Digital is constantly evolving and bringing along positive changes to the organisation.

New tools are being rolled out to support staff productivity and enhance collaborative working across teams. Embracing change and communicating  benefits forms one of the biggest challenges.

The Microsoft ecosystem is no exception. With SharePoint and Office 365, we now have a complete collaboration structure that can be scaled to about any desired size. There always a confusion how some of these cool application can co-exist, importantly when to use what?

Let’s today look at Microsoft Teams vs Office 365 groups vs SharePoint team sites.

There are no hard & fast rule when to use what? However based on experience here are some of our thoughts.

Before diving into details, we need to understand what these are?

  • Office 365 groups  is a service that enables teams to come together and get work done by establishing a single team identity and a single set of permissions across Office 365 apps including Outlook, SharePoint, OneNote, Skype for Business, Planner, Power BI, and Dynamics CRM.
  • Microsoft Teams  is an entirely new experience that brings together people, conversations, documents and content—along with the tools that teams need—so they can easily collaborate to achieve
  • SharePoint team site is a collaboration area for team within SharePoint eco-system. It provides tools and to help with the collaboration.

 

So the next question is, when do we use these?

Office 365 Groups Microsoft Teams SharePoint team site
Use when your team need access to multiple apps within Office 365. Use when a small team need an area for collaboration. It has conversation (similar to Yammer) and light document collaboration. Use when a large team need a workspace to collaborate with their business related documents. Allows detailed data classification functionality.

 

Here is the summary table that provides feature comparison in detail:

Feature Office 365 Groups Microsoft Teams SharePoint team site
Activity Stream   YES YES – through RSS feeds
Notifications   YES YES
Calendaring YES YES YES
Document Management   YES – Lightweight YES – Detailed
Search YES YES YES
Real Time IM   YES  
Mobility YES YES YES
Tagging   YES YES
Thread conversations   YES  
People directory   YES YES

 

Here are some of the PROS & CONS for the apps mentioned:

App Pros Cons
Office 365 groups Brings together conversations, a calendar and documents in one place

Encourages collaboration and new ways of working

Corresponding document library is associated with the group, so all members can collaborate from the same set of documents

Available everywhere, from a web browser or mobile devices using the OWA for Devices app

Groups are easy to use, staff can create as well as manage groups themselves

Groups can be given a description, logo and easily renamed

Staff can easily browse and join groups, joining a private group requires authorisation

Using subscription feature, members can receive conversations in their inbox, this can be set for the whole group or members can control this themselves

Groups appear in the email directory in Outlook and can be used like a distribution list

New starters or people new to the group can catch-up on previous conversations unlike a distribution list

External people outside of the organization can contribute to groups via email

Overlaps with existing features like distribution lists, Yammer and the our network drives

No way to restore a deleted group

Groups can be setup ad hoc by staff with no way to enforce a consistent naming convention or several similarly named group from being setup

A group might be used to unintentionally expose confidential information, as anyone can view a group within the organization unless marked as private

Can’t change a group from public to private and vice versa

Online only (not including email subscription notifications)

Lots of groups could clutter up the Outlook email directory (GAL)

Not fully integrated in Outlook, have to use the web browser or app for full functionality

No conventional administration management via polices or admin portal

Viewing the documents component in the OWA app e.g for iPad redirects to web page rather the working from within the app

Doesn’t currently integrate with Yammer or Lync though this is on the roadmap

The underlying email address of a group is a onmicrosoft.com address, which you don’t seem to be able to change

Microsoft Teams Real-time. The conversation platform is Skype for Business, which people are already familiar with. You can instant message one on one and replace the Skype for Business client. You can also instant message with the members of a Team and this is saved for later discovery.

Multi-platform app. The Microsoft Teams app is available for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android. IT has all the features of the web version on teams.microsoft.com too.

Keeping up. The activity view in Teams makes it simple to see all individual and team conversations you have.

Channels. Channels are a great way to have sub topic conversations with a smaller group of users without creating a new Team.

Tabs. With the tab extensibility, users can add a tab for other services on a as needs basis. If you are using third-party services like Trello for tasks, it’s easy to add that instead of Planner.

Chat bots. If you are reading any tech news right now, you will see it’s all about chat bots. Teams is the only way to have a conversation with a bot in a group mode.

Connectors. (see Groups in Outlook)

Preview. It is still in preview and there seems to be some bugs in the user interface.

600 member limit. Right now, there is a limit. I suspect at some point you’ll be able to create a team and have your whole organization in it though.

No external users. Groups has this capability, so I suspect it won’t be long before this goes away.

Skype calls have 250 member limit. 250 is quite a large number and at this point its more of a broadcast than collaboration. It’s more of a convenience thing that you can spin up a call to the team and let people join if they chose.

Basic administration. The administration needs to get a whole lot more granular for key scenarios.

No permalinks. There is no ability to use a URL to jump to a conversation thread in Teams. This will be frustrating when you want to reference other conversations in e-mail and instant message.

No e-discovery. At general availability, it will have C level compliance.

Basic files experience. (see Groups in Outlook) You can add SharePoint document libraries as a tab though.

 

SharePoint team sites Pages. The ability to create pages with custom layouts and add web parts has always been the major strength.

Advanced Files. With files in SharePoint, users can have metadata, content types, and custom views.

Custom Lists. Custom lists give an easy way of managing data for users. It strengths are item level metadata, versioning, security, and workflow. The custom views, Flow, and PowerApp integration is also compelling.

On-premises. SharePoint is the only option here for on-premises customers.

SharePoint ecosystem. There have been companies building on top of SharePoint since it launched. Companies continue to focus here because of the user base. This allows you to speed up custom Sites by bolting in add-on solutions.

Pages. The ability to create pages with custom layouts and add web parts has always been the major strength.

Advanced Files. With files in SharePoint, users can have metadata, content types, and custom views.

Custom Lists. Custom lists give an easy way of managing data for users. It strengths are item level metadata, versioning, security, and workflow. The custom views, Flow, and PowerApp integration is also compelling.

On-premises. SharePoint is the only option here for on-premises customers.

SharePoint ecosystem. There have been companies building on top of SharePoint since it launched. Companies continue to focus here because of the user base. This allows you to speed up custom Sites by bolting in add-on solutions.

 

Finally apps are there to increase productivity. Identifying right tool for your requirement is the key to our successful outcome.

If you need any assistance to determine which application fits for your requirements please contact one of our experienced consultants.

You can email: enquiries@prometix.com.au Or call (02) 8072 0666

About Prometix: At Prometix, we design implement and support Microsoft based technology solutions that help our client’s staff to more easily use and share information as individuals and in teams. We work with our clients to establish a structure that makes information easier to create, store, find and share with others. We’ve worked hard to understand how people want to access and share information.

For more information on our success stories please feel free to call us on (02) 8072 0666 or email enquiries@prometix.com.au

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