Is the SharePoint modern experience right for you?

At Habanero, we love to explore new tools and technology and help organizations put tools to work for their employees.

Three years ago, Microsoft launched a new SharePoint modern experience, alongside the SharePoint classic experience. The momentum around the modern experience grew with the addition of Communication and Hub sites and then, most recently, with Home sites, which was announced at the 2019 SharePoint Conference.

At Habanero, we are embracing the modern SharePoint experience and the continuous innovations coming from Microsoft. As with many other enterprise platforms, one size does not fit all and, in order to meet our clients’ needs, we have complemented modern with other tools in Office 365 or third-party solutions, like our GO intranet.

When you are considering how the new modern experience fits into your digital workplace, it’s important to understand a few key things about modern.

Key SharePoint modern considerations

The modern experience brings new ways to approach, visualize and organize SharePoint data. This presents many advantages, but also creates areas where you may need to find complementary tools or fall back to classic SharePoint approaches to meet your employees’ needs.

Highlighted are some common areas that we discuss with clients who are considering SharePoint modern pages.

Branding and design

The SharePoint modern experience provides a simplified, consistent and responsive design that requires minimal skills or coaching to use. This is a gamechanger for SharePoint, which traditionally relied on customization to be mobile-ready.

Many large organizations still find the modern experience limiting for showcasing a strong culture and brand. If the needs of your organization extend beyond the straightforward theme and palette options, you will likely need to look beyond the SharePoint modern experience for the key areas of your digital workplace where brand is important.

Navigation and wayfinding

In the new world of the SharePoint modern experience, gone are deeply nested hierarchical sites. A newer, nimbler, flatter navigation approach has emerged. A flatter physical architecture brings with it several advantages in your digital workplace – performance, simplified security and better controls, ability to upgrade, reduced dependencies and ease of restructuring.

But organizations are not traditionally flat. One of the challenges organizations face is shifting management and organization from hierarchical to flattened, and then supporting contextual navigation of these solutions.

Take the time to understand how your employees find, navigate, manage and author information. You may find this is another area where complementary solutions help enhance an employee’s ability to find their way around and get to where they need to go.

Enterprise search

Microsoft Search has dramatically improved finding content across Office 365, especially at an individual employee level. Further search enhancements were recently announced, and we are looking forward to added ability to customize search before the end of the year.

But, for most organizations, search challenges are still an issue even with the latest and greatest technology.

Modern’s current one-size-fits-all approach to search is great for organizations that are based solely in Office 365 and have limited content sprawl. Other companies with needs that extend to searching across external content sources, targeting results, applying filters or deeper search customizations will need to supplement the native SharePoint modern search.

Targeting and preferences

Content targeting is another common area still holding back companies from fully embracing the modern experience, especially for their intranet. Communications sites and soon-to-be-launched Home sites will allow for some targeting of news, supporting some organizations needs around employee communications. 

Complex organizations operating in many locations or with subsidiary companies, have complex internal audiences with deeper targeting needs that go beyond news content into essential operating content. Targeting content to a specific audience reduces noise for employees allowing them to find their specific tools more efficiently. If complex targeting is on your list of priorities, you will need to consider enhancing modern or wait to see what evolves.

Multilingual functionality

Another highly anticipated area planned in the Microsoft roadmap is multilingual functionality. Multilingual is a current gap in the modern experience that Microsoft is actively working on.

The lack of multilingual functionality is often a non-starter for multi-national organizations looking to bring together offices and content in different languages on their intranet.

We are looking forward to seeing how multilingual functionality evolves, but for now you will need a complementary solution or approach to the modern experience.

Evolving your technology-services delivery approach

For long-term success and change

One of the fantastic things about Office 365 is the rapid release of new features. Gone are the days of the once-every-three-year upgrades. Microsoft has rapid release cycles with new enhancements being delivered to your employees as they become available. This reduces the burden on in-house teams to manage patches, security fixes and upgrades.

A core challenge with this fast pace of change is that it doesn't typically match the organizational structures or traditional approaches to how technology solutions are budgeted and rolled out. Teams should approach their cloud-based digital workplace launch as a first chapter to a long story.

Organizations may need to reassess their funding model from a one-time launch to a steady stream of changes and upgrades. You'll also need to decide if evolving your digital workplace alongside Office 365 is a core capability you'll want to build in-house or you can lean on organizations, such as Habanero, to help support you.

Consider the problem before the solution

More often than not, technology is only a small piece of the puzzle.

It's helpful to think about the set of tools in Office 365 as simply that: tools. And not as a “SharePoint classic vs. modern" decision. How these tools piece together to solve your organization's digital workplace problems requires a clear view of what you are trying to accomplish and what problems you are trying to solve. 

Digital transformation and change have huge impacts on your organizational culture and the engagement of employees. Take the time to consider your strategy before your technology solution.

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to whether the SharePoint modern experience will meet your digital workplace needs.  Like most things in life, the answer is more nuanced.

If you’re having a hard time making decisions about your Office 365 tools, including the modern SharePoint experience, reach out to our digital workplace experts. Or, request a GO intranet demo to explore the ways we put employees at the centre of our solutions and how we are embracing the modern experience.  

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