using a chat-based format. It also provides a central location for team members to collaborate on documents and projects.
Each team you set up comes with several components, including an Office 365 Group, SharePoint site, shared mailbox and calendar, and OneNote notebook, so everyone in the team can collaborate.
You can also integrate Microsoft Teams with other Microsoft apps, such as Planner, Forms and Power BI, as well as accessing select third-party applications.
When you set up a team, all the meetings, calls, documents, and collaboration are hosted by the Microsoft Teams app. This helps with document management and auditing, because all the information relevant to a project or team is saved within the workspace.
And because Microsoft Teams is cloud-based, all the data is stored in the cloud, and your users can access and collaborate remotely via a secure online connection.
The great thing about Teams is the flexibility it offers. You can use it just for instant messaging, for team communications, for video calls with colleagues or partners, or even for phoning someone’s mobile. Or, you can use it for all these things, so it can fit in with the way you want to do business.
What are the advantages of SharePoint?
With SharePoint, you can create a space for members of your team to collaborate on a specific project, either within a department or in their day-to-day role.
You can create a new SharePoint site for each team or project you work on, so documents and information can be shared easily within the site.
Team leaders can manage the site, highlight important information and set up customised views which give an overview of the progress of each project.
Users, meanwhile, can access the documents, information and data they need remotely, and add documents, events and task lists to the team site.
Should you use Microsoft Teams or SharePoint?
While both SharePoint and Microsoft Teams are used for collaboration, they are different applications which enable businesses to achieve different things.
Sharepoint offers collaboration through structure, whereas Teams offers collaboration through communication and shared experiences.
Microsoft designed Teams to optimise its integration with other Office 365 apps, to enable users to unlock the maximum potential benefit from all its solutions.
So, you can integrate SharePoint’s document management seamlessly into a Microsoft Teams environment, creating a complete collaboration solution.
It means users can use Microsoft Teams to access everything associated with a single project from the same place (the Teams dashboard), with the actual data being stored in a SharePoint site.
This will make it easy to sync and access all the files for a specific Team in a single platform.
Users can link to documents directly within conversations, keeping the topic of communication clear and relevant. They can also search for and locate files quickly, via a consolidated searching system, with automatic previews in Microsoft Teams making it easier to identify the right documents.
And the integration can protect and secure documents and files in line with your data protection, document management and data loss retention procedures.
While organisations have traditionally used SharePoint for document management and storage, they have tended to use separate communication tools like Skype for Business to communicate.
However, a Microsoft Teams and SharePoint integration will enable your project team members to communicate and collaborate seamlessly, which can help increase efficiency, productivity and overall team effectiveness.
So, instead of being an either/or question, you should instead be asking how your business or organisation can make the best use of both SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.