The world has experienced many changes over the last few years, and this has been mirrored in the work setting with a massive increase in remote working. This huge rise – due to the global pandemic – has caused the popularity of communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to grow into household names. Initially business owners were drawn to Teams by their need to implement a video conferencing solution to keep remote workforces connected, but they soon recognized that Teams is so much more than a video conferencing/instant messaging application.
Teams is a relatively new product to the Microsoft Suite of tools. Now regarded as one of Microsoft 365’s core platforms and integrating seamlessly within the Microsoft 365 ecosystem, Teams provides a base for the collaboration of your entire team, a place for sharing files, coordinating tasks, and scheduling meetings – it keeps everyone working from the same script, giving you the guarantee that everyone is working as efficiently to the same common goal.
Teams within Microsoft Teams
To use Teams effectively, you will first need to build-out a digital footprint of your business within the Teams architecture. Grouping access to files, folders, and other associated resources within Microsoft Teams all takes place within sections, identified as – yes, you’ve guessed it – ‘Teams’.
You can create Teams by functional departments such as Sales, Marketing or Purchasing, by client or by project – or any combination mix that best suit your requirements. How you do this all depends on the DNA of your business and how you choose to run things. To enable access, each team will have only appropriate users assigned to it, in the process keeping files and ‘the conversation’ related to that individual client, project or department ring-fenced to the users that require it. This ring fencing is important – you wouldn’t, for example, want a new trainee having access to a sensitive conversation/ file regarding an upcoming merger or perhaps regarding an appraisal of one of their colleagues.
A Channel is a subdivision of a team and a place for more focused conversation on a less broad subject. Channels can be made accessible to all team members, or you can choose to make an individual channel private. This is useful for implementing the ‘need to know’ principle.
When you create a Team within MS Teams, a corresponding SharePoint Site is automatically configured. Subsequently, creating a Channel within the Team will automatically launch a corresponding subfolder within the associated SharePoint site. In less technical terms, what you create within Teams is effectively mirrored within SharePoint, thus saving you the hassle of having to configure each platform separately.
The permissions granted within Teams are carried over to SharePoint. This means only those with access to a particular Team or Channel will have access to the corresponding file libraries within SharePoint.
Roles and Permissions – Managing Access to Your Files
Assigning ‘roles’ to individual members of a group or team is the easiest way to manage file permissions within 365. As Microsoft Teams and SharePoint are so heavily linked, assigning a role within Teams will affect an individual’s ability to access, edit and manipulate content in the corresponding SharePoint site. There are three types of role you can assign:
Owners have full administrative control. Within SharePoint, Owners can edit, add, and remove content, and also have the ability to manage access, change the site layout, and configure settings. They are usually the most trusted and highest ranked of your employees.
Members by default are able to view, edit, and contribute to the contents of the SharePoint site. Members don’t have permission to configure the layout of a site or change any settings.
Visitors are the ones with the most restricted access. They only possess the ability to view documents and other content on the site.
Teams and Channels – Keeping Collaboration Organized
Navigating your Files within Teams
It is simple accessing the associated SharePoint site once you create a Channel within a Team site.
- Click on the Channel and then navigate to the ‘files’ tab at the top of the Teams interface.
From here you have a number of options for accessing and managing your Teams files.
Open Files within Teams
Clicking directly on your files from this location will open the document within the Teams app – either the desktop app or web variant. While this method is a quick and easy way to make changes to a document, the in-Teams versions of the Office apps usually feature limited functionality. You may want to open the file in an appropriate desktop app by clicking on ‘open in desktop app’ to get the full effect.
Sync Files to Your Local Storage
Always Sync your file storage locations to your computer, so you can access them when you don’t have an internet connection. Syncing effectively creates a backup. This can be done from within Teams by selecting ‘sync’ at the top of the files tab in the selected Channel.
This makes the chosen file library accessible via file explorer at any time – regardless of whether you have an internet connection.
Open File Libraries within SharePoint
Teams provides the option to open file libraries within SharePoint …
Additional access management
In addition to Owner, Members, and Visitor classifications, SharePoint gives content owners the ability to define access permissions at folder and individual document level too. You can allow everyone access to the entire system but only have permissions on particularly sensitive files and documents. If you want to control access to a folder, navigate to the chosen folder within SharePoint and select ‘manage access’.
A pane will then appear on the right of the window, allowing you to specify folder-specific access restrictions.
This same process can also be carried out for individual files.