For more than 15 years SharePoint has been Microsoft’s core platform for everything from small to enterprise scale intranets. Primarily established as a development platform that provides the building blocks to create an end–to–end document repository for sharing and collaboration, it has evolved considerably over the last two decades and now boasts 190 million users across 200,000 organisations worldwide. SharePoint delivers rich content management, powerful search, communication sites, cloud hosted services and – with SharePoint Modern – an appealing, device–agnostic, website-style front end.
But – while SharePoint led the way in large scale document management and intranet creation – M365 services remained siloed based on function or mode of communication.
In 2017, the launch of Teams heralded the beginning of a new approach for Microsoft, who wanted to provide a ‘unified “single pane of glass” experience for employees – simplifying their experience and increasing productivity’.
Teams shifted the focus for Microsoft users from the silo-based, multi-access-point experience – where you might move between SharePoint and other applications to access documents, such as into Word and Excel to create and edit, and through Outlook and Skype to communicate – towards a way-of-working that brings access to the tools you need right to the centre of collaboration.
With SharePoint providing the foundation and Teams delivering the collaborative, intuitive, multi-functional interface the M365 experience has been both simplified and enhanced. SharePoint remains absolutely fundamental to the Microsoft landscape, but it is Teams that’s making the most significant difference to users and the way they work day–to–day.
Microsoft 365 continues to evolve and, building on the success of SharePoint Modern, the apps landscape is becoming even richer. Over 40 Microsoft applications are accessible right now through Teams, and a further 300+ third–party add-ons are available or on the way. Being able to surface a vast number of capabilities through Teams – Yammer, Outlook, Excel, Project, Word and more – untethers these applications from their silos and plugs them directly into the power of SharePoint, all without requiring you to step outside the Team context.
Teams aligns the information you need – and the tools you want to use – to the project or theme context you are working in. Messages, meetings, notes, and documents are all in one place and available to create, access and edit ‘in the open’ negating any need to switch out to email to share and collaborate.
Teams and SharePoint align organisational structures, each Team having an associated SharePoint team site, and every channel in Teams reflected in a folder in SharePoint’s document library. As well as streamlining architecturally, this brings many real–world advantages to the end user: files can be synched, making keeping central file management and versioning efficient and clean; document co-authoring can be enabled across SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams; and Teams automatically benefits from all the data searching, data governance and automatic classification that SharePoint provides.
The relationship is symbiotic, with Teams bringing as many advantages to SharePoint. Surfacing SharePoint pages in Teams – through tabs – pulls the best of your SharePoint intranet into your project-centric collaboration centre, allowing to push, for example, news and training through to your employees where they work. The Microsoft roadmap for enhancements also looks to be promoting the SharePoint Home intranet as an app through Teams, so the interdependence is getting deeper, and strengthening the Teams purpose of being the single place to get work done.
It’s likely that your employees will never see or even know that they are using SharePoint day-to-day. With Teams and a rich array of Microsoft and 3rd party apps powering their video, chat, sharing and project organisation they don’t need to understand that there is a robust and dynamic engine sitting underneath it all.
There are, inevitably, a number of myths abounding about the relationship between Teams and SharePoint: that Teams can replace SharePoint; that Teams is itself siloed from SharePoint; or even that SharePoint is on the way out.
We might speculate the SharePoint as a brand may become redundant and becomes Teams Collaboration, but…
In reality the partnership between the strength and power of SharePoint and the flexibility and ‘all-accessing’ nature of Teams could be the enabler for a new, efficient and productive, modern way of working for your business.