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How to effectively communicate and collaborate in Office 365

There are many ways to collaborate and communicate in Office 365.  Exchange Online (EXO) and SharePoint Online (SPO) and Yammer and Office Groups and Skype for Business and Office Video and OneDrive for Business (ODFB), oh my!  We all know how and when to use Email and IM but what about all these other workstreams?  How do you decide what tool is right for your organization, for your project, for your team, and for your department?
Good news, I have a plan for you.
First, OneDrive for Business is not designed to be a collaboration tool.  Yes, you can share from your OneDrive but the primary value of OneDrive for Business is storing files you want to share with yourself (across multiple devices) or that have limited audiences or lifecycle. ODFB is geared towards individual storage, and security is by default trimmed for personal access only.  It’s a good place for your personal files or files that are in draft and not yet intellectual  property.  Trying to use ODFB for teams, projects, or department shares is not a good idea and will make it tough on end users and therefore you’ll see low adoption.  I know the 1TB storage is tempting, but don’t do it.  Back away from ODFB for collaboration.
SharePoint is the Cadillac of collaboration tools.  Departments that require in-depth, full-featured collaboration should use SharePoint.  End users have the option to use workflow, audit trails, full-text search, compliance features, records management and much more. This service is ideal for working on projects, storing data and documents in a central location, and sharing information with others that require a full-featured experience. It’s the combination of traditional content management, social capabilities, and powerful search.  Because of all of the features, it requires a site owner, site administration and knowhow.
But what if you just need to collaborate but don’t need all the extra bells and whistles? Use Office Groups.
Groups simplifies collaboration by giving the group a little piece of EXO, a little piece of SharePoint, and a OneNote.  When you create a Group you get a shared mailbox and calendar from EXO and a file library from SharePoint.  It’s “collaboration lite”.  If SharePoint is the Cadillac of collaboration tools with a sunroof and Bluetooth, Groups is the golf cart.  It gets you from point A to B, it’s easy to drive, but there’s only 2 seats and a steering wheel on the inside.  This is great for teams and project that just need somewhere to have conversations and store pertinent info without the overhead of site administration.
Yammer is a private social network that helps you connect to a group or several groups (not to be confused with Office Groups!) of people, share information across teams, and organization-wide. Only people from your organization can join, so your communications on Yammer are secure and visible only to people who are a part of it.  It’s in essence very social.  Use it to welcome new employees to the organization, praise your teammate, or post a message to the entire organization.  It’s yet another UI so it may be a tough sell to your end users but you can use the Yammer webpart in SharePoint for more visibility and MSFT is working on integration with Office Groups as well.
The first of the Next Gen Portals, Office 365 Video is a new way to communicate.  It provides organizations with a way to securely distribute company-wide video content. Use Video to effectively improve internal communications by, for example, posting videos for onboarding new employees, training videos, or a message from the CEO to the organization.
Now that I have what feels like 15 different places to store my files, how can I possibly find it all?
Answer: Delve!
I’ll be diving into Delve’s features and functionality soon.  Stay tuned!
Did you find this article helpful?  If so, please leave a comment below.  If you are interested in more information on SharePoint or Office 365 you can view my previous posts here:  Erin Zapata

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Erin Zapata

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