Microsoft Teams vs. SharePoint for Collaboration

In case you missed it, Microsoft recently announced the roll-out of their new Microsoft Teams app for Office 365.


What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace in Office 365 that’s described as a “hub for teamwork.”

Teams essentially provides an easy-to-use, “social media-like” experience for managing meetings and conversations at work.

Aside from chatting, other cool features include things like mass-emailing “channels” you’ve set up, creating secure areas where groups can collaborate in private, and conducting video conferences. It also offers the security and control you’d expect from an enterprise tool.

You can try Teams right now if you want to see for yourself.


Wait! Isn’t SharePoint a “Hub for Teamwork?”

Yeah. It is. Or at least, it was called that in the past.

But SharePoint’s role in the Microsoft Office and productivity landscape has been maturing over the past few years.

With the advent of Office 365, the push to brand SharePoint as a “productivity hub” started changing.

Instead, we saw a tendency toward branding SharePoint as a place for quickly spinning up team sites — workspaces for collaborating on a project, for example. All the information related to the project would go into the team site where it could be secured, controlled, and have workflows built around it.

To be fair, SharePoint 2016 has carried the legacy of SharePoint forward with pride, and SharePoint on-premise is still as powerful and versatile as it always was. We’re not saying the change in how SharePoint is marketed and perceived has lessened its value or means it’s going away. But it does give us some insight into where Microsoft sees SharePoint’s future.


Did Teams just kick SharePoint to the curb?

We don’t think so.

Remember that at its core, SharePoint is an ECM (Enterprise Content Management) tool.

Its utility is highest with content that needs to be more tightly controlled and structured.

Teams, on the other hand, is more of an attempt at helping us get our arms around unstructured content and cut down on the workarounds people have been using for years. We all know someone who’s been using Dropbox for years to share files because SharePoint was a pain. That’s the kind of problem Teams was designed to solve.


The Verdict

In the end, SharePoint and Teams are both collaboration and productivity tools, but they have different enough purposes that they can be used together in harmony.

Remember, the purpose of Teams is to make it super easy to chat, send a file, or spin up a quick meeting with the right people. Teams doesn’t care if your meeting notes will be stored in SharePoint or somewhere else.

SharePoint is still geared towards ECM as it always has been. The problem it solves is where to store content when you want to manage it, control it, “tag” it with additional information, and put workflow (business processes) around it. And it still does that job well both on-premise and online.

It’s not SharePoint who should be worried about Microsoft Teams. It’s Outlook.