Microsoft Teams vs SharePoint

The great debate: Microsoft Teams or SharePoint

In her latest blog, Siobhan King, Senior Consultant at Metataxis, discusses the key differences and challenges of using Microsoft Teams or SharePoint for document management.

To Teams or not to Teams

That is the question that most of our clients have been grappling with since the platform first appeared on the scene five years ago. Many organisations are in a position where they have been actively using Microsoft Teams in some form for around three years. It was the pandemic that forced many of them to take the leap back in 2020, rapidly adopting Teams and yet still telling someone they are “still on mute” is a part of our daily lives.

Should you use Microsoft Teams for document management?

While the decision to use Microsoft Teams to conduct online and hybrid meetings is a no-brainer, less straightforward is whether to use Teams as a document management platform.

Microsoft Teams

SharePoint has traditionally owned this space within the Microsoft platform and is indeed the solution that underpins document management within Teams. The key question for organisations over the past few years has been whether they operate in a “Teams-first” or “SharePoint-first” environment. This means, from a user experience perspective, do people live in Teams all day and save their documentation under the Files tab in Teams (which maps to SharePoint) or do they flick between applications depending on which activities they are carrying out?

Initially, when Teams was first popularised, many organisations conceptualised Teams as a collaboration platform while SharePoint continued to be seen as the place to store documents and records. This seemed a safe bet for early iterations of Teams, where the functionality was focussed more around meetings, chat and document collaboration. For the meatier business, such as managing documents and records, SharePoint was more appropriate because you could add metadata, create content and apply controls such as retention labels. But increasingly, as the Teams integration starts to catch up, this argument seems less and less relevant. Today, Teams makes use of many of the same functions as SharePoint, including content types, document sets, columns, term sets, edit in grid and retention labels. The argument about Teams vs SharePoint does seem redundant, especially from a compliance perspective.

Control and compliance

In terms of controls, there is one reason why your organisation might prefer SharePoint to Teams as a document and records repository. 

In SharePoint, there is slightly more scope for centralised control of things like external sharing than there is in Teams. Currently, SharePoint Admins are able to set more restrictive rules across the board than Teams. There is generally more scope to set things to the least permissive level possible, whereas Teams Owners have more leeway. If your organisation has a lot of sensitive information that needs to be controlled, you might want to think carefully about adopting Teams as a document repository.

Secondly, if your organisation has a group of Site Owners and Teams Owners who have a poor understanding of how the platform works, or of your information compliance requirements, you might be minded towards a more controlled environment. You will of course need to provide your Teams Owners with a lot of support to understand how things like sharing and Guest Access work – though you would need to do this anyway.

Managing your document libraries

The other thing you might need to think about is the way Teams and Channels translate into SharePoint document libraries. Whenever you create a Team, the channel structure is replicated in a SharePoint site under a document library called General.

SharePoint document library

There are all sorts of implications to consider here, including the risk of sprawl and deep folder structures, especially when it is left up to users to create. Teams members are able to do a lot more than SharePoint site members – it’s network drives all over again! If you’re wanting some form of control over your site structures, then you will need to look carefully at how you’re using Teams right now and whether this is feasible based on how you currently organise your information. Are your Teams naturally very simple and easy to navigate? If so – great. Teams could just do the job for you. But if your Teams are a bit of a mess already, you might need to think carefully about how you manage this.

User experience and usability

Microsoft Teams usability

There is another very simple but significant consideration in this debate, and that is usability.

Having columns in Teams is all very well, but it’s no good if you have several columns that you need to be able to see at once and you have to do a lot of scrolling, or shrink the screen to a microscopic size to see all the detail you need. This one is a difficult one to get around. The truth is for activities that require a lot of data on the screen, operating in Teams is really clunky. It’s also not particularly easy to add metadata to documents in Teams right now, even with grid view. It seems really picky on such a seemingly small thing, but this is something that will a major impact on someone’s day. Your records repository is dull and unsexy enough already for users (sorry, but it’s true) – don’t make it even less desirable by giving it a horrible interface.

Key considerations: control, design and preference

Of course, Microsoft Teams is a work-in-progress and we’ll continue to watch and see how this powerful tool will evolve further over time. But increasingly, as I’m seeing as things converge, the key considerations are maintaining a level of control, design and preference.

If you would like to discuss how you can optimise your Microsoft 365 environment to get the most out of Teams & SharePoint, simply contact us.

Information architecture framework: a blueprint for records management 

10 Feb 2023 – Metataxis supports public heritage organisation deploy SharePoint records management system.

Metataxis is delighted to be working with a national heritage organisation to deliver a comprehensive information architecture framework.

This UK public body wanted to roll out SharePoint as their new records management system and were looking for ways to do this as efficiently as possible.

Following a search on G-Cloud for providers who offer this kind of support, the organisation was delighted to discover that Metataxis could meet their requirements, having successfully worked with the team on a previous project. Based on this positive past experience, Metataxis was thrilled to be selected as the partner of choice to develop an information architecture framework in order to help to shape and support the successful delivery of this SharePoint project.

This new information architecture framework will provide a clear blueprint for the organisation’s Microsoft 365 tenant and will ensure consistency across all sites. 

Having a framework in place also provides opportunities to reuse existing information architecture designs which will in turn reduce duplication of effort and help to make the task of scaling up much easier.

Comments Noeleen Schenk, Director at Metataxis: “We are recognised for our records management and information governance expertise. Combined with our knowledge and experience of working with G-Cloud-13 services, Metataxis is well-positioned to support all public sector organisations manage and secure their data and collection of records in line with government policies. We are really looking forward to working with this organisation; they have a great in-house team and we think we will complement their skills well.”

The project commenced earlier this month and is due to be completed in March 2023.

Read more about our records management services.

If you would like to learn more about how we help both public sector organisations and private businesses address the challenges of information architecture and data retention and management, simply contact us.

SharePoint intranet goes live for central Government customer

New SharePoint intranet improves user access to information

13 Jan 23 – Phase One of New SharePoint Intranet goes live for central Government department  

Metataxis is thrilled to announce that Release 1 of a new SharePoint intranet for a UK central Government department has just gone live! 

With a clear objective of improving user access to knowledge and information, this major intranet project was started back in January 2022. 

Key deliverables of Phase One covered information architecture, including site structures, content types, columns, and term sets, as well as a powerful search.

With ease-of-use top of mind, the dedicated project team included solution architects, developers, an information architect, user experience architects, user researchers, business analysts, comms people, and other project support professionals. 

This 15+ strong team of experts has been working round the clock, fully focused on making the launch of Release 1 as smooth as possible, while ensuring all user requirements were met – especially around search and findability.

Marc Stephenson, Director at Metataxis comments: “We are delighted to have been part of the team that completed Phase One of this key intranet project for the UK Government. Strong commitment and teamwork have played a significant part in the successful delivery and smooth go live of this initial release – we have seen a fantastic effort from everyone involved on the project to date.” 

Release 2 and Release 3 will follow later this year to deliver this SharePoint intranet solution and valuable resource for all employees within this public sector organisation.

Want to modernise your intranet in 2023?

If you are looking to drive productivity and improve user access to key information, simply contact us and we would be delighted to discuss your intranet project with you.

What’s involved in a SharePoint health check?

SharePoint Health Check

Many organisations think that Office 365/SharePoint deployment and configuration is both simple and quick only to find the reality quite different once the system is used in anger.  But a well-timed health check of SharePoint can save a lot a pain and stress down the road.

When to do a health check

A health check can be done at any stage of SharePoint implementation for many different purposes. For instance a health check may be done during a pilot or pathfinder exercise to check that the project is going in the right direction. Or the health check may be used for older implementations that may be experiencing issues for the purpose of root cause analysis.

It’s not just about the technology

The technical configuration of your Office 365/SharePoint system is important, but so too is how your information is organised within your implementation. Failing to understand your information management needs is often overlooked in Office 365/SharePoint deployments which can result in expensive, unusable, or even a failed system. We recommend any health check considers ongoing information management as well as the technical management.

What a health check should cover

With that in mind we recommend a SharePoint health check should consider both standard areas of functionality as well as information governance, management and strategies. The health check should consider the following aspects though depending on how SharePoint is configured may want more attention on some areas than others.

  • High-level Office 365 configuration
  • Site collection and site architecture
  • User permissions and user access model
  • Content types and columns
  • Term sets
  • Search configuration
  • Libraries, views and folder configuration
  • Navigation and high-level user interface
  • Usability and look and feel
  • Information governance and policies
  • Training and support
  • Culture and change management

Who should do the health check

Ideally a neutral third party should conduct a health check, so they can provide an independent and impartial assessment of the system. The third party may be a person or team within your organisation that has not been heavily involved in implementation. That internal resource would need to have the skills and expertise to complete a thorough health check. Alternatively external resource with the skills and experience may be contracted to do the work. The benefit of getting a health check from a skilled professional is assurance of quality of work as well as the ability to provide results quickly and accurately.

Metataxis SharePoint health checks

Metataxis can provide independent health check of your Microsoft 365 and/or SharePoint deployment to discover potential problems before they become actual problems. The Metataxis team has the unique skills and experience to bridge the world of technology and information management, to provide a unified and thorough analysis. Metataxis has a simple health check methodology that provides quick results. This is based on the many implementations we have worked on.

  • Analyse: A Metataxis consultant conducts an audit of your Office 365/SharePoint environment.
  • Document: The consultant documents their findings to produce an organisation specific set of recommendations.
  • Review: The consultant discusses the recommendations with the organisation, refining them as required.
  • Support: Follow-up advice is available via email or phone after the delivery of the recommendations.

We can scale any health check to the requirements of your organisation and point you in the right direction to give you the right information governance, architecture and strategy to help you on your way.  Get in touch with us today to talk using the contact form on the right.