By now you should have had chance to see Microsoft Teams, Groups as well as everything else that makes up the Office 365 services and components. New applications seem to be released almost weekly, leaving you to figure out what should be used over something else.
It is not always easy to choose one over another, as they are all very similar in what they offer and can be used for. When choosing a collaboration solution choosing between SharePoint Team Sites, Microsoft Teams and Groups can make or break the solution.
Microsoft Teams, is Microsoft answer to the Slack. It is built around the idea of ad-hoc teams, combined with the power of Skype. Teams, integrates with Groups and is useful for Small Projects, Departments that need fast collaboration conversations via Skype. Teams has a great user interface, very easy to use and is the same whether in the web or using the mobile app.
The downside of using Teams, is really around confusion of when to use them, tracking and reporting data. Even though the core data is saved back into a SharePoint site, it can very quickly become very complicated to hop around and do what you need like you would using a SharePoint team site. The last problem is that to get the full Team experience, you really need to use the Teams applications either on your mobile device or desktop. Though you may be used to using apps this way, having a dependency on features this way though good for Microsoft could be a hindrance for user adoption.
Groups, or what is called Office 365 Modern Groups, is the first attempt by Microsoft to create a true collaboration tool that spans multiple services and components within Office 365. An Office 365 group consists of email, calendar and storage for documents and files. In a previous post, I wrote about what makes up a Group site and a Team site, you can read more about it here:
The main advantages of using Groups, is around the shared calendar and email which integrates into both the online mail and Outlook clients no matter whether on a mobile device or desktop, using Windows of MAC. A group is a great place to use multiple applications such as Planner, OneNote and things like Power BI, making them visible in a central place. The real win here is that they are easy to manage and create, which happens to also be a downside of using them as they will quickly multiply within your tenant. As with Teams, Groups does not provide the same level of document management that SharePoint team sites, do albeit they are using SharePoint for storage. To perform anything of use within the SharePoint site you need to navigate out of the context of the Group. This can cause confusion and often end up breaking functionality if major changes are made. The site collection behind a Group and a Team has certain features removed also which adds to the problem.
SharePoint is not only the storage for Team and Groups, but is also a key part of the overall collaboration mechanism within both, along with OneDrive for Business sites. SharePoint itself is good at lots of things, from core collaboration, for things like documents, or when you need to store list data. It is great for integration to other solutions such as Power BI and other reporting systems. Integration is a great win for SharePoint, due to it being written in .NET and now lots of it being open sourced (components), solutions can be built very easily. The big downside here is that from it’s very early humble beginning, it has now grown to a massive product that requires specialized skills to get right. If it is not setup correctly to begin with, it can cause more issues in the future and be very complicated to resolve.
Also in the everything else category is OneDrive for Business, along with many many third-party components. When you compare features from platforms such as Google Drive, Google Docs, Dropbox, Box, Slack and any other collaboration solution you see that Microsoft has done a great job of getting out ahead of the pack and making services that you actually want and need to use.
In reality, it is not about choosing one service over another, it is about knowing when to sue each one for the specific business requirements you have. Teams, Groups and SharePoint are al great offerings, and are great at collaboration. All three are aimed for different solutions and potentially different size organizations. Whichever one you choose, plan how to use and when to use them and your collaboration will become better controlled and you will see better team work.