SharePoint Intranet Development: How to Get Started
SharePoint is a powerful platform that allows organizations to create and manage their own intranet sites. An intranet is a private network that is only accessible to employees within the organization. It serves as a central hub for communication, collaboration, and information sharing.
Benefits of SharePoint Intranet
Before diving into the development process, it’s important to understand the benefits of using SharePoint for your intranet:
- Centralized Information: SharePoint allows you to store and organize all your company’s documents, files, and data in one central location.
- Improved Collaboration: SharePoint provides a range of collaboration tools, such as document sharing, version control, and team sites, to enhance teamwork and productivity.
- Customization Options: SharePoint offers a wide range of customization options, allowing you to tailor your intranet to meet your organization’s specific needs and branding.
- Security and Permissions: SharePoint provides robust security features, allowing you to control access to sensitive information and ensure data privacy.
- Integration with Other Tools: SharePoint integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft tools, such as Office 365, Teams, and Power Automate, providing a unified digital workplace experience.
Step 1: Planning and Design
The first step in SharePoint intranet development is planning and designing your intranet site. This involves defining your goals, identifying user requirements, and creating a site structure.
Here are some key considerations during the planning and design phase:
- Define Objectives: Clearly define the objectives and goals of your intranet. What do you want to achieve with your intranet? Identify the key functionalities and features you want to include.
- Identify User Requirements: Understand the needs and requirements of your users. Conduct user surveys or interviews to gather feedback and insights.
- Create Site Structure: Plan the structure of your intranet site, including the navigation, site hierarchy, and content organization. Consider creating separate sites or subsites for different departments or teams.
- Design the User Interface: Create a visually appealing and user-friendly design for your intranet. Consider the branding guidelines of your organization and ensure consistency with your company’s website.
Step 2: SharePoint Development Options
Once you have completed the planning and design phase, it’s time to start developing your SharePoint intranet. There are two main development options to consider: SharePoint On-Premise and SharePoint Online.
SharePoint On-Premise refers to the traditional deployment model where the SharePoint server is hosted on-premises within your organization’s infrastructure. This option provides more control and customization capabilities but requires dedicated IT resources for maintenance and updates.
SharePoint Online, on the other hand, is a cloud-based solution provided by Microsoft as part of Office 365. It offers a more cost-effective and scalable option, as Microsoft takes care of the infrastructure and updates. However, it may have some limitations in terms of customization compared to SharePoint On-Premise.
Step 3: Development and Configuration
Once you have chosen the development option that suits your organization’s needs, it’s time to start the actual development and configuration of your SharePoint intranet.
Here are the key steps involved in the development and configuration process:
Create Site Collection
Start by creating a site collection, which serves as the top-level site for your intranet. This is where you will build and manage your intranet sites and subsites.
Configure Site Settings
Configure the site settings according to your requirements. This includes defining permissions, enabling features, and setting up navigation.
Create Lists and Libraries
Create lists and libraries to store and manage your content. Lists can be used for tracking tasks, issues, or announcements, while libraries are used for document management.
Design Pages and Web Parts
Design custom pages and add web parts to enhance the functionality of your intranet. Web parts are pre-built components that can be added to a page to display specific content or functionality.
Configure Workflows and Automation
Configure workflows and automation to streamline business processes and improve efficiency. SharePoint provides built-in workflow capabilities, or you can use Power Automate (formerly known as Microsoft Flow) for more advanced automation scenarios.
Step 4: Testing and Deployment
Once the development and configuration are complete, it’s important to thoroughly test your SharePoint intranet before deploying it to your organization.
Here are some testing considerations:
- Functionality Testing: Test all the functionalities and features of your intranet to ensure they are working as expected.
- User Acceptance Testing: Involve a group of users to test the intranet and provide feedback. This will help identify any usability issues or improvements.
- Performance Testing: Test the performance of your intranet under different load conditions to ensure it can handle the expected user traffic.
- Security Testing: Perform security testing to identify any vulnerabilities and ensure that sensitive information is properly protected.
Once testing is complete, you can deploy your SharePoint intranet to your organization. Make sure to communicate the launch to your employees and provide training or documentation to help them navigate and utilize the intranet effectively.
Step 5: Outsourcing SharePoint Development
Developing a SharePoint intranet can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially if you don’t have the necessary expertise in-house. In such cases, outsourcing SharePoint development to a specialized agency can be a cost-effective and efficient solution.
Here are some benefits of outsourcing SharePoint development:
- Expertise and Experience: SharePoint development agencies have the necessary expertise and experience to design and develop high-quality intranet solutions.
- Cost Savings: Outsourcing can be more cost-effective than hiring and maintaining an in-house development team.
- Time Savings: SharePoint development agencies can deliver projects faster, allowing you to launch your intranet sooner.
- Customization and Support: Outsourcing allows you to customize your intranet according to your specific requirements and provides ongoing support and maintenance.
SharePoint intranet development is a comprehensive process that involves planning, design, development, testing, and deployment. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a powerful and customized intranet solution for your organization. Whether you choose to develop it in-house or outsource it to a SharePoint development agency, a well-designed and functional intranet can greatly enhance collaboration, communication, and productivity within your organization.