Office 365 Group Anatomy

Office 365 provides many services for work teams to communicate and to collaborate together.  It can sometimes be difficult to know what to use when.  For example, to communicate with a work group, do you create a distribution list, shared mailbox, or an Office 365 Group?  It all depends on how each team will work together.  This guide breaks down the communication methods and summarizes the collaboration features to simply the decision process when choosing what kind of service to create, based on the collaboration scenario you need.

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Microsoft Exchange

Distribution Lists

Provides a single email address to distribute messages to multiple recipients.

Distribution List
Features Usge Scenarios
  • You don’t need to be a member to send to the group.
  • Send from any service or device that can send emails.
  • May allow senders from outside the company.
  • Discoverable from Outlook Address Lists.
  • Broadcast notifications to several people. (Automated Alerting & Reporting)
  • Send to a group of people. ([email protected])
  • People need to be notified together, but may not perform work together as a team.
Microsoft Exchange

Shared Mailboxes

A second mailbox (Inbox and Calendar) shared with others, in addition to the user’s primary mailbox.

Shared Mailbox
Features Usge Scenarios
  • Side-by-side with user’s primary mailbox
  • Added automatically to Outlook when user is given permissions
  • Single email address for members
  • Members can send as the shared account
  • Full Outlook mailbox with calendar
  • Deliver messages to a single inbox accessible by several people.
  • Members send/receive email and share a calendar together, but do not need to share files with each other.
Skype for Business

Real-Time Communication

Instantly chat, share screens, or call select individuals.

Features Usge Scenarios
  • Instant messaging
  • Screen sharing
  • Call people both inside and outside the company.
    (Cloud PBX and a calling plan required)
  • Visual indicator showing if the person is online or away.
  • Online meetings with screen presentations and audio.
    (PTSN Conferencing License Required)
  • Get answers quickly through online chat
  • Team conference calls
  • Company telephone system
  • Share screens to present content or remote assist others.
  • Collaborate on a document with others
  • Phone switch board and auto-attendant
  • Large meetings should use Skype Broadcast Meetings instead of Skype for Business

Enterprise Social Network

Facebook-like discussions organized into groups (Facebook Pages) with @mentions and #hashtags like Twitter.

Enterprise Social Network
Features Usge Scenarios
  • Forum-like discussions
  • Groups for business units and other communities
  • Like and Reply to posts
  • Rich previews for hyperlinks
  • Social commenting for web pages
  • Follow topics (hashtags), people, groups, or conversations
  • Communities of Practice
  • Share links and resources with others that have similar interests
  • Allows a business unit to engage with different employee groups
  • Solicit ideas from a large audience
  • Share info, knowledge or tips & tricks
  • Publish a feed with comments to an audience
  • Participate in external networks

Portals and Team Sites

Site workspaces organized by team or process used for collaboration or information publishing.

Portals and Team Sites
Features Usge Scenarios
  • Documents
    • Automatic versioning, check-in/out
    • Approval workflows
    • Metadata – subject context, status
    • Sync to devices with OneDrive
  • Web pages
    • Easy-to-use authoring canvas
    • Desktop and mobile browsers and the SharePoint App
    • Extend features using JavaScript, React, AngularJS, etc.
  • Tables/Lists
    • Structured table data
    • Create views based on rules
    • Items are individually maintained
    • Can be used to relate information with other lists and documents
  • Powerful search engine and query language
  • Workflow
  • Extend with custom or store apps
  • Company Intranet
  • Rich information/document publishing
  • Project workspaces
  • Document repositories
  • Records management
  • Extranet collaboration
  • Process automation and approvals
  • Aggregate information into a single view
Office 365 Groups

Many Services – 1 Team

Several services created together utilizing a single membership group for access.

Office 365 Group Anatomy
Features Usge Scenarios
  • Conversations
    • Group distribution list w/ email
    • Yammer group
    • Team chat
  • Connectors to SaaS applications
  • Calendar
  • SharePoint Site
    • Documents
    • Data lists
    • Web pages
  • OneNote Notebook
  • Planner Task Board
  • Active Directory Security Group
  • Project workspace
  • Department/Business Unit workspace
  • Outlook-centric workers
Microsoft Teams

A New Way to Work

An Office 365 Group used with a chat-based app hub for working with others and other applications.

Office 365 Group + Microsoft Teams App
Features Usge Scenarios
  • Everything from an Office 365 Group with distribution list
  • Single app to access various resources and other applications
  • Teams app organizes the team into channels and tabs
  • Tabs for organizing activities of a channel
  • Persistent chat facilitates team communication and alerts
  • Use bots and connectors to add additional functionality
  • Single interface to access team data across sources
  • Fast-paced teams
  • Team that uses many services (including non-Microsoft apps)
  • Real-time team communication

Summary of Suggested Uses

Scenario Services
Send notifications only to a group of people Exchange Distribution List or Shared Mailbox
Communicate with anyone, but don’t work as a team Yammer
Collaborate with a closed group SharePoint, Office 365 Group, Microsoft Teams
Instant message or share screens with people inside the company Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams
Instant message or share screens with people outside the company Skype for Business
VoIP Telephone System Skype for Business
Collaborate with external project members SharePoint, Office 365 Group
Heavy Outlook users Office 365 Group
Information and document publishing SharePoint
Share ideas or feedback Yammer

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