What is SharePoint and why do you need it? | Microbyte

What is SharePoint and why do you need it?

sharepoint blog

Do you ever feel like your business is drowning in paperwork? Are you tired of spending hours searching for documents that you can’t seem to find? One of the biggest pain points for businesses of all sizes is the challenge of managing and securing their content.

Microsoft SharePoint Online makes it easy to store and share data. In fact, 200,000 companies use the platform to get the right information to the right people.

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform where businesses can store, organiae, access, and share information in a secure environment.

Initially introduced in the early 2000s, SharePoint is a cornerstone of the Microsoft Office 365. Its integration with Microsoft Teams, OneNote, and other productivity tools allows for a cohesive and streamlined workflow.

What Are the Core Features of Microsoft SharePoint?

The Microsoft SharePoint environment is robust and versatile, offering a wide range of features for businesses of all sizes. Some of the core features of SharePoint include:

1. Document Collaboration with Real-Time Co-Authoring

SharePoint comes with Microsoft Office 365 and makes it easy for teams to collaborate on documents in real time, even when they’re working from different locations.

With real-time co-authoring, Business stopped emailing versions of the same document and started collaborating on the same file. Team members can see each other’s changes and make edits simultaneously, ensuring that everyone is working on the latest version of the document.

Lastly, SharePoint’s version control features track changes made to documents and files, making it easy to revert to previous versions if needed. This helps to protect data integrity and prevent accidental loss of data.

2. Easy cloud and local file access

As a platform, SharePoint now hosts OneDrive for Business which you can add to your File Explorer and use like a normal folder on your desktop. Remember how you used to add drives to your work desktop to get access to certain files? You can do this with your company’s SharePoint folders, and use your own OneDrive folder as a personal cloud.

3. SharePoint sites and Mobile apps

Even employees who are on the go can use SharePoint’s mobile app to stay connected and productive on their phones, iOS or Android. Users can also access and edit certain types of content offline, such as Word and Excel documents. This lets employees stay productive even without stable internet or mobile data.

Working on a different computer? You can access SharePoint servers through a website instead of downloading the platform on that device.

4. Powerful search features

Document search has moved on a lot since you had to type the exact file name or get the exact tag. Microsoft has ploughed resources into SharePoint Search to help you find and access your content with ease.

Organise your data with tagging or using its API sets to make advanced customisations. Regardless, SharePoint’s search architecture, crawl and content processing, and search ranking options are thoroughly customisable for every business need. You can search across all of your content, including documents, lists, libraries, and sites. You can also use advanced search features to filter your results by date, author, keyword, and other criteria.

Between 2000 to 2009, large organisations started adopting SharePoint to pre-empt the data explosion. Its familiar Microsoft interface replaced clunky outdated portals with their slow and unreliable check-in processes. The look and feel hasn’t changed much since, but Microsoft have added function after function to make storing, sharing and locating files easier.

gif showing how to view teams folders in sharepoint

5. Integration with Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft Office 365 tools

SharePoint is tightly integrated with Microsoft Teams and other Microsoft Office 365 tools, making it easy to collaborate with your team members on projects and tasks.

For example, you can create a SharePoint site for a specific project and then share it with your team members in Teams. This allows team members to easily access the project’s documents, tasks, and other resources from within Teams.

6. Stay Secure and Compliant

Microsoft SharePoint Online provides a variety of features that can help you stay secure and compliant, including:

  • Classification and labelling: SharePoint allows you to classify and label sensitive documents. This makes it easier to identify and protect sensitive data.
  • Retention policies: SharePoint allows you to set retention policies for documents and other content. This ensures that data is retained for the appropriate amount of time and then deleted securely.
  • Access controls: SharePoint allows you to set access controls for sites, libraries, and documents. This ensures that only authorized users have access to your data.
  • Auditing: SharePoint provides auditing capabilities that allow you to track who is accessing and modifying your data. This information can be used to identify and investigate suspicious activity.
  • External sharing settings: SharePoint allows you to control how information is shared with external users. You can choose to disable external sharing altogether, or you can allow external sharing with specific restrictions, such as requiring users to sign in with a Microsoft account or limiting the types of files that can be shared.

SharePoint is a secure platform by default, but it is important to configure it to meet your specific security and compliance requirements.

SharePoint for Business Processes

SharePoint is a powerful tool for automating business processes and streamlining operations.

Businesses can automate processes like approvals, status updates, and notifications. For example, you can create a workflow that automatically routes a document to the appropriate approvers for review and approval. Once the document is approved, the workflow can automatically send a notification to the requester.

SharePoint workflows can also be used to automate more complex business processes, such as order processing, customer onboarding, and content management. For example, you can create a workflow that automatically creates a new customer record in your CRM system when a new lead is generated in SharePoint. Or, you can create a workflow that automatically sends a task notification to the appropriate team member when a new project task is created.

The Different Editions of SharePoint

The best edition of SharePoint for you will depend on your specific needs and requirements.

SharePoint Online

This is the current version of SharePoint, also known as Office 365 and Microsoft 365. It is a cloud-based service that provides all the features of SharePoint without the need for on-premises infrastructure.

It is worth noting that SharePoint 2007, 2010, and 2013 are out of date and not in implementation. Most enterprises and organizations are using SharePoint 2019 On-premises and SharePoint Online (Office 365, currently Microsoft 365) versions.

SharePoint Foundation

This was a free version with very basic functionalities, discontinued in 2016.

SharePoint Standard

This edition provides basic features for document management, collaboration, and content management. It extends the function of Microsoft SharePoint Foundation in several areas, such as audience targeting, governance tools, secure store service, and web analytics.

SharePoint Enterprise

This edition provides advanced features for business intelligence, enterprise document management, and search capabilities. It is a commercial extension for SharePoint Server.

SharePoint Server

This can be provisioned as a virtual/cloud server or as a hosted service. Hosted service allows organizations to use SharePoint Server without having to manage the infrastructure themselves. SharePoint Server has several versions, including:

  • SharePoint 2010 (Foundation, Server, and Enterprise)
  • SharePoint 2013 (Foundation, Server, and Enterprise)
  • SharePoint Server 2016 and SharePoint Enterprise 2016
  • SharePoint Server 2019 and SharePoint Enterprise 2019

If you are a small business or organization with basic needs, SharePoint Standard may be sufficient. If you need more advanced features, such as business intelligence or enterprise content management, you may want to consider SharePoint Enterprise. And if you are looking for a cloud-based solution, SharePoint Online is a good option.

Regardless, we strongly recommend that you contact experts for advice and guidance.

The Future of SharePoint

Microsoft releases regular updates for SharePoint Online, which is part of Office 365. These updates are cumulative, meaning that each update contains all the fixes that have been released up to that point, including all previously released updates.

The latest update aims to transform the way that SharePoint Online end-users create both Team Sites and Communication Sites. It also provides end-users with the ability to change the default language of a SharePoint site to one of 50 different language options, even if it goes against the current default set for the organization

Is your company data a bit of a mess?

We can take you through your options with SharePoint, and show you the best way to get your document management on the right track. Fill in the contact form below and we’ll be in touch right away.



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