Explained: SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive

Bethany Reid
Thursday 11 March 2021

Microsoft 365 tools – Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business – are typically used to store, share and collaborate on files.  

Why the three get confused 

SharePoint came first in 2001, followed by OneDrive in 2007, and then Teams in 2017. This meant that companies had to continually evolve how they managed files within Microsoft tools – and how they were used alongside existing file shares.  

How each tool should be used 

Every organisation or department will juggle the three slightly differently, but in a normal context, they’d be used in the following ways. 

OneDrive for Business 

OneDrive for Business is used to store your personal work files so you can access them on any device. You own the data and when you leave, your data leaves with you.
This tool is great for drafting ideas which you want to share with colleagues before distributing wider via Teams or email. Matt Wade describes OneDrive as ‘actually just a single SharePoint document library in a single SharePoint site just for you’. Think of it as a ‘my documents’ folder held in the cloud
At the University, only OneDrive documents can be shared with users outside of the University. 
Each OneDrive account is linked to one individual user, unlike Teams and SharePoint sites where you can be part of many, and each can have multiple users. 

Microsoft Teams 

Teams is a collaboration platform which allows you to review files and have group discussions over chat or online meetingsYou and your colleague own the data and when you leave, the data remains accessible by those in the Team. Team owners are responsible for setting up and maintaining permissions for the data within the Team site.

Every Team comes with a set of Microsoft productivity tools for you and your colleagues to use, such as: 

  • Planner boards 
  • SharePoint site for files 
  • Shared notebooks powered by OneNote 
  • The ability to create group forms 
  • A private Stream Channel for Team videos and meeting recordings 

By adding someone to a Team, they automatically have access to these resources. This makes administering a Microsoft Team a lot easier than administrating a SharePoint site (where access is granted and maintained at folder level). 

SharePoint 

SharePoint (online version for the context of this description) allows you to store and share content, including files, sites, news, and lists, across your company. Organisations commonly use SharePoint as a staff intranet – a central place to store company-wide information. Most of our company-wide content is stored on network shares and the University website so SharePoint sites are rarely used. Unlike Teams, SharePoint sites need to be set up by IT Services, and require additional resource to administer. 

What you need to know

In short, use OneDrive to draft, Teams to review, and SharePoint to publish. At the University, your work would likely be published on the website or shared drive rather than SharePoint. However, as the University reviews our internal website content, this may change over time. 

If you have specific needs which can’t be met by OneDrive or Teams, log a call with the IT Service Desk and we can discuss whether a SharePoint site or database would be more suitable. 

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