By Carolina Borda, IT Training Facilitator, TP3
There must be a very good reason why more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies use SharePoint products and technologies for collaboration, search, business intelligence, social computing and record management. Let me shed some light on it.
Anyone heard of SharePoint?
As a facilitator I find it very interesting how many people have heard of SharePoint but don’t have a very clear idea of what we can do with it, or what it can do for us.
At the beginning of each training session I ask my participants to tell me how they would respond to someone who knows nothing about SharePoint asking what it is and what it does. The answer I get most often is: “SharePoint is a document management system”. While partly true, this response confirms to me that there is still much confusion about SharePoint out there.
A “platform for ideas”
Whether we like it or not, change happens. And with technology it just happens much faster. So what is the option? We have to adapt to change. SharePoint is a tool that in many ways can help a business be agile and deal with change. It does this by providing a collection of business solutions including document management and many others all in one place and on one consistent platform. I even heard a fellow SharePoint trainer refer to it once as “a platform for ideas”.
Work any time, any place and on any device
SharePoint has also changed and evolved since it was launched in 2001 and now comes in a variety of flavours including an on premise server version and an online version in Office 365.
One of the reasons SharePoint is a great solution and many companies are now using it, is because it’s a web platform, which means everyone in the organisation can access it from wherever they have access to the internet on pretty much any device and at any time of the day.
So what do people do with it?
Now, the next question is, what can we do with it?
Well, we can do anything we want, it’s a very flexible platform that allows a huge range of business applications to be built on it! Most people, however, start with using the standard ‘vanilla’ functionality like setting up and using Team Sites.
These are temporary or permanent sites that groups of people can access and allows them to upload and share files, view group calendars, keep track of team or project tasks and a range of other team related work sometimes loosely called collaboration.
Another common use of SharePoint is as a website development and intranet development tool. Because different groups can be given different access permissions, it means that simple web and intranet page changes can be done at the local level - distributed authoring allows a business to be more agile and avoid bottle-necks developing at IT support or Marketing.
A familiar Microsoft interface
One of the aspects I most enjoy about delivering SharePoint training is being able to demystify it.
Most participants are usually a bit apprehensive about it until they realise that you don’t have to learn a whole lot of new commands or new programs. Instead, you use the familiar Microsoft applications command set you already know in the Ribbon user interface and apply this to whatever it is you are doing in SharePoint.
Being a Microsoft product, it has that familiar look and feel and it works with all the other products in the Microsoft Suite. For example, you can have multiple people in a team site collaborating at the same time in a Word document, or you can create a chart in Excel or a flowchart in Visio and then publish them in your team site.
Where is it all heading?
As SharePoint use continues to grow and evolve, smart businesses are learning to take advantage of some of the other powerful capabilities. Business intelligence and insights can be gathered through sophisticated dashboards which can be built to monitor key business performance indicators.
And just as the web has enabled rapid change and innovation to flourish, so too are businesses looking to SharePoint to provide the same opportunities for innovation and business success.
If this article has motivated you to get to know more about SharePoint, I would love to see you in the training room. We run three different SharePoint courses to suit your needs.
For further insights into SharePoint and Office 365, why not watch a recording of our webinar “How Microsoft is reinventing productivity in the modern office” with Microsoft Product specialist, Michelle Markham.