In the beginning there were SharePoint Team Sites which were used mostly for document sharing. And then there was this separate tool called Yammer, which was used as the "internal FaceBook" and it allowed people from different departments to discuss with each other.

Both tools were used for their dedicated purposes and there wasn’t very much overlap between them.

But then Microsoft released the O365 Groups and since then there has been a lot of confusion about which collaboration tool should be used and for what purpose. We had Yammer, O365 Groups and the old SharePoint Team Sites. Especially the relationship between Groups and Team Sites has been very unclear and we’ve received a lot of questions from our customers regarding when should Groups be used, and when a traditional SharePoint Team Site is a better option.

And to make things worse, last year Microsoft introduced yet another collaboration tool called Microsoft Teams. Teams is a chat-based workspace which brings together realtime chat and video-conferencing with documents and other content from SharePoint and Planner.

It’s all about communication preferences

Now the roles of these different collaboration tools are becoming clearer.

Microsoft’s plan seems to be to offer different communication channels for different purposes but still offer the same set of content management tools for everyone.

In the future all of the three collaboration tools are backed up by SharePoint sites and document libraries. This has already been done with both Teams and Groups and Microsoft is currently working on a tighter integration between Yammer and the rest of the O365 products.

You might be wondering why I’m not talking very much about SharePoint Sites here. The reason for that is the fact that Microsoft is merging the old SharePoint Team Sites and the new O365 Groups together. So you no longer need to think about if you should use Groups or Team Sites to best serve your organization’s needs since whenever you create a new Group, you will also get a corresponding SharePoint Team Site and vice versa.

So which tool is right for us?

Like mentioned above, the selection should be based mostly on the communication requirements. And since different teams and purposes have different kind of requirements (even within the same company), you might want to allow all three tools to be used at the same time:

  • Use Yammer for company wide discussions
  • Use Groups for small and medium sized groups of people who prefer email as their communication mechanism.
  • Use Teams for small teams who need to communicate in real-time using chat or online meetings.

Let us help you!

We at Affecto are happy to tell you more about the new and updated collaboration possibilities and other upcoming changes in the O365 platform. We can also help you plan how your current SharePoint environment can be upgraded to use these new features.

Arto Kaitosaari Principal Consultant