Microsoft Teams: Don’t want to use a SharePoint Site or your OneDrive?

I’ll start by saying that the title is misleading. I know, I know, I do things like these from time to time, but I needed something that would get your attention. If you don’t know, both OneDrive and Microsoft Teams use SharePoint as their backend. But some people, even nowadays where SharePoint is fantastic, still have some restrictions on the bad old days where SharePoint was more “challenging.” With COVID and the proliferation of Microsoft Teams, we have the best of both worlds. A hub of communication and collaboration with a great backend to support it.

Personal Organisation

Most of us have our OneDrive full of documents that we share ad-hoc with people when necessary. I’ll list some of these issues with this approach, but there are many many more. I’ll explain after why I’m stating them as truths and not as proposals.

  1. There is no “source of truth” for your company’s information. You can have a document used by two people, and someone else may have a local record that he/she is operating without even knowing it is out of date.
  2. Your OneDrive is your place for temporary documents. Anything else should be in public (even if the team has only a couple of people).
  3. Your SharePoint sites may be more challenging to manage. Everyone can learn much quicker how to add and remove people from a Teams Channel than a SharePoint Site.

Some practical cases

I work in the hotel business, and there’s something that happens all the time. People share files during their years of collaboration, and then, for example, a hotel manager moves from one hotel to the other, and he/she doesn’t have access to the “new” files related to that hotel.

If there was a team for that specific unit where all documents were collected and organized? The team would remove the person from one Team and add it to another Team. We protect and of them and share them at the same time with the people who need them.

We onboard developers all the time. Think about how complex it would be for people to share stuff that the developer needs to know each time. Why not have a team with all those documents and add the developer to one or more Teams Channels.

People leave companies all the time. When that happens, some documents are stuck in their OneDrives. You have only horrible choices:

  1. Try to find documents in the person’s organisation system and, we all know that people can be super creative when it comes to that.
  2. Copy all the files to a temp directory where people can access it. You will share files that people don’t need or should not have access to them.
  3. Try to organize them in the proper places. Your time is much more valuable than this.

The point: Organise By Team

My point is. SharePoint and OneDrive are incredible, but they may be cumbersome for many. I have to admit that my OneDrive for Business is empty. Yeah empty. Why? Because I work on a file, publish it to the “correct” SharePoint Site or Teams Channel and delete it. The files are not mine to own, and they should always be in the correct place—either the SharePoint site or the Team.

In our team, we have:

  1. A PMO site where you have all the business plans and management information regarding the projects: people who need information about a project know where to go and find it. Also, when we have an audit, we provide a link to the auditor, and we’re good to go. 2 minutes of work instead of hours of collecting files from people’s OneDrives and hoping that the version you have is the last one.
  2. A Microsoft Team Channel per site, hotel, department, etc. It depends much but documents live and die there. When they are not needed, we archive the full Teams, and that’s it.
  3. A Microsoft Teams Channel for the development team. In this channel each developer has a place to communicate with each other, exchange information and documentation regarding each platform right at their hands. Notice that this is a private team only for developers, while the PMO site is public.

Show people that they can all work in the same document at the same time. No more “Doc v1.3.5.docx” and “Doc v1.4.doc”x in folders or sending them through email. When people see other colleagues editing the document, they will feel that they are working to something in common and try to adopt the same techniques. Education by example, and use Microsoft Team’s powerful features to help with this.

Final Thoughts

People will always go in the path of least resistance, but they also need to lean how to do things. When you provide them with the structure and show them the benefits to it, they will become your best ambassadors. But if you see that there are files arriving as attachments to emails or in shared personal OneDrive folders, try to lead by example and, each time you send them the file, send them a link and explain where they can find the document. People are not stupid and will learn that they have more to gain for putting stuff in a central place than keeping all to themselves.

Have a suggestion of your own, or disagree with something I said? Leave a comment or interact on Twitter and be sure to check out other Microsoft Teams-related articles here.

Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

Manuel Gomes

I'm a Project Manager with experience in large projects and companies. I've worked in the past for companies like Bayer, Sybase (now SAP) and I'm currently working for Pestana Hotel Group.

View all posts by Manuel Gomes →

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: