There are seemingly endless possibilities when it comes to what you can do with Microsoft SharePoint. Introduced as an on-premises application in 2001, SharePoint has since evolved into a multi-faceted product that can be run locally (as SharePoint Server) or in the cloud (as SharePoint Online, a part of the Office 365 suite).
SharePoint is best known as an intranet solution, that is, as a platform for creating company-specific websites for project and content management. At the same time, it has many additional capabilities that make it one of the central collaboration tools within the Microsoft ecosystem. Let's look at a few that you can take advantage of to improve workflows at your organization.
SharePoint as a file host for Office Online
Office Online is the lightweight web-accessible equivalent of the traditional Office apps Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It is free to use, but also available as part of an Office 365 subscription or as a component in a private cloud (i.e., a set of cloud infrastructures housed on-premises and managed directly by IT).
In the latter setup, known as Office Web Apps Server, SharePoint plays a critical role. It serves as a file host that interacts with Office Web Apps Server and with the web browsers through which users actually access files. Multiple SharePoint instances can be connected to Office Web Apps Server to provide a seamless web-like experience to Office Online users within private IP networks.
SharePoint Online and Office 365 Groups
Team sites are a defining feature of SharePoint. They are shared locations, within which team members can exchange information and work concurrently on projects. Any time a team site is set up in SharePoint Online, a corresponding Office 365 Group is automatically created. Similarly, a team site is generated whenever an Office 365 Group is established in Outlook or People.
Once a team site is up and running, contributors can add libraries, lists and pages to it. Thanks to the connection to Office 365 Groups, there is no need for a separate SharePoint group or email distribution list to manage the collaborative processes.
Communication sites in SharePoint
"Communication sites are more sophisticated counterparts to team sites."
At its 2017 Virtual Summit, Microsoft introduced communication sites, which are essentially more sophisticated counterparts to team sites, designed for broader reach across the organization. Microsoft has pushed this new class of sites as "dynamic" pages that are optimized for the web as well as desktop and mobile versions of the SharePoint app.
Communication sites are well-integrated with other Office 365 sites. For example, they can dynamically pull in reports from Power BI, videos from Microsoft Steam and discussions from Yammer. Site creators have several readymade templates to choose from, including a Showcase to feature a specific product or service and a Topic format for sharing news and event updates
Sharpen your SharePoint skills at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers
SharePoint is a complex platform with many well-known and obscure features. You can dive into the finer details, along with those of the rest of the Office 365 suite (e.g., advanced Excel training), by completing courses and certification tracks available at a New Horizons near you. Take a look at our complete listings for more information, and also be sure to visit our webinars page for more career development tips in areas such as effective job search strategies and organizational leadership.