SharePoint and Teams

Does Microsoft Teams use SharePoint?

Wondering how Teams and SharePoint fit together inside Microsoft 365? Find out the differences between working in SharePoint and working in Teams.
James Done
August 18, 2023
5 min to read

In a word, yes! If you're working with documents in Teams, you’re using SharePoint. When you create a team in Teams, you are creating a team site in SharePoint. Teams and SharePoint effectively do already work together seamlessly to enhance your business experience, but working directly in SharePoint does offer a few things that working in Teams does not (and vice versa).

Both SharePoint and Teams offer document management and collaboration features, but they approach it from different perspectives. SharePoint is primarily a content management system, designed to organize, collaborate on and store documents in a centralized location. Teams, on the other hand, is a communication platform that allows users to communicate in real time while working on said documents. The decision to use SharePoint or Teams should be based on the lens through which you want to view your content - as a collaborative centralized repository or as a collaborative communication workspace.

Here's what you need to know about SharePoint and Teams, and how they can work together to enhance your business experience.

How Teams and SharePoint Can Work Together

While Teams and SharePoint offer different perspectives on document management, they also work together seamlessly.

Teams allows you to communicate and collaborate with your team in real time. As an example, you can use Teams to work on a project, having discussions in dedicated team channels for different parts of the project and uploading relevant documents into the files tabs thereby ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page.  By enabling users to access SharePoint documents directly within the platform, Teams makes it easy to communicate and manage projects while collaborating on documents by utilizing SharePoint's centralized storage and organization features. Additionally, you can use Teams to schedule meetings and share files, which are stored and accessed in SharePoint.

SharePoint, on the other hand, is primarily a document management platform that allows you to store, organize, and share files with your team. You can use SharePoint to create a centralized location for all of your team's files and then use Teams to communicate and collaborate on those files in real-time. Additionally, SharePoint can be used to create custom document libraries that can be accessed and edited within Teams. By combining the strengths of both platforms, users can create a powerful document management, communication, and collaboration system.

When to use the SharePoint UI to work on documents rather than Teams

When working in SharePoint, you can create document libraries, lists, and pages to organize and store their content. If you have a large number of files that need to be stored and accessed by multiple team members with different permissions, SharePoint is the more flexible and expandable option. While Teams is a great tool for real-time communication and collaboration, the SharePoint UI is better suited for granular document management and organization.

For example, when viewing SharePoint-stored documents through the SharePoint UI, you have access to a wider range of options in the dropdown menu. You can view the document version history, set alerts for changes to the document, and manage permissions for the document. You can also view and manage any workflows associated with the document.

Another advantage of using the SharePoint UI to manage your documents is the ability to structure your content with multiple document libraries. This means you can apply a different content type per library and have different metadata for different kinds of content. For example, you can have a library for contracts with specific metadata fields such as contract start and end dates, and another library for marketing materials with metadata fields such as campaign name and target audience. In contrast, the default Teams interface does not offer the same level of customisation, when a team site is created through Teams a supporting SharePoint team site is automatically created for it and your documents are stored in a single library, with a folder per channel.

Looking through the SharePoint lens also allows you to create pages with rich text, images, and web parts, which can be used to provide additional context and information about the documents stored in the library. This can be especially useful for creating a centralized location for team collaboration and knowledge sharing and these SharePoint pages can be added to Teams. Tip: You can surface these pages inside Teams using tabs, so the two tools really do work together.

One last perk of using the SharePoint UI is the ability to create a custom navigation structure for your users to browse folders/documents/items and pages. This can help users easily find the information they need and navigate through the site more efficiently.

Why then use Teams?

Chat. Specifically, chat in channels. While SharePoint and Teams are both great ways to collaborate on documents in real-time, communication is where Teams really shines. The ability to create multiple channels in a team that allow for separate communication threads in all aspects of a project all in the same place, combined with video chat and the ability to schedule meetings and share work easily makes Teams a godsend when organising large projects. Add to that the ability to customise your libraries and folders in SharePoint to manage your content all in one highly organised and centralised location and you are well on your way to creating a seamless and efficient business experience.

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