There are hundreds of descriptions for SharePoint because it can do so much, but basically it is each of the following :
- A private web site for storing and collaborating on documents with your team.
- Your company’s external facing website.
- The platform on which you build your company’s intranet and extranet, (access for vendors, customers, partners, etc).
- Profile pages for each of your employees that can be likened to Facebook.
- The landing page (dashboard) when linking to a whole lot of other line of business systems, eg: SAP and client databases, to report on Business Intelligence.
- An electronic forms solution.
- A document, record and web content management system including workflow.
- A search engine for people, documents and information.
All the above easily integrates into Microsoft Office and has built in security which allows you to decide who has access to what information. We will go into each topic in depth over time.
Everything is available to the end user depending on the version of SharePoint and Microsoft Office you are using, and what permission levels you have been granted.
Note to would-be developers : Although much of this product can be configured without any development, don’t under-estimate the complexity levels in doing customised solutions. Don’t try and custom build functionality without the guidance of a qualified SharePoint architect or senior developer. This product is incredible on many levels, but it gets tricky when you start messing with it. Rather get help from the experts if you have no relevant IT experience. Also don’t under-estimate how long it can take to complete a customised solution. Use a reputable vendor with the correct experience in the field. Ask for references!
It’s not a question of can SharePoint do it, it’s a question of how complicated it is to build. SharePoint can do almost anything. But don’t worry about any of that now, we are going to stick to out of the box functionality – stuff end users can do.