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Office 365 Training Series: Introduction to SharePoint
Microsoft has a number of software and features that allow collaboration and networking both via physical links and on the cloud. SharePoint Online is the company’s premier offering for online file and data sharing, performance of collaborative tasks and general multi-access storage.
The cloud-based collaborative platform by Microsoft has a plethora of benefits for end users, enterprises, and large-scale organizations. If you are among the ones mentioned, and are looking to learn more about the sharing platform, then read on as we discuss the fundamentals of SharePoint, as well as its benefits.
SharePoint: Definition and Fundamentals
In its essence, SharePoint is a software system that is cloud and browser-based. It allows data/document sharing and management, as well as connection across networks. The purpose of SharePoint is to connect data-based business resources and employees in an organization, both with each other and with outsiders, providing access to all the data in the server.
The one defining feature of SharePoint that makes it so beneficial, is that it allows everyone to synchronize and collaborate for business tasks and various other organizational responsibilities. All of the collaboration that takes place on the SharePoint database, is done through a centralized software platform.
The platform has both an on-premises and online version. The latter is known as SharePoint Online, and is purely cloud-based, with no need for physical servers. It behaves as a virtual machine, and in some ways, is better for organizations that are spread far apart, geographically. There is also a hybrid version of SharePoint that provides even more versatile access and functionality.
SharePoint Applications and Uses
Following are some of the areas of usage and applications of the cloud-based sharing platform:
- Document and data management: This is mostly applicable for business that store most, if not all data and documents in a shared and accessible storage space, such as a centralized server instead of a series of private hard drives. The administrator can grant anyone within or outside the organization (in case of SharePoint Online) access to the data, allowing modification and management.
- End-to-end project management: SharePoint can be used for more streamlined and coordinated project management, bringing together all the elements of the project, including the managers and individuals responsible for production. Managers can better track progress, and produce better cost-cutting measures, as a result.
- Website management/integration: SharePoint can also be used to build external websites for companies. The built-in content management feature allows administrators and permitted individuals enact protocols, perform updates, create and modify pages, and make various other changes.
- Human resource management: Human resource managers can use SharePoint to automate responses, policy roll-outs, manage company-wide and incoming HR-related communication, and make the hiring process much simpler.
- Business intelligence: Companies can use SharePoint to enhance access to business intelligence, in order to make better decisions. The simple search features with SharePoint allow specific data to be searched for, which makes larger patterns and signs visible. Decision-makers can leverage this data to improve their decision-making, with respect to the goals of the company.
- Collaboration: Companies can use SharePoint to increase the organizational interaction between their employees, which lets them collaborate to solve tasks and issues, instead of figuring out solution on their own. Through SharePoint, each connected employee can access information such as project status, scheduled tasks, allocated data etc.
- Marketing management and brainstorming: To aid with marketing efforts, SharePoint has several built-in tools that help with demographic behavior and customer analysis, as well as targeted marketing-related communication and real-time tracking.
Considerably easy to use and manage, the platform requires just a web browser and basic internet knowledge. Additionally, Microsoft has introduced a mobile-based app for SharePoint, accessible on Android, iOS and Windows.
SharePoint Online VS SharePoint Server
The two primary versions of Microsoft SharePoint are the Online and Server editions. Both are accessible by individuals granted exclusive access; however, they use different mediums.
SharePoint Online is the more commonly used version today, with more organizations preferring the cloud-based storage, which negates the need for massive server rooms and physical space. The service is hosted and data is stored in a server that exists in Microsoft’s own datacenters, and is accessible from anywhere, with just an internet connection.
SharePoint Online is made available for users along with Office 365 for Business, Enterprise E3 and Business Premium subscriptions, as part of the package.
On the other hand, SharePoint Server needs to be installed on the network infrastructure of the company, with the on-premises server as the main storage. The features can all be accessed through the local area network, and don’t necessarily require an internet connection.
A hybrid environment is a combination of on-premises and cloud-based functionality. For SharePoint users, this translates to features and capabilities of both the Server and Online editions. The hybrid version of SharePoint is more versatile than either of the primary versions, since it includes a variety of users (example: those with or without internet connections) into the mix.
One elemental function of the hybrid setup is to allow users to naturally and gradually transition on to the cloud atmosphere, at a pace they are comfortable with. In addition, SharePoint Hybrid provides companies with more flexibility in terms of content management, since they can use both the online-only functionality, as well as local-area based usage simultaneously.
Microsoft SharePoint, its fundamentals and its uses are a major part of our Office 365 training, at QuickStart. Highly useful for IT professionals as well as business/project managers, the learning delivers workable knowledge of the world’s premier document sharing platform.