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Collaboration Silos

Traditionally, our collaboration tools have been divided into silos based on the mode of communication. In the Microsoft space, we've used Outlook and Exchange for persistent messaging, Skype for Business for real-time communication, and SharePoint to provide a place to share documents and other information.

CollaborationSilos.pngCollaboration silos

These tools work together to provide for our communications needs, whether they're real-time, message based, or documents and other content. They work well together, but they're still separate programs we have to run, and constantly flip between. As we do, the information is organized differently in each tool: most of us view email by date, Skype by person, and SharePoint by project or team. That's a lot of context switching! Of course we're all used to this, and probably don't even notice how much of our attention goes into it.

 

Microsoft Teams aligns all these modes of communication under a single "pane of glass", so we can focus on collaboration rather than collaboration tools. For certain kinds of communication - specifically anything involving a team of people - it's a lot easier than juggling multiple tools.

How did we get here?

Most electronic communication and collaboration tools have evolved from the real world. Mail was the first to make the leap from real world to online when, in 1971 at BBN, Ray Tomlinson combined features of two pre-Internet programs, SNDMSG and CPYNET, to send the first email. One by one, electronic implementations of the other ways of communicating came along, as shown in the table below.

Real world Electronic Characteristics Product
Mail Email Persistent messaging Exchange
Telephone, telegraph, pagers Chat, voice, video, conferencing Real-time communication Skype for Business
Paper: files, documents, pages, bulletin boards, newspapers Shared workspaces Shared storage and presentation SharePoint

This led to a world where our collaboration products are metaphors for things in real world, along with their incumbent limitations.

Like their real-world forebears, email and real-time communication tools are organized by recipient; that is, communications are delivered to a person or a group of people sharing an inbox or Skype identity. If that recipient is a modern information worker, this soon leads to chaos, as communications from everywhere about every topic piles up in a big heap on the doorstep. No wonder keeping up with email is such a Sisyphean effort!

Shared workspaces are different because they're organized by topic rather than by recipient. Let's share everything about Project X here, and everything about Topic Y over there. You might end up with a big heap of information, but it won't be random, it will all be related to a single topic that you've already indicated interest in by your membership. That's a big help!

A new generation of collaboration tools

Teams, and other tools like it, align all forms of communication to topics instead of individual people. This has a number of benefits:

  • When you're focused on a task, everything you need is likely to be in the same place: messages, meetings, notes, documents, are all together, along with immediate real-time access to teammates who are online
  • You can work "in the open", eliminating the need for extra emails. For example, when you upload a document to Teams, a notification is automatically shown in the channel so everybody knows about it; no need to send an email announcement, or an email asking where the document is.
  • The team can have a conversation right in the channel about the information there, eliminating the need to send links to information into Outlook or Skype (or worse, to attach duplicate copies)

Working day to day in Teams feels a lot more streamlined, and is a welcome change from the traditional tool set.

So how does this relate to SharePoint?

Both Teams and SharePoint team sites are organized by topic, project, organization, or some other focal point for a team of people. Hence, in any given organization, Teams and channels will often follow a similar structure to SharePoint team and project sites.

In fact, this is inherent in the design. Every Microsoft Team automatically has a modern SharePoint team site associated with it; that's where channel documents are stored. Each channel is associated with a folder in the SharePoint site's document library. In addition, files sent between users outside of a Teams channel are stored in the sender's OneDrive for Business folder.

ChannelsAndFolders.png

As Mark Kashman pointed out in this recent Teams on Air episode, there are a number of advantages to storing Teams documents in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business:

  • The OneDrive sync client works on Windows or Mac, so it's easy to sync all the files for a Team
  • Document co-authoring and and the online versions of Office applications depend on two special protocols (WOPI and FSSHTTP); since they're built into SharePoint and OneDrive, they also work in Teams
  • SharePoint provides previews for more than 300 file types, which are displayed directly in the Teams file tab
  • SharePoint and OneDrive have comprehensive data governance and compliance features, so Teams documents are protected as well. These include:
    • Automatic classification and labelling
    • Data loss prevention
    • Document retention policies, disposition review, and event-based retention
    • eDiscovery and legal holds
  • Files are discoverable in Delve and SharePoint search

Users don't have to leave Teams to work with their files; they appear in the Files tab. There's an "Open in SharePoint" option that brings you right into the SharePoint site.

ChannelFiles.png

SharePoint Pages in Teams

It's also possible to add SharePoint pages as tabs in Teams. This provides a much easier approach to building tabs compared with the typical approach of building a custom website from scratch. All the information on a team site home page can appear there, providing the best of both SharePoint and Teams in the same user interface.

 

SiteInTeams.pngSharepoint site home page in a channel

It's also possible to put a whole document in a tab. This can be useful, for example, to share a key presentation or to track information in a spreadsheet that's easily accessed by the whole team.

 

ChannelDoc.pngPowerPoint document in a channel

Conversations and News

There have been a number of (mostly failed) attempts at bringing conversations into SharePoint. Discussion lists and news feeds were part of SharePoint but never caught on (perhaps because of usability challenges with discussion lists and immediate backpedaling by Microsoft on SharePoint Social). A number of 3rd party offerings have worked to address this as well. Many of the more successful 3rd party offerings focus on the "outer loop" of communication - that is, broader corporate communication. Yammer is the tool of choice for this within the Office 365 suite; perhaps next year I'll be able to post a similar article about Yammer integration but so far it's not nearly as extensive as what we have with Teams and SharePoint.

For the "inner loop", Teams puts the conversation on center stage, which makes a lot of sense; SharePoint augments this with documents and other shared information. In fact, you can even (finally!) have a conversation about a document directly.

 

DocumentConversation.pngDocument conversation

The same conversation is shown in the channel along with a link to the document, so people can't miss it.

DocumentConversationChannel.pngDocument conversation in a channel

But what about team news that transcends the conversation? Perhaps a new phase of a project is starting, or you want to highlight a success. Those things could easily be lost in the Teams conversation thread, so SharePoint news is a perfect vehicle for those kinds of messages.

Modern SharePoint sites include a light-weight publishing system for news pages. These pages bubble up on web parts, in Hub sites, on the SharePoint Home page, in the SharePoint mobile app, and now in Teams as well. Soon new news items will be announced right in the channel.

 

ChannelNews.pngSharePoint news announcements in a channel

SharePoint web parts as tabs

At the recent SharePoint Conference North America, Vesa Juvonen demonstrated a new feature on the roadmap that will allow SharePoint Framework web parts to be used as tabs in Teams. This will allow easy reuse of web parts, and bring Teams tab development in easy reach of SharePoint developers. It also removes the question of where to host a custom tab: the hosting is automatic, and tab properties are set using a variation on the familiar web part editing experience.. 

Making the Switch

Hopefully by now you're getting the idea that Teams and SharePoint are indeed better together, but how do you get there?

 

First, you need to determine if you have a classic or a modern team site collection. In the top-level site, start by clicking the gear and looking for an option called, "Site Information". If you don't see "Site Information", you're on a classic page in a classic site - how classic! If you see "Site Information," click it; now you know you're on a modern page but you still might be on ac classic site. A panel will swing out from the right; if it includes "Group usage guidelines" and "Privacy settings", then you've got a modern Team site that's backed by an Office 365 group. If not, you've got a classic site with a modern page. This picture shows the classic Site Information panel on the left and the modern one on the right:

ClassicVsModernSiteInfoPanel.png

 

OK so now you know if your site is classic or modern... if it's classic you need to "groupify" it (add an Office 365 Group) before you can add a Team; instructions are here. Once that's done, or if your site is already modern, it's easy to add the Team.

 

Just go to Microsoft Teams and click "Join or create a team" near the bottom left of the screen, then click the Create a team button.

 

CreateATeam.png

 

Instead of filling in the "Create your team" form, click the link to "Create a team from an existing Office 365 group."

 

CreateATeamFromO365Group.png

 

 You'll be shown a list of all the Office 365 Groups you own; pick one and click "Choose Team"

 

ChooseATeam.png

 

That's all there is to it! To add the home page to any channel, click the "+" sign to the right of the channel tabs and pick the "SharePoint" tab. Choose a page you'd like to display and click "Save" to create the tab.

AddHomeTab.png

 

 

The result is a new tab that displays your page perfectly!

 

HomeTab.png

 

 

There's no reason to be left out - please try it out and let us know how it's working for you in the comments!

 

(Cross-posted and updated from Bob's Vantage Point)

24 Comments
Regular Visitor

"There's no reason to be left out - please try it out and let us know how it's working for you in the comments!" Written from a US Federal Government Enterprise perspective, it isn't working. There is no place in my opinion for Windows store, Cortana, Telemetry, or Edge in a US Government Enterprise deployment of Windows 10. The best way to ensure privacy and feature parity is with LTSB 1607, GPOs and applocker. But then we can't utilize OneDrive on demand, defender atp, user environment persistance, and other bandwidth saving features on a non persistent virtual desktop. And now Microsoft reveals that LTSC 1809 won't support Office 365? How are we expected to block Universal Apps, Store, Edge, Telemetry, Cortana and who knows what additional future inappropriate consumer features that come with bi-yearly feature updates all while attemping to maintain office 365 compatibility? So what about a mode or version of Windows 10 that offers this level of control. Something like LTSC for Government and VDI? Then we could have a Windows that offered Office 365, SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams as you imagine here in the article.

Senior Member

Bob,

thanks for sharing your thoughts on that.

 

I fully agree, SharePoint and Teams can be a great and strong Team. But this also means that companies and empoyees have to follow a great mindswitch… My experience shows that about 98% of the peoply currently thinking in silos and that counts from the bottom to the top of an organization. So there is a way to go and I am really looking forward to go ;-)

 

Regards

Martin

Contributor

Nice, Microsoft Teams add SharePoint Site Tab good.

Senior Member

 We use Discussions for bulletin board type updates. We send a good 5 a day and I believe pages would be too much as an update can be a one liner. Is Yammer the best replacement for Discussions? 

Microsoft

 Hi @Jomar Palaypay - a simple list and web part might work, or Yammer certainly as you can show the messages easily on a modern Site. Thanks!

Occasional Visitor

Couldn't agree more, Bob.  SharePoint started as a DMS (if a light weight one) and while it has other capabilities added over the years, (sites, pages, esp), it has always been strongest at handling docs and working with MS Office. I think this new supporting role, as the documents engine for Teams, is a great use of SharePoint. 

Occasional Visitor

Hello i'm Raines.

 

I learning  how to use SharePoint Team site at work. Please, can anyone help me how to drag or move files within the team site. We have an archive folder and want to move files that are not being use from the ducument folder. thanks!

Occasional Contributor
It seems that the option "Create a team from an existing Office 365 group." is missing.
Regular Visitor

Dear Everybody,

 

I am in the middle of a project with Teams and SharePoint.

The tools will be used for an international IT-community with around 900 people and as a long year SharePoint Consultant I am in the lead of this project from a technical view.

 

We started with a SharePoint Communication Site and the News were posted as News Pages. Then the client decided that the comments and likes can be only seen, when you click on the news page, so we added teams to the functionality (Short form, of course this was a longer decision and communication process in the project) for more lightweight communication. The idea is to use News Pages for structured News Items and Chat in Teams for non-structured, lightweight conversations. Now we embed the SharePoint Homepage of the TeamSite as a Tab to the Teams General Channel. The problem is: it shows all the News Items in the News WebPart BUT ALSO it shows the "Add" Button. Now, when you click on the Add-Button you will be led to a News Page and you can type the Title and the content of your News Page BUT.... There is no Save Button! When you then click the icon to "watch in Browser", your News Page will be gone....

 

So, any ideas what I can tell the client here? Or is the answer: the members of the team need to know they should not click the "Add"-Button from the Teams-Tab, as the functionality buttons are missing when the Page is opened?

 

Will there be any updates regarding this? Is there any configuration I can do to make this more intuitive for the users?

 

I would really appreciate your thoughts. 

Kind Regards

Frequent Visitor

Great post!  My primary question is whether there is functional benefit for starting with a Modern Team site and associating that site to a team or if the SharePoint site that get's spun up as a result of creating the Team is just as good.  In other words, do you gain anything by using an existing Team Site and adding that to the Team?  And if you do associate an existing Modern Team Site to a Team.... that SharePoint site that was created as part of the team doesn't go away right?  Are there downsides to having two SharePoint sites associated with the same Team?

 

Thanks!

Frequent Contributor

Hi, @crgstclr.

There are different facets to your question so hopefully the answers below would help clarify:

 

  • Do you gain anything by using an existing Team Site and adding that to the Team? 
    [Fred] Yes, it allows your team (members) to access files/assets in a central location via Teams (app). 

  • And if you do associate an existing Modern Team Site to a Team.... that SharePoint site that was created as part of the team doesn't go away right? 
    [Fred] Correct, the Team site will be retained and updated accordingly when files are uploaded/modified. 

  • Are there downsides to having two SharePoint sites associated with the same Team?
    [Fred] This question is a bit unclear. I'm not sure if you meant associate two SharePoint sites into Teams but the idea of "Teamify-ing" your site means you're users no longer have to be particular about nuances of navigating within SharePoint. 

I've posted a tweet about this topic in: 
https://twitter.com/fredyano/status/1065294595788021762


Fred
#FredO365Tips #O365ParadigmShift

Occasional Visitor

Thank you for this. Was very helpful that you gave the historical context to explain why things are the way they are today. Too often, people will call something stupid, but ignore that at one time, the set up may have made all the sense in the world. At some point, the way we do things now may be called stupid.

Contributor
  • Are there downsides to having two SharePoint sites associated with the same Team?
    [Fred] This question is a bit unclear. I'm not sure if you meant associate two SharePoint sites into Teams but the idea of "Teamify-ing" your site means you're users no longer have to be particular about nuances of navigating within SharePoint. 

I'm going to assume here that the question from nutritiousregulator may have been from a misunderstanding of Bob's post .. i.e. that the when the Team is created it is possible to have more than two sites associated with the Group. 

Modern Team sites , around mid 2018 , for historical context when created would also cause the creation of an O365 Group (but not automatically with a Team in MS Teams).

When an O365 Group is created a Team Site is created (however, a Team is not automatically created AFAIK)

When a Team is created , an O365 Group is created and the Team site is created automatically.

 

So on setup - The Team does NOT get associated with 2 Team Sites (via association with the O365 group)

 

the benefit of Teamifying the Team Site is to provide a Teams UI for a Team Site that may have been created at a time before Teams was well known by the user community. Team Sites officially pre-date Teams. It is possible of course, that a decision was made to create the Team site without a Teams UI because the users haven't been trained on Teams, or people are so wedded to Outlook that they don't want to use Teams for comms/collaboration.

 

In relation to associating the Team with a second (or more site) .. It is possible to link to SharePoint sites by using Tabs within Teams and this permits you to display SharePoint pages within the Teams UI.. for example this could enable you to add a tab to the Intranet portal site (or a communication site) within the general channel in Teams. 

 

HTH.

 

ps: I forgot why I landed here in the first place :smileyhappy:   .. when are we going to see the SharePoint and Teams: connect site to a Team in one click feature ? and what will it/does it look like ?

Contributor

Hi, have couple of queries:

1.When we create Teams from existing Groups, is it possible to associate existing SharePoint folders as Channels in Teams, so that Channels or project work is also linked automatically

2.There is another feature, not sure whether released or not, create Teams directly from existing SharePoint site, will this support automatic Channels creation in Teams based on SharePoint Folders

 

Thanks

 

Microsoft

We’ve been testing Teams for quite sometime.  As part of our transition from on-prem SharePoint to cloud using modern pages, I don’t see Teams as an option (only Yammer).  We need to use a discussion forum in SharePoint.  Pls advise if you know plans to have Teams available in SharePoint and an ETA.

 

Occasional Visitor

Hi,

I have created two SharePoint Online pages for our team - one that is the Team Site and one that is the Collaboration page. We have news web part added in our collaboration site and wanted to synch that to our Microsoft Teams, but the only page that I can add when I try to add a 365 group is the Team site. The collaboration site does not appear. Is there a reason for this?

 

Thanks,

 

Senaa

Regular Visitor

@Senaa7 

I hope I got you right, as the wording of all that stuff isn't always too easy to understand:

(a page is not the same as a site, and so on)

You have created a "Team Site" and a "Communication Site"? (Those are the 2 default options when you start to create a site based on the modern experience - see details below)

Then you want to use the SharePoint News Connector in Teams to show "News" from the communication site, correct?

 

It's not possible to use the News Connector with another site than the group-associated "Team Site" from my knowledge.

What you can do however is, to add a tab to your Team Channel and display the Communication Site Start Page (including the News Webpart) for example.

But if you want to work in a Team, why would you need another scope for news in an extra site? 

 

Details:

a Team site covers "Collaboration" scopes and is bound to a O365 Group - the same group that you are using in Teams

--> this one is for "we are a Team and everyone in this Team works here equally on the content" - per default every Member of the Team has the permission to edit the content

a communication site covers "Publishing" scopes and is not bound to an O365 Group

--> This one is more like "only some people add and edit content and many others just consume it"
per default no permission is set here, you would need to define who will be editing the content and who will just view it

Occasional Visitor

@mela.plath 

 

Thank you for your response. We want to have news articles posted on our sharepoint site  and then have those articles appear in Microsoft team channel so that people can comment on them, etc.

 

I tried to add a tab in our channel with the SharePoint home page for our collaboration site per your instructions above, but only the Team site home page is available to add...

Regular Visitor

@Senaa7 

You can add any Website (you have access to) in a tab in Teams when you select the plus Icon and then select "Website". There you can simply paste the Url of the SharePoint Site you want to be shown (like any other website).

 

But this doesn't work like the SharePoint News Connector. For this one you need to use the News Item functionality on the Team Site that is associated with the Team you want to add the connector to. 

(the team site under http://<yourdomain>.sharepoint.com/sites/<yourteamname> or http://<yourdomain>.sharepoint.com/teams/<yourteamname> depending on your configuration)

Add news items here and then the connector will post new (!) items added here to the Team channel.

 

So News Items that are related to the Team should be added in the Team Site. If you want to show the News items of this team to be shown in a communication site also, you can configure the News web part in the communication site to show its own News items AND the ones from the Team site.

(so instead of trying to add news items in some page and try to get those to the Team, you add News items to the Team site and better show those on any page)

 

Another approach would be to develop a similar functionality by using flow. As far as I know the Teams-Connection in Flow has been improved quite a lot, but I am not sure if everything is available yet. Would be a flow like: "When a new News item is added to the site ZZ, create a post in Teams Channel XY".

Hi, a little different angle, is there a way to surface Teams functionality to SharePoint sites.. chat etc.   (I am thinking this should be doable with a webpart, anyone know of one?) 

Occasional Visitor

Great article.

 

Wondering how Teams supports the metadata and taxonomy side of SharePoint? If I have a strategic, taxonomy based, metadata rich SP Online (Modern) Content Management site/solution, will all of that structure and metadata be presented in Teams, or will it only interact with the document libraries/lists associated with the site (as per the "Team channel files in SharePoint" diagram shown in the article)?

 

Regards,

 

Bernie

Frequent Contributor

Hi, Bernie.

You will need to use Website icon when adding a Tab in Teams to display SharePoint library metadata.

 

Fred

 

Occasional Visitor

Thanks Fred. Much appreciated. I will investigate further.

 

Cheers.

Regular Visitor

I can't understand why the questions and answers are all oldest to newest
Wouldn't it make sense to have the new ones to the oldest, instead of having to scroll down to find the latest comments.

This happens on many MS blog sites, or am I missing something

Cheers