SharePoint is a very popular document management system so why are there long threads on Reddit devoted to its inadequacy? Why do some users hate it so much? Can you make it better? Here are a few tips to improve the SharePoint experience.

They Can’t Find What They Need

The number one problem users have is that they can’t find what they need. You can tune SharePoint’s search to do an adequate job for a lot of content. However, SharePoint’s search (originally called Fast) was initially developed over two decades ago and hasn’t seen major architectural improvements since it laid off half of its staff, got involved in a stock scandal, and had board members call each others liars and wonder if they should have shot each other.

Besides all of that drama, many companies create separate SharePoint domains for every minor department or subdivision of the company. Moreover, some of what you need for context in order to find things in SharePoint, may not be in SharePoint at all. In other words, to do search you need a system designed for modern search. You also need to consider using security groups rather than having separate SharePoint domains, and to think carefully about how to organize your documents into libraries.

It Is Too Slow

Obviously, you need adequate numbers of disks and CPU for your SharePoint servers.

  • Use groups instead of individual user permissions as this slows down the indexing process (individual permissions are also a pain to manage).
  • Remove BLOBs from SQL Server and use local storage.
  • Make sure you have proper disk resources assigned to both SharePoint and the backing SQL Server.

There are a number of other performance tuning opportunities from the front-end to how memory and disk are utilized. Make use of all of them.

They Think It’s Ugly

Out of the box, SharePoint isn’t the prettiest thing. However, SharePoint is highly customizable, especially the web layer. Brand it with your corporate look and feel — or a more attractive variant of it. Using HTML and CSS, you can change the look and feel with minimum hardcore technical effort.

They Can’t Share Things

You can improve your users’ ease of sharing if you:

But most of all make sure your users are educated on SharePoint’s full capabilities. Many organizations have closet Dropbox usage when in reality SharePoint can share files externally and securely.

In the end, SharePoint is a powerful tool for organizing internal content, controlling access, and sharing content externally — if used and configured correctly. SharePoint’s search capabilities aren’t great, but can be tuned. You will be better off using dedicated search software to provide more relevant, personalized, and context-sensitive results.

Next Steps

About Andrew C. Oliver

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