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Empowered Business Users

SharePoint is a set of powerful technologies that provide a large range of functions to users and administrators without the need to engage IT or developers. Once the basic SharePoint service is deployed, users can self-serve with a minimum of IT support.

  • By default, all users can personalise their user experience, this includes such things as adding, removing or updating web-parts on any web-part page. These user changes can then be saved as a personal view. This is particularly useful because it allows users to create pages which contain the information that is relevant to them and it allows users to hide information (eg information that does not relate to their department or role).
  • By default, all users can also create custom personal views in SharePoint. This is particularly helpful for large lists of information and gives users the ability to filter large lists of information to only show the information that is relevant to them, perhaps their department or division.
SharePoint also empowers users at the administration level. It is normal for users to be given the ability to alter "site settings", this is done by nominating one or more users to have "Full Control" of the user experience for any site. A user with "Full Control" can add additional web-parts, customise web-parts by adding metadata, and change the default view for all users. In effect, a user with "Full Control" over a site can create a rich user experience for the group of users that are using the particular site without any IT support or development skills.

It is also common for selected expert users to be appointed as "Site Collection Administrators" in order to facilitate the management of multiple sites which are called a site collection. The "Site Collection Administration" function also allows selected users to view all deleted items across an entire site, as well as turn on or off global features.

All of the functions listed above can normally be managed by business users and do not require IT support. No coding is required. All of these functions are managed by SharePoint through the SharePoint user interface. Thus, because there is no coding, there is no requirement for change control, testing or development protocols. A change log is still suggested.

For this reason, SharePoint is ideal for work-teams or project-teams that need to collaborate on a defined task. SharePoint gives the business user/ or team the ability to create a "site" that is highly customised for their particular needs without any need for IT support or development tools.

Indeed, all of the functionality listed above can generally be supported without the need for significant levels of governance. Some central governance is normally suggested, in order to do such things as maintain some control over different site collections, to maintain user groups, to share common infrastructure and to ensure that sites are managed through their lifecycle.

However,.. if (and many would say only if) the standard set of functions is insufficient, and additional functionality is required, then SharePoint provides a very strong set of tools and an excellent framework for developers. The beauty of SharePoint is that it is only at this point that IT support is really required.

And even then, many companies will find that the only IT support they require is to install "add-ons" from the SharePoint user community to their SharePoint server. Deployment of additional web-parts or "add-ons" generally requires specialist server administrator skills to deploy.

Business users can achieve a lot in SharePoint without writing a line of code or using development tools like Microsoft SharePoint Designer or similar development tools.
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