Office 365 offers a lot of places to store your documents. Each tool has it own specific feature set, making it confusing for users of the platform to know where to place their content.

I will explain what I consider a good document flow in a second.

First things first, to know when to use what tool, read my previous blogpost “Office 365, when to use what?” to get up to speed.

Order of the day

Ok, now that we have that settled, let’s get back to the order of the day. Document flow in Office 365.

I like to think in terms of static and dynamic content. Where dynamic content are those documents that are modified a lot and by different people, work documents. They are stored within Microsoft Teams. (PS, if you do not already know what Microsoft Teams is and what it can do, read this first)

Static content is best related to final documents (contracts, invoices, HR policies, Marketing material…), which I advice to store in SharePoint Online.
SharePoint Online is a good fit to create a strong information architecture in, with a strong security model behind it.
In addition to storing important documents, it is also a strong tool to build a company intranet. An intranet typically consists of rather static content as well.

Personal, work related, content is best stored in OneDrive for Business.

A good document flow should be written into a governance plan, making it easy for users of the platform what type of information can be stored in what tool.

I can hear you thinking. So what is considered a good document flow?

When you start to define a document flow, you need to think like a user. You need to act like a user. Wait a second, maybe it’s best that you too are a user! What I actually mean is, don’t let an administrator that is barely using Office 365 as a user define this flow. Let a superuser or ambassador come up with the idea, then guide him in the right direction.

What is a good document flow?

Ideally, a user starts to work on a document in his personal OneDrive for Business.

Once the document gets more body, and more people are involved in giving structure to the document, the file should be moved to Microsoft Teams. Allowing the team to closely work together, using all the advantages of Teams.
Ofcourse, when working in a team, it is not necessarily required to start the creation of a document in OneDrive. When working with team files, Microsoft Team is a feasible entry point as well.

When no teamwork is involved, the file must remain in OneDrive for Business until it has reached a final state. Personal, work related files, will always reside in OneDrive.

Once the document reached its final state, it is desirable that the file is viewable by more or even all users. This is the moment when we want the user to move the file into SharePoint Online. He or she must be guided, with documentation and governance plans, through the wilderness of information architecture – let’s be honest here for a moment, if your information architecture is a jungle, it might be a better idea to redesign it?


Personal documents:
OneDrive for Business

Documents created with multiple people:
(OneDrive for Business =>) Microsoft Teams => SharePoint Online

Documents created alone, but available for multiple users:
OneDrive for Business => SharePoint Online

There we go, pretty simple isn’t it?