What can you do with Microsoft SharePoint? The software is one of the key teamwork applications available within the Microsoft Cloud, and it supports a wide variety of capabilities including:
- Creating internal company websites (basically intranets) for easy information access and sharing between team members.
- Serving as a content management system that offers centralized document storage and collaboration.
- Tracking of tasks, clients and other items in list formats that provide richer functionality than Excel alone.
- Integration with all other major Microsoft applications and services, including Office 365 and OneDrive.
Given its central role within the Microsoft ecosystem and its familiarity to enterprise users (it has been available since 2001), SharePoint is an important tool for everyone from the C-suite to the front lines of the IT and sales departments. But just as it can take business users years to master all of the intricacies of Excel, learning the ins and outs of Sharepoint is often a lengthy process.
So we've compiled a few basic tips to give you a practical start. Knowing how to perform these tasks well will help you unlock the potential of SharePoint and get more out of your Office 365 implementation.
1. Create and share site templates
SharePoint provides a lot of freedom in how you customize your sites via lists, workflows, logos, etc. Say you build the perfect site for your organization. Instead of reconfiguring everything again the next time, you can save your settings as a template.
A template includes the basic framework of the website, such as its libraries, along with its contents (e.g., documents and lists) if you choose to save them, too. It can be ported to other SharePoint environments, opened in Visual Studio and shared with specific users by being saved to the SharePoint solutions gallery.
2. Collaborate and co-author Office documents
Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations can be co-authored in SharePoint. This means that multiple users can work on them concurrently without clashing with each other.
SharePoint provides options for real-time or regular co-authoring. The former allows you to track the position of other users in the document and see the changes they make as they happen. The latter lets you apply updates made by others at a time of your choosing.
3. Make a team site with precise permissions
Team sites are the bread and butter of SharePoint. The basic process of making one is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is sign into Office 365 and follow the creation wizard's instructions.
Along the way, you'll get to set up group email lists for everyone intended to access the site. You can toggle the site so that it is accessible to everyone in the organization or only to a smaller select group.
4. Add files to your SharePoint instance from your computer
SharePoint is available in several versions, the two most important being SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server. Online is cloud-based while Server is hosted on-premises. In either implementation, it is easy to add files and folders to your document library.
SharePoint has a convenient drag-and-drop interface for uploading documents from your computer. If you use the Microsoft Edge browser that is built into Windows to access SharePoint Online, you can also upload entire folders at once.
5. Learn how to use SharePoint columns
Spreadsheet ninjas will find a lot to love about SharePoint's abilities to group, filter and sort complex sets of data. A SharePoint column can apply specific criteria to lists and libraries across multiple team sites.
For example, you might set up your columns so that you can track invoices by customer names and regions. Effective use of SharePoint columns allows users to locate important information as quickly as possible.
6. Set up SharePoint views
In SharePoint, a view is similar to an email inbox filter: It allows you to fine-tune what you do and do not see in the default application display, so that you can avoid having to sort through information that is not relevant to you.
A view can give you quick insight into specific columns for lists and libraries. It can also be customized to have a more visually engaging style.
7. Find the SharePoint product that is right for your organization
SharePoint Online is part of Office 365. SharePoint Server is a standalone product. Each has its own advantages and limitations. SharePoint Online is lighter weight and is managed by Microsoft, while SharePoint Server provides more granular controls that may be useful to your enterprise in particular.
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