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How Microsoft SharePoint, Teams and Outlook work together

By Nick Ellis, Digital Transformation Consultant | Published 26 May 2021

When should I use Microsoft SharePoint?

Before we can answer that question, we need to answer another, more basic question: What is SharePoint?

Microsoft SharePoint is a web-based service that lets you build your own internal sites to collaborate with your colleagues, customers or anyone else. Within any site you can host various types of information:

  • Documents
  • News and blog posts
  • Task Planners
  • Calendars
  • Data lists
  • Image galleries
  • Video
  • Links
  • Etc.

These components can be arranged in any way you need to easily share information with the people who need it.

So when should you use it? Whenever you need information to be available in your business over the web, either for collaboration or for one-way communication to your teams. The form of the information is very flexible, but matters more is the audience – anyone either inside your business or externally who you trust to give access to your systems.

When should I use Teams files?

Teams is Microsoft’s collaboration suite that does pretty much everything. Although it started out as a successor to Skype, it has gone way beyond that to become a gateway to all of Microsoft’s products, and can be connected to third-party products as well. Teams is often seen as an alternative to Zoom and Whatsapp, and it certainly is. But it is so much more.

It’s important to remember that Teams files are SharePoint files. SharePoint is the file storage solution for Teams. More on that later.

We see customers use Teams for collaborating on files, planning shifts, managing approvals, enabling customers to book services through the Bookings app, and even integrating with services such as Adobe Creative Cloud and SurveyMonkey. It is also highly configurable so you can add services to the core chat function, like searching Wikipedia and sharing to colleagues.

How do SharePoint and Teams work together?

Teams and SharePoint are completely integrated. The file storage you see in Teams is a SharePoint site, and there is a separate site for each Team in your business.

That creates a lot of potential value and makes it easy to share and collaborate on your documents. It can also, if you are not careful, allow you to get tangled up with the same file in multiple locations, losing track of the current version.

The first question is simply “What’s it for?”. If you want to work with colleagues on a subject or project, you need a Team Site. If you’re planning to share knowledge intranet style you need a Communication Site.

Team Sites

  • If you are looking to collaborate on work, share files with colleagues or focus on specific subjects you should be looking at SharePoint Team Sites.
  • Although you can create these in SharePoint, we suggest doing it in Teams. Simply click the ‘Join or create a team’ button at the button of the navigation pane and a corresponding site will be created automatically.
  • When you add files in Teams, they are actually stored in the SharePoint site.
  • You can also add features such as Lists, Planner, blog posts, etc., in SharePoint and then post them to Teams to collaborate on them

Communication Sites

  • If you want to ‘broadcast’ more than collaborate, a Communication Site is the way to go. Most companies have fewer of these than Team Sites, and they commonly serve as intranets to provide a way for the business to communicate to staff, where Team sites about communication between staff.
  • You can still use all the collaboration features of SharePoint on a Communication Site, but if you are using it broadcast you are more likely to focus on features such as blogging, event calendars, video sharing, etc.
  • It is a good idea to understand which type of site is appropriate, and what it will be used for before you create it. Unpicking it later can be an uphill struggle.

When should I use Microsoft Teams and when should I use Microsoft Outlook?

We get asked this question a lot.

There is no one answer, but a good start is to use Teams to communicate with colleagues and Outlook to communicate with customers. At Select Technology we hardly ever email each other – all internal communication is handled with Teams.

If you have a strong relationship with a customer, or perhaps are working on a project together, you can use Teams to talk to them as well in the following ways:

  • If their business allows it, you can use the chat option to have informal conversations.
  • You can make them a Guest User in the SharePoint site to share files with them.
  • *Coming Soon* you will soon be able to specify channels within a Team as being open to external members.

Modernise file management

There are three key points to consider when moving files to SharePoint:

1. SharePoint is NOT just a cloud file server

If you try and use it that way you will find it unsatisfying and will miss a lot of the potential

2. Keep your files where they are needed

Rather than building one big intranet that contains all your files – a clone of your file server – build Team Sites connected to Teams and bring the right people into the teams. You can easily share files or entire folders with people outside the team, so don’t worry that you might be excluding people.

3. Augment the files with data

SharePoint allows us to add columns of information about a file. For example, you might want a Type column to say if it is a Quote, Proposal, Invoice, etc., a Review Date to record when a policy expires, or perhaps a column to assign ownership of a file to a particular colleague. These columns make it easier to manage, file and find files, and they also mean we can do away with complex folder structures that we all used to depend on.

To talk about how SharePoint, Teams and Outlook can work together to help your business collaborate and grow call us on 01892 830111 or email

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