Team sites versus team sites. Making sense of Office 365.

There’s no doubt that Microsoft and Office 365 are rapidly delivering functionality on their cloud platform which is great news for those businesses making investments. This brings several challenges for many organisations that lack the resources and time to spend on working out which apps on Office 365 to use for what purpose.

The recent addition of Microsoft Teams brings a dashboard style interface to many of the collaboration tools available across licensing plans. Default functionality provides chat, shared files, and basic management tools for site owners with options for adding native and third party applications into the interface.

The functionality offers organisations a low-cost and easy way of providing quality collaboration tools that are typically associated with ‘other vendors on the organisations centrally managed Microsoft platform.

Sounds great but for many organisations, Teams represents yet another way of collaborating and further conflict with already established platforms in the enterprise. For organisations early on or not yet on a move to the cloud, the tools can provide further reasons to put off the decision.

As a business that’s spent many years in the intranet space working with organisations of all maturities, we’re finding many businesses with great aspirations but equal concerns to the potential risk of switching on mass-collaboration –   functionality and reach versus control and governance.

The SharePoint provisioned bit of Microsoft Teams (Microsoft’s also new SharePoint framework based modern sites) has created a need for us to provide clarity and reassurance, in some cases about what containers should be used for which purpose.  Particularly when considering the role of intranets and all the other collaboration tools in the Office 365 kitbag – Outlook Groups, Yammer Groups, and the traditional SharePoint sites.

A basic grid as follows has aided conversations:


Publishing Collaboration
Head office






Zone 1: Fresh Intranet






Zone 2: Fresh Content Sites Zone 3: Groups

Microsoft Teams

SharePoint sites


Zone 1 represents the corporate controlled area for publishing branded, managed content.

Zone 2 represents those (probably corporate controlled) areas of the business that have a requirement to publish managed content (e.g. HR, Finance) to a wide audience.

Zone 3 represents smaller teams in the business that have a requirement to work together on work objects (e.g. teams, projects etc.) with final outcomes / products being moved into Zone 1 / 2 for consumption (where appropriate).

I’m sure there’s a debate to be had on the validity of all areas needing to exist in all businesses but broadly zones 1 & 2 are represented by a modern intranet (e.g. fresh) focussed on aiding all employees to find information, navigate across the organisations estate of tools and systems, and support employee focussed initiatives – employee engagement, comms, carer mobility etc.

Zone 3 represents all inter-team collaboration needs and an area where we see tools like Microsoft Teams, Groups, Yammer and customised SharePoint site templates supporting a typically varied set of collaboration requirements.

We like this model because it provides large, complex organisations with a high level governance model that leaves a fairly lightweight intranet being managed by a small, business orientated team and all other collaboration in the hands of either teams themselves or an IT organisation used to supporting the business at scale.

It’s unlikely that any single organisation will find that one of the aforementioned tools fits all their collaboration needs.  For example, businesses with fixed, legislative, audit or compliance needs will find Teams and the natively provisioned modern SharePoint sites a good fit and tend to look for tighter controlled, templated SharePoint sites.  Whereas businesses with free and easy requirements for collaboration are likely to be attracted to the low-cost, simplicity and self-service nature.

Microsoft are creating compelling tools on Office 365 catering for a range of needs and requirements.  Businesses should be looking for support in ensuring that they can optimise usage to extract the maximum value from their investment.[vc_row][vc_column][vc_cta h2=”How to Deliver Effective Communications in your Organisation” style=”3d”]The challenge for businesses in the modern age is keeping a consistent tempo to work; a reliability to workplace environments; leadership in operations and universal touchpoints that reach across the entire organisation. This whitepaper takes a closer look at the importance of internal communications in a changing business landscape and the role a company’s intranet plays in improving business fluidity and function.

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