SPTechCon 2014: Dan Usher Shares the WORST Practices of SharePoint

In his presentation at SPTechCon 2014, Booz Allen Hamilton’s Lead SharePoint Solutions Manager and Architect Dan Usher turned the tables on what we know about SharePoint implementations and deployments.  Rather than focus on SharePoint best practices, he instead decided to focus on the Worst Practices of SharePoint.

Specifically, he focused on how to optimize your SharePoint environment and operations as well as looked at some common ways administrators could get a botched system implementation and deployment back on track.

Dan began his presentation by identifying the three main types of problems individuals face when implementing
SharePoint: technical challenges, business challenges, and social challenges.  Some of the most common
technical challenges include authentication and authorization; search and findability, user interface design and branding; application lifecycle management; and migration challenges.

As for some of the most common business challenges, perhaps the biggest hurdle, according to Dan, comes with user adoption.  As we’ve heard time after time, when you are unable to motivate and engage your users,
your SharePoint implementation is destined to fail.  The last type of problem Dan identified was social challenges.  One of the main challenges with implementing social is maintaining proper governance.  We’ve all seen it happen – someone posts something controversial that they shouldn’t have and all of sudden there’s a PR
nightmare.  It’s for this reason that implementing proper governance is critical to having a successful SharePoint
deployment.

Next, Dan segued into some of the external influences that can threaten your SharePoint implementation and deployment.  Specifically, he looked at some of the operations and maintenance sins individuals commit.  These include:

  • Not planning for emergency/unscheduled maintenance time;
  • Deploying code without testing in a staging environment;
  • The lack of regression path;
  • Not having an active disaster recovery plan; and
  • Not taking into account the business continuity of operations.

In addition, he looked at some of the key misconceptions people have when implementing and deploying SharePoint.  One of the main issues he pointed out was not properly planning the migration to SharePoint and the consolidation of legacy systems and file shares.

Dan next transitioned into a discussion of site collections and how properly maintaining and controlling them can optimize your SharePoint environment.  One of the key issues related to site collections that he focused on was permissions management.  It seems like all too often with SharePoint, when someone is having issues accessing a site or site collection, the answer is simple – you don’t have the proper permissions.  Managing permissions is key to making sure your environment runs smoothly.  He emphasized this by pointing out two worst practices that he sees all too often: Removing the SharePoint group that you gave full control and removing yourself from the SharePoint group that has full control.

The next topic of conversation centered around one of the biggest and most often seen worst practices of SharePoint – not planning your installation.  Dan identified six of the top mistakes administrators make when installing SharePoint:

  • Not defining business requirements;
  • Trying to use SharePoint for something it’s not;
  • Not defining which workloads;
  • No access to Active Directory;
  • Short-changing hardware; and
  • Short-changing tech training.

So once you’ve avoided some of the major challenges that come with installing SharePoint, what are some worst practices you should avoid when configuring it?  A number of the worst practices he identified were related to setting up Kerberos.  These included: not reading the documentation, not knowing how to use ADSIEdit or setsp, not realizing that Kerberos usually dies at the boundary, and not understanding the Claims to Windows Token Service.  So what SHOULD we be doing to ensure that our SharePoint configuration is successful? One of the main things you can do is to pay attention to and take advantage of workflow in SharePoint. Some of the things that administrators need to remember to do include:

  • Install Workflow Manager and Service Bus;
  • Set up User Profile Service;
  • Make sure App Management Service is running; and
  • Open your ports.

In closing, Dan taught us that for all of the things that can go wrong with your SharePoint implementation, one of
the best things we can do is learn from each other. By sharing best AND worst practices, we can ensure that everyone is successful and free of SharePoint-related headaches.

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