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Starting a New Intranet Or Document Management System In SharePoint? Here’s our views on The Modern and Classic SharePoint Experience

Posted December 13, 2018
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Intranet and Document Management Systems are both critical components of any modern workplace and building these solutions represents a step towards a more digitally mature organisation.

By Nick Hughes, Client, Solution and Strategy Manager

Choosing which system to help build out these solutions can be an arduous task without all the right info easily laid out. That’s why we’re tackling a question that many of our clients ask: What’s the best SharePoint experience to use to start building our systems? SharePoint Classic or SharePoint Modern?

Delve into why we recommend SharePoint modern for all new build outs – its advantages over the Classic experience in 2018.

Classic or modern? No, we’re not talking about art here – although intranet design certainly could be considered an art in some circles! SharePoint is Microsoft’s answer to intranet and document management, helping organisations to better manage their data, collaboration, and business process in a centralised, intuitive way.

Just recently we talked about Understanding the Modern SharePoint Experience, covering the updates and changes that have been made to progress the classic SharePoint experience to the modern SharePoint experience.

However, if you haven’t worked with the SharePoint classic experience, this might not be the way to approach the subject. If you’re starting a new intranet or document management system, then you’re starting with a clean slate. In this post, we’ll take you through which SharePoint experience to choose.

A note before starting: On-premise vs cloud implementations

The trend in software and infrastructure (and processing, and storage, and…) is now geared towards cloud technologies rather than traditional on-premise resources.

To build a modern on-premise page, list, library or site, you will need to be using the newly released SharePoint 2019. Earlier versions of SharePoint on-premise are limited to the classic SharePoint experience, unless you are able to invest in developing custom SPFx webparts.

The modern SharePoint experience is fully available via SharePoint Online, an additional as part of the O365 suite.

In general, the trend towards cloud computing will continue. For new implementations, if not constrained by organisational structure or budget limitations, choosing technologies with game-changing features like the modern experience and cloud computing will be best supported and more future proof moving forward.

Modern SharePoint is built with modern technologies

Classic SharePoint has been around since around late 2002. For reference, that’s a full 5 years before Nokia lost market share in the mobile space. Technology has come a long way since. Classic SharePoint updates have built iteratively on this legacy product.

Modern SharePoint, on the other hand, is an almost completely new product, albeit with similar functionality. It’s a completely new UI (user interface), built with new technologies, workflows, and processes, all designed using modern web technologies. The modern experience also gives a mobile responsive view, which is complicated using Classic.

This modern update has been developed to save the aging SharePoint Classic from becoming like Nokia, and being disrupted by a new intranet and document management solution from an outsider.

In short, it’s a whole new product, and if you work across mobile devices or intend to in the future, going modern is a must.

Ease of use: Classic vs modern

If you are building a new solution and trying to decide between the new modern SharePoint experience and SharePoint classic, we recommend that you go for modern. Why? Because the classic experience has often been described as clunky, slow, and not user-friendly. The modern update includes features you’d expect in a modern app, such as the ability to download multiple documents, resize columns, and easily copy and move documents. It’s not without its faults, and some components still have underlying classic SharePoint design, but it’s a step in the right direction, and you can bet that developers are working to improve the experience.

Do you need 3rd party integrations?

While the look and feel of SharePoint classic and modern SharePoint experience is instantly different, the core functionalities are fairly much the same. However, some organisations require more functionality to be built out with custom development. The field of custom development with modern SharePoint is in its infancy. While SharePoint classic customisations relied on .NET development, SharePoint modern is heavily JavaScript based. What this means is that you’ll need to find developers skilled in web development (along with SharePoint experience) to build out modern SharePoint customisations.

SharePoint as part of your productivity suite

Microsoft is busy trying to migrate organisational customers to O365, the cloud version of their traditional on-premise Office suite. With the release of Office 2019 recently, it was noted that the release offers less functionality than current users of O365 (albeit more functionality than Office 2016).

This is another deliberate step by Microsoft towards cloud computing: while on-premise software will still be supported, it is going to offer customers less than the cloud product moving forward.

If you are already using some form of O365, whether it’s at work or at home, then using the modern SharePoint experience will feel familiar. While traditional Office products all feel slightly different from one another, O365 products all feel similar – they have been designed to have this experience across products for better user familiarity and usability.

Building new?

If you’re building new, the choice is clear – Microsoft SharePoint via O365 online is the way to ensure your new implementation has the most ongoing support. What do we mean by ongoing support? Well, the resources that Microsoft will continue to pour into their O365 solutions while easing off on their on-premise development and support. While the modern SharePoint experience isn’t a mature solution as yet, investing in modern will mean a document library or intranet that will serve you for many, many years to come, whereas the classic view will begin to feel less relevant very quickly.

Let’s start building together

For organisations inexperienced with SharePoint purchasing, configuration, and development, we offer a range of tailor-made services that will ensure you build a solid foundation with clear governance, strategy, and functionality. Bremmar’s excellence in assessing your organisational needs and providing clear direction with build solutions or training will ensure that you’re keeping your technology in step with the modern world – saving you time and resources.

If you need any help to plan, design, review or implement your SharePoint project then make sure to give us a call on 1300 991 351 , or reach out via our online contact form below.

Get an initial consultation with Bremmar!

We can help with software, technology implementation, strategy and staff training.

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By Nick Hughes, Client, Solution and Strategy Manager

Result-driven professional with over 10 years’ experience in the IT industry specialising in process optimisation, strategic alignment and driving continual improvement.

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