More than just chat – using Teams as a SharePoint front end to manage your small business documents

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With more and more users of Microsoft’s products working from home, small businesses and their users are looking to find the right tool(s) to manage their business documents. Should the business use SharePoint, Teams, or something like OneDrive for Business?

Earlier today, Reddit user JuIT03 asked a very good question on the Office 365 subreddit:

I was wondering for smaller businesses (around 50 employees) who don’t require SharePoint sites for each area (i.e. Sales) we could use One Drive for Business from the main account (director or someone) and then set up the folders out from there to treat it more as a file server?

Well, one easy answer to that question would be to use Microsoft Teams to manage your documents as it provides the functionality of SharePoint, the storage capabilities of OneDrive, and the usability of a collaboration of tool like Slack all rolled into one.

Since the launch of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft bundled many of its Microsoft 365 applications into one super-charged platform that is designed from the ground up to be a web-based collaboration space including document management and storage. In fact, Microsoft Teams gives users the best of SharePoint, but with an entirely new front-end experience. Teams uses SharePoint to create Teams Sites, which are document libraries for all things shared and can be referenced easily within any Teams conversation. Teams can also be used to show OneDrive and SharePoint document libraries, new items, and even show content as a website. This graphic shows you how SharePoint and OneDrive have been integrated into the Teams ecosystems:

Microsoft Teams integrates SharePoint

Unlike SharePoint and OneDrive, Teams is designed from the group up for collaboration, giving users the ability to share any document or file inside the chat window or conversation. SharePoint and OneDrive both require additional steps if someone wants to share a document or file with another team member, whereas Teams can give anyone the ability to easily share a file inside any conversation. There are several easy options inside of Teams to manage, store, and share documents and files.

Attach a file

For example, inside any chat window, you will see a dialogue box to attach a file to a chat conversation.

Share Files on Microsoft Teams
Share any file with OneDrive in Microsoft Teams

Add files and apps to Teams

Microsoft Teams also has another unique feature to quickly add access to files and apps in Teams. Users can simply select the “+” symbol.

Add files to Microsoft Teams
use the “+” symbol to add files and apps.

Once the pop-up window opens, you can then select the app or file tab that you want to add to your chat windows. For this writing, I do a lot of note-taking in OneNote so this makes it very easy to quickly share my cloud-based notes with other team members.

Add a tab to Microsoft Teams
Easily add apps and files to Microsoft Teams.

Add storage or view files

Users can also attach additional cloud storage options, as well as review recent files and downloads inside Microsoft Teams using the “Files” dialogue box on the left-hand side.

Microsoft Teams Files
add cloud storage and review files in Teams.

Teams is an entirely new Microsoft experience. It takes the best of SharePoint and OneDrive, and makes those services usable with Microsoft Teams’ user-friendly front-end. Reddit user /r/PeterH9572 summarized it well.

Microsoft Teams lets a few people be owners, manage the files, and membership as they see fit, and we encourage people to move away from “it is a shared file,” but instead use collaboration! Why share a file then email or phone about it when you can have a team and all the chat, meetings, updates and the file itself are in one place and can be seen by everyone in the team without having to keep clicking the share button or referring back to your email or a half-remembered IM chat?

Microsoft is continuing to add new features to Teams like new custom backgrounds and multi-chat windows to make it more user-friendly. Tell us what you think, do you prefer Teams to SharePoint? Sound off in the comments below!

Feature image credit: Tracy Van der Schyff