Should I use SharePoint or Teams to collaborate?

When Microsoft Teams was introduced in March 2017, many wondered when and why you would use it.

The Kiefer team has built a strong reputation in helping organizations collaborate using Microsoft SharePoint. Beginning in 2017, many of our clients have asked when they should use Microsoft Teams and when they should be using SharePoint. While the 2 products have both offer users the ability to collaborate, share content with a specific set of users, and co-author, we have found that there are some certain conditions where one may be a better choice than the other.

When should I use SharePoint?

For SharePoint to really provide business value, you must give it a little structure. This is an important consideration for clients that want to use SharePoint as a tool to serve the entire enterprise.

The process of creating structure for SharePoint is called, information architecture (IA). In establishing the IA,  we help clients organize, and label of the content within a SharePoint site collection. This includes documents, data, and subsites. The IA is intended to make content more accessible and searchable.

We have found that organizations that don’t invest in establishing IA, have challenges with SharePoint adoption and users that become frustrated with SharePoint.

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If the structure is well organized, users can count on SharePoint to deliver what they are looking for. A single-source of truth ensures that users are looking at the latest and most accurate version of of a document.

From a collaboration perspective, users can co-author and share documents that are stored in SharePoint with other users in the organization. Up until the introduction of Microsoft Teams, SharePoint was the only tool we’d recommend for organizations that wanted to collaborate.

A better alternative to collaborating using e-mail

Have you ever had a document that multiple people in your organization are working on? Have you had to collect feedback, changes, or edits and had to aggregate all of the required updates to the document. If so, this use case is going to be interesting to you.

Single Source of Truth

With SharePoint, multiple users can work on a single document, simultaneously. This allows your team to have a “single-source-of-truth”. Single-Source-of-Truth (SSoT) data, as defined by the Harvard Business Review, relies on one unchallengeable source within your own organization to deliver all the crucial data needed to run your business.

The key to maintaining a single-source-of-truth is highly dependent upon version control. It’s preferred that the team work collaboratively on a single document to ensure that there are not multiple versions of the document circulating and that all updates are captured.

While all of this may seem transformational if you are collaborating via e-mail or storing content on shared network drives, Microsoft Teams is taking into account how users prefer to collaborate and offers users the features that can used to enable smaller groups to collaborate in a contained, secure, feature-rich, and user friendly workspace, a Microsoft Team site.

What is Microsoft Teams and when would I create a Team?

Let’s first list out a few instances where creating a Team in Microsoft Teams seems practical:

  • A project with a defined beginning and end
  • A matter that requires a small group to collaborate on documents and communicate to all team members using a “group chat” as opposed to e-mail
  • A group needs a place to align team members and needs a single place to go to find project related documents and conversations
  • A private workspace where a subset of team members can work collaboratively, send each other messages in chat, and keep a document library with all related information in a single place
  • The ability to integrate a task list, calendar, dashboards, and other resources into a team collaboration space

Microsoft Teams leverages a variety of Microsoft 365 applications to establish an environment where a small team or group of users can collaborate and work together. This environment will offer your team a set of tools that enhance the collaboration experience.

When a Team is created in Microsoft Teams, there are a lot of things that happen in the background, including the establishing a SharePoint site for the team to store documents. We have an infographic that illustrates all the Microsoft 365 services that are provisioned when a Teams site is created.

The Team is now your “front door” to all of the solutions that will enable collaboration. Prior to the introduction of Teams, Microsoft 365 applications like Planner and OneNote may have felt like point-solutions, now, they feel like a component/tool within a larger collaboration application.

There are features of both SharePoint and Teams that are useful to departments, groups, and teams that need to collaborate. We believe the best way to establish clear direction for your organization is by understanding the uses cases for Teams and SharePoint and creating policies that direct users on what application to use and when.

Kiefer can help you in rolling out Microsoft 365, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams. Contact us to learn more.


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