How to Use Microsoft Sharepoint

By Shea Laverty

As the Internet increasingly makes collaboration a global effort, tools like Microsoft's SharePoint 2013 are increasingly valuable for encouraging productivity and teamwork. SharePoint enables organizations to communicate, share documents and information and organize their efforts as a group. Microsoft also offers several additional tools for SharePoint deployment and development.

Document Storage and Sharing

SharePoint enables your organization to share and edit important documents from a single interface over the Internet. Documents can be stored online by dragging them from your desktop into SharePoint. You can access these documents from any computer or mobile device, as long as you sign in to your SharePoint account. You can also share documents with colleagues by selecting the "Share" button and entering the names of co-workers on SharePoint. Everyone who has access to the document can view and edit it with sufficient permissions, leaving one consistent copy for everyone to work from, instead of several copies at differing levels of editing. Integrated support with OneDrive for Business also enables you to sync files from SharePoint to your devices.

Communication and Collaboration

SharePoint also features an integrated social networking interface for your organization, making it easier to connect with colleagues for advice and opinions and to coordinate events and deadlines. The Communities feature also enables enterprise-wide discussions and support for any number of topics. SharePoint also works in concert with Microsoft Office, enabling instant messaging and chat from within Office programs and the ability to invite colleagues to edit documents as a group.

Project and Task Organization

SharePoint also enables project, task or department specific organization with the use of SharePoint sites. These sites are accessible only to colleagues on the contributor list, and can be used to store important documents and files, assign tasks to specific people and manage a calendar and timeline. Sites can also store OneNote notebook documents specific to the site's assigned task or group. SharePoint sites can also be used to launch Project and organize more complex tasks and projects, which can then be synced to the SharePoint site. Sites also have their own dedicated email inboxes, which integrate into Outlook and create a dedicated inbox, separate from your personal email.

Enterprise-Specific Searching

SharePoint also features a search tool which enables you to look up people, documents, projects and sites within your organization. The search tool is designed to be intuitive, picking up on previous searches and behavior and adapting accordingly. Documents retrieved by the search can be previewed and launched directly from the search menu, and detailed information about people or lists of anyone and any documents involved with a specific project can also be accessed directly from the search menu.

Website Management

SharePoint can also be used to develop your organization's websites in addition to sites within SharePoint. SharePoint is compatible with many Web development tools like Dreamweaver and ExpressionBlend, and can be used to directly build your entire website and manage all of its resources. It can also be used to optimize your site to function on multiple platforms, including different Web browsers and mobile devices.

Additional SharePoint Tools

SharePoint offers a number of additional tools for developing a SharePoint network. SharePoint Foundation is a free on-premises offering of the technology upon which SharePoint is built and can be used to build most of the content found in the paid edition of SharePoint. SharePoint Server adds additional tools and features for on-premise enterprise deployments. SharePoint Designer is a tool for building websites that utilize SharePoint Foundation and Server software, while SharePoint Workspace is a desktop program for storing content from your SharePoint network offline for periods when your network connection is unavailable. Finally, SharePoint Online is a cloud-based service that features all of the same tools and features of SharePoint without any on-premises installation.