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Microsoft Office 365 OneDrive vs. SharePoint Sites

Posted by Amber Vogel on Oct 30, 2015 4:45:21 PM

Planning for Microsoft Office 365 involves more than just moving emails and documents from one server to another.This transition provides an opportunity to re-organize, categorize and classify documents personally and professionally across the organization. 

The most common questions I get asked in planning for Microsoft Office 365 are:

  • What is the different between OneDrive for Business and Sites?
  • When and how should I use one or the other?

If I do not get asked this question I always ask it because organizations tend to use Microsoft OneDrive for Business as a catch all without understanding the ramifications or business process limitations they will face long term.

The following are considerations to talk through when deciding where documents should live and how to interact with them:

  • What is the structure of your documents today? Are they hard to find, is a document stored in more than one place, are they still relevant?
  • Where do all of your documents live today? Are there multiple locations, systems, rules?
  • Who has access to what documents?
  • How do I differentiate between my working documents and shared documents?
  • How can I use metadata tags to categorize documents and refine search results?
  • How do my users create, store, edit, collaborate, and discard documents today? What is the business process today and how can we improve it going forward?

Technically there are no differences between storing documents in Microsoft OneDrive vs Sites. Functionally how you store them and the business process to support the workflow will drive how and when you use one or another. Here are some tips, observations, and terminology that will help support planning and decisions.

· Personal, My Documents, Desktop

· Company/Enterprise Collaboration Tool

· Microsoft Version of Drop Box

· Multiple sites, Unique business requirements

· Setup controlled by local user

· Controlled by central administrator(s)

· Owner selects what to share with other users

· Varying levels of security established by the Company/Enterprise

· Only files and folders

· Intranet (tasks, calendar, events, contacts, discussions, etc…)

· Limited scope or life cycle

· Long term document management/archive

The process flow graphic included with this post provides a simple walk through to help users determine where to put the documents. However, the determination may warrant more discussion and planning depending on the complexity of the business process and how many other users are involved. You may find that a document belongs in OneDrive initially but as the importance or relevance of the document changes it makes sense to move it into Sites. This is a simple process, either copy and paste, or drag and drop using file explorer. Both of these tools are designed to be flexible and adapt to changes in your business.

I hope this article sparked a conversation in your planning discussion on how to organize documents as well as informed you on the difference between these two tools. If you have any questions about Microsoft OneDrive or Microsoft SharePoint, feel free to contact us. 

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Topics: Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft SharePoint

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