5 cool things SharePoint can do (that you didn’t know)

From accessing the platform from a plane to co-authoring documents simultaneously, these tips will help you save time, be more productive, and have fun.


SharePoint 2010 has been widely adopted by companies of all sizes since its release. Through its evolution from previous versions, the business view of SharePoint has changed dramatically.

Businesses that once viewed SharePoint as the “go-to” place for content only are now extending that role into the place where business gets done. IT departments have been challenged by users to “give them the keys” to SharePoint and integrate everyday functionality to make it a fun and efficient place to get things done. That change has spawned developers, integrators, and third-party product companies to develop complementary tools to meet those needs.

Here are five things you probably didn’t know SharePoint can do:

Social feeds built into templates

While young companies have embraced social technologies such as Twitter, more structured firms have implemented policies to govern its use internally.

SharePoint allows you to build social feeds into site templates, which you can easily give everyone in the business access to. A social webpart—a piece of functionality that gets added to a webpage—can display social media updates based on search criteria of your choice. Internally, we have our RealTime portal configured to show any mention of the word “Concatenate” on Twitter.

SharePoint on your smartphone

In today’s fast-paced environment, users want immediate and direct access to their information. This means the ability to work with SharePoint from anywhere. SharePoint pages can be optimized for viewing on hand-held devices. This allows employees to view and work with documents, blogs, wikis, back-end business information and sites in their browser. All that is required are some tweaks to your security model to ensure access is available.

Working offline? Not a problem

I’m often asked how to edit or access data when completely offline, such as on a plane. The answer is SharePoint Workspace, a simple out-of-the-box tool that allows users to access their documents and files. Once Workspace is configured, users can access their document lists and make any changes they need. When they’re back online, a check will be done with the server to synchronize the data with a more recent version, all of which is invisible to the user.

Email and text message alerts

One of the easiest features to manage and use is also the most under-utilized. And that is the ability to setup and subscribe to emails and/or text message alerts of any changes made to SharePoint documents or lists. This is a great way to learn that status reports have been completed, or that a client document is ready for publication.

Co-authoring is easy

My favorite collaborative feature is the ability to allow users to work simultaneously on Word documents or PowerPoint slide presentations. This is a huge time-saver for everyone who shares information and collaborates when creating or editing documents.

Picture this: You email a link to a document you just completed which resides in a SharePoint library; each reviewer can access the document and edit or provide their feedback simultaneously within the file. Pop-ups and on-screen notifications show which user has made an edit and allows for push-button synchronization to update the file. This essentially means you don’t need to send attachments anymore, which is a strain on your inbox and hard-drive.

Eric Riz is the executive vice president of Concatenate, a software firm focused on maximizing SharePoint through product innovation and systems integration. He blogs at www.ericriz.com and is on Twitter @rizinsights.

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