24 collaboration celebrations – No. 5
SharePoint – such a mysterious word, or perhaps a mysterious platform? It is one of those things you either love or hate. So many times when I have been talking with friends, colleagues and customers, and mentioned SharePoint, some became soft in their eyes and smiled, others have mentally pulled their hair in despair and exclaimed: “Oh no, SharePoint!? It’s horrible!”. In spite of this, it has stayed, and not only stayed, it has evolved, grown and blossomed, and more and more companies and organizations have seen the light. 🕯️It does give light, it helps people and organizations work more transparent, it brings people, knowledge, processes, technologies and information together. It is pure magic if you really use it. Hence, when I was planning to write a little bit about one of the loves of my life, yes, it’s SharePoint (look at my url :-), this song came to mind for some reason: david bowie – changes – YouTube and then the title of the blog had to be ShaShaShaSharePoint – Share the Point! 😉🔥
So, what is this SharePoint then?
“SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office. Launched in 2001, SharePoint is primarily sold as a document management and storage system, but the product is highly configurable and its usage varies substantially among organizations.” – Wikipedia
👉🏽📚And, of course; you can read more about SharePoint at Microsoft’s pages: SharePoint, Team Collaboration Software Tools (microsoft.com)
The SharePoint family
What can be good to keep in mind is that SharePoint is a family of “SharePoints”; they are similar and at the same time different. We can divide them into six main types of “SharePoints”, let’s have a look:
- SharePoint Online Communication site
- SharePoint Online Team site – stand alone
- SharePoint Online Team site associated with Teams
- SharePoint Online Team site – Private channels
- SharePoint Online Team site – Teams connect (Shared channels)
As we might suspect looking at the list above it can become a bit confusing when we talk about SharePoint, we might be talking about different “SharePoints” in one and the same conversation.
The MOCA – Microsoft Modern Collaboration Architecture can be a good helping tool to see which SharePoint I should for what context. <Note to self- Later: link to a blog about MOCA>
SharePoint consists of mainly 3 things, and a little (much) more…except for OneDrive.
NB! OneDrive is also SharePoint, still, it contains “only” a document libraries, plus some great functionalities. Important to note is that OneDrive is YOUR personal document repository. It is recommended to not use it for permanent business critical document storage. Ad-hoc storage is ok.
👉🏽📚Read up on OneDrive here.
Today I will share how I would like to use these different “SharePoints”. Before that let’s look at what SharePoint actually is…
1 – SharePoint Pages:
A SharePoint site is a type of web page site, hence it contains a “Home page”, which is an online page you can add content onto, such as text, images, web parts, videos, and in different ways showcase information and content.
When you start a new SharePoint site it will have only the “Home”-page, unless your IT department has provisioned the site with some templates or prepared pages. You can create as many pages as you like on the same site. Check out general SharePoint limitations here.
💡Think admin: Just remember that someone (You?) is responsible for keeping the pages up to date, so make them relevant and updated, and remove/delete/archive what is not relevant or to be updated.
👉🏽📚Read up on SharePoint pages here.
2 – Document libraries
A document library can be compared to a filing cabinet, a place/repository to store and manage documents. One of the many beauties of SharePoint is that not only can you store and manage documents, and other files, in a SharePoint document library, you can actively collaborate on the documents from anywhere. This means that instead of me sending a report as an attachment to an email to 10 different people, as I need their input for my document, I can send them a link to the document, where it is enjoying itself in the safe room of SharePoint, to each of those ten. They can click the link and tickle the document, I mean; add their input directly in the document all at the same time, and I can follow up, see where they are updating it, in real time, and amend the document as the team is working there.
To be able to work in the document in the document library, I have given all ten access to it beforehand. I can at any time remove them from the access, when their input is no linger needed.
Folders and Metadata:
In the document library I can add folders, like the drawers in a filing cabinet, and add documents in these, and/or I can treat it like one big drawer and add metadata as columns, where I can tag the document with certain categories and tags, which again I can filter and organize. <Note to self- Later: link to blog about Metadata and document handling>
👉🏽📚Read up on Document libraries here.
3 – SharePoint Lists
SharePoint lists are magic! Well, I think so, I do love SharePoint lists! 💖
(Whisper: Let me tell you a secret: Microsoft Lists are actually SharePoint lists!)
SharePoint lists can be used for so many things; anything you would use relatively simple Excel-lists for you can instead use SharePoint lists; logs, overviews, even project deliveries you can use lists to make an overview of. Excel sheets tend to become big and cumbersome, using SP lists instead, for some of them, makes life simpler. 🙏🏽
👉🏽📚Read up on SharePoint lists here.
4 – Web parts & Apps
On a SharePoint page you can add different web parts to display content either on the same SharePoint site, other SharePoint sites, to documents and lists, to videos and blogs, and any content you would like to share.
👉🏽📚Read up on SharePoint web parts and apps here.
5 – OneNote
📙📘An important part of all SharePoint sites is the built in OneNote, which is a shared digital notebook. There’s no need to run around with a physical notebook that can get lost or stolen. Instead make and share notes in OneNote. <Note to self – Later: link to blog about OneNote good practice>
These videos by Ståle Hansen gives a great intro to OneNote:
👉🏽📚Read up on OneNote here.
Magic happens when you combine the different parts of SharePoint
As per the illustration above a SharePoint Online site (this is valid both for SharePoint Online Team (hereafter SPO Team sites) sites and SharePoint Online Communication sites (hereafter SPO Comm.sites)); it consists of Pages, which are all gathered in a “document library” called “Site Pages”.
On a new SharePoint site you will find one default document library “Documents”. You can make more document libraries if you want/need. I usually make a separate document library for all images I am planning to use on the SharePoint site. This makes it easier to find the images, especially if there are images I want to reuse on several pages.
You can make SharePoint lists, for e.g. customer contact list, project delivery overview, issue logs, application overview, etc., and if you use a web part called “Events” this is connected to the Calendar SharePoint App, which is a SharePoint list.
If I am running a project I might have a list for my project deliveries, with columns for delivery, status, responsible, phase, etc., and then I create a different document library than the standard Documents document library, as I want to treat these documents a bit different compared to other project documents (stored in the Documents document library – which is connected to the project team in Teams via the File tabs). For my delivery document library I add some columns for metadata, so I can tag each document with responsible, status, owner, type of document (plan, system description, training, etc.), and then I create a column for delivery. Instead of making a column directly in the document library (it could have been a choice list which become a drop down menu), I choose a lookup format for this column, and ask it to look up delivery from my Delivery list. This way I have only one place to add new deliveries, and that is in the Delivery list, and it will automagically show in the “Delivery” drop down menu in my document library.
When I have tagged the different delivery documents with e.g. status, I can create some filter in my document library, e.g. status = Draft, status = In progress, status = Approved, etc. and on the Project SharePoint site I can link to each of these filters from the “Hero” or “Quick links” web part. This way it is easy for me as a project member, who wants to check all In progress documents, filtered on myself as well, that I need to work on. When I change the status, it will show up in a different view, always staying in the same document library.
SharePoint Online Team sites – Collaboration purpose
The SPO Team site is the site that you find “behind” Microsoft Teams, via the File tab. When you create a channel in Teams there is automagically created a corresponding document folder in the standard document library “Documents” in SharePoint Online.
The SPO Team site can also be created without Microsoft Teams, and the latter added to the SharePoint site later. However, if you know the site will be used for collaboration I would recommend that you start with Teams, as it easier to structure and manage access permissions.
When you choose to use a private or shared channel in Microsoft Teams there is a completely new SPO Team site. Hence, you will not find the corresponding folder in the original SPO team site, it will be in the SPO team site for the private or shared channel.
All SPO team sites are connected to a group in the back, which is per design as you can in addition to Teams and SPO team site, add Planner, and other apps for collaboration, and the team members and other owners will automagically get the same access.
SPO Communication site – Communication purpose
The SPO Comm. site is typically used for communication purpose, such as intranet, training portals, department or community portals, etc. and is not connected to a group such as SPO team sites, and access permissions are managed directly on the site.
Check it out and get inspired!
If you have any questions, scroll down and you know what to do! You can also contact me directly either via SoMe and/or via my employers contact form on our web page: Workshops – Cloudway. We are running great workshops covering these topics. We can help you, and your partners, to remove blockers on your way to the cloud! We love to share what we know – to help everyone having secure productivity in the cloud!
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