Office 365 Collaboration: Which tool to use when?

Office 365 is one of the most widely used business applications in the workplace, providing a wealth of apps that allow staff to work collaboratively, increase engagement and be more productive.

Despite the extensive capabilities and power of the apps, some cross-over in functionality between apps can make it difficult to discern the right tool for the job at hand. In this short article below, we recap which tools are best for common business scenarios – or you can download our Office 365 Collaboration Guide for more detail.


If you work as part of a team, then having a centralised hub for communication and collaboration is vital. Microsoft Teams is the Office 365 app for this.

Microsoft Teams

Teams provides a platform that allows you to chat, share and work on files, make announcements, host meetings and more.

When should I use it?

Anyone that is part of a team, whether that be project teams or departmental teams, should use Teams for daily communication and collaboration.

Teams centralises communication, making it easy to make company-wide announcements (reducing the numbers of broadcast emails in your inbox) while also providing instant messaging, group discussions, file sharing / collaboration and more.

If you work remotely, you should also use Teams; the app is available on Desktop, Web and Mobile, meaning you can access Teams wherever you are, allowing you to stay connected to your teams remotely.

Download our Office 365 guide to find out more about the key benefits of Teams, its various integrations with other apps and how Teams relates to SharePoint Sites, Office 365 Groups and Azure Active Directory.

Document Management

Document management is an integral process within many organisations. Where you store your files can vary based on the requirements and audience, but in Office 365 it will be between three applications: SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive. A simplistic way to decide which to use is:

SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online is a modern and flexible web-based information management platform. You can organise content, share documents internally and externally, co-author and maintain version control, use advanced metadata, broadcast news within an organisation and much more.

When should I use it?

If you work with documentation that requires more advanced functionality, such as stringent version control or policy tracking and management, you will need to use SharePoint. Advanced information management tools allow you to add metadata and securely store and share company documents. Co-authoring means you can work on the same document as multiple users in real-time, while automatic version control keeps track of the changes made by the different authors. This is crucial if you ever need to revert to a previous version or keep an audit trail of the changes you’ve made to your reports.


If you are working on documents within a team in a more informal manner, you might want to collaborate on your files in Microsoft Teams (which uses SharePoint in the background as its file storage anyway). As mentioned above, it comes with many other core collaboration functionality for teamwork such as instant messaging.


OneDrive is a cloud-based personal file storage service. With a standard Office 365 plan, each user is allocated 1TB of storage space.

When should I use it?

OneDrive is ideal as your default file-saving location and should be used for storing files where you are the only audience. Ideally, you should sync your desktop and OneDrive so that all your documents are available both offline and online, wherever you are.

If you are saving documents that you don’t want others to have visibility of, OneDrive is your best option. You can share and collaborate on OneDrive files with other users; however, SharePoint is your best option for shared content.

Download our Office 365 guide to find out more about OneDrive’s key benefits, such as secure sharing, known-folder redirection, and other important considerations around leaver processes and the deletion of user accounts and files.


For organisations wanting to build a modern intranet to promote engagement and develop a strong internal culture, SharePoint is the application in Office 365 that will fulfil this.

SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online is an ideal intranet platform that is included with Office 365. The two main types of SharePoint site are communication sites and team sites.

When should I use it?

Communication sites should typically be used for situations where a small number of contributors wish to publish information to a much wider group of readers. A team site is more suited to collaborative situations with smaller groups of users e.g. project teams where each user is actively contributing to the site.

Download our Office 365 guide to find out more about the possibilities of SharePoint and when you might want to create a SharePoint site.

Task management

For task management, Planner and To-Do are the best Office 365 applications available to you.


Planner is a task-management tool which allows you to create tasks and add them to a task board. You can create topic-related groups of tasks known as ‘buckets’ which you can drop tasks into on the board. You can assign tasks to team members, schedule activities and track progress.

When should I use it?

Planner is great for lightweight task management using a ‘Kanban-style’ approach. You can use a Planner board for your teams. The app is not designed, or suitable, for project managers that require more complicated project management software such as Microsoft Project.


To-Do is a simple app which allows you to create ‘to-do lists’. Each item on the list can be ticked off as you make progress with your tasks. It’s synced to Outlook, meaning the tasks you add to Outlook will be surfaced in To-Do and vice versa. To-Do and Planner are also tightly integrated, which means you can choose to see the Planner tasks assigned to you in To-Do.

When should I use it?

To-Do is great for tracking your personal tasks and task that have been assigned to you in Planner. If you want your team to have shared visibility of the team’s tasks, use Planner.

Shift schedule management

If you company has employees working on a shift basis, then Shifts is the Office 365 app which best allows you to manage your shift schedules.


Shifts is an app within Microsoft Teams that allows you to manage shift scheduling.

When should I use it?

Shifts is only appropriate for employees that work on a shift / rota basis. The app enables you to schedule when people are working and allows team members to swop shifts or request changes to their schedules.

Process automation

If you’re looking to automate some of your processes, Flow is the app in Office 365 which will allow you to do this.


Flow is a cloud-based automation tool. It uses connectors, triggers, conditions and actions to automate or streamline processes across many Office 365 and third-party services.

When should I use it?

If you want to automate approval processes, task assignments and schedule reminders etc., Flow is a good low-code option for users to utilise. A range of templates exist for common automation requirements, making it easy for non-technical users to benefit from automation.

Download our guide

Download our guide for more information on when you should use the various Office 365 apps. If you’d like to find out how we can support you in migrating to Office 365 and implementing Microsoft’s modern workplace technologies, get in touch today.