What is SharePoint and what is it used for?
SharePoint is a cloud-based Microsoft service used by organisations of all sizes to manage and share content. Employees can create sites to share documents and information with colleagues, partners, and customers. Customisable to suit your specific needs, the solution improves collaboration, communication and knowledge sharing across organisations by centralising important content.
SharePoint can be used as a document management system, enabling organisations to simplify document management by storing content in a central location. SharePoint enhances collaboration among teams with co-authoring features and version control. It also provides powerful search and retrieval functionality, rapidly accelerating the information search.
SharePoint can even act as a company Intranet, a collaborative internal portal that unites all employees by acting as a space for company news, updates and communications that can be customised to align with the company’s brand. Intranets can help connect employees from different departments and create a sense of community, improving company culture and unifying even remote/hybrid workers. SharePoint can also be used to create an extranet site, a hub for secure collaboration with external partners or clients. An extranet can be used to improve information sharing and communication with partners or customers by centralising data from multiple parties. For example, an extranet could be used as a customer portal to track orders, see FAQs and access customer support, enhancing customer service and strengthening relationships with clients.
Why use SharePoint Online?
As a cloud-based solution, SharePoint enables staff to securely access content easily from any location. Given the increase in remote and hybrid work in recent years, adopting SharePoint means boosting collaboration and enhancing communication across your organisation. SharePoint Online enables seamless integration with other Microsoft 365 apps, such as Teams, minimising the need to move between apps and further streamlining the user experience.
SharePoint Online also benefits from regular updates, ensuring high security standards are consistently maintained. Further, organisations can set document retention policies and automate processes that ensure compliance standards are met. For example, after a documents fixed retention period has ended, SharePoint can automatically delete it.
SharePoint Online offers a secure document management system. Organisations can assign roles to employees that control who has access to certain documents that may contain sensitive data. You can also add sensitivity labels to documents based on the degree of sensitivity - whether it's confidential, for internal use only, etc. This level of security helps maintain data privacy and strengthen governance.
Is SharePoint Online secure?
All Microsoft solutions, including SharePoint Online, are backed by robust, enterprise-level security and benefit from regular, automatic updates that continuously optimise security. All files stored in SharePoint Online are encrypted to protect data. Organisations can also control permissions and access to documents and sites. You can define roles and departments that can view, edit, download and share specific content, ensuring only the necessary individuals have access to sensitive information. As well as this, SharePoint Online tracks both user and administrator actions. If organisations wish to further enhance security Entra ID (formerly Azure Active Directory) can be added to enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) and conduct regular access reviews.
What is the difference between SharePoint and OneDrive?
Both SharePoint and OneDrive are cloud-based spaces for storing content. However, OneDrive is generally used for personal file storage, whereas SharePoint acts as a central space for content accessible by teams and the wider organisation. In SharePoint a site owner has control over the privileges given to the site. In OneDrive only the OneDrive owner has access to the content, unless it is shared to view, edit or review.
Depending on your organisations external sharing settings, OneDrive allows file sharing with anyone outside the organisation. In contrast, SharePoint enables administrators to assign permissions to a site to control access content and enhance governance, helping maintain secure documents.
Is SharePoint included in M365?
SharePoint is one of the services available with Microsoft 365 for Business or Enterprise, licensed on a per-user basis. It can be purchased as a standalone solution or included in your organisation's Microsoft 365 plan.
What is the relationship between Microsoft 365 and SharePoint?
SharePoint is a cloud-based file-sharing solution that is part of the wider Microsoft 365 ecosystem. SharePoint operates as a centralised space for organisational data and can be used as a document management system or company intranet. Comprised of SharePoint web sites, libraries and lists, it can be used to store files and folders, allowing for real-time, secure collaboration.
Who can I share SharePoint files with?
The ability for SharePoint files to be shared depends on the specific permissions set by site owners and administrators, who manage and monitor how files are shared. Generally, documents can be shared with all individuals within the organisation, depending on the level of sensitivity. SharePoint allows for external sharing, but the access level will be determined by the organisations external sharing settings and the site owners who can specify the access level and add restrictions to protect sensitive information.
What is a SharePoint portal?
A SharePoint portal is a SharePoint site within your organisations intranet that serves as a central information hub. A Portal can be used for sites like a general company portal that facilitates collaboration and content sharing across departments or a more specific portal like a HR portal where HR specific documents are located.
What are SharePoint flows?
SharePoint flows are automations that can be created using Microsoft Power Automate to automate processes within SharePoint. SharePoint flows help organisations accelerate and streamline tedious manual tasks, boosting productivity and efficiency. The following are examples of SharePoint flows:
Deleting a document after it has been stored for a specific period.
Moving a document to an ‘approved’ folder when a document in a SharePoint library is approved.
Sending an email notification to a user when a document has been updated.
What is Graph API in SharePoint?
Microsoft Graph API (Application Programming Interface) allows developers to interact with data and content across Microsoft 365 services, including SharePoint. It can be used to access SharePoint sites, libraries, documents and metadata, allowing for the management of the site's content.
What is Active Directory in SharePoint?
Active Directory (AD) (now Entra ID) is Microsoft’s identity and access management solution. Entra ID is a central database that stores and manages information about users, computers and resources within an organisation’s network in order to manage authentication and authorisation. Entra ID can be used to control user access in SharePoint and ensure the right people have access to the right content.