SharePoint in Plain English

The Microsoft SharePoint Team Blog pointed out this video recently that takes a stab at explaining SharePoint to a business user in everyday terms. I’ve been challenged in trying to do the same thing with business contacts who haven’t encountered SharePoint before mostly due to the vastness of what SharePoint offers and encompasses today.


This video kicks off that discussion. Here are a couple other points I tend to bring up to describe SharePoint and some of the kinds of things it does/offers:


  • Company Intranet: Most large companies have some kind of company intranet. It offers company news and sub-web sites dedicated to segments of the business like HR and links to the tools and information you would expect to get there. SharePoint makes it easy to set up and manage a corporate intranet.
  • Project Bulletin Board: Have you ever been on a large project where the schedule and key information was posted up on a wall somewhere? I’ve been on large projects where a whole conference room was dedicated to this with key documents, lists of contacts, project task lists littering the table and walls. SharePoint gives companies the ability to start up an online project workspace for any and every project to act as a central collaboration point for a project team or workgroup.
  • Z: Drive: When PC networking was still getting started, a common way for users to share documents was to give everyone access to a shared drive somewhere on the network. This was your “S: Drive”, “Z: Drive” or sometimes more than one. Some companies still rely on this today for many types of file sharing. SharePoint provides a much more visible and accessible way of sharing files and working together on them and is a key replacement for the “Z: Drive” in many companies.
  • Your Company’s Personal Facebook: SharePoint also provides a kind of Facebook inside many companies, giving each employee a page of their own and making it easy to find employees and interact with them. This is a big productivity boost to companies that have had trouble in the past having their people collaborate effectively.
  • Your Company’s Personal Search Engine: Ever wonder where that great proposal you did last month or last year ended up? Ever wish you could just go to your browser and search inside your company for documents, tools, and people just like you can on the Internet? SharePoint provides this key business search capability across many types of data sources, giving companies much greater access to “intellectual capital” that was previously hidden or lost.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list, which is one of the reasons SharePoint is difficult to introduce in the first place. But hopefully this gives a little more background on what some of its many capabilities are and kicks off further discussion. Let me know your best practices for introducing SharePoint and I’ll add them to my list.


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