When NOT to Use Microsoft Teams

Post Date: 02/05/2022
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Microsoft Teams is the cornerstone of collaboration for many organizations, but are there any situations when it might not be enough? In this week’s episode of #O365 Hours I sat down with Shari Oswald to discuss the rare moments where it might be wise not to use Microsoft Teams for certain tasks. Watch our discussion below or read the full transcript at your convenience!

Guest: Shari Oswald, MCT, MSOM, and Founder of PowerUP! Learning (visit her website here)

Topics Covered:

  • Background on this topic and a clear outline of our reasoning 
  • Specific scenarios where Microsoft Teams may not/should not be your go-to solution:
    • Document management
    • Lists
    • External Communication/Collaboration
    • Webinars (requires sign-in, limit attendees, recording on demand
    • And more!
  • How should organizations approach whether to use Teams or not? How do you approach the “which tool and when “dilemma?”

Is Microsoft Teams the Best Place for Document Management?

Shari Oswald: You know, I have a very specific opinion on this because if you know the structure that’s underlying Teams, well, SharePoint is the foundation. And what I see way too often is people take everything that’s in their M: drive, J: drive, and K: drive, and they dump it into their Teams library. They don’t realize that underneath Teams is a SharePoint library for every channel. So now you’ve taken thousands of documents and you’ve dumped them into one library, and now you’ve got issues with search because it’s going to be slow.

In SharePoint you’ve got ample space to create additional libraries where you can store that content. Once it’s organized, you can move that content around, control versioning, and lock it down so people can’t edit it anymore. So yeah, that SharePoint library behind the scenes is the secret ticket to being the most proficient.

Christian Buckley: Right, and there’s specifically some talk to be had around organizations needing some level of expertise in migration activities for this. If you dump all the content into that single library as a smaller organization, for instance, that might work without impacting performance. But the reality is that projects close down and shift and new things open up all the time. Content is constantly moving around. So, one of the common mistakes that’s made is abandoning a focus on lifecycle management, retention policies, and so on.

Is Microsoft Teams the Best Place for Lists?

CB: Well, again, if you add a list to a tab in Teams and peek behind the curtain, it’ll lead to SharePoint. You can customize that list, create workflows and automations around it, and tie it to an app or Power Automate. However, you can’t see all that from Teams. In Teams, you can add or remove information from a list and that’s about it. You don’t have the ability to make that more robust and flexible. I use it a lot—on a daily basis, even—but when I want more robust capabilities, one of the first things I do is open up the SharePoint view of Lists instead.

SO: Yeah. And as a scenario behind that, I had a client that sent out a spreadsheet to 50 different people trying into collect information in a specific format. All 50 people took it upon themselves to put information in that Excel spreadsheet and email it back to her after moving and adding columns. Now she has to try and smush 50 different versions of her spreadsheet back together. And I’m like, why wasn’t this a SharePoint list? Why didn’t we make this a list?

WATCH THE WEBINAR: Supercharge Microsoft Teams with the Newest Apps: Tasks and Lists

Is Microsoft Teams the Best Place for External Communication/Collaboration?

CB: So, in AvePoint, we have very strict policies around Teams that have external guests. For my work with the Community Champions Team, for instance, there’s a regular review and a reauthorization that occurs for maintaining that external site and the types of collaboration that are happening there. From your perspective, though, is Teams the best setup for that external communication and collaboration?

SO: Well, and I hate to use that lawyerly response of “It depends,” but that’s kind of the case. It really depends on what the company has implemented in terms of security protocols and what they allow their external users to do. There has to be a balance between keeping data secure and allowing external collaborators to do their jobs in a productive (but controlled) environment. Everything can’t be locked down to where users are handcuffed and can’t get their jobs done.

CB: You know, for some external work I don’t feel like the overhead of a Team is necessary. If we don’t all need to be collaborating live, I’ll usually just share a secure link via OneDrive instead. That way we have one or two different documents that we’re collaborating on without navigating through Teams. So I think it really depends on what degree you’re collaborating, and if you need all of the other features that Microsoft Teams provides.

SO: A situation like that recently came up for me, actually. I’m collaborating with another partner right now, and though I’m creating a proposal and have access to his tenant, I don’t have access to add files to his tenant. I don’t have permission to do that. But I do have my OneDrive, so I’m moving a copy of that proposal into OneDrive so that we can collaborate on it. So yeah, there are definitely scenarios around that where you just need to knock out a document and OneDrive can be less locked down (but still secure) compared to SharePoint and Teams, and that way you can still share without having to worry about letting people into your Team environment.

Is Microsoft Teams the Best Place for Webinars?

CB: Sometimes it’s beneficial to have webinars that are much more structured and locked down, and where you want to have a registration process. You may want to be able to know the metrics on who attended something and what their level of activity was. Conversely, you may want to restrict who can be invited and who can attend. Microsoft Teams works for all of those situations.

SO: They’re gradually building out the ability to registration capabilities, but I want to be able to limit how many people can register. I don’t want 2000 people showing up at my webinar. I’d also like to have my webinars available on-demand, but I want attendees to register. So, being able to capture the registration at the moment is nice, but what about two weeks from now if somebody missed it? Can they go back? With Teams, I’d have to download the recording from Teams, make it public, and host it somewhere else—it’d be a big process. This can be one of the downsides of Microsoft focusing on collaboration as a whole instead of solely webinars, like Zoom.

CB: Zoom has better video and audio equality for recordings for one-on-one interviews, but it also doesn’t do the 50 other things I need in a day that Microsoft Teams does. So they both have their place depending on your specific needs. And of course, there are other solutions out there as well.

Want even more Teams insights? Give the full video a watch for Christian and Sheri’s thoughts on how well Microsoft Teams handles external communities and retention policies!

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An Office Apps & Services MVP and Microsoft Regional Director, Christian Buckley is an internationally recognized author and speaker and runs the community-focused CollabTalk blog, podcast, and tweetjam series.

View all posts by Christian Buckley

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