SharePoint – out of the box and customisation

Deciding whether to opt for an out-of-the-box or customised intranet is still a difficult decision with a few things to consider.

There are three main options:

1 Out of the box by this we mean using SharePoint and Microsoft 365 as it comes without modification or third party features

2 Customisation through a third party add in or set of services (like LiveTiles)“ which you typically pay a monthly licence fee for (sometimes called intranet in a box)

3 Bespoke customisation extra features built specifically to your particular requirements

In a previous webinar we compared the differences between intranet in a box and bespoke customisation. But, what about option one staying entirely out-of-the-box and only configuring what Microsoft gives you?

This used to be a very limited option, particularly for online flavours of SharePoint provided by Office 365 and, later, Microsoft 365. Because of the basic feature set, it tended to be an option only for smaller companies or those on a very tight budget.

However, Microsoft has continued to build on its intranet capabilities in SharePoint and Microsoft 365 and now, in 2021, it’s a more compelling option. New features and configuration options make it possible to deliver a best practice intranet at low cost – that’s why we offer an Accelerate package for companies who want to take this route.

What can you achieve now with out-of-the-box SharePoint?

  • Cascading (roll-up, roll-down news content) using Hubs and Communication sites
  • Mega menu style navigation
  • Global navigation across multiple sites
  • Upcoming events feeds
  • Improved presentation options (thanks to new display template options for lists)
  • Better integration with other Microsoft 365 apps like Yammer and Stream including better webparts

What is out-of-the-box SharePoint still not good at?

  • Targeting of content is still very basic
  • Branding and user experience customisation options are limited
  • The news experience is not very sophisticated and larger companies will struggle with it
  • Templating, provisioning and governance of intranet components like workspaces and hubs

 
It’s also worth remembering that you don’t have to choose from only option 1, 2 or 3 above. You can have a mixture of options. For example, you could choose to go mostly with an out-of-the-box approach, but with one or two minor custom elements e.g. an improved news feed experience or an enhanced policy library.

As part of our digital workplace discovery process, we help many organisations to decide which route is the best for them the one that will help them meet their business objectives, but efficiently from a cost perspective. As a digital workplace consultancy we help organisations deliver all three of the options, so we are neutral in terms of deciding which route you should take.

Out-of-the-box SharePoint doesn’t work for everyone and there are often good reasons not to embrace it, but for some companies it’s a good choice and we see more and more organisations having success with the core Microsoft tools. A key thing, as ever, it to ensure that you have help from a partner who lives and breathes intranets and digital workplace. That way, whichever route you take, you will get the most value out of the tools available.

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