With this post, I would like to clarify the confusion that I observe many have about the difference between Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. If you ever wonder if you “Should use Teams or SharePoint” or if you “Should store files in Teams or SharePoint,” then this article is for you!

A SharePoint Team Site allows you to share ideas, synchronize content, discover insights, and work in a more collaborative way with your team members. SharePoint is a powerful, versatile business platform for content management and collaboration, used by over 200,000 organizations around the world! Create a team site to connect people on a team, or create a communication site to reach a broader audience across your company. From your SharePoint homepage, select + Create site. There are 2 site options to choose from.

First off, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are two, totally different platforms. So the comparison between the two is not accurate. It is like comparing apples and oranges. To clarify the difference between Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, let me explain what each one is.

SharePoint

SharePoint is a collaboration platform that has been around for many, many years. It is a repository/one-stop-shop for collaboration and content sharing within your organization. Primarily it is used for document storage (SharePoint has amazing document management capabilities). But you can use it to organize other types of content (news, events, tasks, etc.). Moreover, SharePoint integrates well with other Office 365 apps, like Flow and PowerApps. In other words, SharePoint can be your repository for all the content within an organization.

While SharePoint is a great collaboration tool, it lacks in the social/communication aspect. In the past, Microsoft tried making SharePoint social with Newsfeed and Discussion Board web parts (I explain and compare both here), they never caught up and lacked in terms of functionality and excitement, compared to modern social media tools we have. That’s where Microsoft Teams come in.

An example of a chat using the Discussion Board web part in SharePoint

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams, on another hand, is a chat-based communication tool. Think of it as an alternative to email (Outlook). Instead of sending emails to each other, you chat with colleagues in a Twitter-style manner – by writing short (or long) messages which all end up in a thread (called Channels in Teams). Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are united together by an Office 365 Group. Every time you create a new Team, a new Team is created, along with an Office 365 Group and all its other assets like Calendar, Planner and yes, a separate SharePoint Site.

Where the confusion of Microsoft Teams vs. SharePoint happens is when you click on a Files Tab within Microsoft Teams. When you do that, you see the files that are stored not within a Team, but rather in a document library that resides on a SharePoint site that got provisioned, when you created a Team for a chat. Makes sense?

Files Tab within a channel in Microsoft Teams

TeamSharepoint team site ideas

Document Library on a SharePoint site, connected to the same Microsoft Team above

So the files and folders are technically stored in SharePoint document library as your chat occurs in Microsoft Teams. For every channel you create, a folder within a SharePoint document library is auto-created for you. The Files tab is just a direct link to the SharePoint’s document library’s “channel folder.”

So no more Microsoft Teams vs. SharePoint question! Hopefully, this post has clarified it once and for all!

And in case you want to see a demo of the above, here is a video for you:

In this article, we’ll demonstrate how to create SharePoint Online Team Sites. This has stemmed from our recent blog series, How to Create a SharePoint Online Intranet, where we showed you how to create an Intranet landing page in SharePoint Online based on a Modern Communication site.

The site included a company logo and a site title. We also uploaded a custom theme to the site using the Microsoft Theme generator tool and the SharePoint Online Management shell.

Icon

We then built our landing page by adding sections and a Hero web part to make our highlighted content prominent. Finally, we added some further web parts, including a News Feed, some Quick Links, a Weather widget, and an Image Banner. Here’s how the finished page looked:

Another element to include on an Intranet Landing page is a tile grid that links to individual Share/Point Team sites. Team sites (not to be confused with Microsoft Teams) are collaborative SharePoint Online sites where groups of people can work together on shared content in Document Libraries. They differ from Communication Sites, which are informative as opposed to collaborative.

You can find more information on SharePoint Online Team sites here.

During this article we’ll show you how to:

  • Create Time Sites in SharePoint Online, and assign the correct permissions to your Microsoft 365 users and groups
  • Grasp the concept of Hub Sites, which allows you to “Apply common navigation, branding, and site structure across associated sites”
  • Use the Audience Targeting feature to ensure that your content is only visible to authorized users and groups
  • Link to your Team Sites from your Intranet landing page

Creating a SharePoint Team site

To create your new Team site, you’ll need to access the SharePoint admin center, which you can access from the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. You’ll either need to be a Global Administrator or SharePoint Administrator role.

  1. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll need to navigate to Admin centers > SharePoint (you may also need to click on“Show all”before you see the SharePoint admin center in the menu).

2. This will take you into the SharePoint admin center.

3. Click on Active sites, and you’ll see the list of sites that are already present within your Microsoft 365 tenant.

4. To create your new Team site, click Create. This will give you options about the sites you can create

Next, we’ll look at the choices you have by examining the available site types and when to use them.

Sharepoint Team Site

Site types

The following site types are available within SharePoint Online.

5. The primary purpose of this page is to share documents within a team, so we need to create a Team site. Select the Team site option from the Create a site page, and we’ll see the following options for choosing the design for our site.

6. We need to complete the following information to provision our Communication site:

  • Site name
  • Group email address
  • Site address
  • Group owner
  • Preferred language

You can see my setup in the following image, where I have named my new Team site ‘Operations’ and assigned myself as the Group Owner for the associated Microsoft 365 group.

7. If we drill down into Advanced settings, we can also set additional options for the site, including Sensitivity, Time zone, and the Site description. When you’re happy with your settings, click Next.

8. Next, you may add any additional owners requiring responsibility for managing the Team site, and you may also add some members to the Team site. In the example below, I’ve added one more owner and a single member to the site.

9. Now that we have completed the required fields, we can click Finish to create our new Team site.

10. This takes you back to the Active sites list in the SharePoint Admin center, and if we enter the name of our newly created site and press enter, we’ll see our site displayed as follows.

11. Clicking on the new site will display information relating to the site.

12. Under the URL section, click on the link, and this will take you to the new Team site.

Now that we have our new Team site, let’s double-check some of the permissions and group settings.

Checking the site permissions

To check the site permissions for our new Team site, we need to carry out the following steps.

  1. Make sure that you have the Team site page open, then click on the cogwheel at the top right of the screen and select Site permissions.

2. All SharePoint Online Team sites have three default SharePoint Online groups set up as default. These are:

  • Site Owners – Members of this group have Full control
  • Site Members – Members of this group have Edit permissions
  • Site Visitors – Members of this group have Read permissions

3. By clicking on Advanced permission settings, we can take a more detailed look at these permissions groups.

4. For example, if we click into Operations Members, then we will see the following.

Sharepoint team site permissions

5. What this shows, is that the Operations Members Microsoft 365 group (which was created when we set up the site), has been automatically added to our Operations Members SharePoint Online group.

6. If we navigate to the Microsoft 365 Admin Center and select Groups, we can search for our Operations Microsoft 365 group.

Sharepoint Online Site Type

7. Clicking to open the group enables you to view the permissions tab.

Here, we can see the created group with two Owners (who are also members by default) and one member. Members will also be in the SharePoint Online Operations Members group.

Sharepoint Team Site Icon

Summary

In this post, we’ve taken you to create a new SharePoint Online Team Site, which will serve as a collaborative space for an Operations Team within an organization. We demonstrated how to create the site from the SharePoint admin center, create a Microsoft 365 group and SharePoint Online permissions groups as part of this process, and access the new site from the SharePoint Admin center.

Sharepoint Team Site Permissions

In part two of this blog series, we’ll show you how to create a Hub Site and associate the new Team site to it, add a link to your Team site on your Intranet landing page, and how to use the Audience targeting feature to ensure that your SharePoint Online users will only see content which they are authorized for.

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