SharePoint and Teams

Understanding the Differences Between SharePoint and Teams

Microsoft Teams and SharePoint have a lot of similarities, but are often used for different purposes. Learn about the differences between the two today!
James Done
August 18, 2023
2 min to read

Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are both popular collaboration tools, but they have distinct differences in their features and intended use. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right tool for your team's needs. In this article, we'll explore the similarities and differences between SharePoint and Teams.

TLDR: SharePoint is primarily a document management system, while Teams is focused on real-time communication and collaboration. SharePoint serves as the content storage location for Teams, so when you’re using Teams, you’re indirectly using SharePoint anyway. If you need document management only, use SharePoint. If you need to add chat, use Teams.

What is SharePoint Online?

SharePoint Online is a cloud-based platform that enables teams to store, organize, and share information and documents. It is a powerful tool for managing and sharing information within an organization and offers a variety of features, including document libraries, lists, and workflows, that make it easy for teams to collaborate and manage projects. Additionally, SharePoint Online offers version control and document approval workflows, ensuring that everyone is working with the most up-to-date information. It also offers customizable templates and design options for creating intranet portals and team sites.

SharePoint Online can be accessed through a web browser or mobile app and integrates with other Microsoft 365 tools like Outlook and OneDrive, serving as the primary content storage mechanism in the Microsoft 365 universe.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration platform that allows teams to communicate, share files, and work together on projects in real time. It offers a variety of features including chat, video conferencing, file sharing, and project management tools and is designed to be a central hub for all team communication and collaboration, making it easy to stay organized and on top of tasks.

One of the key benefits of Teams is its integration with other Microsoft tools like OneDrive and SharePoint, which allows for seamless collaboration and content sharing. Teams is often used for project management, team collaboration, and remote work.

Whether you are working on a project with a small team or collaborating with colleagues across different departments, Teams can help streamline communication and improve productivity.

When to use SharePoint without Teams

While Teams offers real-time communication and collaboration features together with document management, SharePoint is more focused on document management and organization.

If your team needs to manage a large number of documents and information but does not require constant communication and collaboration, SharePoint on its own may be the better choice. For example, if your team is situated in the same physical area in an office, working on a long-term project that requires extensive documentation structuring and does not need to communicate asynchronously, SharePoint can provide a centralized location for all the necessary files and information.

With SharePoint, you can create document libraries, set up workflows, and manage permissions to ensure that everyone on your team has access to the information they need. Additionally, SharePoint offers powerful search capabilities, making finding the documents you require quick and easy.

When to use SharePoint with Teams

While SharePoint on its own is ideal for document management, intranet portals, and knowledge management, when used in conjunction with Teams, SharePoint can provide a centralized location for all team documents and information, while also providing a workspace for real-time communication and collaboration.

If your team is working on a project that requires a lot of document collaboration as well as quick communication and collaboration between team members, SharePoint with Teams is the way to go. SharePoint allows for version control, so you can keep track of changes made to documents and revert to previous versions if needed. It also allows for metadata, which can help with the organization and searchability of documents as well as workflows that can also be set up in SharePoint to automate processes and ensure that tasks are completed in a timely manner. Teams adds features like chat, video conferencing, screen sharing, and file sharing, making it easy to work together no matter where your team members are located. So, if your team is working on a project that requires extensive collaboration and organization, consider using SharePoint in conjunction with Teams for the best results.

Can you use Teams without SharePoint?

You may be surprised by the answer: Yes, you can use Teams without actively using SharePoint, but SharePoint is always there in the background regardless of whether you use it or not.

If you use Teams within an organisation with a Microsoft 365 tenant, when you create a team, a supporting SharePoint team site is automatically created for it. The document library within this supporting team site by default has a General folder in it which serves as the content storage for any files within the team’s General folder. Likewise, when you share a file in a 1-to-1 one, the file is shared from your OneDrive, which (believe it or not) is technically a site in SharePoint, albeit a site which is restricted to you only.

Teams and SharePoint are complementary pieces of a larger puzzle and Teams (together with other Microsoft 365 apps) is in its current guise very much dependent on SharePoint.

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