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4.35 min to readDigital Workplace

When to use OneDrive vs. Teams vs. SharePoint?

Erik Moll, SoftwareOne blog author
Erik MollGo-to-Market Manager - Americas
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We all go about our lives in three circles: our personal circles, our inner circles, and our outer circles. And as we navigate our day-to-day life, we move from circle to circle. A cup of coffee while reading the morning news? That’s a Personal Circle scenario. Going out to eat at the Italian restaurant down the street? Sounds like an Inner Circle gathering. Attending a 200-person seminar? That’s certainly classified as an Outer Circle event.

These circles, however, don’t just apply to our social lives. They apply to our work lives, too. More specifically, these circles are how we can best determine when it is best to use Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business, Teams, or SharePoint. Let’s take a closer look at when and why it is best to use each of these platforms as well as the types of documents involved.

OneDrive for Business: your personal circle

Whereas many Microsoft users may have previously stored their files in their respective “My Documents” folders, OneDrive for Business (ODFB) can now be used in its place. OneDrive for Business is a Microsoft cloud service that connects users to all of their files. So, that Personal Circle we just talked about? Think of ODFB as a virtual space that is built just for you. It is your own web-based workspace where you can store any and all personal business documents. And you don’t have to be shy about how much you choose to store, as each user receives 1 TB of storage - which is plenty of room for documents and other typical business files.

While ODFB does allow for co-authoring and versioning - which was a capability that wasn’t previously available within a device's system storage - it is important to remember to mainly use ODFB documents in personal scenarios or with a limited few. If you’re preparing a document that isn’t quite yet ready to be shared with the team, save it for later with ODFB. But if you need to bring in more users or use project sharing, the documents must be moved to either Teams or SharePoint to avoid accidentally leaking sensitive or personal information.

Another great feature of ODFB is that you can work offline, if needed. I myself rely on File Explorer, formerly known as Windows Explorer, to find documents instead of going through piles of folders. And now, with ODFB, I can actually sync my files and document libraries directly to File Explorer. This means that I can work offline and sync back up once I reconnect to the internet. This feature alone adds immense value to my experience with ODFB, as I never have to worry about how my work will be affected should I lose internet access.

Teams: your inner circle

Now, let’s talk about your Inner Circle. If your Personal Circle is your virtual work desk, your Inner Circle is the intimate think tank of the Microsoft 365 world. When you have a document in ODFB that you’d like others to see or edit, or you’d like to freely brainstorm with a few of your colleagues, that is when it is time to move things over to Teams.

Microsoft Teams is all about enhancing communication and collaboration. It is best to use Teams when you’d like to work with your colleagues in real time. This way, you can work on documents together and chat through ideas as you go, boosting efficiency and productivity along the way. With Teams, you and your coworkers can talk about your most important projects and join forces whether you’re in the same room or halfway across the world.

Again, this is your Inner Circle, so the documents you are sharing should be kept within your team. If you’d like to share your project with the rest of the organization, however, it is time to take it to SharePoint.

SharePoint: your outer circle

Finally, we have your Outer Circle. The enterprise content, or document management system, of Microsoft 365, if you will. For sharing documents with larger groups, such as whole departments or even your entire organization, it is best to use SharePoint. SharePoint is a collaboration and document management platform within Microsoft 365 that places a large emphasis on functionality, making it the ideal choice for sharing information with large numbers of users.

SharePoint is the best option for rolling out new company policies, posting important HR updates, and notifying employees of upcoming team trainings. It is a great place to store these types of documents for your organization’s future reference, as well. This way, everyone knows where to look for past and future company information.

The bottom line

Remember, OneDrive for Business is your personal virtual workspace. Whether you’re saving notes to refer back to later, or preparing a document you’re not quite ready for your colleagues to see, ODFB is for your eyes only. And now that you have a good understanding of your Personal, Inner, and Outer Circles, you should know exactly when it is best to use ODFB, Teams, and SharePoint. As you move forward, you should be able to store and share information with ease, streamlining your communication and boosting your overall collaboration.

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Erik Moll, SoftwareOne blog author

Erik Moll
Go-to-Market Manager - Americas

Digital Workplace