If you follow my blog posts and newsletter, you probably already know that I am a staunch supporter of SharePoint Out of the Box functionality. That means that when I configure Intranet Portals, Project Portals or Document Management Systems for my clients, I only use what’s already available in SharePoint. I do not use any custom coding or third-party tools or add-ons. This is a key ingredient of my implementation methodology and business model. So with this post, I would like to explain my position and the reasons behind my philosophy.
Time to market
Do you want to have your portal up and running in 1 month or 1 year? Because that is what you are looking at when you decide to start customizing SharePoint with expensive themes, add third-party add-ons and inject custom code. Because now you have to spend time on all these bells and whistles and most importantly test and make sure they all work as desired. With SharePoint OOTB – you don’t have to do any of that. It just works – because Microsoft has already done the testing part for you!
What would you do if you had an extra $20,000? Third-party licenses and SharePoint developers ain’t cheap! So think twice before going for something custom.
Easy to maintain
I jokingly tell my clients, that I don’t want them to call me after we are done with the project. Not because I don’t like a repeat business. I do! But the reality is you probably won’t need to, as long as everything developed was Out of the Box. That means that there is no code for you to debug and modify or beg a vendor that sold you a third-party web part three years ago to support it. Your answer could be self-evident or at least, a simple google search or blog post away.
Third-party add-ons might mean you stay in classical SharePoint
This is not something that might apply to all customizations and third-party add-ons, but definitely applies to many. The thing is – many add-ons and custom themes require that you stay in classical SharePoint. That means no modern lists or libraries, and no modern pages. On top of that, most custom coding and customizations require that you enable publishing features. Now, I am sure this will change down the road, as many vendors are switching to modern SharePoint development, but keep in mind, modern SharePoint is still in its infancy. I strongly recommend that you do stay in modern SharePoint – otherwise, you are loosing on lots of great new functionality. So before you commit to your business users and please your boss with some cool and flashy theme, make sure you check into whether they support modern SharePoint and architecture.
You already have most tools you need
Have you taken a closer look at Office 365 lately? It is like a treasure box! Microsoft is constantly adding new tools and functionality to your subscription. Teams, Planner, PowerApps, Flow, are just some of the recent tools added that allow you to supercharge your SharePoint to a new level. It is just a matter of determining which ones you need to customize/configure per your business requirements.
Of course, there are situations, when you do need to step outside the boundaries of OOTB. If you have a very specific business need or require specific functionality/feature not available in OOTB SharePoint/Office 365, or your CEO hates SharePoint and wants to brand the hell out of it – you will need to utilize third-party tools. It is totally fine, as long as you understand the consequences.