SharePoint is like any other Microsoft application, even though it might be more imposing than most. It comes with many built-in features that require a bit of a learning curve to use well. When you first get started with SharePoint in your business, you don’t need to know every bell and whistle. For successful implementation of the program in your workflow, focus on getting set up and launching your initial SharePoint project.
SharePoint installs directly to a server, so if you have an on-site server and an IT team, the set-up process should be simple.
That doesn’t mean your small business without its own on-site server is excluded from SharePoint, though. You can install SharePoint on a shared server as well. If you store your company’s website and projects with a hosting company, like Rackspace, you can set SharePoint up on that shared server and get the same utility from the application. Plus, with a hosting company, you don’t have to manage the server yourself and can use the company’s tech support to help with your SharePoint installation.
At its core, SharePoint is a tool for collaboration. When a new project is launched within your company, the person in charge of the project can begin a SharePoint site and do everything involved in the project from within the application, from communicating to storing files to tracking overall progress. The ability to share files and calendars within SharePoint makes it easy for teams to work on projects together, but, perhaps more importantly, it keeps project information uniform and in one place, so the project lead is also certain he or she is working with the most recent version of a project file.
Since SharePoint stores collaborative projects, past and present, the application also provides a means of locating and integrating files from other projects into a current project, which prevents the same work from being done twice.
Working in SharePoint
The tools provided within SharePoint are extensive, which can be overwhelming, but one feature of the program generally leads to the next, which is why a practice project in SharePoint is an ideal way to learn about program features.
With a collaborative project, the first step after starting a project is creating a team, which can be accomplished using the search tools to find people within the company who meet specific criteria. Once a project team is assembled, the next logical steps would be to share calendars and start project files. Since SharePoint integrates with other Microsoft Office programs, including Outlook, syncing can pull outside information into SharePoint automatically, while files can be created in programs like Excel and Word.
SharePoint is a collaborative program, but it’s not solely about projects. The blogging feature in SharePoint allows team members create their own posts, helping your team make connections and build camaraderie.
The program also provides ample tools to create client-facing websites. By combining the SharePoint collaboration tools with the program’s web-design tools, teams can work within SharePoint to create new company websites.
As far as applications go, there’s no denying that SharePoint is extensive. Attempting to use every feature the program has to offer from the outset is a surefire way to become overwhelmed. After getting the program installed, consider starting a company-wide project that all team members can join. You’ll give everyone a chance to play in the application, and as users discover features, they can use SharePoint’s collaborative system to easily share their discoveries with the rest of the team.