written by
Zack Calloway

What Is SharePoint, Anyway?

Microsoft 365 Tech Tips 3 min read

SharePoint is one of the many apps included in Microsoft 365, and it’s one of the most powerful and complex apps in the suite. But many organizations don’t use it to its fullest. In fact, many individual users don’t even know what it is, or if they do, they don’t have a solid understanding of what it can do.

We think it’s time to change that! Find out what this powerful app can do for your business in this quick explainer.

What Is SharePoint, Anyway?

Depending on where you look, Microsoft defines SharePoint in a few different ways. In one, it calls SharePoint “a cloud-based service that helps organizations share and manage content, knowledge and applications.” In another, Microsoft gets more to the point:

“Organizations use Microsoft SharePoint to create websites.”

In short, Microsoft SharePoint is an app designed to create internal intranet pages for your business. These pages can be just about as simple or as complex as you desire, as barebones or as graphically rich as you have resources to devote to it.

Who Can Create a SharePoint Site?

Anyone! (Unless you set up governance policies limiting site creation.)

To be a little more specific: sites within SharePoint can be shared at varying levels. You can create an organization-wide intranet site in SharePoint, and individual teams can create smaller SharePoint sites for more specific purposes.

If you’re a part of a larger organization and the idea of “anyone can create anything” sounds deeply overwhelming (if not disturbing), don’t worry. Any business can set in place governance prior to rolling out SharePoint, which will likely include limiting who can edit or create what. And larger businesses certainly should do this before launching a new SharePoint intranet.

Is SharePoint for Sharing Files?

It can be. And this is where things can get a little confusing or muddled if you’re not careful.

With a name like SharePoint, your end users might tend to associate the app with file sharing. And sure, it can do file sharing. But it’s not purely a file-sharing tool, and Microsoft has other tools within Microsoft 365 that also do file sharing.

Instead, you might want to think of SharePoint as an information-sharing tool.

There’s some definite overlap here: OneDrive is primarily for storage, and Teams is primarily for team-based collaboration. But both of those apps also do file-sharing very well. SharePoint’s file-sharing is typically within the context of a defined SharePoint site. So if two people simply need to collaborate on a file, SharePoint likely isn’t the simplest place.

Confused? We wouldn’t blame you if you were. Again, governance is the answer here: your IT team (or your IT service provider) should set up clear governance and provide the necessary training so that users know which apps to use for which functions.

Should We Use SharePoint?

If your organization has grown to a size where you need a central internal store of information and content (in other words, an internal website or intranet page), then SharePoint is a great place to start. It’s both more powerful and more flexible than many other solutions for building an internal site, and it’s fully integrated with other Microsoft cloud services as well.

You’ll also benefit from SharePoint if you have smaller teams that have similar needs for some kind of website-like place to store and share information (and documents, files, and so on).

Some key players on your team will likely need training to use the app well, but the results you’ll get will be worth that investment.

You’ll also want to make sure to set clear governance policies for SharePoint. The app and platform are almost too powerful, open and flexible, so most organizations want to limit what users have access to before things get too complex and confusing.

Getting started in SharePoint can be intimidating, and so can setting proper policy and governance. We can help your team get this right! Reach out today if we can help you step into a SharePoint future.

sharepoint Microsoft Office Microsoft 365 File Sharing