What is SharePoint?

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Over the years, there has been a misconception of what SharePoint is and how businesses can leverage the technology. Most Companies in the past hear the word SharePoint and immediately think file storage which turns into a document dumping ground. SharePoint is so much more than a place to store your documents, it’s a platform that allows you to build and style sites that are user friendly.

Think of SharePoint as a dream house that you’re building. You start with a concrete slab, which is your basic out-of-the-box functionality. The next thing you would do is build walls similar to list and document libraries that can be customized to fit your needs. Lists are used to store data similar to a database and provides an export function. A document library however is used to store documents and provides a folder structure capabilities. Both lists and document libraries allow the data to be shown in a variety of ways by setting different views within SharePoint.

After the walls are in place, the next essential piece is the roof. The roof signifies creating or building out additional site collections. A site collection is a top-level site known as the root and has a grouping of websites underneath it. The groupings of websites consist of subsites. A subsite can inherit permissions and navigation structure from its parent site (the site collection) or can be managed independently, but still resides under the site collection.

To complete the outside of the house, it needs windows. Windows come in different shapes, sizes and styles based on each individual’s taste. Just like windows, you can customize the look and feel of your SharePoint site by adding a master page and branding it to fit the needs of your company. SharePoint provides a free designer tool for power users and developers to go in and edit code within the different sites. Here is a website that provides examples of SharePoint websites out there:

http://www.topsharepoint.com/

Now that all the basics are put into place and the SharePoint site is starting to feel like a home, the last important piece is the electricity. The electricity provides the advanced functions that SharePoint has to offer. Some of these functionalities include reporting, advanced workflows and custom apps that can be implemented to take your SharePoint site to the next level.

As with any house, it can come in all shapes and sizes. SharePoint has several offerings based on a company’s preference and specific functionality required. The different versions of SharePoint consist of SharePoint Foundation, Standard, Enterprise and SharePoint Online (365). Each version has specific benefits, but if you are looking for a great solution that provides mobile accessibility, SharePoint Online (365) is the way to go. This is a cloud-based solution that Microsoft hosts, so no more worrying about your server crashing and having the overhead cost of hardware and maintenance.

For more information on SharePoint, please click on the resources below:

SharePoint Online
SharePoint for IT pros

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