It takes a lot of people to run a successful SharePoint instance. And SharePoint administrators are crucial.
You may have seen job postings for this position in the past and wondered, “What, exactly, does a SharePoint administrator do?”
The short answer is that a SharePoint administrator is a master of all things SharePoint. They set up sites and manage servers. They train employees are troubleshoot problems. Administrators keep a company’s SharePoint instance motoring along.
The role requires a variety of skills and a lot of flexibility.
Before we get into some of the skills you’ll need, let’s look at a typical SharePoint administrator’s responsibilities.
Keep in mind that SharePoint administrators’ roles are different in different companies. Some might require that you have a specific set of skills to solve problems, while others might leave that up to someone in another role.
Site and Account Management
When new employees need accounts, you’ll set them up. When someone leaves the company, you’ll disable their access.
You might edit roles and permissions when an employee changes positions. Or give them access to different sites if they join a new department.
SharePoint sites need managing, too. Roles, content types, and workflows need to be updated based on users’ needs.
If a team adds a section to their site, it might not fit with the current method of organization. So you’ll need to use your SharePoint information architecture skills to come up with a new sitemap that makes sense.
Here are a few more site and account tasks that SharePoint administrators may need to tackle:
- Configuring new sites
- Monitoring bandwidth usage
- Deleting old files to save space
- Running and maintaining backups
- Deploying custom features
The bigger your company and SharePoint instance, the more of this management you’ll need to do.
On the more technical side, you’ll also have to manage the server that your SharePoint instance lives on.
Are you running out of space? Is your server slowing down? Are you sure that your backups are working properly? Have you installed updates and patches? Is remote access functioning?
You’ll have to answer these questions.
Which means you need technical skills to be a SharePoint administrator. Experience with server maintenance is a big help. So is .NET and SQL knowledge. Windows Server, Microsoft networking, and SharePoint server experience will help a lot, too.
You’ll also handle server security. Your company may store sensitive information on its SharePoint server. So it needs to be secure.
Internal security is important, too—you don’t want anyone accidentally stumbling into the server and messing things up.
SharePoint is a powerful system that can help companies boost their productivity. But it takes a while to learn how to use it effectively (that’s one of SharePoint’s notable disadvantages). Especially if you’re using custom-developed third-party extensions.
One of your responsibilities as an administrator is to train other users on how to get the most out of SharePoint.
Here are a few things this might include:
- Running orientations for new employees
- One-on-one training sessions to address specific problems
- Creating organization-specific training documentation
- Updating employees on new features
Again, the bigger your company and more complex your SharePoint instance, the more responsibilities you’ll have.
Troubleshooting and Support
SharePoint is a powerful system . . . but it can also be difficult to work with. Especially when updates break the functionality you took so long to set up.
That’s where troubleshooting comes in. If something stops working, you need to find a fix as fast as possible. This is where both SharePoint experience and analytical thinking skills come in handy.
Some solutions will be as simple as changing a setting. Others might require that you work with your in-house SharePoint developers to change how a custom app works.
And there will be lots of smaller issues, too.
Shaun from accounting lost his password and locked himself out of his account. Penelope in shipping can’t figure out how to add the new manifest to the database. Executive Tim has no idea how to see what his direct reports are using the system for.
You’ll address all these issues and more. SharePoint administrators need a combination of technical knowledge, teaching ability, and patience.
Security and Permissions
I mentioned server security, but you’ll also have to think about site security and permissions as well.
Who should have administrative permissions on SharePoint sites? Who should have edit and read permissions? How will the sites be secured, and who has access?
As the SharePoint administrator, it’s your responsibility to help answer these questions. The answers will likely be different at every organization.
You’ll be tasked with making sure the security and permissions are enacted properly in your SharePoint instance.
General Monitoring and Maintenance
The tasks above are some of the main things you’ll be doing. But you’re overseeing a big, complicated system. Lots of other things will come up.
It’s your job to watch for other issues. And, of course, to solve them.
So you’ll need to adaptable and have the skills to work with a wide variety of issues.
Here are a few of those skills:
SharePoint Administrator Skills
This list is, of course, incomplete. But it will give you an idea of the skills and experiences that you’ll need to become a SharePoint administrator.
- Advanced SharePoint skills (and years of experience)
- Server maintenance (preferably Windows Server)
- Windows PowerShell
- Information security
- Networking and network security
- Programming knowledge: .NET, C#
- Web development: HTML, CSS, SQL
- Familiarity with Office Suite (and possibly Microsoft Project)
- Verbal and written communication
Any additional knowledge you have in related fields and software packages will be helpful (Power BI is often used alongside SharePoint, for example).
Experience in technical support, network configuration, and Windows are beneficial, too. And if you have development experience that can be applied to SharePoint, even better.
Many SharePoint administrators have degrees in computer or information science, though these aren’t necessary if you have a lot of SharePoint experience.
You’ll pick up some of these skills through experience in a company that uses SharePoint. And a degree in computer science will certainly help. But you can also supplement your education with trainings and certifications to prepare you for SharePoint administration.
Microsoft Virtual Academy offers many short video courses on SharePoint. They cover topics like PowerShell with SharePoint Server, SharePoint Hybrid Auditing, Initial Implementation of SharePoint Server, and a lot more.
You can also earn two certifications directly from Microsoft:
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: SharePoint
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: SharePoint Applications
There are, of course, other organizations that offer SharePoint training and certifications. So there are plenty of options for boosting your SharePoint administrator skills.
Become an All-Around SharePoint Expert
As you can see, you’ll need to be an expert in SharePoint to become an administrator. But you also need knowledge in peripheral fields like networking and tech support.
In short, you need to become an expert of all things SharePoint.
Or you can suggest that your company switches to something that’s way better than SharePoint and doesn’t require a full-time administrator and technical staff. Just a thought.