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SharePoint Site or Office Group

If you think you want or need a SharePoint site, you should take a moment to consider your overall goal or purpose for that site. If you want a space to collaborate and communicate with others, you more than likely want to create an Office Group. When you create an Office Group (whether through Outlook, Teams or Planner) a SharePoint Team Site is created to support that Group. This integration between Groups and SharePoint provides some advantages.

Simplified Permissions Management

A Group's SharePoint Team Site is automatically available to the members of the Group, so no additional setup is needed. When you add people to the Group, they gain access to the Team Site; when you remove members, they lose access. It's that easy. You can also easily invite guest (external) users to Office Groups.

By contrast, if you have a "standalone" SharePoint site (that is, one NOT connected to an Office Group), you need to manage the members and permissions in that site directly. This isn't necessarily difficult, but often requires more thought and planning to ensure that the permissions are set appropriately, as well as more maintenance effort down the road. By default, standalone SharePoint sites cannot be shared with guest (external) users. If there is a business need to invite guests, external sharing can be enabled for a standalone site.

More Than Storage

A standalone SharePoint site is a great place to store files and content. However, there's no integrated communication channel with this type of site. That is, if you want to have conversations with the members of the site through email or text chat in Microsoft Teams, you can't; at least, not easily. Or, if you want to have a Calendar to schedule meetings for the members of the site, the Calendar functions in SharePoint are limited compared to the Outlook-based Calendar that's created for an Office Group.

So, with an Office Group, you're getting that SharePoint Team Site to store the Group's files and content, but you're also getting some other very useful functionality that SharePoint alone doesn't provide. See our Office 365 Groups page for more details on what you get when you create an Office Group.

When Should You Use A SharePoint Site?

There are some cases where a standalone SharePoint site is a better option than an Office Group. For example, if you want to share information or content with a large audience, like "all employees", "all students" or even "everyone at Drexel," a SharePoint site (specifically, a Communication Site) is often the best choice.

Or, if you have several related Groups or Teams and want a place to store "common" content to which all of them need access (e.g.: a departmental intranet). In these situations - as well as some others - a standalone site is more appropriate. You could either use a Communication Site or a Team Site that's not connected to an Office Group in this situation.

If you're not sure what you need, please write to and let them know what you're trying to accomplish. One of the SharePoint team members will help you make the most appropriate choice based on your requirements.