This document describes how document management in Microsoft Teams can be improved by adding MetaShare as a tab in Team Channels.
How to get control of your documents in Microsoft Teams
Introduction to Teams
Microsoft Teams is an integrated communication and collaboration platform in Office 365. Teams is the fastest growing Microsoft application in the market and Microsoft is investing heavily in the application, calling it “the collaboration hub of Office 365”.
The basic applications displayed on the Team’s left navigation are:
- Chat: for chatting with one or more users, similar to social chat tools such as WhatsApp or Messenger
- Teams: for cooperation within different groups
- Calendar: a view of your personal Outlook calendar, where you can also schedule new Teams meetings with the possibility to have video calls and screen sharing
- Calls: for regular calls or video calls with one or more users
- Files: a consolidated view of all your recent documents across Office 365 (SharePoint sites and OneDrive)
In the Teams application, you can create different teams for different groups within your organisation as well as external users, such as. one for the sales team, one for the management team, one for a project that also includes external contractors, etc. Only users who have been granted access to a team will be able to view all content within the team. Within a team, you can then create channels, for example for different topics that you need to discuss within a team. These channels are normally open to everyone within a team, but can also be private channels where only a subset of users within the team will have access to them.
A channel can have different tabs with information. By default, three tabs are created, a post tab, where users can discuss in one or more conversation threads, a file tab, which will be explained further below, and a Wiki tab. Team members can later create other tabs such as a Planner tab, a OneNote tab or a CRM tab. When a tab is created, you can either choose from a list of common Microsoft apps, but also have the option to add apps from third-party applications, such as MetaShare, for improved document management.
Document management in Microsoft Teams
Before we go through Microsoft Teams document management, we want to explain what happens when you create a team or a channel in Teams:
Creating a team
When you create a team, you have two options:
- Create a team from scratch:
- A SharePoint team site is created, with the same name as the team.
- In the SharePoint site’s document library, a folder called “General” is created that corresponds to the team’s default “General” channel. The library is not configured with any specific document management settings or content types/metadata.
- An Office 365 group is created, with the same name as the team.
- Create a team from an existing Office 365 group:
- The Office 365 group SharePoint team site is used instead of creating a new one.
- In the SharePoint site’s document library, a folder called “General” is created that corresponds to the team’s default “General” channel.
- The already available Office 365 group is added to the SharePoint site’s member group.
- A new modern website will be added to the SharePoint site.
Create a channel
When you create a channel in a team, you have two options:
- Create a default channel that inherits permissions from the team:
- A document folder with the same name as the channel is created in the SharePoint site’s document library.
- A File tab is automatically added to the channel.
- Create a private channel that will only be available to a specific group of people within your team:
- A new SharePoint team website is created, dedicated to the newly created channel and its members.
- In the SharePoint site’s document library, a folder with the same name as the channel is created. The library is not configured with any specific document management settings or content types/metadata.
Manage documents in a channel
To begin with, a channel’s File tab cannot be deleted. When documents are uploaded or created in a File tab, they are stored in the channel’s folder in the SharePoint site’s document library. All files attached to a channel’s conversation tab are also stored in the channel’s folder and are accessible via the channel’s File tab. The disadvantage of using the file tab to manage your documents is:
- The file tab will not prompt you for any metadata during document uploads, even if you configure the team’s corresponding document library to use content types/metadata and some of these are mandatory. The documents will lack mandatory metadata.
- Since you can’t add metadata when using Teams, the easiest way to structure your documents is to organize them in document folders.
- The file tab has no search function.
- If a team is deleted, the documents stored in the team will also be deleted.
Complement teams with MetaShare, for better document management
Since Teams is the collaboration hub of Office 365, your users should have access to all the applications they need to work effectively within a team. Due to the limitations of the out-of-the-box File tab mentioned above, the recommendation is to connect MetaShare to Teams and then upload documents to the MetaShare tab instead of the File tab. In this way you will be able to improve document searchability, comply with set regulations, control documents through their life cycle, have a coherent information structure, etc.
Two methods for better document management
There are currently two ways to integrate MetaShare with Microsoft Teams. The method you choose depends on how you want to work with the documents within a team and the lifecycle of the team and its documents.
The methods are:
Method 1: Connect a workspace in MetaShare to a channel in Microsoft Teams
- Add a MetaShare tab to a channel
- The main benefits of adding a MetaShare tab to a team’s channel are:
- Documents uploaded or created in the channel will be tagged with metadata
- You can more easily find documents on the tab by using a combination of search and filter
- When a team or channel is eventually deleted, its documents will not be deleted, they will still exist in MetaShare, in the workspace that you linked to the team’s channel
- The disadvantage is that users have two options to upload their documents – to the File tab or the MetaShare tab. Our recommendation is to use the File tab only for temporary documents and as soon as the documents are of a more qualified nature they should be stored in the MetaShare tab. If you want to force users to use the MetaShare tab only, you can make it read-only (you will see the tab but will not have permission to add documents to it).
Method 2: Create a team from an existing MetaShare workspace
- The main benefits of creating a team from an existing MetaShare workspace are:
- Your users can use the channel’s built-in File tab and don’t need to remember to go to the channel’s MetaShare tab
- Documents uploaded to the File tab will be available in the channel’s corresponding folder in the workspace
- The disadvantages are:
- When uploading/creating documents from Teams, you will not be prompted to enter metadata. The documents will therefore lack mandatory metadata. However, when you access the files from MetaShare, you will get notifications for the documents that lack properties and these can be handled appropriately.
- When using the File tab, it is not possible to search for documents.
- When the team is eventually deleted, your documents will also be deleted.