SharePoint Team Sites are dead!

Tags: Office 365, SharePoint, SharePoint Online, Exchange Online

SharePoint Team Sites are dead, there you have it! The era when SharePoint Team Sites was the king of SharePoint and web based collaboration are over. SharePoint Team Sites are dead, I said it again. Ok, you might think this is a link bait, a scam or something else - it's not. This is how I foresee the future of online collaboration in SharePoint Online/Office 365.

Team Sites are based on a decade old construct in SharePoint. They allow a great flexibility and extensibility for the end users, but…
…it requires a lot of training
…it drives a lot of support
…it drives a lot of consultancy hours (yes, I am/was one of those)
…historically upgrades are extremely expensive
…[fill in your own here]
…do the end-users really need that much power?

So, what's a better option then? I'd say Office 365 Groups! Office 365 Groups has a lot of the features that we lack in Team Sites and it offers the simplicity that end-users requires from Team Sites in 95% (just made that figure up, but you get the point) of the cases.

SNAGHTML6f3a7c[7]Office 365 Groups combines the best of the Office 365 services in one single place, and Office 365 Groups have done something the SharePoint team haven't ever achieved doing with Team Sites - integrate with the Outlook client. Office 365 Groups is a mash-up of:

  • An Exchange Online Inbox - that is you can send e-mail to the group. This is a killer feature in online collaboration. Yes, SharePoint 2013 had the Team Site Mailbox but we all know that feature didn't scale and to be frankly it sucked.
  • A SharePoint Online Document Library - all we need to share documents, what better tool for that than a SharePoint document library. Offline sync, version history, web-based editing with Office Online, sharing, recycle bin etc etc. Using SharePoint for what SharePoint originally was designed for…
  • An Exchange Online Calendar - a real calendar (compared to the one in SharePoint)
  • A OneNote Online Notebook - OneNote, nuff said
  • Conversations - yea, conversations and discussions and likes and what not (not based on Yammer, thank you very much).

 

As you can see Office 365 Groups uses the best tools available in the Office 365 service for a specific purpose. It all integrates and works extremely well in the web based user interface and you can offline sync the documents and work with it in the Outlook 2016 client.

Office 365 Groups also aligns very well with the NextGen Portals, Microsofts attempt to build killer solutions in Office 365. One of those NextGen Portals are Delve which helps you discover new and relevant information. Shortly Delve will start to recommend Office 365 Groups for you (announced at Ignite 2015) and Office 365 and the Office Graph will also be extended with really interesting collaboration analytics between groups (another awesome Ignite demo). We also will see a Office 365 Groups App for mobile devices (see public roadmap), Office 365 Groups will be integrated to CRM Online and more…

The extensibility story for Office 365 Groups has just started. Unfortunately we are not allowed to modify content types and such in the document library (see wish list below). But Office 365 Groups has made it into the new Microsoft Graph/Unified Office 365 APIs and Azure AD Apps.

For management of Office 365 Groups the story did not start well last fall, but we're continuously seeing new improvements. Such as the new naming policies for groups etc. I like it!

Yes, there are exceptions and some rough edges here and there (see my wish list below) - but overall this is something your organization should adapt as soon as possible. It will take you one step closer the digital (modern) workplace and into the future of online collaboration!

Office 365 Groups wish list

Here are a couple of things that I think should be top priority for the product team. If and when these "issues" are solved I think we have a pretty robust and future-proof solution.

  • Supported management of the Document Library, so that you can for instance modify/add the content type and/or templates. We really need this for enterprise content management.
  • Some extensibility hooks for customizations
  • Better management of the Groups e-mail address
  • A task list
  • Integration with Azure AD Dynamic groups
  • Notifications/events when groups are created or group creation approval
  • Better discoverability, a better "Groups Portal"
  • An Everyone group - so that we get an All company feed and once and for all can shut Yammer down

63 Comments

  • Matthias Einig said Reply

    100% agree. Office 365 Groups solve so many annoyances the TeamSites have. And the Outlook integration and offline sync are the key for adoption!

    I am sure many items on your wish list will be added.
    I specifically like your suggestion at the end of the last bullet point ;)

  • Sahil Malik said Reply

    Team sites can't be "dead" if pure on-prem is still alive. .. now much longer does pure (non-hybrid) on-prem remain alive .. is a whole another discussion. But as of today, its alive.

  • Jamie Thomson said Reply

    Hi,
    Thanks for the write-up.
    isn't there a bit of a danger here that if an organisation already has Yammer that we're now giving them two places to go and "co collaboration stuff" rather than one? Don't get me wrong, I'm not great fan of Yammer (largely because of the interface - why can't we put formatting into our status messages? grrr) but I do like the fact that it gives *everyone* in the company a *single* place to go to have discussions. With O365 groups they'll have an alternative and I don't necessarily think that is a good thing.

    Thoughts?

  • Jamie Thomson said Reply

    Arrghhh...typo...arrggghh...


    Hi,
    Thanks for the write-up.
    isn't there a bit of a danger here that if an organisation already has Yammer that we're now giving them two places to go and "do collaboration stuff" rather than one? Don't get me wrong, I'm no great fan of Yammer (largely because of the interface - why can't we put formatting into our status messages? grrr) but I do like the fact that it gives *everyone* in the company a *single* place to go to have discussions. With O365 groups they'll have an alternative and I don't necessarily think that is a good thing.

    Thoughts?

    • Wictor said Reply

      In my ideal world - Yammer is removed from the service. It's not needed anymore if you have the same features in Office 365 Groups. The only thing that you basically need to do is to create the "all company" feed and an "aggregated feed" for all your Groups. Once you have those, Yammer can just be shut down.

      • Jamie Thomson said Reply

        "In my ideal world - Yammer is removed from the service."
        I can understand why you'd say that but I just can't see Microsoft (even the new Microsoft) making such a bold step (they spent >$1b on it, I doubt they want to be seen to be ditching it).

        Out of interest, why do you dislike Yammer? I have my reasons, I'd be interested in seeing if they compare to yours. Do you have a blog post covering your Yammer quibbles? Let me know if so http://twitter.com/jamiet

        • Wictor said Reply

          Two things 1) the technical platform is obviously not as good as it could be and nit being able to do a proper integration in 2,5 years says a lot, 2) take a look at the roadmap pictures from Ignite; Yammer (as a brand) is on top of Groups/Azure AD.

          • Jamie Thomson said Reply

            "the technical platform is obviously not as good as it could be "
            Its not obvious to me. Can you be more specific than "the technical platform isn't very good"? I don't even know what that means.

            • Wictor said Reply

              Jamie - the integration between identities is a farse at best. They've had 2,5 years to integrate those and nothing has happened. There's no way to search/index Yammer from 365 and vice versa etc. There are so many technical hurdles to get these two very different systems to integrate that they even stopped innovating at Yammer.

  • Doug Ware said Reply

    I'd like to see better Exchange integration in Team sites and I will frankly be surprised if that doesn't come at some point.

    On the other hand, if you get your wish list and they add a lot of potentially complex customization and configuration options to Groups, which is what would be necessary for them to be a viable replacement for Team sites, then you'll have something that is essentially a Team site with a different name.

    The corndog did not kill the hotdog. I mean yeah, corndogs are awesome. There is a stick for easier handling and no need for messy and complicated condiment applications, but sometimes a man has to have chili, cheese, slaw, sauerkraut, relish, and mustard on a toasted foot-long bun.

    • Wictor said Reply

      Doug, I said 95% of the cases. There still are 5% of the cases where you need something more advanced, such as a bacon-wrapped butter on a stick.

  • Jasper Oosterveld said Reply

    Although I am a big fan of Groups I am not an 100% sure companies are going to adopt this new way of work. Most of our projects are still Intranet Portals. Why do we use team sites? To create a navigation (hierarchy) structure:

    Departments
    HR
    IT
    Sales

    End users understand how to navigate like this. How is this going to work with Groups? There isn't really a structure right? They float above the Intranet Portal. This is a whole new way of thinking right? We get that but are businesses going to get it?

    I get, and love, the new digital workplace with Office 365 but not certain how quick businesses are going to adopt this new strategy :)

    Greets,

    Jasper

    • Wictor said Reply

      Jasper, with Team Sites I mean collaboration areas (kinda like STS#0) not departmental or divisional sites - that's more of static content, right? Office 365 Groups corresponds to (ad-hoc) teams, projects and other social constellations.
      Also, in SharePoint there is no "global navigation" you have to create it, right? So why not incorporate Groups into that one as well (and thank you, I got a great idea for a post on that topic now!!)

  • Nik Patel said Reply

    My personal take here is Office 365 Groups are great replacement for team site and project sites in SharePoint Online, SharePoint team sites are still valid in SharePoint on-premises for collaboration, and SharePoint portals and team site definitions are still valid for intranets, corporate sites, and departmental communication sites and more streamline publishing approach.

  • Joakim Björk said Reply

    I love this new functionality mainly because of the balance between Flexibility and Simplicity. The "old" team sites have great flexibility but were not simple and easy to use. With groups i would say that they aim for going towards the simplicity side of the scale and use add-ins for the flexibility.

    I just hope that it get simple enough to replace the need for Whats App/Facebook groups/Dropbox.

  • Mikko said Reply

    I especially like the wish list here all thought I don’t completely sign the “Team Sites are dead” claim. But they for sure will be in a lot smaller role than they used to.

    I would add couple of things to the wish list.

    - More ways to categories Groups like given them more metadata.
    - A possibility to inhere Group level metadata to group documents.

    And about Yammer. That still was shown in Groups roadmap but for this year I think. Interesting to see what will come. Could we see that Yammer, or parts of it, will be integrated tightly as a one service to Office365. Just like Delve is one service in current Office 365. You could drop all the other than All Company feed out of it and maybe create the mentioned Aggregated feed to it.

  • Eric Shupps said Reply

    Groups and team sites are very different constructs designed to do entirely different things. Groups are a great addition, especially in light of the deprecation of micro-sites like meeting workspaces, but they'll never replace a departmental/organizational team site unless they add back in all the features that a team site has. I view them as an excellent option but definitely not a substitute for a proper team site.

    • Wictor said Reply

      Eric, basically the same response as to Jasper above. I don't consider departmental or divisional sites as Team Sites. Unless you're a very small shop.

  • Simon J.K. Pedersen said Reply

    From what i have seen of groups yet (which admittedly isn't much) I still don't see it as a useful way of communicating with many people just like yammer it fails at this. I'm sure for smaller teams it will be wonderful, but I can't see it work for something like what the office external yammer network do.

  • Niklas said Reply

    Hmm, I was of the impression that Yammer would be the future "Conversation" part of Groups instead of the current very basic Outlookish styled threads. Is it only your own disliking of Yammer or do you have some insights that Yammer is not going to be the future way to do conversations in Office 365 next to traditional mails?

    • Wictor said Reply

      Niklas,
      I don't have any specific insights but there are two things that makes me think that this is the right direction; 1) Yammer have had close to zero innovation since the acquisition, 2) roadmap on Yammer screen m shown at Ignite shows Yammer as a service on top of AAD and Groups, not as a separate platform. I guess the Yammer brand have some value, but not the technology /platform

  • Adis Jugo said Reply

    Groups are one of the most exciting features of AAD and Office 365. I had a pretty lively discussion with some colleagues in Redmond, the last November, how they will render that Yammer thing useless, and they though I'm crazy. Anyway...

    I don't think they will be replacement for the team sites, though. It might be me, it might be the corporate nature of th pe country where I am living, but lot of team site scenarios, actually the vast majority is somehow connected with provisioning. Scenarios like, something happens in SAP, and a SharePoint site collection is provisioned in the background, with ECM features like records management and site policies already turned on and configured. We can like it or not, but there is a lot of enterprise scenarios outthere that require exactly this.

    So, my 2 cents: groups are one of the coolest features in Office 365, there is lot of use cases I see for them. Sure, for some of those use cases, you would use team sites earlier. Furthermore, "people-oriented collaboration" (preferred use of my sites for content sharing, instead of team sites) will take over some team site scenarios.

    But in most of the enterprise scenarios, and wherever there is some provisioning process involved, and especially in ECM scenarios, it will be hard, if not impossible, to avod the team sites.

    PS. As for Yammer - I think it might be the right time for Microsoft people to merge Yammer team with Infopath and Silverlight teams, and to dig the TFS to find the old newsfeed code ;) #JustSaying

  • Jeremy Thake said Reply

    I really like the Office 365 Groups in the sense that they are a first class citizen of the entire Office 365 platform. When you manage membership its at the Active Directory Group level and not a SharePoint Site Collection Group level. Which always led to problems.
    I love your wish list and its something I've already passed onto Christophe myself a while back so good to see you guys seeing the same things. Remember we've only just shipped this stuff and so a lot of this will be coming.

    Sometimes its hard to see the overall vision when we ship Minimal Viable Products (MVP) rather than waiting 3 years to ship a completed one.

    I would disagree with you on Team Sites being dead. For many of the same reasons that have been mentioned above around pure play on-premises, things that aren't in Groups *yet* like Task Lists and more flexible extensible model.
    Don't get me wrong there is a lot of overlap. But the engineering focus now this is a first class citizen means that other first class citizens will be able to bolt into this much easier than Team Sites so I'm excited to see how it evolves.

    • Wictor said Reply

      Thanks for chiming in Jeremy! Groups fills the void that too many consultants have tried to solve by bolting stuff on top of Team Sites - either making them unable to upgrade or unable to maintain or unable to support etc etc.
      And by looking at the new workforce, millenials etc this is how the want to work. They want something simple, fast and robust.
      I recently visited a customer that are using Office 365, we asked the IT department to show us their Groups. They said what Groups, we haven't announced this yet. But..truth is there were tons of flourishing groups. The users understand how to create them, how to use them and how to collaborate. And the IT-department was overly happy about this, since this is exactly what they wanted.

      And yes, Team Sites will be there for on-premises, just as there are still companies making phones with buttons for the old people...

  • Marc D Anderson said Reply

    So let's not confuse Team Sites that are difficult to use with Team Sites. If your Team Sites are hard to use, then shame on you; you haven't done the work to make them what they should be for your audience(s).

    Let's also not confuse the niceties of the *technology* with actually meeting business requirements. All the sausage makers always believe that the back room of the sausage shop is a great place. Normal people would vomit. We have to match the needs of the consumers of the application with the appropriate tech.

    I know from talking to many, many people in the community over the years that my 90% is their 5% and vice versa. No one person's view of the marketplace is representative. Nor is Microsoft's view of the marketplace always accurate, either. ("They do WHAT with SharePoint???")

    And yes, Yammer should be dead. I've said that all along, but now that Wictor and Adis are out of the closet on it, I'll start saying it more loudly.

    M.

    • Wictor said Reply

      I think we're on the same page here. Yes, this "story" will not fit everyone, especially those who have invested in SharePoint since long time - heck they still want to do master page customizations. But remember there are tons of NEW customers in Office 365 coming from other platforms (Notes etc). Introducing Team Sites and custom provisioning engines and customizations vs just Groups is an interesting discussion, that Team Sites very seldom wins.

  • Gavin Haak said Reply

    Wictor,

    You make some really good points, and I agree that for light weight, quick spin up scenarios such as meeting prep etc it's great.

    But the lack of doc lib customisation/workflows/site type policies/auditing/task lists/project integration means IMO it's still only good for Team site-light scenarios. I still think the remote prov/team/project site solutions have a place.

  • Gavin Haak said Reply

    I do agree it's only going to get better as per Jeremy's comments above (thanks for that Jeremy!), and I really hope that the issues you have highlighted are addressed and in a year we are all happily using groups, with the old Team sites approach restricted to the 5% :)

  • Annelie said Reply

    Great article. I agree with most of it.
    But as already mentioned by others - the lack of control of groups ( retention policy, who can create groups etc.) needs an solution before it will successfully used by larger organizations, my opinion.

    What I love with groups is the easy way to share information in a some how, structured way.

    Teamsite is good for organization sites (IT, HR...) but leave it to that.

    I find it interesting to discuss what will happen with the traditional Intranet - for me thats already dead, but still asked for by clients.

  • Wictor said Reply

    Annelie, a absolutley agree that the "Intranet" is dead... but I will not write a blog post on that topic - already have the lynch mob after me for this one :)

  • Anders b. Skjoenaa said Reply

    Groups absolutely seems to be the new big thing. The idea of consolidating all the best functionality in the Office 365 platform into one value adding solution is great. This is driven by some brave architecture changes made by Microsoft over the last years.

    The question is if businesses are ready to adopt Groups with the current lack of management and governance hooks. I applause your list of feature requests... Some of these will help a lot :-)

  • Carry Megens said Reply

    I agree that most users just do not want all the features a team site offers, so Groups are a good answer to that.
    But the first bullet in your wish list makes also clear that content types and templates are a must have too, to make some structure and help poor search a bit.
    To avoid the confusion, make up your mind Microsoft, kick out Yammer or integrate it with Office365 fully. You've had 2.5 year time!
    Maybe best thing Yammer brought to MS is the becoming a monthly updating web company...

    • Wictor said Reply

      Yes, it's not perfect yet, but very very close.

      Love this: "To avoid the confusion, make up your mind Microsoft, kick out Yammer or integrate it with Office365 fully. You've had 2.5 year time!"

  • Fernando said Reply

    I think it is irresponsible to say that teams sites are done. The enterprise works the way it works and as many have pointed out site policies and ECM have a big role to play, which is why there is still on premise SP coming.
    Groups is a double edge sword, because we spend all this time with IA and metadata tagging and encourages users to just handle documents without really understanding why they are creating the document and how it will be consumed later.
    Sure in a perfect world, everyone would adopt tech as fast as it comes out, but there is danger in consuming that right away. Unintended consequences of group proliferation and unstructured data in an enterprise can cripple it.
    Groups is another layer that we will have to manage and contend with.
    Sure the tech is awesome, but there is such a thing as technology credit too.

    • Wictor said Reply

      Fernando, thank you for reading this and giving your opinion.
      From my perspective I think it is irresponsible to neglect change. From where I see it you have to adapt and learn to thrive and survive. Currently the consumerization of enterprise products are one of the biggest changes the old software companies have. I love the fact that Microsoft has understood this. Yes, they switched gears to fast and have some clean up to do. But they are currently doing almost everything right.
      With regards to Team Sites, yes there will be a few cases where you need them.
      And with regards to management/governance of Groups there are a lot to wish for, but with the speed we're seeing now it's just around the corner. And believe me, MS understands this more than anyone else...

  • Fernando said Reply

    Wictor, thank you for replying to me. This is an interesting conversation and one that fascinates me. I will say this, change for the sake of change is not productive. Always remember that SharePoint is not a tool that solves broken processes and group or delve will not fix them.
    I never said I was change adverse, on the contrary, I consider myself an early adopter of technology. However, there is a big difference between saying that Team sites are dead and assuming I meant I was neglecting change. When a respected technologist calls for the death of something so intrinsic to SharePoint based only on demos and first looks, it is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Let's not forget infopath is supposed to be dead, yet here we are supporting till 2023.
    Microsoft may understand the consumerization of enterprise products but they too make mistakes. If it is your job to drink the cool aid then, then i totally understand your position. You may have noticed that Microsoft did indeed change their position on cloud first to hybrid environment. This leads me to believe that these new technologies might change in the next couple of months to fit the different needs of businesses.
    The point I am trying to make is that nothing is dead. Everything seems to have a place and there seems to be a place for everything. Yes, let's embrace change, but let's not forget what it takes to bring about that change. Technology may move as fast as the speed of light, but businesses need to build the vehicle that allows it travel there.
    Lastly, I hope you take this as a spirited debate with much respect.

    nando

    • Wictor said Reply

      Thanks Fernando, I do respect your opinion as well as I do respect everyone else in this thread. But there are two sides to the coin.
      Yes, Groups have quite a long way to go, and I know people heavily invested in building provisioning solutions for Team Sites are fairly safe for the time being, just as you're still safe building InfoPath forms for quite some time. With that said, there's not much innovation going on in InfoPath these days, and I wouldn't say that much has happened to STS#0 the last 2 releases.
      Groups, as stated in my original post, comes from another direction and fits a gap which we have been trying to solve with SharePoint Team Sites for a couple of years, didn't fly well. You remember the Document Workspace or Meeting Workspace - people loved them, used them and some still do - but they are dead! Well, you can get them to work, but they are dead....Zombies might be a better word then.

      With that - would you prefer me saying the Team Sites are Zombies :-)

      • Anders Rask said Reply

        If anyone ever loved Meeting Workspaces they should be *SLAPPED* *HARD* :)
        Worst templates ever, both in terms of migration and the horribly written code behind that even infested SPList and SPListItem with properties

  • Fernando said Reply

    LOL, zombies is a strong word.
    I would equate Team Sites to upper management, mostly needed but if done incorrectly represent just another layer of red tape and bureaucracy.

  • Ove Bristrand said Reply

    I realy like what the groups feature can be once it is more than a beta-version.

    I see some great obstacles introducing the Groups feature in present beta-version.

    The largest obstacle is lack of archiving, backup/restore, migration and the major issue is block from deleting Groups.

    At present their is no way of recovering a deleted Group as far as I have found. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    Groups are also visible in the GAL in Exchange so beware what you name the group, it would not be good if HR names the group "Layoffs 2015"!

    I have a few other needed improvements if I can truly justify the use of Groups for business critical information.

    As I started my post am I confident that it will be a very good feature once it is more developed. I will be chearing and horn-tooting when Groups are more secure.

  • Anders Rask said Reply

    So far my experience with O365 groups have been a bit 'meh'.
    It of course be better with the Delve integration, but the sites our customers typically create for team sites contains custom lists with data from LOB systems along with documents with "custom" content types as a bare minimum.
    Groups as they are now are pretty much useless for anything but very basic ad-hoc collab scenarios IMO.
    But that said, I *do* see their future potential when they are more mature.

  • Denis said Reply

    Hello how are you?

    I was watching your articles, and I saw an article mostrantando authentication in sharepoint online. I am trying to create a hybrid app and is introducing an error when authenticating: Invalid STS request.

    Could you help me with this issue?

    Since already thank you for your attention.

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About Wictor...

Wictor Wilén is the Nordic Digital Workplace Lead working at Avanade. Wictor has achieved the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) - SharePoint  and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) - SharePoint 2010 certifications. He has also been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for seven consecutive years.

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