How Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online Work Together

Grace Windsor
By | Updated May 7, 2021 | 11 min read
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User adoption of Microsoft Teams continues to accelerate with 115 million daily users recorded in October 2020.


Get a dedicated team channel for projects and programs with Microsoft Teams and BrightWork 365 


Teams is a collaboration hub for project teams, bringing together various Microsoft 356 apps into one, easy-to-use platform.

The relationship between Teams and Microsoft 356 apps, especially SharePoint Online (SPO), can get confusing.

Users may be unsure which tool to use and when, or if they even need both platforms.

The simple answer is Teams and SharePoint Online work together as SPO powers document management in Teams.

This article delves into the relationship between Teams and SPO a little deeper. We’ll also cover how to manage files in Teams and how to combine a SharePoint On-Premises project site with Teams.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a collaboration hub, providing users with key capabilities like:

  • Real-time chat and messaging
  • Video meetings for up to 250 people
  • Live events for up to 10,000 people
  • Cloud calling
  • Document storage
  • Task Management
  • Real-time co-editing
  • Integration with third-party apps and connectors
  • Search
  • Public or private channels
  • Robust security and privacy capabilities.


Teams will replace Skype for Business by July 31st, 2021.

Teams has two key elements:

  1. Individual teams, a collection of people, conversations, files, and tools.
  2. Public or Private Channels within a team. These are typically focused on a particular topic like a project.


Microsoft Teams Teams and Channels


Every Team has:

  • A SharePoint Online Team Site for document management
  • A Microsoft 365 Group
  • An Exchange mailbox and a shared calendar
  • Planner
  • A Notebook in OneNote.

What is SharePoint Online?

First launched in 2001, SharePoint is a high-configurable platform used by organizations to build intranets, manage documents, and collaborate in a secure environment.

SharePoint is available as an On-Premises installation or as a cloud-based solution.

  • SharePoint On-Premises is either hosted on local servers, maintained by an organization’s IT team, or in a private cloud. Organizations retain full control over configurations, updates, and data protection.
  • SharePoint Online (SPO) is a cloud-based version of SharePoint, hosted by Microsoft.


SPO offers two site templates:

  • A Communicate Site, ideal for organizational news and updates.
  • A Team Site, used for collaboration within a team or department or during a project.


Although SharePoint has multiple business applications, the platform is commonly used for document and information management.

For project teams, a SharePoint document library is a must-have communication tool. In addition to storing all project information in one place, a SharePoint library allows users to:

  • Co-edit documents in real-time.
  • Manage quality with version control.
  • Share files using links instead of emails.
  • Add workflows for approvals and feedback. review processes.
  • Leverage metadata for quick searches.


SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams: Files and Chat

Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online are two different platforms that work together.

SharePoint Online powers document management in Microsoft Teams.

Team members can work on documents in SharePoint or Teams, with updates instantly synced between the two platforms.

Microsoft Teams Document Library

A document library in a Teams channel


Microsoft Teams Document Library SharePoint

The same library in the associated SPO site


SharePoint Online also underpins OneDrive for Business, which in turn, powers chat (1:1 and 1:many) in Teams.

OneDrive is a single document library stored in a single SharePoint site collection.

It’s ideal for storing documents that you don’t want to share with a wider group.

Any files shared in a private Teams Chat are stored in OneDrive in a folder called ‘Microsoft Team Chat Files’.

Given how OneDrive permissions and archiving works, it’s better to store files in Teams and share a link to that file in a chat rather than sharing files in chats only.

It is possible to use Teams without SharePoint Online; however, users can share files in standard channels only.

Likewise, users will not be able to share files in private chats as OneDrive requires SharePoint Online.

Although Teams does not integrate with SharePoint On-Premises, you can easily add a link to your SharePoint project site to a channel in Teams. We’ll take a closer look at how this works later on.

As you can see, Teams and SharePoint work better together with each offering functionality not available in the other platform.

Teams is your collaboration and communication hub with video meetings, chat, conversations, and more.

SharePoint is your tool for managing files and information.

Now that we’ve covered how Teams and SharePoint Online work together, let’s take a closer look at document management in Teams.

Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, and Document Management

Every Team has an associated SharePoint site, including a document library.

Any files uploaded to or created in Teams are stored in the SharePoint document library, not Teams.

That said, it doesn’t matter if you upload files to a Team or the related SharePoint document library; the files are accessible in both applications.

Every Team has a default channel, General, which cannot be deleted or renamed. Files stored in the General channel are stored in the General document library in SharePoint.


Microsoft Teams Document Library General Files Tab


When you add a Public Channel to a Team, a folder for that channel is also added to the SharePoint document library.


Microsoft Teams Channels

Microsoft Teams Channels


Files stored in a particular Teams channel are stored in the associated document library.

Microsoft Teams Channels Document Library SharePoint


The name and file path of the folder is based on the name of the channel. Whilst you can change the name of the channel as often as you like, the underlying file path remains the same.

A Private Channel is a little different. Private Channels have a separate lightweight SharePoint site collection with a separate document library.

Users, including the team owner, must be invited to a private channel. Non-members will not know the channel exists!

Before creating a private channel, it’s worth noting a private channel cannot be switched to a public channel later on. Depending on your goals and requirements, a private team may offer a better alternative.

In terms of permissions, Teams uses the principle of security trimming found throughout Microsoft 365 products.

Users can view and search for content they have access to. When a user is added to or removed from a Team, they gain or lose access to the underlying SharePoint site, including documents.

Microsoft recently introduced a new file sharing experience that allows users to create a sharable link and set permissions for any files in Teams.

Now we’ve covered the relationship between Teams and SharePoint, let’s see how to manage your project documents in Teams.


Working with Documents in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft wants to align the document management experience in Teams with SharePoint Online.

If you’re familiar with SharePoint Online, you’ll get up and running with the Files tab in a Team site in no time.

There are a few ways to find your documents in Teams:

  • Look for the ‘Files’ tab in the relevant channel in a Team.
  • Click ‘Files’ in the left-hand navigation for recently accessed files.
  • Filter search results by file. Refine results further by team, file type, and modified by.


File filter options Microsoft Teams


Using the File tab, you can:

  • Upload existing files and folders.
  • Create a new folder or file (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote).
  • Sync files to your desktop for quick access.
  • Open and work with files in SharePoint.
  • Move or copy files between folders, channels, or Teams.
  • Copy and share links to documents.
  • Open, edit, and save a file in Teams, in your browser, or on your desktop.
  • Co-edit documents in real-time.
  • Start a conversation about a document.
  • Add comments to a document.
  • Bookmark important files within a library with the ‘Pin to Top’ option.
  • List documents as a tab within a channel so they are easier to find.
  • Add existing SharePoint document libraries to a team.


With this comprehensive document management experience, your project team can easily collaborate and move work forward, no matter when or where they work.

Using BrightWork 365 with Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online

BrightWork 365, a project and portfolio management solution, deployed on the Microsoft Power Platform in your Microsoft 365 cloud environment, leverages apps like SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams for document management and collaboration.


BrightWork 365 and SharePoint Online

BrightWork 365 uses SharePoint Online for document management. Users can upload or create a new Word, Excel, or PowerPoint file, or add a new OneNote Notebook to the project to the project site.

For editing options such as link sharing, permissions, and version control, simply open the relevant SharePoint Online library from the project site. All changes are synced instantly in your BrightWork 365 site.


BrightWork 365 and Microsoft Teams

BrightWork 365 integrates seamlessly with Microsoft Teams – no need to add links to an external site or switch between apps. In BrightWork 365, every program has a dedicated Microsoft Team. Every project within the program has a channel within the Team.

To see BrightWork 365 in action, check out this short video demo

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Grace Windsor
Grace Windsor

Grace is a content creator within the marketing team at BrightWork. She loves creating actionable content in different formats to help others achieve more project success. Grace spent far too long at university studying English literature, which instilled a life-long love of learning and upskilling. In her free time, she enjoys a challenging session at the gym, tucking into a good book, and walking the beautiful Galway coastline with her dog.

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