Collaboration in Office 365 – What to use and when.

Microsoft is changing how people work. Office 365 has a comprehensive suite of applications that help organizations improve how they collaborate and communicate. However, there is one question we get with frequency,

“How do I know what application in Office 365 I should be using and when I should use it?”

It’s a great question, and we completely understand why our customers would ask this question. With the ability to store and share documents stored in OneDrive, Teams, and SharePoint, how is one to know what application is best to use?

Microsoft published this diagram in a recent article in the Microsoft Tech Community, and we have been using it to help educate our clients on how they should leverage applications in Office 365 to collaborate.

This diagram is from the Microsoft Tech Community

Working on a file by yourself

If you’re working on a file independently, you should save it to OneDrive. OneDrive allows you to access all your files from any device and work on them. While OneDrive is private by default, you can share files with others. This feature is useful if you need to share a file with another party but haven’t created a team. If you are working as a team in Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, or in Outlook your files should be stored there. You can still use OneDrive to access shared libraries. Microsoft explains how to create a shared library in this article.

Working with others in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is the hub for teamwork where you and your team can collaborate on files, communicate, and streamline processes. It’s simple to collaborate on a document in Microsoft Teams and you can easily co-author documents when you store files in Teams.

You can easily add a file to a Microsoft Teams site by uploading the file or dragging and dropping the file into the “files” window.

Banner to download a free infographic on Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has a great article that addresses how to add files to Microsoft Teams, create a new file in Teams, and how to share the file with internal and external users. Read more about how to use your files in Microsoft Teams here.

What you may not realize is that documents that are stored in Teams are being stored in a SharePoint site. Microsoft Teams is simply a new interface to what we traditionally called a SharePoint Team Site.

Sharing “official” and “approved content with the organization

SharePoint is the application that should be used if your goal is to share content across the entire organization. We have a policy that content with value to the enterprise that may have originated in OneDrive or Microsoft Teams, should be archived in SharePoint. Information that may be useful and should be accessible to the entire organization can be stored on a SharePoint intranet or in a repository specific to the content type. At Kiefer, we use hub sites to store submitted proposals and all related documents. The SharePoint-based intranet are searchable, and documents are easy to locate. We also have HR forms and policy documents stored on our intranet home page. We’ve helped several clients build modern intranets using Office 365.

Clickable banner witrh a free download of the Kiefer intranet ebook

In summary

If your organization is embracing the idea of the Modern Workplace and frictionless communication and collaboration, you want to ensure that there is a consistent experience with files. across projects and people. Digital transformation requires a consistent files experience when viewing, editing and co-authoring, sharing internally and with guests, syncing across devices, and being productive on the go.

The files in OneDrive are YOUR files. You have the ability to share them as needed; but they remain private until you decide to share. In Microsoft Teams, members of the team own the files for group-related scenarios (private or public groups) and owners can manage access to files through group membership permissions. Lastly, SharePoint is the place to store “trusted” and “official” content that needs to be available for enterprise access.


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