What is Sharepoint for?

The best way to explain how Sharepoint can be used, is to use an example:

The IT Department

The University IT department employs many people, and each of them has a different area or skill. Additionally, there are many applications and computer types on campus, and most of these have a dedicated member of IT looking after them. The IT Support division is expected to know who in IT does what. Therefore, a Sharepoint list is used to catalog all the different IT resources, and which technician supports them.

When IT Support hires a new full-time professional, there is a very long checklist that needs to be worked through to ensure that all the security clearances and other permissions are granted in time for the new employee to begin working. A Help Desk Specialist has to be in a minimum of 20 different security groups to be able to do their day-to-day job. To keep track of these groups, and who assigns the permissions, a document is kept in a secured place on Sharepoint. Many people in IT can read it, but very few can edit it. If someone edits it, and a mistake is found, the version history on the document allows the owner of the document to easily roll-back the file to a previous version.

Meanwhile, the Admin Assistant for the IT student workers uses Sharepoint to schedule training and paperwork completion meetings for any new student employee. The manager of the student accesses a site on Sharepoint to arrange a meeting with the admin assistant. This meeting request automatically updates the Admin Assistant's Outlook calendar. This meeting request asks for specific details about the student worker to ensure that the admin assistant is available and prepared for the meeting before the new employee appears.

Finally, Sharepoint is used to keep track of the annual, furlough and sick leave taken by the IT employees. Every employee can go to a single website address, and, thanks to the individual permissions settings that can be applied to folders and files on Sharepoint, they can only view their own leave record. However, the administrators can go to the same website address to view, and edit, everybody's leave records.

What Sharepoint isn't

Sharepoint is not the NAS. Although Sharepoint can be used to store documents, if that is all you intend to use for it, then we recommend getting storage space on the NAS. The NAS is a far more convenient method for storing and accessing documents. However, if you need those documents to each have unique permissions, and you would like to be able to easily roll-back to an earlier version of a document, then Sharepoint may be the answer.

Sharepoint is not a department website for all to access. Only employees of the University are able to access Sharepoint with their NetID. Each site on Sharepoint is locked down to only let in those who need access. Only the Sys Admin and Server Admin for Sharepoint has access to every site on Sharepoint. Although it is possible to create webpages on Sharepoint, they should be for internal use only. University IT does provide a way for departments to set up their own websites.

If you have any questions about Sharepoint, and whether it is right for your department, please contact IT Support who will put you in touch with the Sharepoint administrator.