The wait is nearly over for SharePoint Online subscribers who have been anticipating the integration of SharePoint Team Sites with Office 365 Groups.
Mark Kashman, a senior product manager on Microsoft's SharePoint team, said in a blog post Monday that Microsoft would start rolling out the capability — which was promised in August — to SharePoint Online subscribers tomorrow. All SharePoint Online subscribers worldwide should have it by the end of the month.
The new integration promises to streamline and improve the way teams communicate across enterprises.
Team Sites Or Groups?
The integration of Team Sites and Office 365 Groups is one of the most eagerly awaited additions to the Office 365 and SharePoint environments. It dovetails with Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s intention to simplify the SharePoint experience without oversimplifying functionality.
It also resolves one of the more puzzling questions about the relationships between SharePoint and Office 365 and why it developed Groups when it had something similar in Team Sites already.
Team Sites is one of the most popular collaborative elements of SharePoint, enabling workers in different teams to communicate and work on joint projects.
Specifically, team site provides collaborative functionality to teams that are involved in projects that can span multiple locations and time zones by providing an internal website where teams can chat, share updates and work on documents in real time from the SharePoint document library feature.
It also connects to OneDrive so that teams can access any content that is stored there.
The problem is that's a very large hammer to break the tiny nut of small team communication and collaboration.
Groups solves this by offering a scaled down version of Team Sites, enabling teams to create a simplified versions of team websites. But when the Groups get bigger and more resource-heavy, then everything needs to be transferred to a Team Site.
Integrating Groups, Team Sites
By integrating the two, Microsoft has effectively solved the problem of selecting a tool. The integration will even works retrospectively.
Once a work team creates a Group, it will also automatically get a Team Site. The new sites have also been optimized for Microsoft’s mobile apps.
Starting tomorrow when Office 365 Group users set up a Group they will get a shared inbox, calendar, OneNote notebook, a Planner for task management — and now, a full-powered SharePoint team site. Existing Groups will also be updated with their own team sites
The roll out also means a new home page, a News feature for highlighting important content in the team, and the Activity web part for showing recently active content.
The integration is a step forward in making SharePoint accessible and easier-to-use — a promise Microsoft made way back at its Ignite conference in 2015.
It will continue to simplify SharePoint over the coming months with several new releases offering improvements in the way Publishing Sites are created and Web Parts for News items and Publishing Pages.
It will also be easier to upload content, and enhanced portals creation.
The Yammer integration with Office 365 Groups is also on the horizon, although when exactly this will happen is unclear.
On the Microsoft FastTrack Roadmap page, the Yammer integration now falls into the "Development and Testing" page, which notes:
“Yammer's complete integration will take significant development efforts and will be rolling out over time. In the initial launch, all Yammers networks that have enforced O365 identity, in a 1:1 state will be provisioned via AAD (Azure Active Directory) with integrated access to a SharePoint team site, a SharePoint document library, a OneNote notebook and Planner for task management.”
The Yammer integration will another major step toward pulling all of Microsoft’s productivity apps together and streamlining connections.