How Do Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Complement Each Other?

In my last blog, I described the journey companies take to move from file share servers to Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, and in that post, I mentioned how the two complement one another. Think collaboration. It’s no surprise that the two applications have something to do with each other. Let’s get into the details a bit more, including when to use Teams and when to use SharePoint for collaboration.
When a new Team is created, there are processes happening in the background that are necessary in order to support that new Team. These include:

So, when considering putting files in Teams, you are actually considering putting files in SharePoint. Teams is just the app used to access the files. This is usually where people start getting confused because when they think of SharePoint, they think of their main company’s internet page. They are concerned that the Team they just created will magically pop up somewhere on their SharePoint site. This certainly will not happen.
Let me explain. Recall that at its core, SharePoint is a website. Microsoft further delineates that website into multiple sites with different sets of permissions that may have absolutely nothing to do with each other. If two Teams were created, there would inherently be no sharing of permissions or navigation between the two new SharePoint Online sites that were also created. In addition, the default root SharePoint site that everyone recognizes as the main intranet page wouldn’t know about these two new SharePoint sites either.

Permissions in Teams and SharePoint

Teams is straightforward. Always manage the permissions of a Team inside of Teams. This will automatically grant the permissions it needs to the back end of the SharePoint Online site. There are only three levels of access as well.

Either you are an Owner, a member, or have no access at all. If you are an Owner you can do anything in the Team, including changing the policies of that Team. Members also have the majority of permissions that Owners possess (including read/write access to the files area).

However, Owners can lock down or limit what members can or cannot do. The third level of access is simply not being an Owner or a Member, which would mean you have no access. What is seemingly missing is the Read Only access level. I’ll repeat that. If you have files that need to be shared with Read Only access, then the Teams library is not the correct target for those files.

SharePoint has much more granular permissions. Permissions can be set at a site level, a file library level, a folder level, or even a specific file level in that folder. Those permissions can range from read only, to read and write to full access. Permissions for SharePoint sites are managed in SharePoint. Permission levels can be much more granular.

When to Use SharePoint and When to Use Teams

This is typically one of the main drivers of deciding where the data will reside. Does the data need to be read only to a certain group of people? If so, then the only option is to have it in a SharePoint library.
However, if everyone who needs read and write access to all of the files in the section, then Teams is a potential place to put the files. For example, at Sikich, I’m on the IT Solutions Field team. We have our own channel in a Team that has the files that our division needs, and it works for us.
Another main decision is if the company already has invested in a SharePoint site or intranet site already. This could have their company Twitter feed, news postings of internal events, companywide calendars—all sorts of things. If SharePoint is already a hub for those materials and information, it makes sense to put the files in SharePoint.
Be sure to check out the other posts in this Teams/SharePoint series:

Have any questions about how Teams and SharePoint complement one another? Please contact one of our experts at any time!

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