Why Your Organization Needs Microsoft Teams & SharePoint
I have a SharePoint intranet, do I really need Microsoft Teams? Do I need an Intranet if I have Microsoft Teams?
TL;DR: Yes, you do. If you have a portal or intranet built on SharePoint, it’s extremely likely that your organization could benefit from utilizing it in tandem with Microsoft Teams and vice versa.
The real question is not why, but how?
Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room. If you launch Microsoft Teams, you’re automatically using SharePoint because SharePoint is at the core of Teams. Technically there are ways to use Teams without SharePoint, but for the sake of getting to the point of this article, and the fact that creates a greatly diminished Teams experience in nearly all cases, we will leave this for another post.
To accurately illustrate why we believe that your organization will benefit from using both productivity tools, we need to start with a quick breaking down review of each one.
SharePoint is designed to:
A workhorse of communication and collaboration since 2001, SharePoint has significantly evolved over the years. Still, at its core, it is designed to help users store and co-collaborate on documents and create customized web-based (i.e. custom web pages) experiences. In fact, it’s really the only platform in Microsoft that allows this kind of capability.
SharePoint is good at…
Document storage, building web pages, portals, sites, displaying news, enabling document co-collaboration, file sharing, and organizing content stored in lists and libraries.
Long story short, SharePoint is great for building a portal, intranet, or extranet that facilitates organizational information sharing, file storage, and co-authoring on documentation.
Teams is designed to:
Facilitate real-time communication and collaboration—scheduled or ad-hock—between two or more people across multiple mediums like video, audio, chat, and meeting spaces.
Teams is good at…
Providing structured and ad-hock conversations in a variety of mixed mediums. Do you prefer video chat? Audio only? Are you more productive via text? Project-based chat with historical record? Ad-hoc conversations that need to go from text, to audio, to video, and back to text? Teams has you covered. Teams is your key to project-driven collaboration. Structured around specific things like projects and processes, Teams encourages transparency and provides important history of topics in threads, so your team knows where a project stands at all times.
How will you use Teams & SharePoint?
Enabled with a foundation of each tool’s strengths, we can get back to the initial question, HOW will you use the two tools best to drive value for the organization? The easiest way to explain this is to see it in action. Consider the following example to use as a case study of how your organization might take advantage of both toolsets in tandem.
Let’s say you have a retail company with a corporate headquarters, a factory, and multiple storefronts.
Your SharePoint intranet is accessible to all employees across your entire organization. Your organization uses the intranet to share company news, surface important HR documents, and marketing materials, and promote upcoming events.
Your corporate communication team also needs a place to curate and collaborate on the content that gets disseminated via your SharePoint intranet to the entire organization. This is where Teams shines!
🤸Teams & SharePoint in Action:
Take another example; you have an upcoming company-wide Townhall where your entire organization will come together and celebrate the past year’s successes and prepare for the upcoming year. Your corporate team can leverage Teams to work together to prepare for the event in a channel dedicated to this specific event. You can collaborate on P&L reports (co-authoring on excel docs), prepare keynote slide decks (co-author in PowerPoint), and plan the logistics of the event (Planner) all in Teams, and then quickly and seamlessly share information that needs to be consumed by your whole company on your SharePoint intranet.
Communication can flow both ways in your SharePoint portal, pushing out content curated in Teams while simultaneously using the SharePoint intranet to gather important information from the whole organization. This can range from questions for the CEO to address during the town hall submitted via a Microsoft Form published on a SharePoint page, to surfacing and allowing selection of lunch preferences for the day.
When to use Teams or SharePoint or both?
Teams and SharePoint both have strengths and many overlap. The key to determining which tool to use when can be confusing, but essentially it all comes down to your organization’s culture, workflows, and the end user’s needs. Here are a few other ways to look at when each tool might be the right fit:
👪 Which toolset is right for the task? Look at your audience:
SharePoint = ME
SharePoint is much about “me.” I’m here to get my news, my content, my policies, my upcoming events, etc. And even when we aren’t merely consuming content, for example, when you’re working on a document that you might be co-authoring, you’re still going to the portal alone.
There’s no I in Teams
Teams is about 2 or more people. In this chat-based app, we expect responses and engagement. You’re often working together on process or project-driven tasks in threaded conversations with a group of people.
⏰ When determining when to use Teams or SharePoint, consider time:
Teams lives in the now
Teams is about the now. While it has history, it’s more immediate and fleeting. It’s about workflows, collaborating in real or near real-time, and curating content right now. For example, let’s say we’re planning a marketing campaign to launch a new product line this month. In Teams, we can co-author presentations, design marketing materials, meet on essential details, and plan out the launch party, all in threaded conversations.
SharePoint lives on
SharePoint, on the other hand, is about longevity. It is the history. The content curated in Teams for the new product line will then be consumed by a greater audience and archived for easy search when needed on the SharePoint intranet.
👫 Better Together
It’s important to have a cohesive strategy, governance, and policies behind how you will use both tools. By building a strategy and thinking through what role each tool plays in the greater digital workspace, you can leverage the best of the tools and integrate them, making your team even more productive. For example, you can feed your news articles and pages from your Intranet into Teams tabs to limit switching between toolsets and save your employees time.
Another reason SharePoint and Teams work so well together is that they can be customized using the same framework. If you want to build custom components in Teams, you should consider using the SharePoint Framework. You can build solutions that will work for both SharePoint and Teams. For example, we built an RSS reader that displays on both our intranet and in a Teams tab for our Extended Learning channel.
🤹 Does this sound like a lot of moving pieces?
That’s both the exciting and overwhelming part of these two impressive solutions. The answer lies in proper planning. You need to go through an analysis phase and think through how you want to use these tools to ensure you get the most out of each. Map out workflows, define your user’s needs, and test! We highly recommend prototyping your concepts and testing them with your champions or pilot team first. With so many moving pieces you’re going to make mistakes (which is okay!), but it can be hard to correct down the road. Don’t get stuck with legacy content you can’t get rid of easily; test first!
If you take only one thing away from this post, we hope you see how well these tools work together. Proper planning is the key to a successful digital workspace, and if you’re looking for assistance, one of our Microsoft Teams & SharePoint experts would love to start that conversation with you today!