SharePoint 2010, Office 365: Thoughts for a Newbie

Over the past couple of weeks I have been asked a few times to point users in a good direction when they are just getting started with SharePoint. I love these types of questions because it gives me an opportunity to share with others what I have learned along the way. Since I have been asked so much lately, I figured it was time to create a blog post that I could reference in the future. So in this post we will be covering steps a beginner can take to get up to speed with SharePoint:

Understand the Business Problem

First and foremost I would encourage everyone that is learning SharePoint to see SharePoint as a tool. It is simply a tool that we can use to solve a business problem. Since it is likely that your business problems are different from other organizations it is also likely that how you use SharePoint to solve them will be different as well. It is important to learn new functionality and new ways to use SharePoint, but you must always look back to the business problem at hand. If you begin to focus more on the tool and what you can do with it you have the risk of over-engineering your solution.

Start with the Basics

I got my “remember the business” soapbox out of the way, so now I will encourage you to start with the basics.

Licensing

Do you understand what level of licensing you have for your environment? Do you know what tools you have available? This is important because as you are searching for content you will need to be aware of what applies specifically to your environment. If you have any questions on licensing you can check out the link below or even pose a question to the team on twitter.

Description Link
Microsoft Volume Licensing http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/
Microsoft Volume Licensing on Twitter @msft_VL

General Out of the Box Functionality

Next we want to really focus on getting up to speed with the basic out of the box SharePoint functionality. The table below represents some of the key areas that I think would be a good place to start, as well as some links to get you started.

Document Libraries & Lists Link
SharePoint document libraries I: An introduction http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/sharepoint-document-libraries-i-an-introduction-RZ101930528.aspx?CTT=1
SharePoint document libraries II: Organize and configure a library http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/sharepoint-document-libraries-ii-organize-and-configure-a-library-RZ102410290.aspx?CTT=1
SharePoint lists III: Create a list based on a spreadsheet http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/sharepoint-lists-iii-create-a-list-based-on-a-spreadsheet-RZ101874356.aspx?CTT=1
How does versioning work in a list or library? http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/how-does-versioning-work-in-a-list-or-library-HA101852686.aspx?CTT=1
Create, Modify, or Delete a View http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/create-modify-or-delete-a-view-HA010377693.aspx?CTT=1
Create, change, or delete a column in a list or library http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/create-change-or-delete-a-column-in-a-list-or-library-HA101782518.aspx?CTT=1
Web Parts Link
Web Parts in Foundation (Server will have additional web parts as well) http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/overview-of-web-parts-available-in-sharepoint-foundation-2010-HA101806662.aspx?CTT=1
Change the Appearance of a Web Part http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-foundation-help/change-the-appearance-of-a-web-part-HA101790461.aspx?CTT=1
Connect a Filter Web Part to a List View Web Part http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/connect-a-filter-web-part-to-a-list-view-web-part-HA101785233.aspx?CTT=1
Create a Chart Using the Chart Web Part http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/create-a-chart-by-using-the-chart-web-part-HA101889211.aspx?CTT=1
Connect Data in Web Parts http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/connect-data-in-web-parts-HA101785157.aspx?CTT=1

In addition, it is important to get an understanding of other tools that you can use to further configure SharePoint. I still consider these tools to be out of the box configurations. You would become familiar with them so that you know what all can be done within SharePoint.

Tool Link
SharePoint Designer http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-designer-help/get-started-with-sharepoint-designer-2010-HA010370548.aspx?CTT=1
InfoPath http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/infopath-help/introduction-to-microsoft-infopath-2010-HA101821251.aspx?CTT=1

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/infopath-help/what-s-new-in-microsoft-infopath-2010-HA010358944.aspx?CTT=1

Excel (Excel Services) http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/getting-started-with-excel-services-and-excel-web-access-HA010377881.aspx?CTT=1
Visio (Visio Services) http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-server-help/add-data-driven-web-drawings-to-your-dashboard-with-visio-web-access-HA101791927.aspx?CTT=3
Access (Access Services) http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-online-enterprise-help/build-and-publish-an-access-database-to-sharepoint-HA102435342.aspx?CTT=1

There are so many links that I could references here, so I just picked the highlights. This should be enough though to get you started and as you are reading them should help you identify additional areas that you should dig into.

Combine the Basics into Solutions

Once you have a grasp on the basic functionality in SharePoint, it would be good to start looking at creative ways to combine the functionality into complete solutions. An example of this might be creating a list, creating some custom views and then configuring different web parts to display the custom views you created.

Here are some examples of blog posts that I have done that show combining features into solutions:

Continue to Learn and Join the Community!

There are also many great resources out there for the community by the community that can really help you get a good jump start on building solutions. One that is very well known is the Nothing But SharePoint for End Users site https://www.nothingbutsharepoint.com/sites/eusp/Pages/default.aspx

You can also learn a lot from people on twitter who are focused on information worker content, listed below are some of people I follow.

@jennifermason @idubbs
@wonderlaura @veroniquePalmer
@meetdux @rharbridge
@ruveng @sharepointmom
@kerriabraham @staurtblank

*if I missed you or someone you recommend, leave a comment and I will update my table

There are MANY more people that I could keep adding to this list, but start with these and you will have some good people to follow! I also follow several of the Microsoft Twitter accounts because it gives me good information on things they have in the works. It also gives me a channel to ask questions. In fact not once have I posed a question to one of them that they haven’t responded with the answers I needed.

Some specific MS accounts that I follow include:

@sharepoint
@mscasestudies
@office
@microsofthelps
@office365
@whymicrosoft

Now once you start building solutions you should share them with the community. You can do this through blog posts, twitter or involvement in local community user groups. Hope to see you in the community soon!

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