With this post, I would like to clarify the confusion that I observe many have about the difference between Microsoft Teams and SharePoint. If you ever wonder if you “Should use Teams or SharePoint” or if you “Should store files in Teams or SharePoint,” then this article is for you!
First off, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are two, totally different platforms. So the comparison between the two is not accurate. It is like comparing apples and oranges. To clarify the difference between Microsoft Teams and SharePoint, let me explain what each one is.
SharePoint is a collaboration platform that has been around for many, many years. It is a repository/one-stop-shop for collaboration and content sharing within your organization. Primarily it is used for document storage (SharePoint has amazing document management capabilities). But you can use it to organize other types of content (news, events, tasks, etc.). Moreover, SharePoint integrates well with other Office 365 apps, like Flow and PowerApps. In other words, SharePoint can be your repository for all the content within an organization.
While SharePoint is a great collaboration tool, it lacks in the social/communication aspect. In the past, Microsoft tried making SharePoint social with Newsfeed and Discussion Board web parts (I explain and compare both here), they never caught up and lacked in terms of functionality and excitement, compared to modern social media tools we have. That’s where Microsoft Teams come in.
An example of a chat using the Discussion Board web part in SharePoint
Microsoft Teams, on another hand, is a chat-based communication tool. Think of it as an alternative to email (Outlook). Instead of sending emails to each other, you chat with colleagues in a Twitter-style manner – by writing short (or long) messages which all end up in a thread (called Channels in Teams). Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are united together by an Office 365 Group. Every time you create a new Team, a new Team is created, along with an Office 365 Group and all its other assets like Calendar, Planner and yes, a separate SharePoint Site.
Where the confusion of Microsoft Teams vs. SharePoint happens is when you click on a Files Tab within Microsoft Teams. When you do that, you see the files that are stored not within a Team, but rather in a document library that resides on a SharePoint site that got provisioned, when you created a Team for a chat. Makes sense?
Files Tab within a channel in Microsoft Teams
Document Library on a SharePoint site, connected to the same Microsoft Team above
So the files and folders are technically stored in SharePoint document library as your chat occurs in Microsoft Teams. For every channel you create, a folder within a SharePoint document library is auto-created for you. The Files tab is just a direct link to the SharePoint’s document library’s “channel folder.”
So no more Microsoft Teams vs. SharePoint question! Hopefully, this post has clarified it once and for all!