Sometimes employees in organizations that have rolled out both SharePoint and OneDrive for Business get questions like “Why do we have to use both SharePoint and OneDrive for Business?” These kinds of questions suggest that there is confusion as to when and why a user might use SharePoint instead of (or with) OneDrive for Business. This article is meant to help explain a few of the popular reasons for why SharePoint should sometimes be used.

The answer isn’t easy. As evidenced by the recent 50+ response Yammer discussion in the Office 365 Network under “Driving Office 365 Adoption”.

The historic high level guidance sounds something like this:

If you are doing something that is personal where the owner of the document is an individual (you) then store that in OneDrive for Business. If the owner of the document requires a team (shared ownership) put it in SharePoint (or where appropriate in an Office 365 Group).

Yet that doesn’t communicate the benefits or reasons to a user. It helps them understand that ownership plays a role (and that is important) but it may not communicate why there is value in storing a document in SharePoint instead of storing a document in OneDrive for Business.

7 Key SharePoint’s Benefits

If your organization has deployed both SharePoint and OneDrive for Business than it’s important for you to communicate and understand the benefits SharePoint may provide. Here is a listing of a few of the most popular benefits that may resonate with different kinds of employees, champions and leaders in your organization.

1. Security & Permissions Made Easier

SharePoint provides the ability to have shared security that can be inherited. For some users managing permissions can be extremely challenging. By using a shared site they might be able to take advantage of that site’s permission, groups and membership to avoid additional permission management effort in OneDrive for Business.

2. Workflows Are Made Possible

SharePoint supports workflows such as approval workflows that help improve document processes, visibility and can even remind users that they need to still provide feedback.

3. Advanced Information Management

SharePoint provides content types, and metadata in the form of columns that can be leveraged to make documents both easier to find, and potentially be leveraged for workflows or conditional formatting/styling work.

Shared Metadata Management
These advanced information management capabilities are often shared in a SharePoint site and so ownership of managing term sets or setting up the metadata may be something the user can avoid or have someone else deal with for them since it’s a shared responsibility.

Version & Publishing
In many cases version is activated in other sites and even publishing approaches can be leveraged (minor versus major versions). While this is possible in OneDrive for Business often users have not explored these settings.

Content Organiser & Document IDs
For some organizations that have advanced document management needs you may be able to upload your document to one location and based on the metadata you provide it may be automatically placed in the appropriate location. This further simplifies the experience of ‘finding the place documents should be shared/stored’. Additionally having a consistent document ID (with improvements coming in SharePoint 2016) this makes it easier to reference the document and enables other advanced management scenarios.

Document Sets
Document sets can be a great way of creating collections of documents based on templates (default documents). For example, if your organization has standard templates that you use for things like contracts, or if you have branded templates that you use for specific types of communication, you can upload these when you configure the document set. Now all new document sets will contain those documents. It can also help when interacting with a collection of documents with workflows or to share metadata synchronized to all documents in a set.

External Metadata Management
One other consideration here is that SharePoint supports external data values via business connectivity services which can make it so a user doesn’t have to manage the collection of terms or values being leveraged.

4. Shared Views

SharePoint provides not just metadata but multiple views which can render collections of documents based on preferred sort orders and filters. This can greatly improve navigation of document collections.

5. Styled & Customized

SharePoint can be branded and customized (if you choose) to provide different user experiences that can support document management. From complex styled search based roll ups to simply adding conditional formatting to a libraries content based on metadata field values.

6. Connected & Related Lists

SharePoint can provide lists which can be connected or tied to the document metadata or serve as an alternative where appropriate for an excel sheet. Having this in the same location as related documents is a benefit that should be considered when lists apply to a related business need.

7. Improved Compliance

This may not be as interesting to all users, but it matters a lot for the organization.

Auditing
By having a structured location being audited versus an entire OneDrive for Business it can greatly simplify and improve the auditing experience for administrators.

User Lifecycle
Another significant consideration is that OneDrive content is tied to the user account. So when the user leaves it may be necessary to migrate files from their OneDrive to another location for future reference.

Content Examples

Users often also want examples. If at all possible provide ‘best of class’ examples or be an example yourself with how you use OneDrive for Business and SharePoint and lead by example.

Here is a short listing of example documents that typically get stored in OneDrive for Business:

  • Draft documents not yet ready for team ownership.
  • My notes (where there isn’t a need for shared ownership – example customer notes should be shared in a different place).
  • My presentations (where the presentation is either personal, or isn’t something where you want to risk losing ownership).

And here are those that typically get stored in team based environments like SharePoint:

  • Policies, Procedures & Records
  • Contracts & Proposals
  • Project Plans & Status Reports
  • Financial, Sales, Marketing, Client & Technical Documents

Recommended Resources & Further Reading:

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