Quick… you are called into your CEO’s office and he asks you “What is SharePoint?” What do you say? Something about storing files and it does lots of things and…
Time to get more exact. We have had this conversation many times with executives. It seems like it should be an easy answer to “What is SharePoint?”, but we realized the answer frequently changes depending who you are talking to, your level of knowledge of SharePoint and the ever-changing landscape of Microsoft’s products.
Rewind to 2010
Let’s go back to SharePoint 2010. SharePoint 2010 was the start of SharePoint being more in line with what it is today. A prominent ribbon like Microsoft Office, a much larger feature set, SharePoint Designer was 100% overhauled and so much more. We even saw the start of SharePoint Online based on the SharePoint 2010 platform.
The changes were so predominant from 2007 to 2010, it led Microsoft to update their most famous SharePoint visual, the SharePoint Wheel!
(SharePoint 2010 Wheel Vs. SharePoint 2007 Wheel)
Image Courtesy of Burton
While the SharePoint Wheel was the graphic to use in any SharePoint introductory presentation, it was always hard for business executives to really grasp what each section meant without a deeper explanation.
Fast-Forward to Today
So what ever happened to this graphic? Why hasn’t it changed in 7 years? ShareGate did an excellent job 3 years ago of addressing the SharePoint 2010 Wheel and what each segment has now been sliced into, but it still doesn’t address “What is SharePoint”:
Image Courtesy of ShareGate
What Is SharePoint?
As is with most things in life, a picture is worth a 1000 words:
We come up with the above visual after working with countless clients and having to explain SharePoint many, many times. We also polled our employees with that very question “What is SharePoint” and hosted several discussions to boil it down into a useful image that business executives would understand. As mentioned earlier, the original SharePoint Wheel helped get the conversation started, but it was hard for it to “Stand on its own” without deeper explanation on what each slice meant.
While our goal is to have an update, singular infographic of ‘What is SharePoint’, we offer the following deeper explanations on each SharePoint Component.
SharePoint security can be as broad as sharing everything with everyone to as narrow as only one person seeing their exact files only. It can be setup for both internal and external users to access information. Security can be managed by single people, teams or by the broader audience depending on a company’s needs. SharePoint security tends to be the largest conversation piece on almost every SharePoint engagement as there are numerous methods and best practices for managing it.
Tightly related to security is sharing in SharePoint. When security is setup properly, information sharing in SharePoint allows for a single source of truth for information and a collaborative experience around that information. Sharing can include files, tasks, calendar events, surveys and much more.
The presentation of information tends to be a primary driver for why companies choose SharePoint. Office 365 offers a plethora of tools for managing information, but displaying information in a manner specific to how your company does business is what SharePoint really shines. Presenting information in SharePoint can be tailored to just about any way you can imagine, including different displays for tablets and phones. Need a vibrant image in the top-left, contacts in the top-right and a company calendar below it all? SharePoint gets it done.
There are at least 2 different platforms for automating business processes and procedures in SharePoint 2013 or higher. If you are on SharePoint Online, there are at least 3. Need even more? There are several 3rd party companies (some which we highly recommend!) that really increase business automation in SharePoint. SharePoint and automation are almost synonymous as you naturally start moving past it’s retention capabilities.
Managing information in SharePoint is a very important concept that generally gets overlooked. It also goes by another larger name, information architecture. It’s not common for business users to understand how to manage information across all of SharePoint, but it is highly recommended that at least one person is responsible for the data of each site in SharePoint. If someone is not responsible, how do you know the data is organized properly, not redundant and most importantly organized in a manner that the rest of the business finds useful? Management of information can range from organizing a list all the way up to managing all information across the entire company. What’s your plan?
Many industries have internal and external standards that must be adhered to such as HIPAA, CIS and 21 CFR Part 11. SharePoint offers numerous configuration options that allow these compliance frameworks to be adhered to. A quick internet search for any external compliance standard and guidelines for implementing it will yield a lot of very useful information. Compliance also tends to come up often in discussions whether companies want to use SharePoint On Premise vs. SharePoint Online, but that is a topic for another day.
SharePoint has its own application store to provide a rich functional and design environment. Since it is a web-based technology, it can also present information from other web sources directly in SharePoint. Want to get even creative and interact with data n other external data sources (security permitting of course), you can do that as well. A lot of very interesting business cases start arising as people and companies realize the deep integrations that are plausible within SharePoint.
Last but not lease is data retention. It is the most simplistic and understood aspect of SharePoint. Yes indeed, SharePoint can store files, tasks, records and almost any other kind of information you can dream of. Most everyone who has heard of SharePoint knows this aspect at its core. It is worth mentioning that SharePoint has robust retention policies that can be used to keep older information in check. No one likes a giant pile of old files and data!
What Else Is SharePoint?
So that is our take on what SharePoint is. If you would like us to help you dive deeper into any of these categories, send us a message and we will gladly talk anytime. We’d love to chat! 1-800-682-0882 or submit an inquiry here