Office 365 and SharePoint Online: Critical Similarities and Differences

If you’re running a business, you may have heard of SharePoint Online and Office 365. They are both content and document management systems. Some people use the two terms interchangeably.

However, Office 365 and SharePoint are not the same. They do have some similar capabilities, but there are also crucial differences between them. If you’re looking for a new content management system to simplify your workplace endeavors, you should know which of these will better suit your needs.

Let’s get into a more detailed breakdown of each of these systems.

SharePoint Online

There are both SharePoint apps and Office 365 apps, which is to say that companies have created applications that integrate seamlessly with both. This indicates how popular both services are.

SharePoint Online:

  • In available on Office 365
  • Is a separate, collaborative platform
  • Integrates with Microsoft Office

You can configure SharePoint Online to do many things for your company. For instance, you can set it up to report on digitized documents. You might also use it to manage, track, or archive those same documents.

There is still more you can do with it. You might have some documents that you want to retrieve or search through if you’re trying to pinpoint specific terms, phrases, or concepts. You can do that with SharePoint as well.

Office 365

Meanwhile, Office 365:

  • Is a subscription plan
  • Features Microsoft Office’s productivity apps
  • Also features internet-enabled services

When you get an Office 365 business plan, it comes with Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. These are some of Microsoft’s most popular services, and you don’t get them with SharePoint.

You can use it as an internal communication platform for your company. You can store and share internal files on the cloud. You can do web conferencing and video and audio sharing.

The Similarities

When you look at those descriptions, you can see that Office 365 and SharePoint Online have some features in common, but also, there’s quite a bit that differentiates them.

The one real similarity between them is that you can store documents with both. That’s pretty much where it ends, though. You can pay for both and integrate them to some extent, and you can also use them alongside non-Microsoft apps relatively easily.

However, many companies will choose to use one and not the other.

When Would You Want Office 365?

The business that will get the most use out of Office 365 is one that often has larger files they need to email within the company. If you also need personal file management across multiple devices, this is the superior choice.

When your coworkers collaborate on projects with each other, Office 365 will work best if they’re not exchanging content constantly. You’ll use the Office 365 Teams feature if you’re in this situation. You might also get it if you need file-based storage for easy use.

What About SharePoint Online?

You’ll want SharePoint Online if you have content types that need complex security requirements. Most users agree that SharePoint Online has superior security. If your content management requires a custom workflow, then that’s another time when SharePoint is better.

If you have configurable data types, you should use SharePoint. If you’re going to be sharing metadata and need custom views, this is the better option. One final reason you might want it is if you have highly complex collaboration efforts, and you need tight security and constant maintenance.

Further Considerations

While the differences and similarities between SharePoint Online and Office 365 are easy to see, you also have to understand how highly customizable they are. They come with a certain tool suite, but then you can integrate them not only with each other but also with hundreds of other apps.

This functionality is part of why Microsoft remains the tech powerhouse that it is today. They might not have open source products, but you can often modify them the same way as if they were.

Lots of business entities have a place for both of these systems. They’ll use SharePoint mostly as a file repository, and they’ll use Microsoft 365 mainly as a single interface for dispersed applications.

With the two together, you can have superior enterprise content management and document management.

You might choose to use one of these, both, or neither. One thing is clear: you’ll need to figure out either a proprietary workflow setup, service, or app that will allow you the freedom and comfort to work comfortably alongside your team.