Office 365 is a set of cloud based business applications like Exchange, Office Apps, SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams. To help you make the most of this amazing business asset we’ve created the ultimate guide to Office 365 applications.
We’ll be examining and comparing three key applications from Microsoft:
We’ll be looking at the main features and benefits of each application. This is a general guide that compares the applications, so that business users understand where these products fit and how they can be used.
Microsoft OneDrive is cloud-based storage application that you can access from anywhere. It helps you to stay organised, access your important documents, photos, and other files from any device. With Microsoft OneDrive you can share content with friends, family, or co-workers.
Wherever you’re located and however you work, Microsoft OneDrive syncs your personal or work files across all devices. It is part of the Office 365 suite of applications and available on the following subscriptions;
- Office 365 Enterprise subscriptions
- Office 365 Business subscriptions
- Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions
- Office 365 Government subscriptions
- Office 365 Nonprofit subscriptions
- SharePoint Online Plan1
Almost all of these subscriptions provide the Microsoft OneDrive application with 1Tb storage (with Enterprise storage being unlimited). Other subscriptions can be increased to 5Tb via your administrator (or beyond via Microsoft).
Microsoft OneDrive storage is provided on a per user basis and is designed to serve the needs of individual users. Microsoft OneDrive is not intended for storage of data other than an individual user’s work files and does not include system back-ups, departmental and organizational wide data.
SharePoint or Teams are the Microsoft solutions for these more advanced content, collaboration, storage and file management needs. Both SharePoint and Teams provide communications and intranet functionality for your team or organization.
Key Features of OneDrive
Manage your files
Microsoft OneDrive allows you to choose which documents you wish to sync. This allows you to easily pick up on another device, in another location, just where you left off. Meaning you always edit the latest version of your file.
Work on the go
Microsoft OneDrive allows you to easily create, edit, share and co-author documents from your phone or tablet – using Office 365 mobile apps for Windows, iOS and Android.
Open your Office 365 apps from any browser to create documents, and even edit simultaneously with others. Your work can be set to auto save to Microsoft OneDrive.
Use Microsoft OneDrive on your Android or Apple phone, your Mac OS, Android or Windows tablet, laptop or workstation.
Benefits of OneDrive
- Your own storage drive, connected to the Internet
- Removes the need to save file to USB drives or email the files to yourself
- Removes the risk of losing company data on USB drives
- Removes the risk of a GDRP data breach
- Makes it super easy to work anywhere
- Windows 10 users get auto sync and roaming across all their devices
- Use ‘Files On-Demand’ and work on-line, without having to download files first saving local storage
- Recover your files if your device fails or is stolen
Not all files will sync and there are invalid file names and file types you should be aware of. These are listed here.
What is file ‘Sync’?
Microsoft OneDrive comes with a ‘sync app’ that synchronizes files on Apple, Windows and Android devices. There is some control of this process, such as blocking upload by file type, etc. On the whole we recommend simply synchronizing all documents, pictures and desktop. Microsoft OneDrive must be installed on all your devices that you require ‘sync’ to be enabled. You can also view your Microsoft OneDrive files at www.OneDrive.com – so even if you are not working on your own device, you can still work on your files via any web browser.
You can easily see how people in your business are using Office 365 services. For example, you can identify who is using a service a lot and reaching quotas, or who may not need an Office 365 license at all. Reports are available various periods up to 180 days.
Find out more
Visit the Microsoft OneDrive support site.
The nature of team work and collaboration is rapidly changing and Microsoft Teams is a fairly recent addition to the Office 365 application line-up. Microsoft Teams has taken over from Skype for Business and builds on many of the functions of that product. With remote working on the rise, Microsoft Teams provides a set of tools helping business users get work done, both inside and outside the office, expanding far beyond email and phone calls.
Teams are composed of ‘Channels’, which people from both inside and outside your business can be members. This provides businesses with a set of collaboration tools that can be used to suit different needs. From keeping track of a regular internal meeting, through to sharing and presenting project updates across a wide range of stakeholders, Microsoft Teams has a wide range of potential purposes.
Microsoft Teams application is available in the following subscriptions;
- Office 365 Enterprise subscriptions
- Office 365 Business subscriptions
- Office 365 Government subscriptions
- Office 365 Nonprofit subscriptions
All of these subscriptions provide the Microsoft Teams application, which is gradually replacing Skype for Business. The functionality of Microsoft Teams is exactly the same across all these subscriptions. Microsoft Teams is provisioned on a per user basis and is designed to serve the needs of business users.
Key Feature of Microsoft Teams
You have a constant thread of communication that you can go back in history and see. It’s all right there in a single interface.
Easy to use
Teams puts a simple interface around the tools you are used to. Use Word, Excel, PDF, PowerPoint and other familiar programs from one application. No need to learn a new interface, set-ups or keep track of multiple passwords.
Teams provides secure external access with people outside your business. You can easily add & remove access when a partnership is over and external parties can either use their own Office 365 or a web browser to collaborate.
No more versioning
Instead of passing versions of files back and forth, co-authoring a document in Word Online will enable direct and concise feedback. If revisions need to be found, the historical changes to a document are easily retrieved.
Work Securely Anywhere
Teams & Office 365 can work with your existing organisation Domain Servers or be totally cloud-based. Access to files from anywhere for your employees and be improved with 2-factor authentication, ensuring secure remote working is possible.
Chat & Record Conversations
Employees can choose the conversation medium that works best for their team, whether chat, email or instant messaging is preferred. It’s all recorded and available for reference later.
Do Better Meetings
Instead of relying on voice-only calls, cloud-based video calling through Teams lets employees around the world collaborate as if they were in the same room. Screen sharing and chat functionality built into every meeting means never needing to rely on third-party apps. Organize meetings from Outlook and link directly in to Teams.
Just like Microsoft OneDrive, you can easily see how people in your business are using Microsoft Teams. For example, you can identify who is using a service a lot through audit logs and detailed filtering. Reports are available various periods up to 180 days.
In legal proceedings, data associated with a certain individual needs to be preserved. This can be achieved by placing either a user (user mailbox) or a Team on legal hold. This ensures that even if end users delete or edit channel messages, they are preserved. These and other advanced features are available in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center.
More Information on Microsoft Teams
SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service that helps organizations share and manage content, knowledge, and applications to:
- Empower teamwork
- Quickly find information
- Seamlessly collaborate across the organization
SharePoint creates Intranets or Extranets that help people share information across their organisation or extend this to their suppliers, customers or other stakeholders.
SharePoint is an older and more established product than OneDrive or Teams and was created to promote file sharing and collaboration. It’s now included in the Microsoft Office 365 suite and is available in the following packages;
- SharePoint Online Plan#1
- SharePoint Online Plan#2
- Office 365 Enterprise E1
- Office 365 Enterprise E3
- Office 365 Enterprise E5
- Office 365 Business Premium
- Office 365 Business Essentials
Cloud Intranet Solution
SharePoint Online is a cloud-based solution and this is what we are discussing here. There are also on-premise versions of SharePoint that can be run on your own infrastructure. Microsoft 365 is the overall service through which SharePoint Online is delivered. It’s available for any size of business or organization, from the smallest company to some of the largest. Because it’s part of Microsoft 365 and delivered via the Microsoft Azure platform and world-wide data centre infrastructure, it can meet almost every need and demand conceivable.
Why use SharePoint Online?
- By taking full advantage of SharePoint-powered file storage in Microsoft 365, you can avoid purchasing cloud storage from other providers.
- You can access SharePoint Online anywhere and with any Internet connected device
- SharePoint Online offers complex enterprise-grade security, permissions and file access
- SharePoint Online provides secure sharing inside & outside your business / organization
- It enables real-time collaboration and file versioning
- It incorporates intelligent searching and helps users find the files & data they need
Applications & Uses
When users keep their files on local devices or on shared drive, they struggle to access this data when they don’t have their own device. SharePoint Online means users don’t need to carry their data or make a connection to the office network. Removing these restrictions means that If something happens to a users’ device, the data can still be accessed. Using SharePoint also means that upgrading is easier too and local data does not need to be migrated.
Accessing data from any device, such as your phone or home computer, does raise the issue of file / data security. This can be addressed in several ways, such as introducing 2-factor authentication, specifying access times, locations and other measures that ensure you allow only those you want to give access. For example, if two colleagues travel to a customer site and one of their two laptops runs out of battery, they can both access all their files by signing in to portal.office.com on the other laptop or use the SharePoint mobile app.
SharePoint Online offers a wide range of options and tools to create an intranet / extranet sites for your business. Moving or creating SharePoint sites can take a while, particularly if you already have extensive content, but you can get started quickly and bring up sites online easily and getting some initial return on your investment. However, SharePoint is a more complex environment and needs thought & planning to get the most out of its extensive features.
The external sharing features of SharePoint Online means that your business can share content with people outside the company, such as suppliers, customers and other stakeholders. Sharing data can be done in several ways, it can involve licensed or unlicensed access and should be carefully considered and planned.
Planning your Intranet
- Identify and prioritize your main business needs
- Select one key application & set-up a pilot to give you confidence
- Open up the pilot application and get users engaged
- Review your business needs from pilot & user feedback
- Be open to new ideas, ways of working and new applications
- Develop your ideas using SharePoint Online
- Keep reviewing, evaluation and developing your SharePoint Online environment
Remember that SharePoint offers a way to create highly functional intranet pages quickly, without the need for writing code or other difficult technical customizations. Sites can be made to look great on any device or screen and provide an engaging system for your users.
- What would an ideal intranet site would look like?
- What tools or technology do you want them to use?
- Establish a list of aims & objectives
- What do you want visitors to the site to be able to accomplish?
- Which projects come first?
- How can you achieve early success?
- How can users be engagement in this process?
- Are you solving real problems for your users?
- How many people will use it?
- Can it be built in a reasonable time frame?
- What’s the return on investment?
Remember to analyse each scenario for its impact on your business and your users. Create your plan but keep it flexible and adaptable.
Migrating from On-Premise to Cloud
If you’re currently using SharePoint Server or a traditional file server, SharePoint Online maybe the solution you need. Moving to SharePoint Online could avoid hardware upgrade costs, improve functionality or help bring system usage together in one place.
As a first step, we recommend is that you review the types of data you are using. Having complex inter-linked Excel Spreadsheets may not be suitable for migration to SharePoint Online. Whilst creating something suitable for company news, events, resource planning and other content maybe perfect for a SharePoint Online site. Think about how you currently work and how this could change. Who is going to create, update and maintain data?
Don’t get too tied up in the structure or look & feel, as these are very flexible in SharePoint Online. Every SharePoint site is a ‘collection’ and all can be associated with any hub site and forms a flat structure of sites that can share navigation, branding, and other common elements. This creates a flexible and adaptive environment for the changing needs of your business.
Navigation & Search
The best SharePoint sites are geared toward helping visitors find what they need quickly so that;
- They can use the information they find to make decisions
- Learn about what is going on in the business
- Access the tools they need
- Engage with colleagues to collaborate and solve problems
Search is a vital part of any site and the Microsoft search box can be placed in any prominent position. Microsoft search is also personal, meaning that results differ from person to person, even when searching for the same words. This is because search is based upon your previous activity and content in Office 365, so the results you see differ.
SharePoint Online includes a set of comprehensive site themes and site designs / templates that are responsive and look great on any device. Site themes mean that you can customize your site’s logo and colors to match your brand. Site designs provide specific layouts and other functionality for your site. Additional branding can be achieved using custom themes or site designs without worrying about something breaking when SharePoint is updated. Communication sites are common ways to keep your team(s) updates and can be made to look beautiful, dynamic and engaging.
Sharing and Permissions
SharePoint Online provides both SharePoint specific, Active Directory or Office 365 security groups. This means users can be controlled, assigned, classified by their function, group, team etc.. The differences, benefits and best practices for permissions and sharing can be complex, but does provide a highly functional and flexible solution to creating, sharing and accessing your company data.
Getting lots of data moved from your legacy file servers, local storage and other data locations can sometimes be a problem. This is especially true if you have hundreds or thousands of files, odd file name or old and new structures for your data. Tools like Thinkscape can help.
Comparing Applications – OneDrive vs Teams vs SharePoint
If you’re working on files by yourself, use OneDrive – where your OneDrive files are private. OneDrive is best for your own files that you want to synchronize across all your devices, keep secure and not share. OneDrive is your own personal workspace. This could be a whitepaper yo want to read later or a briefing note you are developing. Save this document to OneDrive and access it later on the plane or at home. Files are saved locally when off-line and synced to cloud and all other devices when you are back online.
If you are working as a team, then think about Microsoft Teams or SharePoint Online. Make sure your users have the right tools and they have guidance and training on which tools to use.
Teams is great for collaboration and unified communications. It has been developed out of Skype and Skype for Business and combines chat, video, file storage, sharing, collaboration and application integration. If you want to establish some quickly or for a short-term project, then Teams is ideal.
Teams is designed for small and medium sized teams. It does a lot, but not as much as SharePoint. Teams offers easy document sharing, secure co-authoring, auto-save, and revision auditing and tracking and integrates seamlessly with all the other Microsoft Office programs. For example, use Teams when working on a new project, tear it down when you’ve finished – quick and simple. Capture chat, email, create tasks and share files for the project, so everything is transparent.
Working with large amounts of Data?
SharePoint is the full internet-based document management system. It’s much more complex than Teams and better for longer standing stuff. A central place where employees can go to find company information. It’s more functional and can incorporate workflows for approvals or integrate non Microsoft products, but the difference between Teams & SharePoint Online is constantly changing.
It’s worth noting that Teams is built upon SharePoint and the two are highly linked and interactable. SharePoint Online can be set-up into a number of hub sites, is better for larger amounts of data where it can be better organized, indexed, navigable and searched upon than Teams. Use SharePoint Online when its more formal, where firm governance and formal structures are needed.
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