SharePoint Best Practices

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SharePoint Best Practices

There are many ways to use SharePoint, some efficiently, some convoluted but workable and some which are setting yourself up for disaster. This document is to give you hints and pointers in the correct direction.

  • Files stored in SharePoint shouldn’t be emailed between staff, only the URL to the document. This just leads to duplicates of the same document and potentially it being accessed by someone who shouldn’t have permission.
    In most cases if you right click on the document there is a ‘share’ button which will automatically send the link to the file to a nominated person.
  • Use the ‘Principle of least privilege’ and assign the least privileges to users or groups (ie Read Only) as opposed to ‘Full Control’ of the document or SharePoint site. Multiple user groups can be assigned to the resource and the permissions are cumulative meaning that if a individual user has additional higher permissions they will be used.
  • Individual Sites should be created for each department to store files related to them.
    This helps simplify permissions, relevant communications and compartmentalise information.
  • Consider creating new file libraries for each type of file instead of a new folder, this will simplify what tags will be available for the files within the library.
  • Documents within a SharePoint Library shouldn’t be any more than 2 folders deep. Nested folders are slow both to use and search through in SharePoint, and often lead to multiple of the same file being created.
  • Subsites shouldn’t be created anymore than ~5 deep off the root site. If your likely to be creating a substantial number of sites you should consider alternative topology’s such as ‘Hub Sites’ which is flat, as opposed to hierarchical.
  • Where possible, keep file names short. Sharepoint generates a URL consisting of the main sites URL, subsite levels and file names.
    Sharepoint has a URL limit of 260 character’s for on premise and 400 characters for SharePoint online.
  • Use tags instead of tacking on extensions or putting them in folders, ie ‘phonebook_2019CURRENT’
    This makes its less likely for files to be lost in nested folders, ability to filter documents based on metadata (tags) and easier to find.
  • Document libraries shouldn’t have any more than ~5 column tags and be closely tied to the files stored within a library. If unlike files are being stored with different tags, consider storing them in a new document library with a different set of tags.
  • Outdated irrelevant content should either be updated to remain relevant or archived.
  • SharePoint sites are hierarchical and can have nested subsites off the Main Root site.
    You can take it a step future if you want to have additional team sites for each department (ie special project) however it should be regulated.
  • SharePoint should not be treated as a ‘database’ when using large lists or excel spreadsheets. It has serious limitations when displaying or accessing over 5000 items and lacks the ability to efficiently query or join lists together are limited.
  • If your going to be storing thousands of rows, have multiple applications using the list at the same time or requiring any level of performance you should strongly consider using a database instead. A MYSQL/ MS SQL database can easily be bolted onto SharePoint if necessary.
  • Documents shouldn’t be embedded within lists, it’s a common workaround but is often responsible for slow performance and the inability to search for files.
  • Don’t be afraid to integrate other Microsoft 365 Apps into SharePoint.
    Apps such as Microsoft Forms make it extremely easy to add common functionality such as creating a quick survey to post on a intranet or collect information from a end user.
  • Don’t be intimated by complex SharePoint Workflows. Consider using Microsoft Flows which can perform a wide range of common workflows and easily integrate with other Microsoft products like Outlook. In many cases they already have a workflow template pre-made!

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