Get ready to say goodbye to SharePoint 2013

Extended support for the SharePoint 2013 platform is ending in April 2023.

SharePoint 2013 is a decade old, yet many organizations are still using the platform to power their intranets and collaboration sites.

Why?

While SharePoint 2013 might not provide a great user experience by today’s standards, technology teams understand how to use and support the platform, and Microsoft has continued to provide platform updates. Ultimately, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

However, this is about to change.

As of April 11, 2023, Microsoft will no longer issue updates to the platform, which means that your SharePoint 2013 environment and sites:

  • Will become vulnerable to any potential security issues, increasing your cyber risk
  • May start to have compatibility issues with updates to other systems or browsers
  • Could fall out of compliance with industry regulations, standards or accreditations (depending on your industry)

Organizations that have mission-critical applications and/or content on SharePoint 2013 should strongly consider moving to a supported platform.

Moving to a supported platform

There are a couple of approaches you can take on your journey from SharePoint 2013 to a supported platform:

1. Move to SharePoint 2016 or SharePoint 2019

If you need to remain on-premises, SharePoint Server 2019 is the latest version available. On-premises upgrades require a multi-phased approach. You’ll need to temporarily hop through older versions along the way to your final platform, first upgrading to SharePoint 2016 then to SharePoint 2019. 

The move to a new on-premises version of SharePoint will likely be the simplest approach as SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint 2019 work in a similar way and will likely support your current information architecture, design and customizations (with a little bit of elbow grease). Some customizations might not work as expected, and you may want to modify your updated intranet and collaboration environments to take advantage of new platform features.

The downside? You will likely need to migrate again in a relatively short amount of time (especially if you stop at SharePoint 2016), but more importantly, you might not be providing your employees with an experience that supports them in how they want to work.

2. Move to the modern SharePoint experience in SharePoint Online

Instead of continuing the on-premises journey, most organizations have moved to – or are planning to move to – Microsoft 365 and SharePoint Online, which provides an abundance of modern digital workplace capabilities that better support your employees, wherever they may be.

However, the move to the modern SharePoint experience can be complex, and there are several gotchas:

  • Your information architecture, navigation and permissions will likely need to change. The use of hierarchical subsites is no longer recommended which requires managing content and potentially permissions in a different way due to a much flatter site hierarchy.
  • You likely have many systems (and even some PDF documents) that directly link to pages and/or content in SharePoint 2013. These links will have to be updated and/or you must figure out how to redirect links to the appropriate content in SharePoint Online.
  • Migration will require time and patience. Microsoft provides page modernization scripts that will convert classic SharePoint web pages to modern SharePoint pages, which work quite well, but if your pages contain poor HTML markup or interactive/complex content, they will present a migration challenge. You’ll also need a third-party tool such as AvePoint or ShareGate to migrate your documents and list items and their appropriate metadata.
  • Modern SharePoint web parts are fundamentally different from classic SharePoint web parts. In many cases, they don’t have like-for-like equivalents, so the way you handle certain content and functionality may need to evolve.
  • Divisions and departments will need to adjust to the world of modern SharePoint, where there are more connections between experiences and less flexibility with certain customizations. If people are used to having a lot of autonomy on their old SharePoint sites, this will require education and strong stakeholder management.

There are several other gotchas, including a less customizable global search experience, the lack of master pages and page layouts, and stricter branding boundaries.

With all these challenges, is it worth moving to modern?

For more and more organizations we work with, the answer is a resounding “yes.” Many of our clients are moving to modern to take advantage of:

  • A much better user experience. The modern SharePoint experience addresses many of the usability challenges of previous versions of SharePoint, and the platform’s features and capabilities are more discoverable and usable.
  • The content authoring experience is a massive (huge, enormous, incredible) improvement over the previous one, which makes the dream of truly distributed content authoring much closer to reality.
  • The experience is designed to be much more performant and responsive and works exceptionally well on smaller screens, including mobile devices.
  • Better support for and integration with other Microsoft 365 digital workplace tools, including Microsoft Teams, Viva, Forms, Yammer and the Power Platform.
  • Support for modern development technologies, including the SharePoint Framework (SPFx), to build experiences that are mobile ready. SPFx is a page and web part model that provides full support for client-side SharePoint development, easy integration with SharePoint data and can also be used to extend Microsoft Teams.
  • Support for a next-generation intranet experience built for modern SharePoint that includes preference-based content delivery, integration with other enterprise applications such as ServiceNow and engaging features like employee recognition.
Habanero’s latest version of GO Intranet was designed from the ground up for the modern SharePoint experience and includes support for the Microsoft Viva Experience Platform.

Ultimately, the modern SharePoint experience for Microsoft 365 is the future of the platform and Microsoft is continuously evolving and enhancing its capabilities including through the recent launch of Microsoft Viva.

Where do you begin?

April 2023 might seem far off, but it takes time for most organizations to gear up for an intranet and technology upgrade or migration project. These projects involve aligning stakeholders, securing project budgets and resources, preparing content, planning for legacy application integration, selecting go-forward technologies, sorting out licensing … and the list goes on.

If you’re looking for help with your planning process, we’re here. We often start each engagement with a modern SharePoint migration assessment and can provide you with a significant head start on your intranet journey with our GO Intranet for modern SharePoint pre-built intranet. We’ve helped many clients migrate their intranets and collaboration environments to modern SharePoint and can help you understand the benefits, risks and how to address many of the gotchas we’ve discovered along the way.

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