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Skills your team will need to maintain and manage SharePoint customizations

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Ensuring an organization has the right people with the right skills has always been a challenge for IT leaders. With articles about the ‘war’ for tech talent regularly appearing in the media, there is constant pressure to hold onto the talent you have, as well as ensure those employees are suitably equipped for the changing technology landscape. If you are one of the tens of thousands of businesses that depend on customized SharePoint environments for your key operations, the potential skills shortage can be particularly worrying.

SharePoint has always been a platform open to customization, which has led to developers experimenting with the numerous possibilities in their SharePoint environments over the years. Different development models have come and gone as SharePoint evolves and as of 2016 we now have the SharePoint Framework which will significantly change how professionals build and maintain customizations for the next few years.

Because of this constant evolution, CTO and IT leaders need to ensure their teams have the right skills to maintain and manage these customizations as the business upgrades to new SharePoint platforms or opts for some kind of hybrid model. What are the skills your employees will need to ensure that your customizations remain safe and secure?

Fast changing skills requirements

With the evolution in how Microsoft expects companies to build, design, deploy and support SharePoint customizations, a whole new set of skills will be required. With the release of SharePoint Framework, the key changes to skills requirements are:

  • A move from server side development to client side development

It is now easier, faster and more effective to build apps whose functionality mainly runs through the user’s device – rather than constantly calling it from a server elsewhere. This will require a new approach to rendering your company’s existing and future apps.

  • An end to .NET and C# preference from Microsoft and a move to JavaScript

In the past, Microsoft only allowed developers to build apps using the preferred programming languages and frameworks (.NET & C#). Now, however, they are making it much easier to use alternatives (such as TypeScript) – possibly in a move to attract a more diverse range of developers (who aren’t necessarily familiar with the Microsoft languages) to build customizations for the platform.

  • Openness to Open Source development projects

Again, this is a big change from Microsoft – allowing developers to draw on various open source projects to extend and enhance SharePoint.

So, what does all this mean for the skills you’ll need to maintain and manage your SharePoint customizations?

Be prepared

As our recent survey with SharePoint and Office 365 developers and architects revealed, there is real awareness among developers of the need to learn new skills and be prepared for the next evolution in SharePoint customization development. When we asked developers what they thought about how Microsoft’s changing focus would change their work, they were strongly aware of the need for new skills:SharePoint customizations

Architects and developers know they need to learn a whole range of new skills to maintain and manage their companies’ customizations. For IT leaders, this will mean you should consider providing training in the new skill areas and even hire new employees who have specialized knowledge.

  • You’ll need employees who have a good knowledge of JavaScript and TypeScript

jQuery, Angular and Knockout are the most commonly used among SharePoint developers today. If your team is rusty or inexperienced using JavaScript, get them training on it right away – or, hire a JavaScript developer. In the new SharePoint Development Framework, Microsoft is using TypeScript, so it will also be very valuable to have employees who are comfortable with this.

  • Train them with the right approaches to customization

Our research revealed that around two thirds of developers are comfortable doing client side development – which is the new preferred model from Microsoft. As this approach becomes ever more popular, you will need to ensure your teams are comfortable with It.

  • More consistent training

Our research revealed that most SharePoint professionals only receive training once or twice per year. As there are ever more skills to learn, it is crucial that developers and architects receive the consistent training to be able to maintain and upgrade your customizations – the return on investment from training employees and preparing for the future will be highly valuable.

  • Make sure they use best practice code analysis

As developers must learn new methods of deploying code, they also open up their customizations to more risk, with the potential of deploying incorrect and dangerous code. Their customizations therefore need to be tested ever more rigorously using the best code analysis tools, such as SPCAF.

The skills you need

As SharePoint evolves, the way customizations are built for the platform is also changing. As your organization upgrades its customizations and builds more relevant tools, widgets, interface changes and workflows, the traditional ways of building customizations will also change. By providing your employees with the right skills to do this, you support the organization’s long term technology strategy.

To learn more about the skills developers will need to design cutting edge SharePoint customizations in the coming months and years, download our 2016 State of Office 365 and SharePoint development today.

Merken

Matthias Einig

Matthias is a Microsoft MVP, co-founder, and CEO at Rencore. His mission is to helps enterprises stay in control of their Microsoft collaboration technology. Matthias and his team achieve this by providing insights, advice, and actionable ways to manage platform growth. Matthias is speaking at many conferences and community events all over the world and is one of the organizers of the European Collaboration Summit.