by Scott M. Lewis
There are many discussions these days when it comes to Office 365, SharePoint and Teams. Teams and SharePoint do play specific roles but different roles within the Office 365 environment. These differences may not be apparent to the average user, and be honest, most technical people sometimes don’t understand how the two programs work together. With the growing popularity of Teams, I’m going to clear some of the confusion and outline how Microsoft has integrated Teams and SharePoint platforms and the improved the roles they can play within your organization.
SharePoint and Teams are two individual platforms designed to do two specifically different functions.
SharePoint is a file sharing and distribution platform, and it has been around for many years. The idea behind SharePoint was to be a repository for your data allowing file sharing within and outside of your organization. However, since SharePoint is primarily a document storage platform and has some incredible features when it comes to document management, however, historically, you needed a programmer to make sense of SharePoint and make it useful. As Office 365 has evolved, so has SharePoint, and the integration advantages into Office 365 and other applications make it an attractive solution for production data.
Microsoft Teams is a communications and collaborations tool; Teams can track communications such as chat, emails, file changes, and revisions as some examples. Meeting documentation and information can be saved in Channels within SharePoint, which is your file structure within Teams. Don’t worry; I’m going to explain all the new terminology. Now that Teams and SharePoint are tied together in the Office 365 suite, it will create new Calendars, Schedules, and Planners within Teams. Teams / SharePoint can get a little confusing; when you create a team, a SharePoint site is automatically created because SharePoint is the holding receptacle for all data within Teams. When you are in Teams and go to the Files tab in Teams, you are accessing the file structure in SharePoint. So, although you are viewing the document in Teams, the actual file is stored in SharePoint.
Teams and SharePoint Online is based on web-based technologies that help you organize your files in a manner that allows you to work online with customers, vendors, and suppliers. Some core features of Teams / SharePoint Online are:
- Connectivity with Mobile devices, being SharePoint and Teams, is web-based. It allows you to access them from anywhere on just about any device. You would have the ability to read, modify and share your SharePoint lists and libraries and documents through your mobile device using Teams as the user interface.
- Browser Support, SharePoint is very compatible with Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, and Firefox.
- Permission Management, permissions, and access within Teams / SharePoint Online are very configurable so that you can control who and what groups have access to files and documents within the Teams / SharePoint environments.
- Web Analytics are some pre-built reports that can analyze different data points. There is the ability to create and manage reports and reviews of the data reducing the need to purchase other third-party analytics tools.
- Drag and Drop can upload images by merely dragging them from the computer to the library in SharePoint.
Why would you consider Microsoft Teams? One of the most important reasons to consider Team’s is the documentation processes. Teams will help with the coordination of meetings and documentation of those meetings through the note pad functions. Teams will consolidate between all the parties involved in a project that will improve collaboration, streamlining many project management processes, and documenting activities that could save you in litigation. Another critical component is the evident integration to the Microsoft Office 365 suite of products such as Outlook, Word, and Excel, to name a couple of them.
However, Teams is much more than simple chat: teams have grown far beyond the basic features to include some of the following features.
- Channels are whiteboards for collaboration between other employees and outside resources.
- Collaboration with other Channels, if you have cross over on projects where other channels or Teams need to collaborate, you can add them to your channel without changing the entire structure.
- Document Management within SharePoint, some basic functionality, automatically saves files to specific folders or conversations, which can have security permissions assigned to them to protect sensitive data.
- Teams does include Online video or audio calling and screen sharing. We have all become very good at holding virtual meetings, so this feature is nothing new to most of us, however since it is built into Teams, you can record and save the recording to specific folders so other members can review. It makes excellent documentation in the event of litigation.
- Online meetings this is a powerful tool; teams can host up to 10,000 users.
These meetings can include anyone outside or inside your business and include a scheduling aid, note-taking app, file management, and in-meeting chat.
- Telephone integration, Microsoft does offer a VoIP phone solution. However, many other VoIP solutions now integrate with Teams.
As powerful a tool that Teams and Microsoft Office 365 have become, there are some limitations that I’m sure will improve over time. Still, they are items to consider while thinking about switching to Microsoft Office 365 and Teams.
Channels in Microsoft Teams does have limitations that you have to be aware of and accommodate.
- Organizational teams in a single-tenant are limited to 5.
- The number of channels per Team is 200, including deleted channels
- Private channels per Team are limited to 30, and the number of members in a private channel is limited to 250.
- Channel post size is limited to about 28K per post.
Other limitations in channels you have to remember is that these limits include archived items; deleted channels can be restored within 30 days after 30 days of deleting a channel, then its information is permanently deleted. Still, it no longer counts towards the 200 channel per team limit.
Messaging within teams also has limitations that might impact larger organizations more than smaller ones. However, depending on your organization’s acceptance rate, these messaging functions’ limitations could impact even smaller companies.
- Messaging is limited to 250 people in a private chat
- Twenty people in a video or audio call placed from the Teams chat portal. If you have more than 20 people in a chat, the following features are automatically turned off, Outlook automatic replies, status messages, typing indicator, and video and audio calling.
The emailing feature within a channel is very popular, mainly because you can save the channel’s email. It allows users to reply to that email and start a conversation that will all be recorded within the channel. However, you guessed it; there are some limitations to that functionality that you need to consider.
- Message size is limited to 24K
- The number of attachments is limited to 20
- Each attachment size has a limitation of less than 10MB
- The number of online images is limited to 50
However, there is a workaround if a message exceeds the limit; a Teams message is generated informing the user to click on the link and download the message. Depending on your company’s size, the dependencies you have on attachments such as pictures could require a change in your processes to account for these limitations with Channels’ email feature.
Some companies love long file names, job names, or folder names; then, when it comes to nesting files, how deep does your file structure go can be a problem within Teams Channel naming systems. Teams do not allow for the use of special characters such as @,#,-,* or other special characters. Also, Teams channels don’t allow for naming that contains alpha-Numeric names or allow for names to start with an underscore or start or end with a period. In some cases, this may require that you change how your file structure is named or how deep you’re nesting your files to accommodate for this limitation in Teams.
Virtual meetings are starting to become the norm, people working remotely or from home offices. Teams’ ability to hold both video and audio conferences can eliminate the need for additional video and audio-conferencing tools. However, there are limitations;
- The number of people who can participate in a call-in chat is 300
- The limitation on video or audio calls from the chat is 20
- The max PowerPoint size presentation is 2 GB
- The limitation on meeting recordings is 20 days before; it won’t be available for download.
Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies, including Liberty One Software. Scott has more than 36 years of experience in the technology industry and is a nationally recognized speaker and author on technology subjects. Scott has worked with hundreds of large and small businesses to empower them to use technology to improve work processes, increase productivity, and reduce costs. Scott has designed thousands of systems for large, medium, and small companies. Learn more about Winning Technologies at www.winningtech.com or call 877-379-8279. To learn more about Business Manager 365, visit www.businessmanager365.com.