During the last few months most of us have gotten some experience with digital tools for online meetings, and some have for a long time worked with digital collaboration tools for handlings files as well. As we are getting to grips with the online meetings it is not necessarily so easy to understand where to put our files, that being Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel-sheets, PDF files, images and videos, and more. Working from home requires us in a higher degree to collaborate on documents and other content.
In Microsoft 365 there is a powerful machine for managing files, SharePoint. To really get the magic out and see the power in her, you need to understand her and how she can help you.
And, SharePoint is not only SharePoint, there are different versions, and there are different types of SharePoint types. I will attempt explaining this wonderful creation for you and hopefully give you some inspiration and ideas to improve the way you both collaborate and work on files and content.
My collaboration and communication garage
In my collaboration and communication garage I have a carpet with tools, called Microsoft 365 Apps. Only a few of these do actually store files:
SharePoint and OneDrive
Now there are different types of SharePoint:
- The SharePoint SharePoint Collaboration sites
also called SharePoint Online Team sites. The SharePoint Online Team site can be created
- Stand-alone SharePoint site: as a stand-alone SharePoint site
- Shared library, in SharePoint, via OneDrive: via OneDrive as a document sharing repository, aka “Shared library” ++ (and this might give some IT staff a little panic, and they might wish I didn’t tell you. Don’t panic, I’ll explain further down)
- Files stored in “Teams”: as part of a Teams constellation. Just for clarity; Teams doesn’t store files. The file tab in a Teams channel is linked to an associated document folder for that respective channel, in the default document library “Documents” on a SharePoint Online Team site
- SharePoint Online Communication sites
- Intranet/portals: Usually used for intranets or portals for publishing information across an organization.
Both the SharePoint Online Team Sites and the SharePoint Online Communication sites have the same basic setup, features and functionalities. The main difference is in layout, the quick link menu is located on the left side on the SharePoint Online Team site and as top link menu on the SharePoint Online communication site. This gives the possibility to utilize the full width of the home page to display information. As for a SharePoint Online Team site the left side menu is handy to organize information and content for collaboration and work.
The other, and perhaps major, difference between SharePoint Online Team site and SharePoint Online Communication site is that the first is automatically connected to a Microsoft 365 group, which allows you to, on a later stage, to connect it to Teams, Planner or other tools. The SharePoint Online Communication site is not associated with a group and access permission is managed on the site itself. It is not possible to associate a SharePoint Online Communication site to a Teams, neither should it be. If you want a SharePoint site associated with a Teams, you use the SharePoint Online Team site.
- File storage: OneDrive is also SharePoint. However, this is a repository for your personal work documents, and currently it is only possible to store files in your OneDrive.
- Share documents: You can share documents from your OneDrive, still, it is recommended to do this for ad-hoc purpose and store business critical information in shared repositories as in SharePoint
- Documents shared in private Teams chat: When you attach a document to a private chat in Teams it is stored in OneDrive
- Personal notes: Your personal OneNote is stored in OneDrive ( as it is a file actually)
- Shared library via OneDrive
- Shared library : It is possible to create “Shared library” via OneDrive. Please be aware that when you create this library, you actually create a SharePoint Online Team site, associated with a Microsoft 365 group, including Outlook.
- Turn off shared library via OneDrive: For IT staff that now finally got the Teams creation process under control, might be a bit worried by this possibility. However, you can turn it off by limiting group creations.
- Why create a shared library via OneDrive, when we have regular SharePoint sites? It is useful for those organizations that are not yet ready for Teams, and would like to move/migrate to SharePoint online. Companies have different needs and readiness when it comes to modern collaboration and communication tools. I give kudos to Microsoft for considering and catering to the needs of the companies who are in the beginning of their digital journey.
How is Teams and SharePoint associated?
Microsoft Teams is meant to be a hub for collaboration and communication within a group of people working together who
- Have access to more or less the same information
- Work with the same content
- Working towards the same target
Setting up the Teams constellation
When you create a team in Microsoft Teams there is automatically created a SharePoint Online Team site, and within this a document library called “Documents”, a OneNote digital notebook.
When you create a channel in Teams, there is automatically added a folder with the same name in the document library. To access this folder you click Files in the Teams channel.
Teams structuring steps
When setting up a team in Teams I usually do the following:
- Give my team in Teams a name
- Onboard my colleague(-s) who will run it together with me (always be minimum two owners)
- Create channels (not too many, and not too few, and channels that reflects the content that we will work on in this collaboration space)
- Open the associated SharePoint site via one of the channel “Files” and find OneNote in the left side menu (Quick Launch)
- Create sections in the OneNote with the same structure as the channels in the team in Teams
- Add a shared Planner in one of the channels (and name it the same as the team in Teams)
- Create buckets in the Planner
- Rename the “wiki” tab in the General channel to “About” and write up the ground rules about the team in Teams there
- Add the members of my team, welcome them and introduce them to the different items in the Teams room, or garage if you like, and onboard them to the team.
Connect Teams and OneNote
As we see in the illustration above the Teams interface is the doors and windows into other tools that we will be working on. The tab “File” goes to the respective folder in the document library. When I connect a tab in a Teams channel to a section page in OneNote it makes it easier for my colleagues to know where to, for example, write minutes of meeting if I call that tab “Meeting notes”. Even easier if I name the channel “Meetings”. Hence I can then store the presentations from that meeting into the “Meeting” folder in SharePoint (Files).
Example NorthStar project
Let’s pretend I am running a project building rockets to go the north star, e.g. “Project Northstar”. I need to gather a team to help me with this project.
Project Team collaboration
First I structure the team in Teams as described above. Then I onboard the members and teach them some ground rules, for instance that if I share something important they need to give it the thumbs up. Not necessary because they like it so much. It is more a confirmation that message is read and understood.
Please read my friend Matt Wade’s awesome Teams etiquette to learn some common, useful and good ground rules for your team in Teams.
Cross organizational sharing
After a while my project have a lot of information and plans to share with the rest of the organization. We now create a SharePoint Online Communication site, our project portal “Project NorthStar portal”. Here we’ll share the latest news and publish an up to date high level plan, embed a Forms questionnaire for people to contact the project as well as embedding a Yammer group for cross-organizational communication. We do like to engage and speak with our organization. Two-three in our team share the responsibility to check questions and comments in the Yammer-group and publish new information and news when we have news to share.
Find more information about SharePoint and file collaboration here:
And read more about the SharePoint Roadmap pitstop for February 2023:
And where to find more:
Do you want to provide feedback to Microsoft, about SharePoint? Use the Microsoft Feedback Portal: SharePoint · Community (microsoft.com)
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💡🥰PS! This blog is my personal opinions and sharing. I am working in a fantastic team in CloudWay and we are running great workshops covering these topics. We can help you, and your partners, to remove blockers on your way to the cloud! We love to share what we know – to help everyone having secure productivity in the cloud!