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Why you should migrate from classic SharePoint to modern SharePoint

Modern SharePoint has been around for four years, and while there were some initial gaps in functionality and capability when compared to classic SharePoint, the platform has now matured to the extent that migrating from classic to modern makes a lot of sense.

There are still many companies who have yet to make the move. One of the reasons for this is that they have customised environments based on classic SharePoint, meaning that migration to the new system will cause operational headaches and incur some costs. While these are short-term pains, in the medium- to longer-term, organisations will reap multiple benefits from moving to modern SharePoint.

In this article, were going to look at ten advantages that modern SharePoint has over classic SharePoint, and why you should consider migrating sooner rather than later. For a more detailed view of the differences between the two, you can also see the information provided by Microsoft.

1 Superior and more user-friendly interfaces

If you were involved in one of those huge custom intranet developments based on classic SharePoint from a few years back, youll know that a recurrent theme in the design was an attempt to develop a UI that ensured users were protected from the more confusing elements of the classic interface. A classic SharePoint intranet that looked as dissimilar to SharePoint as possible was regarded as a good thing. Thankfully, the far more up-to-date and user-friendly interfaces associated with out-of-the-box modern SharePoint are hugely superior to classic, resulting in more attractive and intuitive digital workplaces and intranets, supporting better adoption.

This has had a significant impact on super-users and site owners covering both communication and collaboration who can now manage their own sites with greater ease and confidence, allowing digital workplaces to flourish and evolve. Quite frankly, we dont want to return to the bad old days of the classic interface.

2 Better news and publishing

One of the mysteries of classic SharePoint was why Microsoft failed to develop a decent content publishing experience, particularly for news and updates, given the dominance of SharePoint as the base technology for corporate intranets.

Of course, modern SharePoint provides much better support for news publishing, with not only attractive web parts, but also the ease with which users can create and publish an item. Communication sites, for example, can effectively democratise internal communications within their enterprises by potentially opening up news publishing to all, encouraging news and content publishing at both team and function levels, and offering easy layouts and options. Meanwhile, internal communications teams can also leverage modern SharePoints web parts to drive publishing at the corporate intranet level. Any approach that involves devolved publishing is far easier to achieve using modern SharePoint compared to classic.

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3 Better and more comprehensive mobile experience

A major draw of the modern SharePoint is a far superior and more comprehensive mobile experience. The poor mobile support for classic SharePoint has always been a pain point, but all modern SharePoint site templates and web parts are responsive by default. Its not just mobile browsers that benefit from modern SharePoint, but also the app too: with modern, the SharePoint app now provides comprehensive mobile access, avoiding the gaping holes in the app associated with classic SharePoint. With modern, organisations no longer need to rely on third-party or customised apps.

4 Better integrated team sites

In classic SharePoint, arguably the star of the show is team sites, a great way to drive collaboration at scale. But modern team sites offer even more, fully leveraging the power of Microsoft / Office 365 groups, meaning you can more easily add elements from across the Microsoft 365 suite such as Planner, Yammer, Calendar and Stream. These features may already be part of your digital workplace, in which case migrating over to modern means you can start to deliver far more integrated and richer team sites.

4 A multitude of better features across libraries, lists and more

SharePoint is a highly complex and mature platform with a huge range of capabilities. As Microsoft has invested in and improved the modern experience, the gap between the capabilities in classic and modern has grown.

This is shown when you look at the detail in two of the core features of SharePoint lists and libraries. In modern SharePoint libraries, you can download multiple files in one go and upload an entire folder, and the admin interfaces are quicker and easier to use for tasks such as updating metadata.  Here, the devil can be in the detail, and whilst some of the capability gaps might seem modest, they can be highly significant to individual users and admin in particular scenarios. Over the whole platform, these enhanced capabilities point to a significant advantage of using modern SharePoint.

6 Leveraging modern site templates

Modern SharePoint comes with a range of different site templates that are ready out-of-the-box and give teams a head-start in supporting collaboration and communication needs, as well as in stitching these together into a more cohesive digital workplace experience. Organisations are using modern communication sites, hub sites, team sites and home sites to not only help site owners get up and running more quicky and become self-sufficient, but also to drive a more integrated experience that is not available in classic. Whats more, there are now page templates in SharePoint modern too which make it extremely easy to standardise content creation within your organisation.


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7 Reducing the need for customisations

The rise of cloud-based systems has changed attitudes to managing platforms, even for on-premises solutions. While some light customisations are important for the individual needs of organisations, heavily customised environments result in significant additional costs and huge effort around upgrades, and can limit the use of new features for users. Most IT functions will want to avoid customisations as far as possible, but classic SharePoint usually needs far more customisations than modern SharePoint in order to deliver a strong user experience and generate business value. To adopt a less customised environment, a migration from classic may well be required.

8 Quicker implementations and continuous improvement

With next to no customisations in modern SharePoint, and site templates readily available out-of-the-box, it is far easier to perform implementations quickly. Nobody wants to go back to the old days of long, expensive classic SharePoint intranet implementations – we certainly dont!  Modern SharePoint also means it is far easier to make small, iterative ongoing changes, and ultimately drive a more agile digital workplace or intranet based on continuous improvement. In turn, this means you can react much better to employee feedback and drive a platform that can be smoothly adopted and have more business impact.

9 Integration with the rest of Microsoft 365

Because SharePoint is intertwined with the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite, many organisations think in terms of the whole platform and what it can do, rather than just SharePoint. A huge advantage of modern SharePoint over classic is that it integrates far more easily and tightly with the rest of the Microsoft universe.

To fully leverage the power of collaboration and communication in Microsoft Teams, alongside the workflow and automation of Power Automate from your SharePoint environment, then going down a modern route is the way to go, allowing you to evolve a fully integrated and consistent experience.

10 Future proofing your digital workplace

Microsoft continue to invest in modern SharePoint and while its still possible to maintain a classic SharePoint experience, its long-term future is unclear. We suspect it will stick around for quite a while, but one day, Microsoft may make an announcement that either officially ends support for classic, or renders that day inevitable.  Moving to modern makes sense in order to ensure you can leverage the continuous improvement and investment in the platform.

Microsoft also has a vast ecosystem of suppliers and developers who continue to create solutions, plug-ins and more that work alongside modern SharePoint and can add value to your digital workplace; the intranet-in-a-box market is a classic example. With an eye to the future, these solutions are now likely to be developed to work with modern SharePoint rather than classic, meaning moving to modern SharePoint ultimately helps to future-proof your digital workplace.

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In our view, modern SharePoint beats classic SharePoint in numerous ways. There are many other areas we could have covered in this article, including better performance, better security, easier development and more. If youd like to discuss the differences between classic and modern SharePoint and migrating across the systems, then get in touch!

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