So What's this thing called SharePoint?
Jeff Lynch — 1/15/2020

SharePoint

I hear it all the time, the conversation usually goes like this: 

Friend: "What do you do?"

Me: "I'm a SharePoint Consultant"

Friend: "What's a SharePoint"

Me: "Microsoft's core engine they use for collaberation, business processes and much more"

Friend: "Oh, huh"

You get the idea, people are either worried because they remember the old days of SharePoint and had bad experiences or have no idea what it does.  Let's see if we can demistify some of the basics without getting technical.  At the end of the day, it's really about your business and what you need to do that's important!

The first thing to understand is that SharePoint is a collection of Lists and Libraries that are related together in Sites.  Each list and library can have many different columns added to them to help you organize the information or documents stored in them.  In essence, anything you currently store in an excel spreadsheet can be stored so that it's easier to use and access in SharePoint. 

Strengths of SharePoint lists are that you can view the items in the list using filters on those columns mentioned above.  This allows you, for example, to have a list of quotes you have sent out and a column for each one that is the status, and on Monday each week you want to look at all quotes that are open...easy...just clic the view called Open Quotes on the Quotes list and there it is.  Now throughout the week when you follow up on those quotes you select a new status from the dropdown and each quote moves to the appropriate list (maybe it's closed won, closed lost or some other terminology germaine to your business).  The key is that you get to create the structure and the terminology, SharePoint is just a vessel to hold your business data!

The next step is a business process.  What that means is that if X happens do Y.  It can be as simple as when you change the quote from open to closed - won, send an email to the production department to let them know the order is coming.  Obviously that's a simple example, but you can do virtually anything, calculate total sales and update a seperate list, send the customer an email thanking them, create an item in another list that is the task of filling the order.  The possibilities are endless and once you get your first idea or notion of what needs to happen, there will be a never ending stream of new ideas that follow.

The main thing to understand about SharePoint is that its the backbone of a large part of the Microsoft Office 365 offering.  The core functionality is included in your license for Office 365.  It's the backbone of other products like One Drive and Project Online.  SharePoint also integrates with the other MIcrosoft offerings like Flow and PowerApps and Teams. 

The first step is to think about all the things in your business that you need to keep organized and tracked?  Don't worry about modern pages vs classic pages or integrations with Flow or any of the technical aspects, just think about your business and what repetitive tasks do you have that you could automate.  What are you storing in Excel spreadsheets currently?  After you identify the need, the rest will fall into place!



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