If I could charge for the time I spend answering this question, I could retire by now. The answer, as in the joke about the newly hired accountant who was asked what two plus two is: “What do you want it to be?”
The answer is that SharePoint is a development platform. It’s much more than a program. Hear that? That’s the marketing team crying in the background, “you can’t say that, nobody knows what that means.” I know that, but people going out of their way to not call SharePoint a development platform is how we got so many confusing, conflicting and sometimes flat-out wrong answers in the first place. This post will not get technical, I promise! Please keep reading.
SharePoint is different things to different people. At its core, it builds websites that can serve as platforms of their own. Teams, for example, is built on a SharePoint platform. So it’s a bit like Office — you may not use it all, but the parts that you do use you’ll need to know pretty well. It’s like focusing on the Office 365 programs — like Word and Excel, for example — that you use most often.SharePoint is popularly used today to build extranets and intranets, but it is also file management on steroids, with deep file management capabilities,powerful metadata-driven search and easy-to-use website building functions. Tie all those functions together, and you begin to appreciate the true multifunctional capabilities of SharePoint and what it can do all across your business.
Think about it the way you might build a house. Consider digging the foundation, connecting to local electric and sewage systems — all of that is done for you when you use SharePoint (and especially SharePoint Online). If you were to hire a team of software developers to build something from scratch, they would spend lots of time coding things you would never see but that are vital to the overall project.
SharePoint is like a huge selection of prefab house parts.The walls are pre-built and plumbed, the windows installed, the roof trusses built to precise scale and delivered onsite. Much like custom software development, stick-building contractors typically start from the foundation up with a truckload of wood, shingles and nails. SharePoint is far more flexible; imagine that the truckload contains an infinite number of prefab walls and components that each serve specific purposes.
Maybe you want your house to have a three-car garage. Or perhaps you’re a Vespa guy — forget the three-car garage, but you sure would like a swimming pool. Those modifications are simplified with SharePoint.
SharePoint deployments can range from a rented studio apartment you use to stash you stuff when you happen to be in town to a multi-building biosphere that you never have to leave. It can be used to create entire websites like intranets and extranets.
SharePoint is giant collection of highly customizable parts: news feeds, wikis, event lists, contacts, calendars, links and so on. It organizes all your documents into document libraries that you specify. Once you get everything there, it gets better. The content is searchable, and the search is customizable. You can set permission access levels. You can turn on version controls, so a document can be rolled back to the prior version. You can tag files to be kept on litigation holds, or tag them with metadata. The options for managing collaboration internally and externally are almost endless.
SharePoint is a powerful tool for creating websites — especially intranets and extranets –that can help you connect and collaborate with your internal departments and teams or communicate with clients and vendors through the powerful Teams app.