OneDrive and Teams - Better together

“What Microsoft has joined, men must not divide.”

Over the previous months I’ve been delivering a lot of our Office 365 Fundamentals Workshops across different types and sizes of organisation.

As you would expect, one of the main concerns is around how users will manage their documents in Office 365 having been used to personal and network folders for as long as they can remember. Crack this nut and user adoption will be much improved, so how do we do get to that holy grail?

Get your OneDrive and Teams usage right and you could be your organisation’s Indiana Jones…

Personal folders – current state

Most of us will have a drive on our network system containing users’ personal folders. These are secure and easy to navigate via the Windows File Explorer. As it’s so simple to use and easy to manage, users can be reluctant to change; there needs to be a compelling reason to change.

Personal folders in Office 365 – best practice

Enter OneDrive for Business, flexing collaborative muscles with:

  • 1TB of storage per user
  • Browser and desktop access
  • Secure file sharing inside and outside of the organisation
  • Mobile Apps for Android™, iOS and Windows
  • SharePoint document library sync
  • Easy-to-use tools to move documents between OneDrive and Teams/SharePoint
  • OneDrive access via Teams
  • Document versioning
  • Offline access
  • Access via the traditional Windows File Explorer

So how does this work day to day?

  1. User have adequate storage capacity and we don’t have to worry about backup, tape drive capacity and data loss in the event of hardware failures or loss.
  2. Encourage users to sync their relevant SharePoint document libraries to OneDrive to make day-to-day file management simple and consistent via the OneDrive desktop experience.
  3. When users want to share documents with specific people for review, comment etc., encourage the use of the OneDrive sharing functionality – no more email attachments!
  4. Document versioning by default – say goodbye to the trauma of “file save as” or not as is the norm.

(Moving documents from OneDrive to Teams)

So why is getting OneDrive right so important?

Outside of email (and to be honest changes in the email experience following a migration to Office 365 is often negligible), users’ first foray into the world of Office 365 is OneDrive. This new world experience will have massive impact on overall adoption of Office 365, therefore, we need to give the rollout of OneDrive the utmost respect it deserves. It’s not just “folders in the cloud”, it’s critical to your overall Office 365 adoption.

Think of the product’s name and a famous quote from history.

“OneDrive is designed to for the storage of one’s documents, however occasionally one might want to share one’s documents with one’s colleagues or partners, securely and in a manner one can be sure one’s data is secure. This is OneDrive” – Tony Hughes, lots of times in 2017/2018


(OneDrive sharing)

Department/project/function folders – current state

We all know what the craic is here; folder mayhem, duplication of documents, permissions that an IT team of 20 would struggle to manage, project folder structures where half of the folders have no content, limited search functionality and continuous archiving to maintain disk space.

Department/project/function folders in Office 365 best practice

I have previously blogged about Microsoft Teams, covering its overall capabilities prior to its launch, as well as using a real-life situation to illustrate why it can replace team email. In this blog, however, I’ll concentrate on how Teams manages documents, its compatibility with OneDrive and where it sits in the organisation.

First of all, there are a couple of things to be aware of:

  1. There is no hiding in Teams. If you are a part of a Team you can see everything and contribute/edit anything, documents included (however with PowerShell magic you can change this at the Teams SharePoint site collection – but this goes against the Office 365 principals of adopt the functionality; don’t try to change the way it works out of the box). If you want confidential/limited user access areas in a team, either create a separate Team or store those documents in OneDrive and share to the relevant users.
  2. In theory, a team can store up to 25Tb of documents and data.
  3. Team documents are managed in SharePoint.

When you create a team in Microsoft Teams, several Office 365 components are created – one of these is a SharePoint site collection with one site that is associated to the team and shares the same permissions and users.

The site contains a single document library named ‘documents’; this is associated with the ‘channel’ function in the team, each time a channel (effectively a sub-team) is created in the team, an associated folder is created in the root of the document library. The ‘files’ function in the channel is simply a window from Teams onto the folder in SharePoint. This gives users the option to manage/edit their documents from either the Teams or SharePoint interface.

So how does this OneDrive and Teams functionality pan out for users?

  1. If you are creating new documents and feel they are not developed enough to share with your wider team, save the documents to OneDrive. If you want to receive input from a subset of the team members, use OneDrive sharing.
  2. When you want to share a document with the whole team, you can use the ‘files’ option from the Teams left menu option to easily move files between OneDrive and Teams/SharePoint.
  3. If you want to share a document stored in Teams with a user who is not a member of the Team, this can be achieved by using the standard SharePoint share functionality from the Teams SharePoint documents library.

Adhering to these basic principles will bring consistency to your document management process, simplify permission setup and ongoing management. All the tools are there in Office 365.

(SharePoint sharing)