Office 365: It’s All SharePoint!
With the recent announcement that storage in Yammer will be backed by SharePoint Online, SharePoint now serves as the file collaboration backbone for many of Office 365’s offerings. It’s important, then, for users both current and potential to fully understand how all of the different features in Office 365 use SharePoint Online, and how you and your organization can best take advantage of these features. With SharePoint Online, users have a wide range of tools at their disposal designed to serve a wide range of collaborative needs. With a proper understanding of how all these tools distinguish themselves, your organization can change the way your users work, and succeed in new and exciting ways, beyond what you ever thought possible.
Where’s the SharePoint In Yammer?
As mentioned above, in August file storage within Yammer will move to dedicated SharePoint Online storage. Currently, files are stored basically as a simple list (below), and will benefit greatly from the sharing capabilities and control that SharePoint Online will bring. Exactly how is yet to be seen. Also, you can add Yammer feeds to SharePoint Sites.
More on Yammer:
Yammer is a great tool for organizational sharing, providing a space for users across departments to create and comment on posts. Many use it as a sort of internal Facebook. Posts remain visible longer since the conversation isn’t as rapid and the audience for the posted content is wider, since visibility isn’t restricted to one project team or department.
Yammer is a perfect place for users to share internal communications, interesting articles, industry developments or news, and the ability to share this sort of content with every single member of the organization or department makes the application a sort of cloud-based water cooler around which users can chat, share, and bounce ideas off one another. In Microsoft’s own terms, Yammer communications serve as an “Outer Loop”: the broadest type of internal sharing and collaboration. As such, it’s the perfect place to share important information company-wide. New policies or major updates on organizational structure or behavior can be posted in one place and seen by all users. Furthermore, users can comment and converse all in one place on these updates, and needn’t worry about the information getting lost in the shuffle of constant emails or messages.
Content posted in Yammer SharePoint Sites will necessarily be easier to locate and stay visible longer because of the Outer Loop approach. While users might be receiving a deluge of emails or messages in an app such as Teams, Yammer assures that important information doesn’t get buried in the avalanche of content to which busy users are often subject to.
So what does this have to do with SharePoint? In Yammer, SharePoint serves as the underlying structure that allows users to communicate and share the files and folders stored in SharePoint. This means that, if you want to post a document on Yammer, you don’t have to go through the hassle of downloading it, then re-uploading it to Yammer.
Where’s the SharePoint in Teams?
It’s right where you need it!
Any SharePoint Site can be added/associated to a Team via the “Apps” panel, and it will show up as a tab under the Team:
Now, news can be streamed into a Team, members of a team can collaborate on and share the contents of the document libraries within a site, and much more!
More on Teams:
In comparison to Yammer’s wide-reaching, “Outer Loop” communications, Teams serve as an “Inner Loop”: a way for users to communicate as directly as possible, in real-time. Teams is more or less an instant messaging platform, set-up for users who are collaborating directly, and need to be in touch near constantly. Whether a conversation is with every user working on a project or simply a private conversation between two colleagues, Teams offers the most individualized option for communication within Office 365.
With Teams, collaborators can rapidly share files and folders with one another via Teams SharePoint Sites, and trust that what’s being sent is only visible to team members, as opposed to the entirety of an organization or department. They can also easily regulate the members who have access to those files, whether they be ongoing drafts of a task or sensitive information the restricted visibility of which is essential. By providing each and every team with its very own site, SharePoint gives collaborators a hub specific to their needs and their project. It’s certainly possible for team members to communicate with one another via an application such as Slack, but using a third party application can also become quite hectic, and jeopardize the security of project specific, sensitive information by separating it between two systems. With Teams, Microsoft has given team members a file-centric hub that specifically conforms to the needs of their project: a one-stop shop for their specific collaborative demands.
Much like with Yammer, SharePoint serves as the foundation of collaboration in Teams. No need to re-upload files from SharePoint, and no need to worry about missing updates and edits. Since the files shared will already be stored in SharePoint, edits made by users will automatically update. While, in the past, users might have to worry about sending drafts back and forth and forth and back, with Teams backed by SharePoint, all the changes are immediately logged and registered in the file, visible to all collaborators.
Where’s the SharePoint in OneDrive?
It’s (somewhat) well known that a user OneDrive is essentially a dedicated SharePoint Document Library. The features are paired down a bit in terms of admin control and functionality, but one big added bonus over a normal site is the how straightforward the integration with the sync client is.
More on OneDrive:
OneDrive is the option in Office 365 which is backed by SharePoint that users are probably most familiar with. It’s where users store all their individual content, and access to a user’s OneDrive is predominantly restricted to that individual user. OneDrive is meant for secure storage and mobile access, not collaboration, and while files stored in OneDrive can be shared via all the previously discussed options, users won’t be sharing within OneDrive specifically. Think of it like a Google Drive or Dropbox: it’s your hub, the home of all your personal content.
Extremely secure, OneDrive is one of the best options for file storage on the market today, and, backed by SharePoint, it provides users with access to myriad sharing options, integrations with other Office 365 tools, and security controls.
Where’s the SharePoint in Group Sites?
Easy one – it’s just SharePoint with some default options already configured upon creation
More on Group Sites:
Group Sites work alongside an email/Outlook group: a secure way to share files between users or teams, but lacking the real-time functionality of a Teams Site. While Team Sites are perfect for rapid communication, Group Sites is a perfect way to communicate when time isn’t necessarily of the essence. Where Group Sites succeeds, especially, is in situations where team members want to collaborate on a document they might eventually distribute outside of the specific team or department. Less rigid than Sites within Site Collections, which often have very strict permissions and more complicated directory structure, Group Sites are also more flexible. This also means, however, that Group Sites aren’t the best place to store or collaborate on extremely sensitive information, as their permissions aren’t quite as airtight as a normal site.
Because Group Sites are created by default whenever a group is created in Office 365, it’s important that users within a group pay close attention to who has access to what, and that admins pay close attention to who has the ability to create groups. IT and security technicians within an organization don’t have the level of insight into the exact permissions of Group Sites, nor do they have the ability to regulate the content shared within them, which means users within a group need to be constantly conscious of what they are sharing and who they are sharing it with.
Where’s the SharePoint in Site Collections?
Even easier – it’s everywhere, totally customizable, extendable, and secure.
More on Site Collections:
Site collections serve as the highest level of Sites in SharePoint. Files stored therein are accessible to multiple teams or even departments, and a site collection might contain a Group Site or a Team Site within it. This makes Site Collections one of the most versatile options for large scale collaboration, especially on items like directories with thousands or millions of files within.
While the broadness of Yammer is best used for posting and more casual communication, the broadness of site collections is designed for content storage, processes, external collaboration, and much more. Furthermore, as opposed to Group Sites, Site Collections and SharePoint Sites are owned by IT, and IT is in charge of governing permissions and access to the content stored within a site collection. This granular control over permissions make Site Collections one of the more secure storage and collaboration options in SharePoint, as well as the option best suited for those extremely large projects that demand the attention of more than just one team.
Powered by SharePoint, Office 365 Provides a Powerful Ecosystem for Storage and Collaboration
As the backbone for all of Office 365, SharePoint Online provides organizations with an entire galaxy of options for both storage and collaboration. A powerful intranet for your business, SharePoint offers a collaborative tool for every possible situation, and the flexibility of these tools ensures that users aren’t forced to try to fit a square peg into a round hole. Diversity and adaptability are the fundamental tenets of SharePoint Online and they guarantee any organization has the opportunity to build the collaborative ecosystems they need to succeed. Better than nearly any other cloud collaboration platform: SharePoint Online understands that organizations simply shouldn’t have to settle for one tool. Your needs are diverse and ever-evolving, and you deserve a platform that evolves with you. That’s the heart of SharePoint Online.