SharePoint vs Microsoft Teams or is it both?

SharePoint vs Microsoft

SharePoint vs Microsoft Teams or is it both?

By Tracy van der Schyff | June 12, 2018

Anyone who says there’s no psychology in Information Technology and Adoption, needs to think again.

Let’s take a step back. 18 Months ago, we still struggled to get users to adopt SharePoint. And when I say “adopt” I don’t necessary mean evangelists, running the hallways in Microsoft T-Shirts, shouting “SharePoint Forever!” I would have been happy with users who at least uploaded their content there, even if it was with a heavy heart.


I am not oblivious to the fact that SharePoint was a bitter pill to swallow – for most. I understand why too. If my place of work is Outlook, Word, Excel (my desktop) and the Department File Share then navigating to a browser, going to a URL, navigating through a site to get to my Document Library, and then going through the painful process of uploading my documents is the last thing I want to do. Yes, it’s gotten easier with the ability to Sync Libraries and the Save As features in Microsoft Office, but most people don’t use this or even know about it.

A new way of working

Sometimes I wish we had ‘air tubes’ which we could just throw our documents in, and they would get sucked up into SharePoint. I’m referring to the pneumatic tubes used years ago by so many companies. You wouldn’t have to get up and go anywhere, or leave the program you’re in to open the browser to do something else… oh wait we do!

Pneumatic tubes (or capsule pipelines; also known as pneumatic tube transport or PTT) are systems that propel cylindrical containers through networks of tubes by compressed air or by partial vacuum. They are used for transporting solid objects, as opposed to conventional pipelines, which transport fluids. Pneumatic tube networks gained acceptance in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for offices that needed to transport small, urgent packages (such as mail, paperwork, or money) over relatively short distances (within a building, or at most, within a city).

A person standing in front of a building Description generated with very high confidence

Microsoft Teams

Since Microsoft Teams was launched in November 2016, I’ve heard many people say that it’s better than using SharePoint, and now they don’t need SharePoint anymore.
This is not true at all. The example I used above is closer to the truth than you realize. The tubes are the channels in Teams – and wherever that ‘content’ goes is SharePoint. It’s rather ingenious if you ask me.

What happens when a Team is created?

This Office 365 Group (created from Microsoft Teams) gives us a common SharePoint site, OneNote, Power BI workspace, Plan(ner), shared Mailbox & Calendar and a Group in Stream to apply permissions with (not a channel).

Document Library vs Files Tab

Thus, you have a SharePoint site with the same name as your Microsoft Team, and on that SharePoint Site, is a document library.

This document library is what sits “behind” your Files Tab in your Microsoft Team.
Document Library vs Files Tab

Channels vs Folders

A Team is created with a General Channel by default. We are then able to add more Channels which helps us focus our conversations and categorizes our documents.

Each Channel that gets created, creates a folder in the SharePoint Document Library. Whether you upload the document straight ‘into’ the Files Tab on the Teams Channel, or simply attach it to a conversation in the Team Channel – it uploads it to SharePoint, to the appropriate folder.
Channels vs Folders

Keep the following in mind:

  • Files attached to conversations in Chat are loaded to your OneDrive.
  • Creating new folders in the SharePoint Document Library, does not create new Channels in the Microsoft Team.
  • You can create sub folders in the main Channel folders, but when you share documents in a conversation, they will always be saved in the root of that Channel (folder).
  • If you want to use sub-folders, first upload to the correct folder under the Files Tab, then share (attach) it in the conversation by pointing to your recent items in Teams
  • Deleting a Channel in the Team does not delete the Folder on SharePoint
  • Deleting a Folder on SharePoint does not delete the Channel in the Team, however, once a document is shared in that Channel again, it will automatically recreate the folder on SharePoint.
  • Remember that you can cc email a channel – click on the ellipses to get the address. Attachments that are emailed will be saved in a Folder in that Channel called “Email Messages”

Microsoft Teams Resources

Take a look at our recent blogs around Microsoft Teams:

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For now we will be sticking with SharePoint. The whole concept of "Teams" is too much for our staff to take in. We have been barely able to get staff to use SharePoint instead of just creating endless folders in a file share.
Mojave Water Agency

You don't want to overwhelm your employees, but you won't be getting rid of SharePoint. All content on Teams is automatically stored in SharePoint so Teams is a great way to expand how your employees can collaborate.

I'm using Teams to manage all of my projects so I'm using this experience to introduce others to Teams. I want to get out of email and I love that all my conversations in channels are saved so that folks can catch up if they are out or new to the party.
Content Panda

My concerns around the SharePoint site used by Teams is that you cannot apply any globally deifned SharePoint governance model to it easily, with GDPR and a general desire to be able to easily find content a lack of defined Metadata options removes a lot of the good stuff that SharePoint can do to assist users in finding what they are looking for.
risual LTD

I see people adopting Teams more and more for use with projects, vendors and such and this is the use case I communicate on when talking on teams. After all, it's called Teams, not portal or departments and such.

I'm (finally) getting more into SharePoint behind the scenes, and it's great to see how other products integrate with it, such as Teams.

Both is better! SharePoint for documentation and Intranet. Teams for projects :)

Love Teams but there are challenges for larger use: -There are limitation of 2500 max users for now. But I think tis is just matter of time to go up eventually. -Teams primarily has two permissions: Owners and Members ( Edit in SharePoint Online). These permissions get trickled down to the associated SharePoint site. You probably don't want everyone of your users to be with Edit permission in SharePoint. Though that SharePoint site also have Visitor Group and can be configured with other permissions levels. However, adding users directly from SharePoint UI does not reflect in Teams UI, and Teams does not have any concept of Visitor now. So all these are confusing and pain points in managing permissions with Teams and it's associated SharePoint sites. Hope Microsoft will make it clear in the near future. Note: I understand Microsoft probably thinks in a Teams everyone should be able to contribute, so in this case that associated SharePoint site can't be used for anything else. In reality not everyone would have owner/edit rights in a SharePoint site. Thanks.

You are quiet obviously a Teams evangelist. That was made very clear in the utterly ridiculous third paragraph. Teams was created for the sole reason of competing with Slack. It does absolutely nothing that SP is not capable of doing!!!!
Toronto Film Institute

Tracy van der Schyff

Tracy is a Microsoft MVP and an energetic, hyperactive adrenaline junkie who sees challenges and issues as opportunities and thrives on improving processes, environments and the general quality of life. Her broad knowledge about IT and Business gives her the ability to communicate on both levels and convey meaningful requirements and narrow the (ever present) gap between the two.

Written By: Tracy van der Schyff