When it comes to SharePoint, so much confusion exists in the industry that one of the main questions that people usually ask is “What is SharePoint anyway?”
The SharePoint cloud is fantastic, but right now, you are in the SharePoint mist. And a mist is not healthy.
So, let us clear the dark mist of ignorance and bring some clarity.
What Exactly is SharePoint?
First of all, Microsoft SharePoint is not a ready-made product; it is a customizable platform. Just think of Android and iOS mobile apps. Android or iOS is the platform, and developers use them to make stunning apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
So SharePoint development goes along with the term SharePoint. You need to work with developers like Aufait Technologies and similar companies to tailor it specifically. Currently, about 190 million people across the globe use SharePoint.
One of the most basic uses of SharePoint by organizations is to create various attractive internal and external portals. The portals that companies then create, help them handle, store and access information, all this and much more with just a web browser like Edge, Firefox, Chrome, etc.
However, SharePoint is not all about creating portals. The scope of SharePoint is much more than this. When you hear SharePoint, it may mean any of the following:
- SharePoint Online
- SharePoint Server
- SharePoint Foundation
- SharePoint Designer
- One Drive
The below table elucidates the difference between them.
Imagine your old Uncle Ben, who’s never heard of the internet, asks, “What is this Google son?” And you struggle to answer it. You may call it a multinational company, a search engine, an information gatherer and what not.
The table indeed highlights some of the standard SharePoint features, but SharePoint is much more.
And do you think Uncle Ben will understand what it is?
Possibly, not much.
But if you give him your smartphone and make him use Google for three days. Uncle Ben is going to get the hang of it.
Some things can only be understood by doing them. SharePoint is such a platform. One needs to see what it does for an organization to gauge its depth and expense. Now, let us get to know SharePoint the way organizations utilities.
Why is Microsoft SharePoint Important?
Research shows that 85% of Fortune 500 companies use Microsoft SharePoint for their day to day work management. You may wonder why these top-notch businesses prefer SharePoint? Why is it so important?
SharePoint’s importance can be attributed to two factors- one is its ease of use, and other is the convenience that it offers to businesses. Being a documentation management tool and a collaboration platform, SharePoint helps businesses to integrate their workflow effectively.
With its extensive set of technologies and integration capabilities, SharePoint helps to bring an organization together by simplifying its internal processes.
What are the Challenges in Implementing Microsoft SharePoint?
Challenges are synonymous with changes. When we navigate through uncharted territory, we are sure to come across hurdles.
Research shows that 40% of Microsoft SharePoint implementations are unsuccessful. Being an innovative platform, it is common to have challenges in SharePoint implementation. But if you work well enough, any challenge can be overcome. To overcome the challenges, first, we must know what they are. Some commonly faced challenges are:
1. User Interface
New users of SharePoint often find usability issues with its user interface. Cluttered pages, non-intuitive navigation, and complicated accessibility create a challenging user experience for beginners to Microsoft SharePoint.
Customizing SharePoint UI to provide a better experience is a way out of this challenge, but even that takes a lot of time and effort. Hence, it causes a disadvantage.
2. User Adoption
After making the transition to Microsoft SharePoint, organizations implement document libraries for storing files. This is done to utilize the indexing feature of SharePoint to make finding documents easy. But often the document library gets so overloaded that users have to spend more time to find required files.
3. Training Support
Many times, organizations implement SharePoint but do not provide adequate training to employees. With a lack of training, it is impossible for employees to use the platform effectively. It reduces the quality of outcome and restricts the organization from reaping the full benefits of SharePoint.
Without enough training, employees cannot organize content efficiently, leading to an unsatisfactory work environment. This challenge can be overcome if organizations provide training and monitoring.
4. Compliance Issues
Some industries like healthcare or financial services will have strict compliance regulations regarding their data records. In such industries, SharePoint solutions tend to be problematic because SharePoint has the right to save documents for their internal reasons. Thus these industries find it challenging to implement SharePoint solutions.
Why Should You Use SharePoint?
SharePoint is a feature-rich platform that is suitable for organizations of all scales and all verticals. Enterprises can utilize these excellent features to improve their work processes, increase productivity, and boost ROI.
Let us look into some of the reasons why you should use SharePoint.
- Automate Your Work – you can sit back and relax, and SharePoint takes care of your day to day tasks, targets, and meetings. The Microsoft workflows you design and integrate make your office a great place to work with little to carry and remember.
- Monitor Work and Workforce – It is easy to set the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in a SharePoint depending on the nature of our employee’s work. Human Resource Managers (HRM) can easily mark and weigh employee efficiency on a real-time basis using performance management software. The top management can track the work progress and peg the overall flow of the company effectively.
- Manage Tenders – One of the most challenging things that Finance Managers face is handling invoices, new demands, settling and balancing accounts. SharePoint makes their life easy by creating and auto-tracking invoices and tendering process. A carefully designed procurement software like ProcurePoint can assist you in registering vendors, ensuring transparency and winning the trust of your customers.
- Mobility – Work from home, traffic, never miss important meetings even while traveling all with SharePoint apps. The progressive web designs are the core of SharePoint architecture. It ensures that every new innovative page or site you design is automatically compatible with your smartphone. Make apps and delegate mundane duties to your SharePoint solution.
- Integrate Workplace – Create a common place to work, share and meet. The different levels of authorization ensure that the right files are always accessible to the right person at the right time in an organization that uses SharePoint.
What are the Benefits of SharePoint?
Microsoft SharePoint opens up a plethora of benefits for your organization. It transforms the work culture by using constructive technologies to bring an entire workforce together. In this section, we will dive into these benefits and see how they strengthen an organization.
SharePoint helps you to make intranet sites that will act as an internal internet inside your enterprise. And with your SharePoint intranet, you can carry your office in your pocket. Therefore, performing day-to-day business operations become possible with the least effort.
Whether it is approval, review, or tracking, you can initiate, monitor the process, and report, all within the SharePoint environment. This private network within an organization is very useful in information sharing while ensuring the data is safeguarded.
Security is of prime importance in any organization. In this age of cyberattacks, hacking, and fraudulent activities, nobody would compromise on their data security. With SharePoint, you are hosting through a single platform, reducing the risk of information leaks.
When it comes to document sharing, it has robust security features for document access, editing permissions, etc. Different configuration settings are available to handle information of all sensitivity levels.
It is much beneficial in industries where professionals have to stick to strict regulations regarding document control. SharePoint helps to create these settings and audit policies easily.
3. Streamline Business Processes
The beauty of collaborative platforms like Microsoft SharePoint is that it is possible to streamline business processes by accumulating all the data in one place. Whether it is communication with clients, partners, or suppliers, all information can be organized together in the SharePoint portal.
The advantage of this is that it will help organizations make informed decisions, understand the trends, and streamline their business processes accordingly so as to save time, effort, and speed up operations.
A great benefit of Microsoft SharePoint is that it offers seamless integration with other applications in use within an organization. Microsoft OfficeSuite, ERP, CRM, Office 365, etc. are some of the tools that can be integrated with SharePoint. It is also compatible with all web browsers.
Besides providing means to integrate with other applications, it also helps you integrate all your work environments in one place.
5. Optimized Content Management
Content management is crucial for any organization. It is how they share updates, ideas, and news about their business internally in an organization as well as externally. With SharePoint, users can use Microsoft Office to create, edit, and publish documents and convert them to various formats.
It is possible to prepare and schedule content for publication using SharePoint. It also supports the management of multilingual content.
6. Simplified Data Management
In organizations, often, employees are overwhelmed with data. Organizing documents, responding to emails, creating different formats, sharing to different people- the list is endless.
SharePoint makes data management simple and efficient. With its centralized storing, cloud support, notifications, and unified documents, it becomes easy to manage data. It gives employees precisely what they need and does not overwhelm them with cluttered information. Thus, keeping track of all data is simplified with SharePoint.
The best advantage of SharePoint is the customization feature that it offers. It is possible to customize SharePoint to the needs of a specific organization. The SharePoint environment can be built with features as per the requirements of a project or an organization. It gives access to an array of custom features and tools beyond the default ones.
Thus during the SharePoint development for your organization, you can tailor them according to your needs. This is an excellent benefit that is not usually provided by all platforms.
8. Centralized administration
Ease of handling is a core benefit of SharePoint. Centralized administration is what makes this possible. From a single point, an admin can manage all the main functions. App management, system settings, configuration settings, backup, security – all of this can be managed from a central location with a single console.
This gives a more efficient control over the entire platform and comprehensive administrative powers. So no matter how big your organization is, management becomes a breeze.
9. Reduced Cost
This benefit of SharePoint can be accounted to the fact that it is cloud-based. Cloud storage helps to reduce cost related to data storage to a large extent. In the cloud, you can get storage according to your requirements. You don’t have to pay for a large storage capacity in one go. Depending on your needs, you can buy less or more storage.
10. Real-Time Collaboration
The merits offered by real-time collaboration in a SharePoint environment is unparalleled. This is much evident in the case of document control. It supports editing of documents by multiple people at the same time, thus improving their collaboration. But while doing this, it also takes care to prevent duplicate documents.
With its document version history, it is possible to get all versions of a document. Hence, we can retain old versions if needed or in case of any conflicts, get any intermediate versions. It also records details such as when was a document last edited, by whom, etc.
11. Increased Productivity
When document management is automated, employees get a lot of free time in hand. This is because most of the time-consuming tasks are taken over by the platform. Hence, employees can now focus on tasks that require their expertise. This helps to increase their productivity.
Further, because they can access every data they need to perform their tasks easily, it enables them to speed up their work processes and do it more efficiently.
How Collaboration is Achieved in SharePoint?
Collaboration is ideal for teamwork. Often during a new project development or brainstorming phase, organizations understand the need for collaboration. Now, with SharePoint, collaboration is easy since it creates a virtual workspace for enterprises.
In this virtual workspace, organizations can perform both team-based collaboration or enterprise-wide collaboration. At the heart of collaboration is the intranet, which is what connects employees to each other through instant messages, discussion forums, etc. This shared space keeps a team connected, no matter how distant they are geographically.
A powerful feature that supports collaboration is the document management feature. SharePoint allows employees to share documents with just a link. Further people with access can edit a document simultaneously, which is instantly updated in the cloud, making sure that at all times the newest version of the document is available.
Team members can work on different sections of a single document simultaneously, and SharePoint will unify it as the editing proceeds.
To further enhance the collaborative capacity, it offers tools like Yammer, Teams, etc. where employees can stay in touch.
How Can SharePoint be Used for Content Management?
Organizations generate content at a fast pace as at all times they are juggling with information. If not organized properly, this content may heap together to form such an enormous mess that it will be difficult to find any data when needed.
SharePoint’s enterprise content management (ECM) gives you the means to organize and manage content from its generation to archival.
For document management, the features that it provides are:
- Storage of content in a central repository to enable easy finding and sharing
- Add metadata information to documents to make it easy to organize
- Create unique document IDs to identify each document quickly and easily
- Give controlled access to information on all levels, from a single document to the entire site
- Track all information related to a document such as who modified it, accessed it, etc.
For digital media management, the features that it provides are:
- Play audio and video directly with built-in players.
- Optimized media assets libraries that include the features of a document library and more. That is, in addition to metadata and unique ID, it also offers a thumbnail view, video preview, etc.
For web content management, the features that it provides are:
- Easy creation and publishing of web content using reusable templates
- Maintain consistent page layout to create a branded look and feel
- Allows publishing content to intranet, extranet, and internet sites, thus saving deployment and management costs.
What is a SharePoint App?
SharePoint apps are standalone features that you can use to add specific functionalities to the SharePoint platform. These are small size, easy to integrate applications that can perform certain set tasks. By adding these apps to the SharePoint site, it is possible to customize the platform according to your organization needs.
The apps could be features that enhance document-based tasks, displays news, enable calendar plugins, connect to social media, etc. Some apps are built-in in the SharePoint platform, while some you have to purchase from third-party developers. Your organization can also develop their own custom apps.
What is a SharePoint Farm?
SharePoint Farm can be defined as a group of servers that work in conjunction with each other to deliver certain services. So, to perform SharePoint roles, you configure SharePoint Farm servers.
These farm servers can either be single or multiple depending on the requirements of organizations. Either a single Farm server can perform all the roles, or you can use multiple servers for different roles.
Basically, there are three SharePoint roles– Web Front End Servers, Application Servers, and Database Servers.
- Web Front End Servers’ role is to manage web page requests. Thus, all the instances where a user opens a SharePoint page is processed by this server. Hence, more the number of users, more Web Front End Servers your organization would need.
- Applications Servers’ role is to support the running of applications hosted in SharePoint Farms. They usually support the running of Search services or Excel, Powerpoint, etc.
- Database servers are SQL servers that handle data in the database management system.
What is New with SharePoint 2019?
SharePoint 2019 was launched with an aim to provide a new and modern experience for its users. It wants to make the SharePoint experience more flexible, intuitive, and mobile.
So what is new with SharePoint 2019? Let us take a look at the updated features.
- They have improved communication sites with the addition of images, texts, and links to make your content prominent. Users can create communication sites for themselves without IT support.
- You can now send email from the Access Services 2013 by using the SendEmail option.
- SharePoint 2019 supports fast site creation where users can create new sites in a matter of seconds.
- SharePoint document libraries now have increased storage file size upto 15 GB.
- Its revamped UI offers modern sharing and search experiences.
- Team sites are also improved to provide better team collaboration. Finding teams news and accessing collaboration tasks are made easier.
- SharePoint 2019 supports integration with Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Automate.
- A redesigned SharePoint homepage that gives users a seamless navigation experience and brings together all their sites- online and on-premise- to one place.
- Advanced features such as push notifications and files on demand while syncing files with Onedrive sync app.
- A modern approach to list and libraries with faster interaction, easy management and better display
With SharePoint 2019, Microsoft has taken considerable efforts to upgrade the SharePoint environment. A thing worth mentioning is that most of the modern features have been implemented while maintaining the classic ones intact so that old users do not feel alarmed by the change and have a choice to make the transition or not.
How Can SharePoint be Customized?
To customize the look of your SharePoint site, there are several options available. However, it is essential to note that you need to be a site owner or have design permissions on the site to do this.
So what are the features that can be customized?
1. Use themes to change the colors of SharePoint site
Apart from the default theme, you can create a company theme of your own for your SharePoint site or choose from any classic themes.
2. Customize site header
It is possible to customize the site header of your SharePoint site. There are four options- Minimal, Compact, Standard, and Extended.
3. Change navigation style
You can choose a mega menu style navigation or cascading style navigation.
4. Enable site footer
You can enable site footer on communication site pages. It is available in two layouts- single and extended.
5. Edit site footer
After enabling site footer, you can edit the footer details to add links or labels. It is possible to add up to eight links or labels on one level.
A Quick Look at SharePoint Licensing
We know SharePoint is a single platform that supports the internet, intranet, and extranet. Therefore what kind of license you need depends upon how you are deploying SharePoint, what functionalities you are using, and where you are hosting your system.
For SharePoint Online, the license is on a per-user basis. It can either be purchased as a standalone plan or as a part of Microsoft 365. For on-premise, the licensing for intranet uses a server/CAL(Client Access License) model. For each person/device accessing the SharePoint server, CALs are required.
For external users, CALs are not required for extranet and internet sites.
How to Implement SharePoint?
The implementation of SharePoint requires a complete understanding of your company’s needs and goals. Depending on your SharePoint needs, you can implement three types of SharePoint- SharePoint Online, SharePoint On-premise, and SharePoint Hybrid.
Once you have defined your goals precisely, and know what it is that you want to accomplish, it is time to find a skilled team. If your organization has the right resources, you can get them to work. Otherwise, you can hire experienced SharePoint developers or approach a SharePoint development company to implement SharePoint.
And finally, when SharePoint is implemented, you should dedicate time and resources for a proper training strategy. This is crucial as otherwise, your employees might not be able to utilize the full potential of this feature-rich platform. With proper demonstration and training, you can guide your employees to make the most out of SharePoint and enjoy increased productivity and enhanced work experience.
What’s the Future of SharePoint?
The recent Microsoft Build conference drops an indication of what SharePoint means to the future of modern workplaces. And there is only one word for it, it is GARGANTUAN.
The very face of the modern workplace is bound to change with the rolling out of the new plans that Microsoft Office 365 and associated features envisages. A workplace of your dreams. It leverages the state of the art technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and much more.
A modern Office 365 workplace will let you,
Enjoy the Purely Digital Experience
A new feature in SharePoint that boosts your organization’s time to value ratio. The feature is called SharePoint home sites. The home site will be like a landing page for the employees.
Imagine unlocking a world of interactive workplaces, where the site will engage you, talk to you and much more. The news, events, chats etc that are relevant to you depending on the position you hold at the company.
Features that intelligently assist your employees with the relevant information, content, and navigation that adds to their productivity.
Work Simultaneously on Documents
The new Fluid Framework from Microsoft can help you have a unique experience on the web like never before in the industry. It lets you edit, write, and work on a single document at the same time. This co-authoring feature can revolutionize the way people work in a project.
All the team members can watch the progress of projects, share new ideas and discuss the best way of doing things in the very initial stage of a project.
It will be unimaginable till now. Usually, it takes a round of planning to discuss the way ahead. Fluid Framework will let you do it then and there, instantly. The features will be available across the across Word, Teams, Outlook and other Microsoft tools.
Converse the Yammer Way
Yammer is one of the most remarkable offerings from Microsoft SharePoint. It helps in connecting with everyone within the enterprise via social networking. Yammer helps build a culture of the dynamic relationship between the various levels of the organization.
The very core of a strong foundation is trust. And it is transparency that inspires confidence. Yammer is a powerful way to build interpersonal relations within the enterprise. The intelligent bots can help in creating an interactive experience that fosters growth and development.
Every second, about a million employees working across thousands of enterprises are creating an enormous amount of data. The trouble of transforming the information into something meaningful lies with the data managers, statisticians and other professionals. But things are now changing with Microsoft Search.
Check the immense possibilities of this tool in the visual below:
Microsoft Search provides you with a unique enterprise search experience. It is found that nearly 50% of the workforce in companies suffer from the meagre classification of data. Data that cannot be made useful is a burden on the management. It is here that the new Search feature innovates.
The Microsoft Search allows you to call data from any part of your whole enterprise data. And it does it with a small all in one search bar. It calls the entire data to the aid of an employee depending on the authorization he or she has. Thus it balances feasibility and security.
The ultimate experience that one can have in the workplace is what SharePoint Spaces has to offer. The fantastic way in which it redefines work is in the visuals below:
The SharePoint spaces take advantage of immersive and mixed reality technology to create, predict and calculate use cases for every project. It allows intensive testing of every project in the virtual reality and thus takes care of even the minute details.
All this and much more is on the anvil for the future workplaces. SharePoint development services are now rampant and creative developers can pave the way for innovations to make offices more engaging. The way Microsoft and associated partners are making headways in making workplace richer in experience, one thing is sure i.e.
“Sharepoint is the future of modern workplaces.”