SharePoint is dead long live SharePoint

By Tony Hughes

As Microsoft power forward with new Office 365 applications, administration, governance and compliance tools the question "is SharePoint dead?" has been asked of me on more than one occasion. Some may say it is, I say not.

Before the arrival of Office 365 most SharePoint Server implementations would comprise of some or all of the following:

  1. A classic Intranet providing News, Announcements, Communications and Social elements.
  2. Departmental Sites for sharing documents with colleagues across the business.
  3. Project Sites for the collaboration on and centralisation of content.
  4. Business Applications utilising electronic Forms and Workflows (e.g. Expense Submission and Approval, New Employee On Boarding etc).
  5. An Extranet to enable collaboration with partners/clients.

This would require careful planning to ensure the Intranet/Extranet had logical structure, permissions and navigation. More often than not this was a moving target, and required comprehensive SharePoint skills to manage. In the wrong hands a disaster waiting to happen resulting in poor user adoption and little or no ROI, in the right hands the results could be a revelation.

So, in the new Office 365 world, how could we approach the need for Social, Collaboration, Mobile, Workflow, Forms and the Holy Grail ... Digital Transformation?

Take a step back, and remember the wisdom of reduced expectations, e.g.  "if I can deliver 90% of the desired functionality Out Of The Box and at minimal risk" Take no notice of the names or straplines Microsoft has given the Office 365 components.

What would a typical Microsoft Productivity Suite (aka Office 365) implementation comprise?

  1. Email in the Cloud (goes without saying)
  2. Yammer as the Classic Intranet Element built on Office Groups for News, Announcements, Communications, Social and sharing of documents with colleagues across the business.
  3. Office Groups with associated Team Sites, Teams and Planner Plans for Departmental / Project Collaboration.
  4. Common Business Apps built on PowerApps and Flow.
  5. Who needs an Extranet, utilise Sharing accross Office 365 to collaborate with partners and clients.

So in the new Office 365 world no mention of SharePoint, maybe not by name but rest assured it is there underpinning these applications:

  • OneDrive - personal and SharePoint content;
  • Team Sites are the new SharePoint Team Sites;
  • Teams and Planner both use SharePoint as their document store and management platform;
  • PowerApps data can be stored in SharePoint Lists; and
  • Flow can trigger workflows from SharePoint List additions or edits, and create new entries from PowerApps forms.

Combine all of this with the availability of mobile apps, data connections to on-premise data sources, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliance, Data Loss Prevention etc, etc and Office 365 becomes so much more then Email in the Cloud and the latest versions of Word, Excel etc.

Oh, and we have not gone into Bookings, StaffHub, PowerBI, Dynamics365, Records Management and Retention ... probably best left for another day.

If you only take one action from reading this I hope it is that when you decide to refresh your IT landscape have a gander at Office 365, it might just surprise you, it did me.

Tony Hughes is a SharePoint & Office 365 Specialist at UK IT solutions provider TSG.