It seems with the pandemic push of companies having no choice but to work from home, an increase in Microsoft Teams usage and experience has opened the eyes of many to capabilities of the tech. SharePoint lead the way initially with large scale document management while Microsoft 365 remained siloed. Since 2017, the launch of Microsoft Teams created Microsoft’s vision for a single platform optimizing employees experience and productivity.
Now companies can experience the power of SharePoint and Teams unified ecosystem. We sit down with our SharePoint Consultant, Amy Gordan and Microsoft 365 Consultant, Annalisa Wrubel as they share their insights with both platforms.
With so much emphasis on Microsoft Teams over the past few months, is there a shift away from SharePoint?
Amy: In some cases yes. We used to create a new team site to host documents for sub-teams and projects. A good example of this is for an IT team who has documents for their support team, infrastructure, architecture and of course every IT project. You will now see that Teams is used for this purpose as it adds the extra layer of being able to have conversations about what is going on. There will always be a need to have document management sites that don’t need the extra layer of Teams such as a policies/templates library which everyone in the organisation needs to access.
Anni: Yes agreed Amy. With Teams being a more instant, collaborative platform, the ability to access documents and discuss project documents on mobile devices has become more desirable. Where SharePoint is taking on the role of a one stop shop for disciplines and an environment for company information, Teams is filling the gap with the instant messaging on documents and projects. Larger companies are finding the need to use Teams for project collaboration to bring all communications into one app, which as a bonus, keeps the number of emails down.
Do you think SharePoint will always be a foundation to host communications apps?
Amy: For the foreseeable future yes, SharePoint has always been the corporate and team news hub. The features around this are only getting better.
Anni: SharePoint will always be the platform to communicate company and discipline news. A need for an intranet is still required, but how the intranet is surfaced may be subject to change for some users in the future.
Is SharePoint evolving to adapt with Teams or to evolve to become a larger platform to host more capabilities?
Amy: They are both evolving together, SharePoint has so many more capabilities for other things such as communications and intranet sites. Teams is getting more collaboration features. On the side of this they are both becoming much more advanced with integrations with the Power Automation platform and AI.
Anni: The two apps complement each other well, if built and managed correctly. Where SharePoint misses the instant collaborative feature, Teams is all about that. And where Teams misses the granular document and data management ability, SharePoint fills that gap.
We’ve been implementing migrations and digital transformations for many of our clients. Have you seen that all our clients use Teams?
Amy: No, some are still using Skype for Business which has been a challenge during the lockdown. Some clients have started to switch to Teams but only utilising the chat/call/meeting functionality as they are not quite ready to roll out all of the features yet.
Anni: As more and more companies are seeing the advantages in having Teams, they are slowly deploying the app out to the wider users. What is very important when deploying Teams, is training. I find many users have Teams but still use other apps, e.g. Outlook or Skype, because they are familiar and well trained on these older apps. Teams has a lot of capabilities and offers many features, so if training is planned and delivered successfully, then it will be a powerful tool to use.
Microsoft has offered free Teams access since the pandemic. Because of this, have you seen an increase in demand to use Teams solely?
Amy: Yes, we have seen a major shift from Skype for Business to Teams. Some clients are firstly replacing the call/meetings/phone and messaging before rolling out the full functionality of Teams for collaboration. This has become more important with everyone working from home.
Anni: As users are becoming more comfortable with the fast collaborative approach you can have with Teams, and the ability to call and instant message other internal and external users, clients are finding that Teams is all they need for projects. Teams is still evolving and new features, e.g. pop-out chat, are being released regularly, therefore users are finding the app more appropriate to do all tasks required. Also, with the Teams app being so mobile friendly this gives it an advantage over SharePoint.
What collaborations do you see Teams with other apps – SharePoint, etc?
Amy: A lot of people are using tabs for OneNote and Planner. This is great for managing projects.
Anni: Clients are asking for a link to SharePoint from Teams and vice versa. As Teams is a new app for the company, this helps promote the use of Teams, for those who are very SharePoint focused. The ability to add tabs to various apps on Teams is really helping users create a one stop shop within their Team Channel.
On the power of SharePoint & Teams combination
Do you find this is something clients see the value in having both?
Amy: On the whole yes, but one size doesn’t fit all. This is an interesting one and something I am working with clients on now. Teams is great for collaboration within a small team or a project where you have one core document library with your channels. When we need full document management however with multiple document libraries, granular permissions, metadata tagging and enhanced search this won’t always work.
Anni: Yes, for some departments within the company there is a need to combine SharePoint and Teams. For example, a discipline may have information and guidelines which are open to the whole company to see, then a smaller area which is more for a focused group which is where Teams is used to have a collaborative space for those target users. Permissions are used to keep this a more private area.
Amy: I’m working with a construction company at the moment where they need full document management, but at the same time want to roll out Teams. We will need to review where it’s appropriate to use a Team vs. a SharePoint site and then what’s public/private. This is all new when thinking about the information architecture for document management and collaboration as a whole.
Is your company up to speed with SharePoint and Teams capabilities and the power to use both hand in hand? Contact us to speak with Amy, Annalisa or one of our consultants to help guide you through your onboarding, training or migration.