One of the reasons for the widespread popularity of SharePoint lies in its flexibility as a rich development platform. While SharePoint comes with its list of attractive out-of-the-box features, adding some customizations makes the platform even more useful and relevant for an enterprise. However, when the same customizations go wrong it has the potential of turning SharePoint into a confusing mess, affecting the health and compliance of the platform. The simple solution to this problem is to have a customization governance policy in place.
Sounds simple right? But according to a Rencore survey on ” SharePoint and Office 365 state of development survey” about half of the businesses either don’t have a customization governance plan or don’t know if they do. So, if a breach occurs in such enterprises, the decision-makers would have a hard time explaining why the SharePoint customizations had not been governed. Even if you have a SharePoint governance policy in place, it is important to implement the same correctly.
What is SharePoint customization governance?
“SharePoint includes customizable features and capabilities that span multiple product areas, such as business intelligence, forms, workflow, and content management. Customization can introduce risks to the stability, maintenance, and security of the environment. To support customization while controlling its scope, you should develop a customization policy.”
This means that there should be a governance plan in place for all types of SharePoint customizations – whether they are as simple as branding changes to the interface or more complex such as introducing workflows and connecting to external programs. But before drafting a comprehensive customization governance plan the key IT decision-makers need to decide on the customizations that should be allowed, a streamlined process for customization reviewing and a process to test their security and health. Moreover, the governance plan should ensure that the customizations remain useful and productive not only now but, in the future, too.
Essential Components of a SharePoint Customization Policy
When you think about Governance, it comprises of two important facets – people and processes. While processes are easy to govern once you have a policy in place, it is more challenging to govern the people who can deviate from the set norms. So, the first step into creating a successful SharePoint customization governance policy is to pick some dependable users and let them incorporate the customization best practices as a part of their work. However, your customization policy should include:
- Service Level Descriptions: There has to be an approval process in place to monitor changes to SharePoint. This should include the review of customization costs, creating a support team, a failover strategy, among other considerations.
- Guidelines for Customization Updates and Review: There should be a well-defined method in place to manage the changes to your customization, rules on how updates should be rolled out and a method for controlling or reviewing the source code.
- Use of approved customization tools: IT decision-makers should research for new tools and review their existing customizations to decide whether they are safe. You can consider a tool like QuickApps for no-code SharePoint customizations which empowers the end-users to customize without any risk to the environment.
- Streamlined Process for analysis, testing, and deployment: There should be a series of steps to analyze whether the customization is safe. The customization should be tested and deployed using the best practices.
- The level of Customization allowed: While certain enterprises remain very strict about their customizations and only allow small changes to out-of-the-box SharePoint. Others offer a higher degree of freedom. The approach you use depends entirely on your IT and end-user needs. However, there should be a clear definition of the customizations that are allowed or not allowed in your environment.
- Mention the Third-party plugins and apps allowed: There should be an established list of third-party tools that are deemed to be safe and secure for your environment. Of course, some level of flexibility has to be provided, but the policy makes sure that any new tool would be judged against a set of pointers. Such a practice ensures that your environment would not be put under any risk due to customizations.
Use QuickApps for risk-free SharePoint customizations
Based on the above information, organizations need to select a customization tool that empowers the power users and end-users to create applications that solve their daily tasks without risking the environment. The solution chosen should stay vital for future customizations, so that the enterprise can continue to derive value from their investment and enjoy enhanced ROI over time. QuickApps is an innovative customization tool containing a set of SharePoint web app and pre-built templates that reduces the dependency on developers and accelerates the application development lifecycle. Users can use the point and click configuration to build risk-free customizations.
Senior Product Development Manager and Practice Lead – SharePoint Delivery Microsoft.
Amit Gupta plays a key role in incubating and establishing best SharePoint practices at AgreeYa. He is closely associated with the Product Development and Delivery team and works to find new solutions based on Microsoft technology and optimize performance and responsiveness for our clients. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org