By Anthony Baratta
To get the most out of your SharePoint installation, you need to configure it to suit your enterprise's wants and needs. However, with so many features—both prominently featured and somewhat hidden—getting a handle on everything SharePoint offers can take some time. With that thought in mind, we decided to compile a basic guide to some of SharePoint's more notable configuration features. From calendar integration to ways to personalize your SharePoint site, read on to learn more about how to make these SharePoint solutions your own.
SharePoint Solutions: Calendar Integration
If you use the calendar feature with Outlook, then learning how to integrate your Outlook calendars and your SharePoint calendars should be at the top of your to-do list. By integrating Outlook and SharePoint, you can view calendars from Outlook and SharePoint side-by-side, overly multiple calendars so that you can view them as one, or copy events from one calendar to another calendar.
Calendar integration is useful if you are transferring information from Outlook to SharePoint (and vice versa) or if you use both platforms for planning your day-to-day schedule. It's also easy to implement. Simply open a calendar in SharePoint, select the "Calendar" tab from the "Actions" group, and click the option that says "Connect to Outlook." The software will ask you if you want to let SharePoint open a file on your computer (click "Allow"), and then you'll be asked if you want to connect your calendar from SharePoint to Outlook (click "Yes").
Just like that, your calendar will be accessible in Outlook, and you will be able to transfer appointments from one calendar to the next, see side-by-side or overlay views, and more. Click here to view Microsoft's Support page about SharePoint/Outlook calendar integration and to learn more about executing these maneuvers.
SharePoint Solutions: Personalizing SharePoint
Another useful way to configure your SharePoint installation is to start using some of its personalization features. One of the best ways to personalize the SharePoint experience is to allow each user is to use My Sites.
A My Site is sort of like the social media starting point of the SharePoint world. With My Sites, different people in your organizations can have their own personal spaces in SharePoint. Someone can use their My Site to manage all of their documents, links, calendar information, tasks, and more. My Sites offer a place for people in the organization to learn about other employees. They also make it easy for site administrators to target messages or information toward specific SharePoint users, based on the details included in their My Sites.
You can also target content on landing pages to specific groups of people by using assigning a target audience. An audience can be a SharePoint group, Active Direcotry distribution list or and Active Directory security group. There is one more audience type called global audience which is a rules-based filter defined by the SharePoint Administrator.
The audience "filter" can be applied to web parts, lists, library items, and even navigation. You can use the audience feature to show only content to these specific groups of users.
SharePoint Solutions: The Term Store
Less about personalization and more about optimal management of your SharePoint sites, the term store is one of the most important features of SharePoint to master early on. The term store is essentially SharePoint's system for managed metadata. Tagging different documents and folders with metadata can help organize them by department, subject, document type, and more.
However, depending on who is uploading the file, it might get tagged in slightly different ways. For instance, someone uploading a client invoice might tag it as "Invoice," while other people might put in the metadata tags 'Invoicing" or "Invoices." Those differences seem minor, but they can result in like documents being filed away in different spots (and therefore becoming difficult to locate).
The term store allows you to configure a metadata taxonomy so that all invoices are tagged "Invoice" instead of "Invoices" and "Invoicing." It essentially allows you to ensure consistency in all metadata tagging on your SharePoint site.
SharePoint Solutions: Managed Navigation
Managed metadata leads directly to managed navigation, another key configuration to know about within your SharePoint site. All SharePoint sites give you two basic options for navigation: structural navigation and managed navigation. With structural navigation, you navigate your site based on its actual site structure, security trimmed by your site permissions. With managed navigation, you build your site navigation by hand, but can then "push" the navigation to all your site collections keeping a standard main menu bar for your whole SharePoint installation.
Needless to say, it's important to a well thought out menu structure for this type of navigation to be usable. In other words, you won't want to implement managed navigation until you've spent some time analyzing your SharePoint sites and how you want to provide access to each of the primary areas. Click here to learn more about how to configure and implement managed navigation.
Every enterprise has slightly different preferences and policies for organization, site navigation, team collaboration, and more. Microsoft created configurable elements in SharePoint to allow businesses to maintain these different preferences, rather than conforming to one pre-determined "norm."
Knowing how to implement these configurations is important because it will allow your company to get more out of all the available SharePoint features and use it more efficiently. The configurations discussed above are all fairly basic and easy to implement but will create marked differences in the overall functionality. As such, any one of them is the perfect place to start customizing SharePoint.
Do you have any questions about these important SharePoint solutions or how to configure them? Call 2Plus2 Partners today to speak with our professional SharePoint consultants. You can reach us at 510 652-7700 or complete this form for a complimentary consultation.