Main image of article SharePoint Training: Is It Worth It, and Online Resources to Help

If you’ve spent any time working with Microsoft Office—and the chances of that are very good, especially if you’ve ever worked for a large company—you’ve probably encountered SharePoint, which is Microsoft’s web-based collaborative platform for sharing and storing documents, enterprise search, workflow templates, and more.

Like many Microsoft products, SharePoint is highly customizable depending on the organization. If you’re a technology professional who needs to learn as much about SharePoint as possible, as fast as possible, where do you start? And which jobs tend to utilize SharePoint the most, thus necessitating training? Let’s jump in and find out.  

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is actually a suite of products, all with their own features:

SharePoint in Microsoft 365: This cloud-based version of SharePoint is built into Microsoft 365, the company’s collection of cloud tools., 

SharePoint Server: Organizations can deploy SharePoint Server in the cloud or on-premises, depending on their needs. According to Microsoft, SharePoint Server “offers additional features and capabilities, such as modern site pages, modern web parts and authoring, modern lists and libraries, modern search, integration with PowerApps, Power BI and MS Flow, and SharePoint home page.”

SharePoint Designer 2013: Released a decade ago, SharePoint Designer 2013 allows workers to “build powerful, workflow-enabled solutions” and “edit external content types for an external data solution based on Business Connectivity Services.”

OneDrive sync: “A desktop program that you can use to sync documents from a team site or OneDrive for work or school to your computer for offline use” (again, in Microsoft’s words).

Microsoft has a dedicated support page that breaks down these different products, complete with links to even more information.

Is SharePoint easy/hard to learn?  

As with so many other software and cloud platforms, SharePoint becomes more complicated the deeper you delve into its features and nuances. Learning the basics of its document management and storage is relatively straightforward for anyone familiar with how similar systems work. 

However, sysadmins and other kinds of infrastructure-oriented technologists will need to know how to configure SharePoint to the needs of individual organizations, and here’s where the fun really begins. Those tasked with some aspect of an organization’s SharePoint management will need to familiarize themselves with manipulating content and site structures; activating certain product features and themes; and configuring metadata, analytics, and workflows.

Anyone learning the basics of SharePoint will also need to master how SharePoint integrates with Office, and its compatibility with various standards and APIs.

Can I teach myself?  

There are lots of resources online for teaching yourself the nuances of SharePoint. Start with Microsoft’s documentation, which includes a tutorial (and video training sessions). From there, get involved with Microsoft’s SharePoint Tech Community, where tech pros use forums to share tips and advice; for example, if you’re having a problem with a feature or an API, you can crowdsource an answer there.   

Once you’ve mastered the basics, you should also check out the SharePoint Dev Center, which offers sample code, instructional blogs, a Q&A forum, and more. You can learn a lot here about SharePoint-related tools and libraries.

Online learning portals such as Learning Tree and Udemy also offer instruction in the platform. Keep in mind that SharePoint is deeply integrated into a much larger suite of Microsoft products, so you might also want to spend some time learning the company’s broader ecosystem, particularly cloud-based services such as 365 and Azure.

Is SharePoint worth learning?  

According to Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings nationwide, SharePoint skills are in high demand (which makes sense, since it’s part of the Microsoft Office suite, and Office powers a lot of organizational workflows). Top associated professions include: 

  • Software developer
  • Project manager
  • Business analyst
  • Office/administrative assistant
  • IT project manager
  • Computer support specialist

Given the prevalence of Microsoft products within many organizations, it’s potentially helpful to at least familiarize yourself with SharePoint. Even if you prefer using some other platform for document and data storage and organization, knowing SharePoint can help you quickly contribute to a new team’s workflow if it’s a Microsoft-centric shop.

Are SharePoint skills in demand?

Demand for these skills varies by profession. As you can see from the following breakdown (also courtesy of Lightcast), relatively small percentages of software developers, office/administrative assistants, and software engineers need these skills—but the need is a bit more prevalent among sysadmins, technical writers, and project coordinators:

If you’re a SharePoint developer, of course, you absolutely need to know the nuances of the platform, since you’re responsible for configuring and customizing related systems. If you’re interested in SharePoint development as a significant component of your job, check out all the information that Microsoft has posted online about it, including how to set up Frameworks, APIs, and schemas. Knowledge of SharePoint Server is particularly valuable for sysadmins; begin your training using Microsoft’s own documentation about the platform.