What is SharePoint? - Basics, Features & Examples

Instructor: Sudha Aravindan

Sudha is currently an Information Technology Specialist and a EdD student at the University of Delaware.

This is a lesson about the basic features of SharePoint, a web portal from Microsoft Corporation. Read on to learn more about this secure web-based management system that is used to share and access data.

What Is SharePoint?

In today's high-tech world, organizations are constantly faced with the challenges of presenting and organizing large amounts of information. For example, a health care company has data about patients, doctors, treatments, medications and so on. All of this data, which used to be stored in endless paper files, can now be stored in some form of electronic format, including scanned images and PDF files.

This lesson explores SharePoint, one of the web-based management systems, or web portals, for secure sharing and access of electronic data. Keep in mind, a web portal is a collection of websites that present data from multiple data sources in an easy-to-understand format. For a more simple explanation, SharePoint is a website that stores data in a database and presents the data in the form of well-organized web pages.

SharePoint allows users to login, access, share and collaborate with others in a secure and mobile environment. SharePoint is a Microsoft product and so, needless to say, it works best with Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. Since SharePoint is a web-based system, it is also compatible on commonly used browsers, such as Chrome, Safari and Firefox, which makes it possible to use SharePoint not only on Windows computers but also on Mac and Unix computers.

A SharePoint system requires servers that can be configured internally by an organization's IT department. Or if you don't have the resources to manage servers, you can also purchase the SharePoint online service from Microsoft. SharePoint is also available as an app that can be accessed from mobile devices like tablets or smartphones.

Features of SharePoint

The main features of SharePoint include:

  • Collaboration
  • Content Management
  • Business Intelligence

Collaborating with SharePoint

A SharePoint site can be used as an intranet, or an internal website, where announcements, projects, tasks, calendars and contact lists can be maintained and shared for use within the organization. SharePoint also provides secure access, as each member can be given different permissions, edit or read-only access depending on the needs of the organization. In addition, SharePoint can be used as a central portal for exchange of information and collaboration on tasks, and the user interface can be personalized by each person.

Content Management with SharePoint

SharePoint has a powerful content management feature that is similar to an electronic document library. Imagine all the paper files that were stacked in file cabinets across multiple rooms making it impossible to find anything without shifting through vast amounts of paper! The electronic document management feature of SharePoint provides a central location to store electronic files. It also allows members of an organization to import documents so that files can be shared with all members by logging into the SharePoint site. Members can also work collaboratively on the same document, make revisions and access revision history, making it possible to multi-task in a mobile work environment.

Business Intelligence

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