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3 Key Questions for Choosing Communication Sites or Office 365 Groups

Sarah Buruin Sarah Buruin  |  
Jun 12, 2018
 
In the last few years, Office 365 has added and updated new features and products at what feels like a breakneck pace. It’s left many of us in the SharePoint community trying to understand how to handle this new world and stay on track using the right new features and technologies.

Thinking this should just not be that hard to decipher, I went through an exercise of diagramming some simple questions that could be asked to help make sense of when to use the different workloads. I focused on some core document management and collaboration workloads in Office 365 - SharePoint Online, Office 365 Groups, and OneDrive.

Below are the major questions in my process. However, since we are all different in our goals, cultures and point in our Office 365 journey, I won't supply a one-size-fits-all answer to the questions. This is meant to be a reusable pattern for creating your own decision diagram.
 

First: Who is your audience?

This question should tell you a lot. It helps you create a strategy of using workloads based on thinking about your audience first. I think we can all be guilty in the IT world of thinking technology first, but we serve our teams best when we really think about if our choices match our end users.

Is the content you are sharing for:
 
  • All employees?
  • All managers?
  • All of IT?
  • A project team?
  • A committee?
  • A specific role across multiple organizational units?
  • A specific technology or interest?
  • One individual?
The answer to this question, plus taking your unique organization into account, will point to your best option. Should you train users to store and share from OneDrive for Business? Create Communication Hubs for a small team to share to the larger organization? Or are Office Groups best? There are some features of Office 365 such as OneDrive for Business that have a specific goal, in this case storage of an individual's documents.
 
office 365 planning diagram
 

Second: What is your content's goal?

If, based on the first question, you are unsure what the best option is, then use this second question to further drill down to what fits. At this point, you need to understand what you are creating or replacing. Are you attempting to reduce mass emails or create a better place for project teams to collaborate?

Is the purpose of the content for:
 
  • Collaboration with one or two people?
  • Collaboration with a team (as listed in the first question about audience)?
  • Communication from specific communicators to the whole organization?
  • Communication from a small team to a larger group based on role?
 

Third: What other features do your users need to do their job related to this content?

At this stage, you don't need a ton of knowledge of the exact content. However, you do need to know two things:
 
  1. Is the area you are creating focused only on document storage and management?
  2. Or is part of the goal of your new space to have a team work together in other ways in one place?
Further, does the team using the content you are sharing also need:
 
  • Chat?
  • Shared Email?
  • Shared Calendar?
  • Shared Task planning?
  • Videos?
  • Links?
If so, make sure you don't ignore these key needs. If these are important to your team's success, then you should consider Office 365 Groups. You may also want to extend that by connecting them to a Microsoft Team or Planner.

Have your team answer the questions to create a consistent strategy. Doing so will ensure similar content is managed in a similar way, and you will be going far to help your end users search and navigate your systems.
 
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