Brandon Bowlin / / Categories: SharePoint/OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, Collaboration

Minimizing User Confusion about When to Use Teams or SharePoint

Microsoft Teams uses SharePoint (and OneDrive) as part of its microservice architecture. But when a Team gets created, the SharePoint site that Teams creates is different than existing SharePoint sites. Naturally this creates questions from users and administrators about what to use and when. Here’s some advice.

First some terminology:

  • workgroup = people working together 
  • team site = SharePoint page/collection of sites
  • Team(s) = Microsoft Teams

When a workgroup creates a new Team (and doesn’t already have a SharePoint team site), the guidance is to simply use Teams for everything (after setting up proper DLP for files/messages stored/sent there).

When a workgroup already has a SharePoint team site, and creates a new Team for the same people, they can still use the existing SharePoint team site for departmental / official content. In such cases, a tab can be added in Teams to allow them to navigate quickly to their existing SharePoint site. However, when a workgroup member uploads a file using Teams’ native paper clip attachment functionality, those files are stored in the new Teams environment, not the existing SharePoint team site. Therefore, a common approach is to attach and edit works in progress within Teams as they are being collaboratively edited by multiple workgroup members (in real-time) but to then post official/departmental files into the SharePoint team site. Explaining “what to use when” is an important topic in training (and retraining). 

Similarly, with SharePoint Hub Sites, SharePoint can be made to display both (Teams and traditional SharePoint) types of sites. Each site collection has its own distinct architecture, permissions, branding, navigation, etc.  That means all those site collections attached to a Microsoft Team are separate, and those that are part of SharePoint are separate.  However, Microsoft has a new type of site called a Hub site.  It’s just a regular site but acts somewhat as a central launchpad.  Any (modern) site collection can join a hub.

Navigation-ally, it creates another layer of links.  The Hub navigation sits on top of the sites and is the same across all sites in the hub.  The site collection navigation is still there but it still exists  independently of the other sites.  What you end up with is two sets of links:


So while in SharePoint, you can now see both works in progress (in Teams) and official/departmental content (in SharePoint). For SharePoint site owners, it’s rather simple to associate existing sites with a hub site

Even if the administrative aspects seem simple, user awareness about the interoperability / options and your organization’s workflow is critical.

If these new options are still clear as mud, contact for a quick clarifying conversation with an expert!

Work with our team of Cloud Computing Consultants who have done this so many times they know all of the “minefields” to prevent missteps.