Do I need an Office 365 Group or a Microsoft Team?

by | Mar 12, 2019 | News, Provisioning

The most asked question in the Modern Office 365 world has to be the one about Groups vs Teams.

Which should you use? Is one better than the other?

The Egyptians Knew Best

Fundamentally, the Groups vs Teams debate is a little bit moot. It is not really a ‘versus’ situation. They are complimentary. Teams are built ‘on top’ of Groups. Groups are a foundation layer in many constructs within Office 365 with Teams being no exception.

Microsoft would describe the Office 365 Group as the cross-application membership service for Office 365. From a super macro perspective, it is an Azure AAD security object that has a list of members (users, groups) that has coupling to other Office 365 services (SPO team site, Yammer Group, shared EXO mailbox, etc.).

When you create a Teams Team you are provisioning a Group and the bolting further functionality (think other Office 365 services or ‘workloads’ as Microsoft has taken to calling them) which includes chat, voice services (think ‘Skype’) and a whizzy UI that creates the UX of teams – wide-reaching focused collaboration.

Decisions, Decisions

So which makes sense for your collaboration scenario? It depends.

If you are looking for massive scale (i.e. across the entire Enterprise) then Office 365 Groups are (currently) the way to go. Teams have some inherent scale limitations which make them ideal for focused ‘project based’ working but not so good for cross business ‘where should we hold the Christmas party?’ collaboration.

If you’re workforce is very Outlook centric then Groups will work well for you. Tight integration into Outlook makes the user experience simple for Outlook familiar users. Teams requires either an app or the use of the web client.

If synchronous (voice, video, chat) collaboration is part of your world then this is where Teams steps up. Seamless integration into the telephony stack (currently Skype for Business but soon to become ‘Teams’ also) means that voice and video are effortlessly integrated with Slack like chat also being part of the delivery meaning that you can stay away from Yammer if you so desire.

Finally, the ubiquitous nature of Teams cannot be ignored. Teams can be accessed over the web (or via the app) from a single unified UI without the user having to bounce around between the different UI elements of a Group. Furthermore multiple Teams (based on those you can access from the signed in user) can be accessed from within the UI making for a Slack like experience. This greatly simplifies the adoption of Teams, especially for frontline workers.

Dirty Future

Teams is (at the time of writing) the current Microsoft darling. Internally, driving consumption of Teams is the current hot potato, and why shouldn’t it be? Previously organisations drove most of their asynchronous collaboration through SharePoint sites but that is small beans for Microsoft. They want to drive all of the services that a Team encourages you to use as consumption is king.

Expect to see great things with Teams as it matures. Microsoft seem to have finally grasped what collaboration actually is and we would expect to see some great advances over the coming months.

Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

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