In 2016, Microsoft will be upgrading to SharePoint 2016, a highly anticipated new version of the cloud-based Web application. First introduced in 2001, the Web-based server combines applications like intranet, document and content management, workflow management, and enterprise social media and intelligence for mid- to large-sized companies.
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I am looking forward to hearing what users experiences will be on the new platform. While there are many benefits to the Web application, there are some drawbacks on the existing platform that get to me some days. While the benefits of the interface capabilities outweigh the challenges, the SharePoint user experience suffers partly due to its popularity, and also its foundational architecture.
So here’s why some days I hate SharePoint:
In my experience, this is one of the top complaints about SharePoint. If I want to add a schema to a list or add a field to my calendar, it can take me up to 12 clicks to accomplish this task. Why so many? I should be able to navigate and execute desired commands in two or three clicks.
This complaint is a common thread running through the cloud-based system. If I need to access a document that’s not available, I have to hit the refresh button constantly to see when it is available. Smaller, more modern applications allow users to access and make changes to documents in real time.
The system has to be shut down, at times, for several hours, to facilitate the process of updating the platform. Because of the potential for business disruption, many users don’t update their platforms enough. Consequently, they are working with outdated software, even though they might be using the current version. In future versions, I look forward to the capability to update the software while still allowing users to access the system. However, with so many custom installations done by Microsoft, this is currently a challenge.
Unfortunately, I can’t use SharePoint on my mobile phone to edit Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint slides. Typically, the interface only allows for read-only capabilities. It would be nice to have the capability to edit documents from my mobile device. Microsoft has improved this with Office 365 but it isn’t as easy as it should be.
When purchasing the SharePoint user interface, a content manager or site owner has to go through major training to fully understand how to use the capabilities. This shouldn’t be the case. They should be able to own it and have functions at their fingertips.
Microsoft is making the SharePoint user experience a priority in the newest version coming in 2016. The move is toward a user interface that is ready out of the box without making users jump through hoops to execute simple commands.
Because SharePoint is used by millions of people, it’s understandable that making major changes in a platform that huge is not an easy thing to do. The architecture of SharePoint was not designed to support massive variations in programming without causing havoc to existing users. This means that Microsoft has to go about improving the platform delicately and precisely — and that takes time. Microsoft operates on a three-year rotation for new versions, but with today’s lightning-fast technological advancements, three years is an eternity.
Bottom line: SharePoint does the job, but it’s just an outdated user experience.