Why I Hate SharePoint: Administration Is Too Hard

Tom RobbinsThu, 08/09/2018 - 15:22

Why I Hate SharePoint

Administration Is Too Hard!

Blog Part 10 of 10


Let’s wrap this series up and hope that we can one day stop talking about why we don’t like a technology that has proven itself over and over.  Let’s just accept that SharePoint is around to stay and start looking for ways to contribute to its success instead of impeding it.

As I stated in the first blog post in this series, much of the perception of SharePoint and subsequent hate for it comes out of a lack of understanding of the purpose of the technology and the governance and implementation of it.  Often SharePoint is simply rolled out to an organization because an executive saw it at a conference or because they’ve heard it’s in use by a large majority of Fortune 500 companies.  From the IT Team that rolls SharePoint out (as they are usually the team that does this) they may or may not understand the implications of rolling out a technology that requires much planning and governance.   I’ve seen it so many times that the IT Department doesn’t know enough about SharePoint and thinks it’s like other legacy technologies that are plug-and-play.  They think that if they install it and tell the users where their Site Collection is then users will just figure it out.  You know from this series that this just isn’t the case.  Part of understanding SharePoint governance and planning is considering the many different roles that users play.  Look at this short list of roles that are typically defined in SharePoint governance:

SharePoint Roles

Responsibilities and Tasks

SharePoint Lead Architects

  • Translate requirements from the Strategy and Steering Committee into SharePoint solutions
  • Design the SharePoint architecture
  • Design custom solution architectures
  • Provide architectural guidance to development teams
  • Manages project risks, and escalate incidents to the team as necessary
  • Develop and promote best practices for usage, operations, and development
  • Approve custom developed and third-party solution packages
  • Participate in SharePoint Service Strategy Committee Meetings

SharePoint Administrators/Farm Administrators

  • Configure SharePoint settings
  • Disseminate general SharePoint information
  • Manage file size limits and site quotas
  • Manage usage confirmation settings
  • Review and monitor usage reports
  • Approve and activate custom developed and third-party solution packages
  • Review and monitor System Center performance levels
  • Monitor the size of content databases and create new databases as required
  • Participate in SharePoint Service Strategy Committee Meetings

Search Administrators

  • Review and monitor search reports
  • Maintain indexing schedules
  • Maintain content source list
  • Manage best bet results and keywords
  • Participate in SharePoint Service Strategy Committee Meetings

Site Collection Administrator

  • Liaison between Site owners and IT
  • Work closely with Farm Admins
  • Work closely with Site Owners to manage global features and settings
  • Manage and clearly communicate Permission Levels
  • Manage Enterprise Content: Site Columns, Content Types, Navigation standardization.
  • Closely monitor and address Quota across Sites

Site Owners

  • Provision sub-sites
  • Administer and maintain site
  • Manage security for site
  • Manage site layout (look and feel), structure, and content
  • Manage site recycling bin
  • Provide first point-of-contact for end-user issues
  • Train End Users (or at least coordinate the training)


  • Participate in the approval of content

End Users

  • Teams members
  • Participate in the day-to-day information in a SharePoint site
  • Upload documents, edit lists
  • Participate in the Newsfeed, Discussions, Wiki creation
  • Contribute to Search relevance by using social features (tags, notes, following, folksonomy)

SharePoint Developers

  • Build custom SharePoint web parts
  • Build web applications based on ASP.NET technologies
  • Participate in SharePoint Service Strategy Committee Meetings

SharePoint Web Designers

  • Customize and brand the SharePoint look and feel
  • Modify and design SharePoint templates and master pages
  • Participate in SharePoint Service Strategy Committee Meetings

Business and Technical Analysts

  • Communicate with the business to gather business problems and translate them into solution concepts/requirements
  • Participate in SharePoint Service Strategy Committee Meetings

Windows Administrators

  • Manage the Windows Server operating system
  • Manage system security
  • Patch and upgrade the system
  • Install SharePoint and SharePoint patches
  • Deploy custom developed and third-party SharePoint solution packages
  • Change service account passwords

SQL Administrators

  • Backup and restore databases
  • Tune database index

Backup Resources

  • Manage backup schedules
  • Manages backup reporting and alerts

Infrastructure Resources

  • Acquire, install, and maintain the hardware or virtual infrastructure
  • Provision and maintain physical or virtual servers

Network Resources

  • Support network
  • Engineer network

Active Directory (AD) Resources

  • Ensure appropriate leveraging of Active Directory
  • Provide service accounts
  • Assist with setting up the SharePoint authentication provider to use AD
  • Assist in User Profile Service synchronization

Legal Resources

  • Assist with compliance policy creation and maintenance
  • Audit and enforce compliance
  • Review and guide portal content for legal compliance
  • Participate in SharePoint Service Strategy Committee Meetings

Marketing Resources

  • Contribute organizational branding

Corporate Communications

  • Contribute communication strategy
  • Collaborate with SharePoint Service Manager on communication strategy

Wow. As I mentioned, this is a short list.  Depending on the complexity of your SharePoint deployment, there could be less or there could be more.   

One of the complaints, or reasons “I Hate SharePoint” that I hear is that it’s too complicated to administer.  There are so many settings and so many options to consider.  I am just wrapping up a Project Server class last week and we dedicate about 3 chapters to simply configuring Project Server.  So while I will agree that configuration isn’t a simple click and go, plug and play, I will say that another way to look at the configuration is that it provides a way for organizations to make themselves very happy with the product by being able to customize it to meet their business needs.  Imagine all the times you wanted to change the way Word or Excel looks, or change the way it works because you think it doesn’t have the features and settings you want.  With complex server systems like SharePoint and Project Server, now that I’ve brought it up, you do have to complete the configuration as up-front as possible, but it gives us a way to build the solution that suits our needs.

As you can see from my list of users above, there are many different roles and therefore many different tasks for each role.   So when it comes to administration, even though it may seem complex with way more options and settings to configure, it really isn’t so bad because the tasks are distributed across the different roles.   Each user can focus on becoming expert on the tasks they have to perform to manage their domain of SharePoint.  For example, End users need to learn how to upload documents, provide properties to make search better, and keep content up-to-date and relevant.    Some end users may have additional roles that require additional skills like providing document approval or maybe even being put in charge of a library workflow.  Site Owners have to learn how to add and remove users, configure version control, and guarantee the day to day maintenance and relevance of their sites. There are so many different technologies that combine to build a SharePoint solution that no one person can be an expert at each of them all of the time.   But together we can all take on what feels comfortable and continue to grow at our own pace for as long as we like.   I tell clients and students that with SharePoint and the Office 365 technologies that they will never need another job.   It’s always changing and always provides new opportunities to learn and grow. 

It comes down to embracing the complexity of SharePoint and looking for the opportunity to take a  powerful platform and tailor it to meet your business needs and objectives.