OneDrive vs SharePoint vs Teams

Recently a customer asked me to compare SharePoint vs. Teams.  Customer found my reply clear and concise explanation of the key points. Therefore, I am posting it as an article. (Reading time 4 min)

SharePoint vs. Teams – what to compare

Technically Teams uses SharePoint behind the scenes. Hence, a technical comparison will not be very useful. What we need to do is compare them functionally SharePoint has been around for 17 years – for improving teamwork and collaboration. Teams was launched 1 year back – with exactly the same objectives in mind.


  1. This is the base platform for collaboration
  2. SharePoint was created to make sharing easy – Sharing is the Point!
  3. SharePoint allows users to create websites without knowing programming
  4. The user can decide what type of content is to be shared and with whom
  5. Here are common type of SharePoint web sites which can be created
    1. List – for storing data
    2. Document library – for storing files
    3. Shared Calendar, Shared Task list
    4. And many more
  6. Unfortunately, SharePoint did NOT make sharing easy for users
  7. Why not? Because IT never allowed users to create web sites using SharePoint
  8. They put governance, rules and processes around creation of SharePoint sites
  9. Due to this, when a user had to share something with others, the site would be created hours (or more realistically, days) later – defeating the purpose
  10. Many teams got busy creating intranets and business applications by programming on top of SharePoint. This distraction is futile because it distracts energies from the primary purpose of simpler sharing and teamwork.
  11. In short, nobody used it properly

SharePoint is a great product. It is the unnecessary IT control around it which led to its failure as a teamwork tool. Of course there are pockets of success which are primarily attributed to passion of specific individuals or teams. But it never got institutionalized in the way it was intended to.

Teams vs SharePoint

  1. Teams is SharePoint – under the hood
  2. When a Team is created, these things happen automatically
    1. New SharePoint Site is created
    2. Team members are given permissions
    3. File storage is created
    4. Shared OneNote notebook is also created automatically
  3. The best part is that IT is no longer involved!
  4. Teams does one more thing which SharePoint does not do.
  5. It moves communication from Inbox to Teams
  6. That way, team members do not have to go to Inbox to discuss about a project
  7. So, finally, users can share whatever they want with other users.
  8. That is called Teamwork or Collaboration
  9. In short, Teams brings people, files, notes, conversations and tasks together – one project at a time.

OneDrive vs. SharePoint

  1. OneDrive is also SharePoint.
  2. As you know, SharePoint is used to create web sites
  3. Sites can store various things like documents, data, tasks, appointments and more.
  4. With SharePoint, every user got a special site called My Site
  5. My Site has a place to store my documents (a document library) – files which you would typically store in My Documents folder on the local PC / Laptop
  6. This document library was renamed (rather re-branded) as OneDrive
  7. OneDrive is not just a special brand. It gets a very special treatment.
  8. Each person’s OneDrive is 1 TB of space
    (at the time of writing this article… Sep 2018)
  9. Why the brand name called OneDrive?
  10. Because it is ONE place for ONE person to store files which always have ONE copy
  11. ONE, ONE, ONE = ONEdrive
  12. Why ONE copy? Because you can share the link rather than send it as
    an email attachment
  13. This works even for persons outside your organization
  14. Rather than sending multiple copies of the file to other people, it makes sense to keep ONE copy of the file and let other people come to the file (and edit it).

Where to store a new file?

Now you have three places to potentially store a new file you just created. Is that called empowerment or confusion?

Without the right guidance it leads to confusion rather than clarity.

Here is the guidance about where to store a new file:

  1. If the file is primarily handled / owned by you, save it to OneDrive and share it with relevant persons. Remember that YOU can control who can view the file and who can edit it.
  2. If you would have saved the file to a departmental share, it belongs to the
    SharePoint site for that department. If you do not have one, then store it on OneDrive.
  3. Is this file related to a time-bound project where you are working closely with a specific set of people? Then create a team in the Teams app and store the file there.


Finally, there is another animal called Delve. Here is what it does.

  1. Delve does not DO anything actively. Delve is passive in that sense.
  2. It just looks at what you are doing and gives you some analysis
  3. Delve tells you who are the people you work with frequently and which documents are being used
  4. It also shows you what your colleagues are working on (only for shared files where you have the permission)
  5. That is all Delve does for individual user.
  6. But Delve is also available at the organizational level – It is called Workplace Analytics
  7. This uses data of all users working with each other to generate analysis
  8. Using Workplace Analytics you can see which department works with which other department
  9. Which people are more loaded and others communicate less and so on
  10. This analysis can be used to find ways to improve inter-departmental collaboration

Read more details about Where to store files.

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