Last week, I tuned in to Collab365’s Live Show, where the hosts and two special guests discussed Office 365 groups.
I’ve outlined some of the key points I took away from the show below:
- What is Office 365 Groups?
Office 365’s blog defines Groups as a “cross-application membership service” that allows people “to move naturally from one collaboration tool to another.” Essentially, it integrates the best parts of all of Microsoft’s other collaboration tools, such as Exchange, Skype for Business, FileMaker, and Microsoft Teams, into one place. Groups gives you and your team members access to a SharePoint site, document library, planner, notebook, and distribution group.
- How does it differ from Microsoft Teams?Microsoft Teams is a microservice that is used for chatting and is only one of the many components of Office 365 Groups. When you combine these different microservices (such as Exchange Calendar, Teams, etc.) together, you get Groups. It’s a little confusing, but this graphic and blog post from AvePoint help explain how the two work together. To put it as simply as possible, Groups is more of a long-term/email–friendly solution to collaboration and Microsoft Teams is more the instant/chat friendly solution to collaboration.
- How can you use Groups with SharePoint?Groups helps simplify SharePoint. As we all know, SharePoint can be really confusing. You have to put a lot of effort into making it useful, and even then, users spend a lot of time troubleshooting or playing around with the application. Groups is more intuitive, which in turn increases productivity and eases frustrations. And when you create a Group in Office 365, you automatically get a SharePoint Team Site.
- Why should you use Groups?Groups is pretty easy to understand and there isn’t a big learning curve. Groups essentially brings together all the best parts of those microservices I mentioned earlier, so if you’ve used Microsoft products in the past, you should get the hang of it relatively quickly. Groups knows that, for example, Exchange isn’t as good for conversations as Skype for Business, so it does not utilize Exchange as a chat room. Additionally, Groups supports external users (unlike Teams), and it’s very easy to see who all is in a Group (unlike SharePoint).
- Are there any reasons why you shouldn’t use Groups?It depends on the scope of your project. The webinar talked a lot about structured vs. ad hoc development. SharePoint is better for structured development, or a complex and intricate project that will take a lot of time and is a big investment; on the other hand, Groups is good for ad hoc development, or short, quick projects that oftentimes only require minor fixes. There are pros and cons to using Groups, but overall, Groups is really great for productivity and getting things done quickly and more efficiently. You don’t have to wait for permissions requests to come through.
Echoing the Collab365 team, I think it’s important for developers to get the hang of Office 365 Groups because it is quickly becoming the future of collaboration. Microsoft is spending a lot of energy and resources promoting the tool, which shows just how big of a role they envision it playing in the world of development.
If you’re interested in watching the full Collab365 Live Show about Office 365 Groups, you can create an account and access the video here.