Top Functions You’re Missing in SharePoint in 2024

by

May 8, 2024

Chances are, your company is using SharePoint, just like  85 percent of businesses in the US use Microsoft’s SharePoint platform on a daily basis. But are you really taking advantage of all its powerful capabilities?

SharePoint is the central pillar of Microsoft’s 365 Cloud productivity platform, allowing companies to create a common document repository, share news, develop portals, manage daily routines with workflows, forms, and lists, and so much more. And if you think it’s powerful now, Microsoft’s new Copilot launch will bring powerful AI-driven tools and search engines to Microsoft’s beloved classics like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, which will be released later this year.

There’s a lot to be excited about, including features already in the standard M365 package and features available in premium packages and add-ons. So, in the spirit of innovation, let’s talk about some of the innovations, big and small, in M365 and SharePoint 2024.

 

Six Powerful Functions to Watch in M365 and SharePoint

 

SharePoint Microsoft Planner

 

#1—Microsoft Planner—The Best of Project Planners, Integrated in Teams

 

Microsoft Planner is a work management tool that helps you organize tasks, collaborate with your team, and manage projects. If you’ve had SaaS subscriptions to collaboration and project management platforms, you may want to consider dumping your subscription. Microsoft Planner can do most of the tasks those tools offer while also integrating seamlessly with your existing 365 platform.

Here are its key features:

  • Task Management: Create plans, assign tasks, and track progress. Use boards, lists, and timelines to organize work.
  • Collaboration: Chat about tasks, share files, and see charts of your team’s progress. It’s perfect for small teams or large projects.
  • Templates and Customization: Choose from various templates and views to personalize your planner boards to your team’s needs. In this highly adaptive program, you can assign tasks, plan events, track large-scale projects, and more.
  • Integration with Microsoft Teams: The new Planner is now available within Microsoft Teams, making collaboration seamless. This means you can schedule appointments, create chat channels, and more within the program.
  • Pin SharePoint documents to tasks and collaborate easily between programs
How to Access Microsoft Planner:

Microsoft Teams:

  • The new Microsoft Planner is now available within Microsoft Teams.
  • Open Teams, and you’ll find the Planner app.
  • Create plans, add tasks, assign due dates, and collaborate with your team
  • To pin the app for easy access, right-click on Planner after adding it and select Pin.
  • To open the Planner app in a separate window, select Open in a new window

 

Web Browser:

  • Go to the Planner website and log in with your Microsoft 365 account details.
  • Create new plans, organize tasks into buckets, and manage your work
  • You can also access Planner through the Microsoft 365 app launcher

 

SharePoint Copilot

 

#2—Copilot in SharePoint

 

Microsoft Copilot is your everyday AI companion that works across various platforms and intelligently adapts to your needs. To say people are excited about it would be an understatement. Why? It combines the powerful generative search you’ll find in AI engines like ChatGPT while also working as an add-on to your existing Microsoft 365 tools, including SharePoint.

Here’s how that works. Imagine you’re in Microsoft PowerPoint. You can ask your CoPilot extension to create a presentation for you from scratch using existing company templates, filling in with summaries it makes from an executive meeting you have recorded. Similarly, it could create templated documents for you in Microsoft Word by combining documents you already have in a SharePoint database.

That’s only the beginning of what it will do for you, and soon.

Here are some key features:

  1. Chat with Text, Voice, and Image Capabilities: You can communicate with Copilot using text, voice, or even images. It can understand and respond in multiple languages.
  2. Summarization of Documents and Web Pages: Copilot can summarize lengthy content, making it easier to digest information quickly.
  3. Image Creation in Designer (formerly Bing Image Creator): Do you need unique images? Copilot can generate them for you, enhancing your creative projects.
  4. Web Grounding: Copilot can provide relevant information from the web, helping you find answers and explore new possibilities.
  5. Use of Plugins and Copilot GPTs: Integrate plugins and leverage Copilot’s powerful language models to extend its capabilities.
For business users, Copilot for Microsoft 365 offers additional features:
  • Copilot in Microsoft 365 Apps: Access Copilot within Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook.
  • Enterprise-Grade Data Protection: Ensure data security while using Copilot in your organization.
  • Customization and Extensibility: Tailor Copilot to your specific needs using Microsoft Copilot Studio.

As of the writing of this article in May 2024, Copilot exists as a free, ChatGPT-style search engine available at https://copilot.microsoft.com/. It will allow you a certain number of free searches per day. It’s important to remember that the information that you enter into Copilot’s free search bar is not data protected. However, when Microsoft finishes its rollout of Copilot for business later this year, companies can buy into a data-protected version, which we strongly recommend.

The addition of Copilot for Business will add to your monthly per-seat M365 subscription costs and require a high-level review of IT policy and procedure to integrate into your systems. A review of your employee cybersecurity training should also be done, to ensure your people understand all the implications of working with AI-generated information and files. Stay tuned for more, and contact your MSP and/or internal IT leadership to discuss how to safely integrate Copilot’s powerful AI capabilities into your current tech stack.

Microsoft Translator for SharePoint and M365

 

#3—Microsoft Translator in M365

 

Have you ever wished you could convert a document into your preferred language without any fuss? Or maybe you’d like to have a live conversation with a colleague worldwide and have your meeting translated in real time?

You no longer have to hire translators or buy into other third-party SaaS translation tools. Microsoft Translator integrates into your M365 SharePoint environment, helping your company easily traverse cultural and language barriers.

Here’s what it offers:

  1. Real-Time Translated Conversations: Communicate with others across devices, whether it’s one-on-one chats or more extensive group interactions. Share a conversation code, and your messages will be translated into the recipient’s chosen language.
  2. Text Translation: Translate text, pin frequently used translations, and share them via text, email, or social media.
  3. Offline Translation: Translate menus, street signs, and more without an internet connection.

If you’re interested in Microsoft’s translation abilities, different applications are available depending on your use case, all requiring a subscription fee. Are you interested in trying it out? Here’s where to get a free trial and learn more about the product.

SharePoint Section Backgrounds

#4—New Section Backgrounds in SharePoint

 

Why settle for the default screens in SharePoint? The platform now allows you to customize section backgrounds within pages. You can choose from predefined themes or upload your images.

  • How to access it: While editing a SharePoint page, click on the “Insert” tab. Choose “Web Part” and select “Section.” In the section properties, click “Background” to customize the background image or color.

Want to learn more? Here’s a link to an instructional article from Microsoft.

 

SharePoint News Tab

 

 

#5—Customize Your SharePoint News Tab

 

Everyone’s familiar with the SharePoint login page. But did you know that the “news” tab on that page holds all the latest documents and news stories from the SharePoint sites you are a member of? Take a minute to look at it daily, and you’ll get a quick update on what’s happening in your organization. Best of all, Microsoft allows you to customize your news experience so all the most critical information reaches the top.

Microsoft automatically pulls from the SharePoint sites you subscribe to and the top 20 sites you visit, showing you the most recently added or changed documents/news stories. This could potentially be quite a bit of information.

Customizing your tab should help. Here’s how to do it.

  • How to access it: Go to your SharePoint site’s home page. Click on the “News” tab. Under “Customize”, create a new custom tab. Add relevant news articles and configure email notifications for subscribers.

 

Sensitivity Labels for SharePoint

 

#6—Sensitivity Labels for Your Documents, Tasks, and Recordings

 

Most people are familiar with the ability to “share” files with others in your organization for approval or store documents in a library only available to people within your department. However, sensitivity labels allow you to take your document classifications a step further.

Specifically, sensitivity labels allow you to:

    • Classify Content: Assign labels (e.g., “Confidential,” “Public,” “Internal Use Only”) to documents based on their sensitivity.
    • Apply Protection: Apply encryption, watermarks, and access controls to labeled content.
    • Track and Audit: Monitor usage and access patterns for sensitive documents.

Labels can be customized to match your organization’s specific needs. With the ability now to classify Teams recordings, Planner channels, and more, you can ensure that sensitive documents, like client financial data, new product development, or performance numbers, don’t get leaked. Microsoft has training programs to teach your staff to make this part of your protocol. For companies handling large amounts of sensitive data—like law firms or publicly traded companies, for instance— this enhanced watermarking and classification capability can be an essential new part of your cybersecurity and data safety protocol.

How to Access Sensitivity Labels:
  • Microsoft 365 Apps:
    • You can apply sensitivity labels directly within Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
    • Look for the Sensitivity button on the ribbon to apply labels.
  • SharePoint Document Libraries:
    • Navigate to the document library.
    • Go to Settings > Library settings.
    • Under Default sensitivity labels, select a label from the dropdown.
  • Microsoft Teams:
    • Add the Planner app to a channel.
    • Create a new plan or use an existing one.
    • Add tasks and assign sensitivity labels22.

Here’s where to learn more about sensitivity labels and the program training.

Are you ready to add more functions to SharePoint?

 

Integris can help you optimize your M365 SharePoint experience and add the right new capabilities to your cloud subscriptions. Interested in learning more? Contact us now for a free consultation.

 

Susan Gosselin is a Senior Content Writer for Integris. A career communicator and business journalist, she's written extensively on IT topics and trends for IT service providers like Iconic IT and ProCoders Ukraine, as well as business publications such as Technologyadvice.com, Datamation.com, The Lane Report and many others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

Keep reading

How to Create a Desktop Shortcut to a OneNote Notebook or Section

How to Create a Desktop Shortcut to a OneNote Notebook or Section

Creating a desktop shortcut to a Microsoft OneNote notebook or section can be a real productivity and organizational boost for users who frequently access specific notes or projects. A desktop shortcut enables instant access to important information, bypassing the...