SharePoint Customization Best Practices

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July 30, 2020
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Since its release nearly two decades ago, SharePoint has fast become the go-to solution for organizations’ content management needs and more. Businesses of all types are turning to the Microsoft platform to facilitate stronger collaboration and document management within their companies.

Because SharePoint customization has so much to offer businesses of all sizes, many of them are engaging experts to develop and customize the multipurpose platform for them. What’s the best approach for doing so? Here’s what you should know. 


What is SharePoint?

It’s difficult to sum up SharePoint in a single statement. The tool is many things: a content management system (CMS), a document-sharing platform, a means of collaboration within an organization, a workflow and productivity enhancer, and much more.

SharePoint is web-based. When it was released, it was largely used for file storage. Today, however, it has a wide range of applications to enhance businesses and collaboration within them. The platform integrates with Microsoft Office, and businesses can tailor it according to their individual needs. 


Why Should You Customize SharePoint?

Because SharePoint can do so many things, it makes sense to customize it to fit your particular business model and unique situation. There are many applications and integrations that work with the platform, and you should choose the ones most appropriate for your particular organization.

Usually, this means partnering with a software development company that specializes in building or customizing technology tailored to the organization. When you outsource customization, you can take advantage of:

  • The various tools and platforms SharePoint accommodates, include intranets, custom apps, and more
  • Enhanced workflows
  • Modern add-ons and components
  • Streamlined and accessible services in one platform

Outsourcing companies can also redesign the platform to enhance accessibility and user-friendliness, encouraging your employees to use and engage with the tool.


Best Practices for Sharepoint Customization

How can you customize the platform for your organization? Here are the 6 best practices to consider.


1. Take Stock of Your Needs

First, think about what you want to get out of SharePoint. Because the platform is so versatile with myriad uses, consider your organization’s priorities. Depending on the size of the business, you could discuss how different employees and departments are using the platform or what they would like to do with it with managers.

Perhaps you need Business Intelligence tools or want to improve your website, for example. SharePoint customization can offer solutions, as long as you can do it accordingly.


2. Have an Expert Handle Customization

As with most technology projects, a lot can go wrong with SharePoint if you don’t know what you’re doing. It may be tempting to ask your in-house IT team to customize the platform for you, but it’s best to put it in the hands of experts — dedicated, custom software companies that have experience working with SharePoint. 

Ultimately, this will actually save you time and money, since you’ll more than likely encounter fewer errors that you’ll have to fix later on. You can also work with your provider to ensure that they tailor your platform to your specific needs.


3. Keep Upgrades in Mind

Microsoft releases updates to SharePoint with some frequency. Sometimes, these updates can adversely affect SharePoint customizations you have in place. This is especially true if you’re using third-party add-ins or plugins. Something may not look or feel right after you’ve updated SharePoint, and other aspects may lose functionality altogether.

Keep upgrades in mind when customizing your software, and be especially wary of parts sold by third-party vendors, which may not be compatible with later upgrades. Again, this is why SharePoint customization is best left in the hands of experts, who can anticipate how later versions might affect your alterations.


4. Turn to Third-Party Solutions

That said, you shouldn’t ignore add-ons completely. They can help you customize and make your platform even better than it already is. Just make sure they’re coming from a reputable source. The SharePoint Store, for example, offers many third-party apps and other tools for augmenting your platform. These are developed and sold by Microsoft partners, so you can trust that they’re compatible with SharePoint. 

That doesn’t mean that other third parties don’t offer viable solutions, too — such as a trusted development team.


5. Control SharePoint Customization

Not every one of your employees needs to be able to customize your SharePoint platform — nor should they all have access to it. If each member of every department can alter the backend, it can wreak havoc on the entire platform. 

Set up permissions levels so that only certain IT specialists — preferably managers — or software developers are able to manipulate the code. You can also implement an authentication system to prevent unauthorized users from changing it. 

That doesn’t mean all employees shouldn’t be able to access SharePoint itself. Chances are, there are many employees and departments who will need to use it. But only certain high-level technology personnel should actually be able to change the structure of the platform and customize it.


6. Don’t Forget About Performance

SharePoint customization can affect performance, causing your pages to load too slowly or the program to stall. Make sure you’re not sacrificing performance for features you may not even need. This, after all, will render your platform inefficient.

Every time you make a change to the platform, make sure your code is sound and that it’s not adversely affecting the loading time and overall performance of SharePoint.

At the end of the day, SharePoint can greatly improve your workflow and solve a wide variety of issues within your organization. Customizing your platform can enhance productivity, efficiency, and collaboration even further. Keep these best practices in mind as you augment and improve SharePoint to best meet the needs of your business.

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