Best Practices for Office 365 SharePoint Development or Implementation

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Best Practices on Naming convention

  1. When creating columns, always create it with a short name first. This should be a fairly unique version of the full name, without any spaces, punctuation etc.
    • This is because the column internal name is generated from that first name; if you allow spaces then it converts them into an awful _x2000_ or something similar. Once it’s created you can re-name it so that its display name matches what you want.
    • The internal name is only needed for search and if you have to address that column through code.
  2. Content types don’t have the same internal name issues; they use GUIDs for unique identification.
  3. Groups are just text fields that you use for your own convenience.

​​​Best Practices on SharePoint Site Design

  1. Minimize page scroll-downs
    • Your SharePoint Site might contain few web parts. And of course you might add a few to the site homepage. If you have more than a few or some super-lengthy web parts (i.e. long task lists or super-large document libraries), you might end up with a page where user might need to scroll-down quite a bit to see all content.
      • Creating additional pages to store your web parts on
      • Creating custom views for all of your web parts that only display certain max # of items on the homepage. For example, may be instead of showing whole document library – only show last 5-10 docs uploaded. Users can still drill down to other views if they wish.
  2. Consistent Top Link Bar (menu)
    • I go in to a SharePoint site, navigate via a menu to some project or department site and then… I am lost. There is no easy navigation for me to go back and it seems like that site is the only one out there in SharePoint stratosphere. The only way out is the browser’s Back button. Make sure to prevent this with consistent navigation. You can then inherit site navigation from the parent site.
  3. Don’t turn Quick Launch navigation.
    • The best practice is to utilize that left hand-side menu as a local/contextual site menu. That means that while the top link bar menu described above is global and stays consistent among sites, the menu on the left displays links to content (web parts) found on that specific site and another thing, please remove links to Recent and Site Contents as well. I know they are added automatically by SharePoint and are kind of annoying; however, there is no reason why your end users need to see them. Remove them!
  4.  Use consistent and logical names for your web parts.
    • If you have a document library that stores policies or invoices, than give it a name that reflects that. Don’t name it “Document Library” or “Shared Documents”. This will help users make sense of what is on the page (especially if you have multiple document libraries or web parts)
  5. Use Promoted Links to aid users with navigation
    • Even with proper top link and quick launch navigation, it might be a bit overwhelming for some new site visitors to figure out where to go once they land on a site. To mitigate that, take advantage of Promoted Links functionality. This helps spice up the page with some colourful icons + assists users with navigation/getting to right content quickly. A great way to focus user’s attention on what’s important.
  6. Do not turn your SharePoint Site into a Hollywood special effects movie
  7. Never use SharePoint default document library
    • Document Library Name – By default, the name of the “default” document library is Documents. If you click on it, the URL will say “Shared Documents”. While you can change the name from Documents to something more meaningful, like Project Documents or Legal Library, the URL for the default document library is fixed and cannot be changed.
    • Mysterious metadata columns – There is another reason why you need to stay away from default document library. It is a bit more serious. If you use default document library and later decide to utilize SharePoint Publishing features, SharePoint will add two columns to your document library, without you knowing about this.
​Best Practices on SharePoint Site Creation and Security
  1. Unique security
    • While you can control security at a list/library or even file level, the best practice is to control security at the site level. So anytime you have unique contributors/teams/groups of employees working with content – create a new site. For example, HR documents need to go into a separate site, Finance Documents should get their own as well, etc.
  2. Unique business function/purpose
    • Even if security remains the same, if you have different purpose for content like different project or department, or team, create new site as well. Even if you have same people working with content, it might be a good idea to separate it into multiple sites. In that case, your sites will serve as a container to organize relevant information. Following above example, you don’t want to mix HR Department docs with Finance Department Docs.
  3. Multiple types of content
    • Whenever we talk about content in SharePoint, we primarily think about documents. It is not just about docs though. In SharePoint, you can manage documents, calendar, tasks, issues, contacts, etc. SharePoint Sites allow you create and add additional web parts (related to the document library in some way) to store those other types of content. So anytime you need room to grow and anytime you want to avoid the cluttered environment – create a site.
    • An example of such site is a project site. You might have a document library to manage project documents, but you also will have Tasks to manage tasks and project schedule, calendar for team meetings, Contacts to store team contacts, etc.​

Methodology

  1. Always Office 365 SharePoint and Agile is best combination
  2. Do not implement SharePoint using Waterfall methodology. If you do, you will fail.​


Using SharePoint Out of the Box functionality

  1. Cost
  2. Readily available expertise
  3. Worry-free upgrades
  4. Quicker time to market
  5. Performance
  6. There is already so much functionality that exists in SharePoint out of the box

Should I only use SharePoint Out of the Box functionality?

  1. Absolutely not. SharePoint Out of the Box obviously has its limitations.
  2. If your organization has been using SharePoint for a while, and does want to get to the next level in terms of functionality, workflows, interface with other tools, etc., by all means, custom solutions and/or coding might be the way to achieve this.

Navigation Best Practices

  1. Available SharePoint Navigation types
    • Global SharePoint Navigation
    • Local SharePoint Navigation
    • SharePoint Navigation via a list
    • SharePoint Navigation via Promoted Links or SharePoint Tiles
  2. Best Practices on SharePoint Navigation
    • Always utilize consistent navigation approach for all sites you have (for example, top bar as global navigation and quick launch for local site navigation)
    • Organize sites/content logically (i.e. group all department sites together, all project sites together, etc.)
    • Do not add too many choices – less is more! Just add links to stuff people have to access. Overcrowded navigation modules will be a big turn-off for your users and drive your User Adoption down.
    • If you are into advanced stuff, my recommendation would be to utilize managed navigation capability via Term Store. This would give you ultimate control over site navigation and will allow you to link content between sites and different site collections.

SharePoint Permissions Levels best practices

  1. Never change or alter default SharePoint permission levels
    • If you really need to alter a permission level – DO NOT change the default one – create a new one instead. For example, say you alter a default permission level “Contribute” and remove ability to delete files from it. That means that any library that utilizes this default permission level will inherit the change you made. That might mean disaster as users now won’t be able to delete files across the whole SharePoint.
  2. Never, ever roll out sites or subsites with default “Edit” permission level
    • By default, when you roll out new site collections or sites, SharePoint creates three security groups (Members, Owners, and Visitors) and assigns corresponding permission levels. Each group of course is expected to have users added to them.
    • Now notice that by default, the group “Members” is assigned Edit permission level. Naturally, you would assume that Team site members would have ability to edit documents in a library, which makes perfect sense. Until you go back to permission level itself and read the description of what Edit permission means. It says that Edit permission level can “Add, edit and delete lists, in addition to adding and deleting documents”.
    • Let me rephrase this: The user or group with Edit permission level can wipe out, completely remove the library of documents you setup and create a new library instead.
    • I don’t know why Microsoft decided to give such powers to site team members; it does not make sense to me. I am all for team collaboration, but ability for someone to delete the library on a project, department or team site is a bit too much for me.

SharePoint External Sharing best practices

  1. Consider putting all your sites that are meant for external sharing in a separate site collection
  2. Resist the urge to share content by individual files or folders
  3. Disable anonymous sharing
  4. Test and Monitor regularly

How to overcome SharePoint 5000 item limit threshold

  1. What is SharePoint 5000 item limit threshold?
    • Many mistakenly confuse this issue and incorrectly think that the list or library cannot hold more than 5000 files or items. This is not true.
    • According to Microsoft, the list or library can hold up to 30,000,000 documents or items. That’s a LOT of documents!
    • So, what’s the issue then?
      • Well, the issue is not necessarily with storing, but rather with displaying the information. The SharePoint 5000 item limit threshold applies to the limit of items that are displayed in a given view.
  2. How to over come
    • Don’t put all your files in one Document Library or list
      • If possible, move the content from a single document library and move to separate libraries and sites based on category.
    • Generally, using folders in SharePoint is not a good idea
      • However, folders allow you to break your content into manageable chunks.
    • Convert to metadata and enable indexing of (metadata) columns
      • Metadata allow you to filter, sort and group large lists and present content to user in a friendly way.
      • With metadata, you can minimize the number of items that would be returned / displayed in a view
      • Metadata alone will not solve the 5000 items Limit Threshold issue
      • Column Indexing allows you to catalogue (create indexes) for certain types of columns.
      • So Next time you filter or sort on a column, SharePoint looks in an exiting “catalogue”, instead of searching the whole library over and over again, allowing you to bypass the 5000 item limit threshold.
    • Always create filtered views
    • Limit the number of records displayed
      • ​Most likely, you do not need to display 10,000 documents every time you access a view
    • Create lot of different views based on filter
    • Adjust the default view (i.e., All documents view – filter/limit the number of records displayed)
  3. Microsoft announced that the next version of SharePoint, no more 500 item limit. The list threshold has been increased, however the new limit is not known at this time. Mostly 20,000…so let’s wait and see 

Don’ts of SharePoint Implementation

  1. Don’t roll out “Out of the Box” SharePoint site using built-in SharePoint templates
  2. Don’t allow users to use OneDrive for “team collaboration”
  3. Don’t roll out any team or project sites until you address Training, User Adoption and Governance

Best Practices for Document Management in SharePoint

  1. Use Meta tags/Data Columns to tag documents, rather than recreating network drive folders
  2. Use Content types for dynamic meta tagging
  3. Setup an alert for a document library
  4. Use Version Control/Check-out features only if users require it
  5. Create Views, many views!

SharePoint User Adoption Tips

  1. Identify and Involve (power) users and SharePoint advocates
  2. Conduct Training (lots of it)
  3. Implement SharePoint in phases
  4. Get organizational/senior leadership buy in
  5. Do the Demo first
  6. Use email/social media to get the point across, communicate often
  7. Build SIMPLE and AWESOME sites! Simplicity is key
  8. Build easy feedback mechanism in SharePoint and try to implement the feedback one by one
  9. Make it cool for them
  10. Monitor regularly – stay in touch with users​

REF – MSDN, MAVEN