What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is Microsoft’s premier collaborative online server environment, providing tools for sharing folders and documents and data across various departments within a company or organisation. There are two ways of using SharePoint, via a website or publishing shared folders from SharePoint into OneDrive directly onto your computer. SharePoint online is a component of the Microsoft Office 365 suite of online business tools designed to integrate Office 2013 and and Office 2106, Exchange online for email and a host of other services. My IT Support are agents for Microsoft and their delivery partner Telstra business apps.  We offer consultation on design, deployment and training of these fantastic technologies including SharePoint. Contact us for a free demonstration of these technologies, and how they can greatly improve your organisational structure and work flow.

The SharePoint Website

As with any other website, a SharePoint site — or an individual page within the site — is accessible by way of a URL that the user can access using a standard web browser, and you login using a username and password. Below is a simple SharePoint Layout that you would view. Note the simple tool bar at the top circled in red Clicking on a folder reveals documents in that folder which you can then open and edit, and then save back. Previous to systems like SharePoint we would have folders on a server that were shared amongst other people in the office. Did the job, but what was it missing? Well here are just some of the basic features in SharePoint to consider. The following is a basic ‘out of the box’ introduction to SharePoint.

File Version

If someone changed the content of a document, you may need to call in IT support to recover the original from backup. In SharePoint, a simple right click reveals a menu of previous versions of that document. It allows you to instantly recover a document from any point in time including the original. You can elect to keep the current version as well.

Deleted items

Folder and files deleted across the network require the same thing – call in IT support to recover from backup. In SharePoint, all deleted items are sent to a recycle bin on the site and can be immediately recovered. There is also Administrator control preventing users emptying the recycle bin, adding an extra layer of protection.

Instant share with version tracking

Emailing documents for others to review, and worse change is time consuming and perilous. Another simple right click will allow you share a document with one or more people both inside and outside your organisation. With another click, you can elect to allow someone to edit the document or simply review it. You can set alerts in SharePoint to notify you when that person made a change to the document, and you can set expiry times for document to be reviewed.

Document Collaboration

When you and your colleagues want to collaborate on a document, use real-time co-authoring to see everyone’s changes as they happen. Collaboration is a simple three step process. You save the document to OneDrive or SharePoint Online, so others can work in it. You invite people to edit it with you. When they open and work in the document in Word 2016, Word Online or Word Android. you’ll see each other’s changes as soon as they’re made. Don’t forget, you also have version control in case mistakes are made

Work from Anywhere

Old school practices of working away from the office included USB thumb drives or cumbersome VPN access into the workplace. With SharePoint, employees can work from anywhere with an Internet connection (OneDrive access explained further on negates even the requirement to have the Internet). Simply login and all the same features and tools are right there use. This is a boon for sales people, work crews and others who are out on the road.

SharePoint and OneDrive

OneDrive is like Dropbox for those who have used it, and comes pre-installed on all versions of Windows 10 released by Microsoft for personal use. It can also be downloaded and installed on previous versions of Windows. So how does it differ? Looking at the image above, this is not a website but your computer. See on the left the familiar menus Quick Access, This PC and Network. OneDrive talks to SharePoint and synchronises a copy of some or all the folders and files in SharePoint library. There is no interaction with the SharePoint website by the user at all. It’s a familiar layout for those who prefer the classic feel of folders and files. When you add, edit or delete a document, this action is updated in the SharePoint library where the information lives.
For those on the road who travel to places where Internet connectivity is poor, this allows them to immediate access to files and folders they require. when they come back into range of an Internet connection, OneDrive automatically updates them into SharePoint fro all to see. OneDrive doesn’t carry all the tools for document manipulation that the SharePoint website does. Its main function is to offer alternative access to files and folders for users

Advanced SharePoint Functionality

What we have covered are the basics. But SharePoint offers a vast array of advanced features and tools for business including business intelligence and information reporting, social media and workflows.