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.
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