Microsoft Teams versus Team Sites, who's going to win?

Since Microsoft announced Teams some time ago, many of our customers are still getting increasingly confused not just by naming of the new tool but also where is Microsoft going with the concept of Team Sites in SharePoint. Are they going away? Are they morphing into something else?

To help with answer to this question let’s take a look at both tools.


Let’s face it, Teams is essentially Slack’s functionality, give or take, but from Microsoft.

Slack has been gaining increased popularity over the past few years among small teams. On a surface, it allows your teams to chat without restriction and yet provides set of tools to turn that chat into an organized and somewhat structured format. It's as if someone took an idea of chat and started building little tools and widgets to organize and facilitate this chat. But there is more to that, in a minute.

Team Sites

Microsoft Team Sites, well, is completely different. Team Sites come from the angle that information needs to be structured from the beginning. Natural direction since SharePoint has it's roots in corporate, structured communications. There is no aimless chat on team sites; it’s either documents, lists for some tracking, some official announcements etc. Again, that’s on a surface.

Technically, if I was to land on a Team Site, I would have access to all of the pre-cooked information. Teams, on the other hand, is the kitchen where bunch of data is cooing and brewing.

So what’s going on?

It depends how the work is getting done in your company.

Are you brainstorming or making a decision individually?

If you’re a team of marketers brainstorming social media campaign together – you’ll likely to chose Teams. It’s instant, you can share all sorts of media and you can always go back into the conversation and see how the strategy evolved.

Now, if you need to present your deliverables or decisions to the customer or a vendor and get their feedback, you’ll likely want to use a Team Site provided they have access to one.

See the difference: brainstorming versus structured work.

Teams are built for brainstorming among individuals, Sites are built for delivering individual work within a team.

It's down to your company's culture and the process you're trying to simplify. Ask yourself, "do we brainstorm or do we work offline and then share ideas with others". In some cases you might have a combo of the two, where you'll use Teams as a workspace and Team Site for final deliverables.

The other side of the coin

What about customizations and enhancements? Microsoft has always been known in a development community as a company which enables customizations and enhancements to their products. This is kindof the case with Teams, but not what you're used to in Team Sites.

It’s not surprising. In a way, Teams, just as many of Microsoft’s new products is built in a “startup mode”, build something small but viable, see what people think, do more … or not.

Can we expect more enhancements in the future?

Maybe, depends how people react to Teams and what they need. Make no mistake, however, enhancements, if any to be allowed in a future, will be very limited to apps and connector type integrations. It’s not likely for Microsoft to let you do things you’re used to doing in Team Sites where you can customize the whole interface and change the shape of pages. In essence, it’ll be like Skype, or Microsoft Word etc.

What about Team Sites?

Team Sites are used in many organizations especially on-premises. With Microsoft’s recent revamp to how Team Sites function, we can be fairly confident they’ll stick around for a long time.

Have you decided on Teams versus Team Sites yet?

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy has been Microsoft MVP for 8 years and speaker at many local and worldwide tech events. Several of Yaroslav's books include: Rapid SharePoint 2013 development, Top 60 custom solutions built on SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2010 branding in practice, and SharePoint and PowerShell Expert Cookbook.