By Jami Miedema

Whittaker Associates’ staff loves to learn new things. That is why when we had the opportunity to discover SharePoint, we were eager to see how implementing a powerful program could assist us in our daily tasks. Our training was split into two 4-hour sessions, a week apart from one another, and Sherri Amstutz, President of Accelerated Knowledge (, was our trainer. The following paragraphs will provide a brief overview of the main topics that we covered during our training.

SharePoint is an application that is used as a collaborative tool to manage projects, documents, and communication among its users. The system can be set up by an administrator who can easily coordinate and oversee members, groups, and tasks. It is a safe way to store information and confidential documents, as all areas of the application can be secured.

Permissions in SharePoint can be regulated at many levels. For instance, one may restrict certain groups of users from accessing areas of the system or making changes to the sites within the system. Permissions may also be given on a site by site basis. One site could require an approval from an administrator before updates were allowed to be made to the site content. The deepest level of security is used to set permissions on individual documents within sites and sub-sites. While this level of security may be necessary to protect private information, it can also cause complexities in maintaining the system and issues with consistency in setting up sites.

SharePoint can improve project management by creating a level of transparency among its users. Users can see who is working on the project, what tasks have been completed, what still needs to be finished, as well as issues that are created while carrying out the tasks. When each project is set up using the same structure, productivity is increased because processes become consistent. As a central location for document storage, SharePoint ensures that each user is working with the same up-to-date document.

Other beneficial features of SharePoint include the ability to set up surveys, contact databases, wikis and blogs, discussion pages, and calendars. All of these tools help encourage communication among the system’s users, therefore, improving processes and workflow.

This powerful tool has many advantages, but an intuitive interface is not one of them. Proper training before implementation of SharePoint would provide the greatest benefit to users. Our company was able to receive a grant from Michigan Works for the training. Find out what funds may be available for workforce training in your area.