SharePoint Sites vs subsites

We are retiring our file server in the Spring and moving files and folders to SharePoint. I was going to create one site per department but a friend said I should be creating them as subsites. It appears that over time, when I have created past sites - some were set up as as separate sites and some as subsites.

I was wondering if it really matters.

From what I can tell, the root site could become our Intranet with the sub sites under but does that really matter? Aren’t sites and subsites just hyperlinks to something in cyberspace anyway.

Consider creating teams within Teams, that will create SharePoint sites but it’s abstracted into a much more approachable and natural way to collaborate for end users.

Generally, the way you’ll be doing things in the M365/Modern Workplace world, you want to stay as flat as possible. In that regard, subsites probably won’t be the best idea going forward.

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Most departments are comprised of all internal users. But a couple have the need for several external members. If I understand correctly, although Teams allows for external video meeting guests when it comes to sharing files and folders, those external members would need some sort of license either through our organization or through their own. Is that correct?

You (and team owners if you enable it) can invite external users into Teams. It’s possible to have guests inside channels within teams as well so there’s some flexibility and your best bet is to sit down with people who head up departments or run projects and see how they are organized and what would work best for them (and be ready to embrace them creating their own teams based on stuff they want to do like Youth Ministry being a permanent team but Christmas 2021 or Church Camp 2022 being stuff that’s more transitory).

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And to clarify: “Guest” users in a Team do NOT require any paid license. They can use a free, personal Microsoft account. And they have full access to all conversations and files stored inside that Team.

At the risk of being self-promoting, we have some great webinars that show how to use Teams for communication, file storage, and even guest/volunteer usage on our website at Webinars - Enable Ministry

Yeah, good point @tlphipps, I forgot to mention that guests don’t need licenses; however, if you have licenses for your staff, they usually have a ratio (like a 1 licensed staff to 5 external users ratio) on things like AAD stuff. So if you want to have conditional access and you had 10 M365 Business Premium licenses, up to 50 guests can be covered by Conditional Access… which is pretty handy. :sunglasses:

If they are deacons/elders or something like that with significant duties (and not full-time with leadership responsibility of a department), you might want to go ahead and consider licensing them with volunteer licenses or F licenses. That’s where I usually find that it can be beneficial to create them users within the tenant and have individual emails/file storage and whatnot. :thinking:

Are you kidding? Enable Ministries has some super content. I get lost in a rabbit hole with every newsletter…reading one thing leads to the next and next and next. (It happened to me just 10 minutes ago.)

Self promote away! lol.

You’ve convinced me not to use subsites. Being flat sounds appealing to me.

But, I still don’t know if I should start with Teams right off the bat or SharePoint first.

I read an article that suggested I use SharePoint document storage rather than Teams’ storage for departments with a lot of documents. (That would describe every department in this building.) It mentioned that I could simply link their team (if I ever created one for that department) back to SharePoint with a tab.

From where I sit, inside the pandemic with employees telling me they have had it up to their eyeballs with change, it might be better to start with SharePoint and then introduce Teams down the road. The ability to connect the “someday” Team back to SharePoint with the tab sounds appealing because it seems like it will let me ease them through one change (cloud storage in SharePoint instead of the local file server) and then introduce Teams maybe this summer closer to when Skype For Business is retired.


My 2 cents: Teams is much easier for most folks to learn than SharePoint. And all file storage in Teams IS SharePoint so limits, etc. are no different. I fully agree with Isaac’s recommendations.
What we see is that if you spend the time to build the “basic framework” of each team (by department/ministry/etc.) and then train your staff how to use it properly (including hitting the ‘sync’ button so their files can be in 'file explorer), you can be very successful with this transition. The key is training everyone together using the same language, demonstrations, etc. so there’s a consistent understanding across the entire organization. We find this training works best in-person when at all possible but can be successful virtually as well. Just don’t expect folks to watch a video after-the-fact. They need to engage directly with the live training.

Plenty of us ‘consultant types’ around here happy to help “train the trainer” for this kind of thing or even provide the training directly for your staff if you’d prefer.

Travis Phipps


Like Travis, I’d go straight to Teams. The software itself is easy-peasy for users and doesn’t require much in terms of end-user technical onboarding training. The bigger shift is for you as the admin to alter mindset and to help your users likewise change mindset from “your admin has structured everything for you and you are reliant on him” to “here’s your playground, I’ve setup boundaries and will make sure you stay safe, but otherwise go nuts and setup chats and teams and add planner tabs or whatever you find works within that playground.” :sunglasses:

I’ve had some migrations not go great because there wasn’t in-person training and that results in adoption lagging, so yeah, I’d consider bringing out one of those guys to help with that mindset shift/inspiration among the staff (not me though, that’s 48 hours of travel and two-weeks of mandatory quarantine for Singapore ->USA->Singapore, so bring out somebody like Travis. :laughing:).

For what its worth, I echo setting up Teams first and then transitioning your storage from your Fileserver to Teams as that’s our path. Our staff caught on to Teams fairly quickly and are now migrating data from their dept/area partitions on the server in to appropriate Teams/channels. We are also using our All Staff Team for data that would be available on the Fileserver to everyone.

We are really stressing it as a time of restructure and reorganization and I am looking forward to seeing how much of the 6TB on our FileServer ends up being simply deleted or archived. My personal over and under is 80% is not needed or can be archived just in case “someday” it may be needed. :smiley:

Yep, this is a great example for those who are planning on doing a migration to the cloud. There’s often at least a decade of files that need staff to go through and say: cloud, cold archive, or delete. Often there’s stuff like a bajillion poorly shot photos from a short term missions trip 12 years ago that just shouldn’t make the migration over to the cloud. Sometimes there’s whole dumps of home directories of staff that have been gone over seven years that nobody has touched. Sometimes there’s directories of crazy huge PSD files for the one-off use banner the children’s ministry made 6 years ago. Tons of that stuff crops up during migrations, sometimes you’ll have to sit down with the hoarders and cheerlead them through limiting what they actually migrate! :laughing:

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