3 Mistakes to Avoid When Mobilizing SharePoint

Mobile Man / Friday, September 18, 2015

Are you reading this article on a phone, portable device, or any other interface that isn’t your home or workplace PC? If so, you’re far from a minority; an increasing amount of Internet traffic is being generated from non-desktop devices. And we’re doing more on the Internet from those devices than ever before - from photography to social networking to banking to using maps or discovering new gems of information.

And when it comes to the enterprise, the same patterns that began in the consumer market are now common in our professional lives. More and more of us are consuming work related content on both enterprise-provided and personally owned devices. Email is by far the dominant factor here, but connecting to colleagues via enterprise social networks or sharing documents from various content hubs are becoming more commonplace too. Whether you think all this connectivity is bad or not, it’s increasingly expected that colleagues be on call wherever they are.

What we want to discuss today are three of the more common pitfalls that we’ve seen over the last few years when companies try to bring SharePoint to employee devices. The Consumerization of IT means your people expect the UI on their mobiles to be as good as the UI on their favorite consumer apps, so a poor user experience really is unforgivable. Bearing this in mind, what are the major pitfalls and, more importantly, how can you avoid falling into them?

Mistake 01: Insufficient Testing

Real Estate agents have an expression that you’ve probably heard before: location, location, location. When it comes to app development, we’d go with something similar: testing, testing testing! 

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of rigorous testing. No matter how important or impressive the feature set you’ve built for your company’s SharePoint, if the mobile experience is poor, no one will give it a second look. Many firms invest serious time and money into developing productivity apps, so you don’t want to release it only for mobile users to discover multiple errors. Not only is that embarrassing for you, it can also be seriously costly

The need for testing only becomes more pronounced in SharePoint. While it’s now changing, SharePoint was never principally designed for the mobile user. This means a lot of attention should be given to the mobile experience that SharePoint brings when you’re developing an app.

Since the release of SharePoint 2013, the development community has had access to something known as device channels, which allows designers to create a specific template/master page for specific devices and dimensions. Some community members (such as Eric Overfield) thought that this was somewhat unwieldy and focused instead on implementing responsive web design principles within a series of SharePoint templates.

Both approaches lend themselves to the idea of testing across various devices and resolutions and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Basically, whatever approach you take, make sure you test thoroughly - there’s no excuse not to.

Mistake 02: Lack of Offline Access

A second common mistake we see is a failure to cater for offline access. In today’s hyper-connected world, a lack of internet access can directly lead to a plunge in productivity. If users can edit their files offline and then sync the changes upon reconnecting to the network, the possibilities for distance working grow exponentially. Stuck on the subway? Offline working lets you work when and where you want.

At present, mobile SharePoint environments require a permanent connection or some kind of VPN. SharePlus however offers a unique solution to this connectivity conundrum. By letting users work on documents offline, and then syncing these through the cloud when a connection is reestablished lets employees on the move to be productive wherever they are.

Mistake 03: Security Last

This final mistake might come as a surprise, yet so many companies lack serious checks and guards for the security of sensitive information. Threats to data loss are real and device theft can easily lead to the loss of crucial data when it walks out the door in your employees’ mobile devices. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to cancel out or at least minimize the risk.

We see many firms fail to properly cater for Mobile Device Management (MDM), or only carrying it out as an afterthought. Yet MDM is so easy to implement, and when properly implemented, means your IT managers will sleep easy at night. MDM technologies allow the remote locking and wiping of any device that may have been compromised in some way. Native mobile SharePoint apps, like SharePlus, allow for such security features even without being deployed within an MDM platform. This is useful as it acts as a safeguard against both accidental data loss (such as losing a laptop on a train) or malicious (such as a disgruntled employee not returning a laptop after leaving).

Mobile Ready

We’ve only touched the surface when it comes to a smooth mobile SharePoint experience. Nonetheless, we hope we’ve highlighted some common mistakes that we see when it comes to taking Microsoft’s communications and collaboration platform mobile.

Have you already tried Infragistics SharePlus, our native mobile SharePoint solution? SharePlus is amazingly easy to adopt and loved by users working with SharePoint on the go. Sign up for a SharePlus Enterprise demo today.

SharePlus - Your Mobile SharePoint Solution