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What is SharePoint? Everything You Need to Know

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SharePoint is a widely used cloud-based collaboration system that empowers business teams to work together. It provides the users with workflow applications, ‘list’ databases, the ability to automate workflow and control access to information, and more. 

What is SharePoint Online? 

SharePoint Online is the cloud version of Microsoft SharePoint. It offers a plethora of integration capabilities, in addition to the cloud applications, and can be paired with several other offerings that are a part of an Office 365 or a Microsoft 365 package. 

What Are the Benefits of Using SharePoint? 

From helping increase productivity and visibility for information workers to enabling secure sharing of content, SharePoint has several benefits to offer to both large and small businesses. It is known for improving cross collaboration experience through more efficient content management and workflow collaboration. 

The best thing about SharePoint is how easy it is to maintain and understand. Thanks to impressive scalability and customization options it offers, SharePoint is extensively used by businesses in all parts of the world for increasing their productivity and getting the best return on their investment. 

What Is SharePoint Used For? 

Several popular companies across various business sectors have benefitted from SharePoint and the functionalities it offers over the last 17 years. SharePoint is used by most of these companies for establishing standard business processes and streamlining working on ad-hoc projects. It is primarily used for information sharing, document publishing, and recording data. 

Additional features, such as security controls, co-authoring, versioning, and integration, among others provide business users with the capability to do more in less time and maintain the integrity of the work done. 

Some noteworthy capabilities of SharePoint are: 

  • Files not visible to anybody without the owner’s approval 
  • The owner can ‘check-out’ a document to prevent changes from other users 
  • Get notified for every modification in the document 
  • You can create workflows to automate recurring actions 

In addition to the above-mentioned capabilities, SharePoint also allows the users to create custom databases in an easy-to-use format. You can also record several pieces of information efficiently to integrate them into previously defined workflows or business processes. 

What is a SharePoint App? 

A SharePoint app is an integration that provides some additional features to the platform. Even though there are several apps in the package as it is, you can improve the platform’s capabilities by integrating relevant SharePoint apps.  

Some examples of SharePoint apps are libraries for storing and sharing files, calendar plug-ins, Nintex, and more. 

How is SharePoint Useful for Collaboration? 

SharePoint improves collaboration by enabling quick sharing of documents within a workspace. If you want to keep something to yourself, you can always utilize the personal storage space offered on OneDrive. While the files stored and shared on SharePoint are always in the notice of the site owner, files uploaded to OneDrive stay private to the user, until and unless shared with someone else. 

It might sound like sharing documents on SharePoint is a one-step process, but let us remind you – the possibilities are endless. You can use the approval and workflow features to control how documents are shared within a workspace and how the users work on this information within the organization. 

Several organizations rely on SharePoint to publish company-wide information such as HR documents, announcements, and memos for streamlined access to all the relevant parties. 

How Can SharePoint Be Used for Content Management? 

SharePoint is widely used for content management. Adding metadata to files you create on SharePoint simplifies sorting, organizing, and keeping a track of the content. As the site owner, you can also force all the users to add tags onto the content for minimizing the friction as they get uploaded to a collaboration space.  

As soon as you have the content and the metadata on SharePoint, you can use the various workflow tools to automate various processes such as enabling records disposition and disposal of information based on business policies. 

What is a SharePoint Farm? 

A SharePoint farm can be defined as a collection of servers that work together as SharePoint Roles. These roles come together to make SharePoint work. Breaking it further, each role is designed to perform a specific task. Once you have set up SharePoint workspace for your organization, you can configure each server in your farm to perform specific tasks. 

Currently, SharePoint supports three roles – Web Front End (WFE), Application Server, and Database Server. 

What is New with SharePoint 2019? 

In modern workplaces, everybody wants access to latest and efficient collaboration features. SharePoint 2019 introduced Team and Site Pages in addition to improved messaging and sharing to make collaboration easier than it has ever been. 

Some highlights of SharePoint 2019 are: 

  • Pages can operate with contemporary web elements, enabling users to easily modify their page by adding documents, videos, Yammer feeds, and images. 
  • With speedier interaction, simple column management, improved displays for mobile devices, and insightful insights, lists and libraries in SharePoint 2019 have a contemporary look and feel. Lists and libraries can also help determine and emphasize the user's top priorities.  
  • Team News is one of the more talked about, new communication options available. Sites for communication can be used to spread information, tell a tale, or send out a message. Without contacting IT, users can quickly create their own communication sites from SharePoint Home. 
  • Another thing that has improved significantly in SharePoint 2019 is how easy document and link sharing has become, thanks to Collaboration Sites. You will automatically be notified if you are sharing something in a large group, including several items, or sharing beyond your intended audience. 
  • Three straightforward permission levels to choose from 

Other Highlights of SharePoint 2019 

Streamlined Experience Across Mobile and Desktop 

With SharePoint 2019, you can empower mobile workers by letting them access and engage with shared data on the organization’s intranet as and when they’d like. SharePoint mobile experience is significantly better now. 

Improved sync clients for OneDrive for Business also open up solutions for organizations to sync files from Office 365 and SharePoint on-premises to a laptop, pushing collaboration to the next level for office and mobile workers. 

Expanded Opportunities for Customization 

SharePoint 2019 can be integrated with PowerApps and Flow seamlessly to create custom workflows and add new solutions to the environment. These are two apps that enable the users to discover and implement customizations as they need them. Earlier, this had to be done by submitting a ticket and waiting for the customization to be coded.  

This new integration is already a favorite among SharePoint owners as it serves as a great option for transforming existing InfoPath forms into a more modern environment while also allowing the admins to better prepare for the inevitable InfoPath depreciation. 

It is almost a delight for customers using legacy versions of SharePoint to discover that now there are apps that address all kinds of custom-coded solutions that they may need. Earlier, it was admin’s responsibility to build or deploy a code-based solution into SharePoint. Now, even they can leverage SharePoint Add-Ins. 

The bottom line: SharePoint 2019 is easier to customize, less cluttered with code, and more stable when updates are installed. 

Enhanced Hybrid Solutions 

The interaction between a hybrid solution and SharePoint Online can be even more straightforward with SharePoint Server 2019 installed. For instance, the improved search feature in SharePoint Server 2019 offers more user-friendly filters, real-time search results as users type their query, and results that are organized for simpler navigation.  

Another illustration of a smooth hybrid integration is the custom tiles underneath the so-called waffle icon, along with the user redirection to their OneDrive storage in Office 365, which was first offered in earlier versions.  

The popular hybrid Taxonomy feature from SharePoint 2016 Feature Pack 1 is available in SharePoint 2019, allowing the administrators to benefit from maintaining just one Managed Metadata term store. 

Extended Compliance Capabilities 

When working with the data loss prevention (DLP) and Compliance Center capabilities in SharePoint 2016, the users often reported discrepancy between what they saw in Office 365 and what was actually present in the environment. Thanks to the advanced keyword query language (KQL) in eDiscovery, the amount of sensitive material categories was minimal compared to what was discovered in Office 365. Applying regulations to new sites or gaining visibility over any found sensitive content became exceedingly tough as a result. Administrators may now finally take use of the automatic content identification, central reporting for events, and sensitive content types with the hybrid capabilities of SharePoint 2019. 

Administrators may also use policy templates to regulate and monitor their content while doing real-time searches for critical material. 

Additional Highlights 

SharePoint 2019 is so much more than the above-mentioned updates. Other highlights are: 

You can upload files up to 15 GB in size 

You can now include two special characters, “#” and “%”, to the file names. Also, URL character limit has now been increased to 400 

Improvements made to the PDF viewer or the recycle bin are definitely worth a mention. You can now restore personal files other colleagues may have deleted accidentally. 

Final Thoughts 

This article covers most ways in which how you, as an organization, can switch to SharePoint 2019 for improved productivity and efficiency of the members in your organization. All the decision-makers, admins and end users are going to enjoy the flexibility and scalability SharePoint 2019 offers. 

FAQs 

What is SharePoint used for? 

SharePoint offers multiple benefits to its users. While some organizations use SharePoint to create websites, others use it as a secure place to organize, share, store, and access information from any authorized device using a web browser. 

What is SharePoint in simple words? 

SharePoint, in the context of Microsoft Dynamics 365, is a cloud-based service used by businesses for information exchange between colleagues, partners, and customers. To access SharePoint, you can either subscribe to a Microsoft 365 plan or to the standalone SharePoint service. 

What is difference between OneDrive and SharePoint? 

Even though both SharePoint and OneDrive are used to store and share files securely, SharePoint is primarily used by professionals while OneDrive is usually preferred for personal files. Full control, when talking of SharePoint, lies with the site owner. In case of OneDrive, however, only the owner has the access rights to view, edit, or share the content. You can use SharePoint for other purposes too. 

Is SharePoint the same as Microsoft Office? 

SharePoint is just one of the many components of Microsoft Office 365. It can be purchased as a part of Office 365, or even as a standalone product. They more or less offer the same features, but which one of the two do you choose – that depends on your individual needs and content that needs to be handled. 

You might want to go with Office 365 where basic file-based storage is required, SharePoint is the ideal choice where high-level security and maintenance is a priority. 

Hope this helps! 

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Surbhi Sood

Surbhi is a passionate writer. She has been writing for several years now and enjoys demystifying complex topics to make them understandable for a broader range of audiences.

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