What is SharePoint? A Beginner’s Guide

What is SharePoint? A Beginner’s Guide

In all the years I’ve been working in SharePoint and Office 365, I’ve often met people from my previous technology career who have been in IT for decades and have never heard of SharePoint. Inspired by this, I’ve decided to start a new series to serve as a friendly introduction to the basics of SharePoint for new users. There will also be a post where we look at a few principles of managing SharePoint and Office 365.

Below are answers to the most basic questions I get about SharePoint the purpose of the system and its capabilities. I hope you find these helpful!

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a site-based collaboration system that uses workflow applications, list databases, and other web parts and security features to enable business teams to work together. SharePoint also allows the enterprise to use the platform to control access to information and automate workflow processes across business units.

The Microsoft cloud version of SharePoint, SharePoint Online, has many additional features to integrate with other cloud applications and complements many Microsoft packages offered with an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 license.

What are the benefits of using SharePoint?

SharePoint enables increased productivity and visibility for information professionals in organizations large and small across all organizational structures. The functions of SharePoint ensure smooth intranet-based cross-collaboration, which enables secure sharing, content management, and collaboration on workflows, among other things.

For a website-based collaboration platform, SharePoint is easy to maintain and the basics are easy for users to understand. SharePoint is also fully customizable and highly scalable. There are many different ways companies use the platform to realize increased productivity and ROI.

What is SharePoint used for?

As an intranet platform spanning all business sectors, SharePoint has been instrumental in increasing work efficiency at Fortune 500 companies over the past 17 years. The many functions of the platform contribute significantly to facilitating collaboration on ad hoc projects and establishing standard business processes for information exchange, document publication, and data recording.

Features such as security controls, co-authoring, versioning, and integration with Exchange (Outlook email applications) allow business users to get more work done in less time while ensuring the integrity of work products. SharePoint includes the following capabilities:

Approval of documents as a requirement for them to be viewed

“Checking out” documents to prevent co-authoring or editing by another person

Receive notifications when documents are uploaded or changes are made

Build workflows using if-then logic to automate actions such as moving or emailing documents and recording information

All of these features increase the productivity of business users. But the best is yet to come. SharePoint surpasses all previous document collaboration systems in terms of displaying information about what information/documents are stored and why.

It’s extremely easy in SharePoint to request metadata, or information about data (like modified time, created by, etc., but also custom tags for documents or items), so employees can better understand why a document exists and why it’s important without having to open it. SharePoint even allows users to create custom databases in a user-friendly format and record thousands of different pieces of information that can be integrated into the aforementioned workflows or other business processes.

What is a SharePoint app?

Apps in SharePoint are integrations that add functionality to the standard collaboration spaces on the platform. Some apps come with the platform by default, but there are others that add features and options that aren’t part of the default SharePoint platform. This can be a library where users can store and share documents and files, calendar plugins, or powerful workflow apps like Nontax that simply enable many repeatable logical actions in SharePoint, etc.

How is SharePoint used for collaboration?

SharePoint provides a web-based place where users can upload documents for instant sharing with others who need access to them. You can also have your own storage space –  One Drive. The documents or files uploaded to it are not visible to others until they are shared or other users are granted access to the document in question.


This makes sharing a published document view with a group of colleagues a one-step process—if you want to. The aforementioned approval and workflow features are designed to control how documents are shared and how employees work on information in their organization.

Links to shared documents or collaboration spaces can also be easily emailed, making it easy for users to quickly access the files they want.

Businesses often use SharePoint to publish company-wide information such as HR documents, announcements, and memos.

How can SharePoint be used in content management?

SharePoint allows metadata to be added to files in many different ways to sort, organize, and track company content. More importantly, SharePoint as a platform can also enforce tags on content when business users upload it to collaboration spaces. Likewise, as part of this process, end users may be required to provide metadata about documents.

When content and metadata reside on the platform, SharePoint gives organizations workflow tools to automate:

  • Processes based on information provided by end-users
  • Content lifecycle tools to enable the use of datasets
  • Disposal of information based on company policy

The majority of Fortune 500 companies have relied on the SharePoint platform for over a decade and the SharePoint ecosystem represents a multi-billion dollar industry. With the new capabilities of SharePoint Online as part of Office 365/the Microsoft 365 cloud application and linking to services such as Flow, Office 365 Groups, and Teams, SharePoint and SharePoint-based services are becoming increasingly important in all vertical markets.

Benefits or Advantages of Sharepoint:

SharePoint, despite its less-than-stellar image, has some advantages. There’s a reason why it’s so popular for building business intranets and collaboration sites.

However, organisations are swiftly abandoning the idea of intranets—but that’s a topic for another day.

When working on projects together, this saves a lot of time. It also implies that time-saving automations can be set up not just in Office 365, but in other programmes as well. You can also use it as an email tool.

That means you can construct anything on top of it. Although some functionality is built into the platform’s basic form, the most successful SharePoint systems rely heavily on custom development.

SharePoint’s most helpful feature is that it stores a large number of files in a single area. It shouldn’t take long for anyone to find what they’re looking for if your organisational structure is sound.

SharePoint is useful for a wide range of tasks, but document management is its strongest suit. Some examples of its are given below.

Check out documents, see who’s worked on them, and keep track of who’s made changes.

Control document access and security.

To find what you’re looking for, explore large document libraries .

Scanning and capturing software can help you become paperless.

Enter and manage metadata for documents.

If you need to migrate to SharePoint at some point, a tool from AvePoint can help you.


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