Retention and AIP Protected Documents

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This is a follow up to my previous post (Which Office 365 Retention Policy Should You Use?).

Before I jump in, I want to provide additional information on documents stored in my SharePoint site.

I configured Azure Information Protection labels and published them. Note that All Employees sub-label of Restricted label is configured with protection. I created several documents, applied these labels manually and automatically, and uploaded them to SharePoint.

AIP Labels2

After applying retention policies to these documents (my previous post), one thing I noticed after the retention policies automatically applied to these documents, two of my documents classified as ‘Restricted All Employees‘ have no policies applied to them.  I waited additional days thinking that I was just too impatient.  After several days, still nothing.

AIP RMS Enabled

I have always known that AIP protected documents are not viewable in Office Web Apps, but I couldn’t understand why retention policies were not able to apply to these documents.

After researching more on this behavior, I’ve learned that SharePoint is not able to index AIP protected documents.  Because of this there are no metadata available for the retention policies to query on these documents.

I hope this helps explaining why O365 retention and SharePoint don’t always give you the expected results.


Summary Links Web Part Malfunction

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Have you ever tried to add new columns to a Summary Links Web part and got an unexpected result?  Well, this happened to one of the clients I was working with.

It’s a simple task. Right?

When the user changed the layout of the Summary Links Web part to five columns per group, instead of getting five columns across the Web part, the columns were stacked on top of each other.


It made no difference when it was changed to any value greater than one, the columns continued to stack on top of each other.


After some research, it turned out that it was related to the theme applied to the site.  In my opinion, this is very strange.  The site’s theme was changed back to an OOTB theme, and the columns behaved the way they are expected.


Happy SharePoint-ing!

SharePoint List Cell Borders

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I received a request from one of my clients to put borders around each cell in a SharePoint list.  There were no out-of-box styles that I could use to fulfill this request.  I ended up using a simple script for it.

The standard list with some content without any styling:


I added a Script Editor Web Part the page with the following code:

<style type="text/css"> {
border-right-width: 1px;
} > tbody > tr > td {
border: 1px solid black;
.ms-viewheadertr th {
border: 1px solid black;

The same list with borders:




Migrating SharePoint to Office 365 – Best (Recommended) Practices

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Microsoft Office 365 user population has recently hit 85 million commercial users ( As the user base continues to grow, we’ve seen a growing interest amongst our clients in moving their on-premises SharePoint farms to Office 365. The most critical part of a SharePoint migration project involves planning for the migration itself. With the different number of factors involved including the limitations of out-of-the-box migration options, this can complicate the project and introduce undesirable risk. It is critical to plan a SharePoint migration carefully and fully take into account all variables involved in the migration process.

Once a decision is made to move your SharePoint sites to the Office 365, you will need to consider – what does success look like to you? Whether the new platform is SharePoint Online or Hybrid, the following recommendations could be used as starting points for your migration.


  • If you have SharePoint On-premises, run the OnRamp for Office 365 Tool to assist you with discovery activities related to Office 365 deployment (screenshot below)


  • Custom domain – if you plan on using your own domain (ex:, make sure this domain has been verified
  • Make sure Office 365 tenant is ready – licenses, connectivity (network/firewall), and security must be in place
  • On-premises AD schema and forest functional level – MUST be at Windows Server 2003 or later if you plan on using Azure AD Connect
  • Prepare Active Directory before synchronize – run IdFix on your on-prem Active Directory and fix errors on accounts targeted to be synchronized
  • ADFS – if you consider deploying ADFS, you’ll need to use SSL Certificates
  • Take an inventory – this includes content, information architecture, design, and custom solutions
  • Decide what to move – take only what you will need – archive and delete redundant and/or legacy data
  • Prioritize and classify all content – tag content with metadata including Business Unit, and any other relevant data. Prioritize content with criteria such as business critical, important, nice to have, etc.
  • Select the right migration tool – Many commercial tools are available to assist with migrating to Office 365
  • Communication – some people tend to forget – make sure to communicate, communicate, and communicate


  • Start with a pilot migration – use a representative sample of data to confirm technical feasibility of the migration, and identifies gaps
  • Migrate in batches – for larger organizations, divide content in batches to migrate


  • Testing and validation – validates the success of the migration from the perspective of whether or not the infrastructure of the target environment meets the requirements of the business; this includes network latency, permission, custom solutions, etc. Repeat this process for each batch of the migration.
  • Transition of users – this includes ‘freezing’ the source environment, and perform one final synchronization of changes, and transitioning users to the target environment. Again, repeat this process for each batch of the migration.

In conclusion, migration of existing business content to SharePoint Online is not trivial. Ideally, organizations should spend time planning, discovering, and auditing the content, starting with the pre-migration checklist above. Lastly, whenever possible, comprehensive testing after each migration batch should be performed to minimize risk.

Centric has assisted many organizations with SharePoint and Office 365 upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your upgrade or migration, visit us at


Upgrading vs. Migration to SharePoint 2016

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Choosing the right path to the new version of SharePoint, whether on-premises or online, can be overwhelming. Should you upgrade or migrate? It is important to understand that upgrade and migration are not synonymous. Some may disagree, but I truly believe that these are two different processes. Let’s get a better understanding of both options.


The technical terminology of upgrading is the physical transformation of a SharePoint content database from one schema version to the updated schema. The most common upgrade process is attaching your existing databases to the new SharePoint farm. The content remains the same, even though your new farm may be on a new hardware. From a non-technical perspective, it’s similar to remodeling your home – taking what’s old and making it new with a few more modern conveniences.



Migration is the physical move of SharePoint containers, data and associated attributes from one SharePoint farm to the new updated farm. The process is typically carried out with the aid of commercial tools. Again, using my non-technical comparison of a migration, it’s like moving from a house to a condo.


Now that we’ve seen the differences between the two, the next question is making the choice of whether to upgrade your platform or to migrate out of your current implementation.

Here are some examples of where an upgrade is recommended:

  • You’re running an out-of-support version of SharePoint
  • You need to upgrade the SharePoint farm operating system
  • Your site collections and content databases are properly architected
  • Your existing taxonomy / information architecture is well-formed and supports your current organizational structure

And here are some examples of when a migration is recommended:

  • The source document repository is not SharePoint
  • You’re migrating to SharePoint Online (Office 365)
  • You’re migrating from older SharePoint versions (SharePoint 2010 and previous)
  • Your taxonomy / information architecture needs to be redesigned
  • Content databases are too large and need to be split to improve performance or to meet your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) or Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

In summary, upgrade and migration are two different options. The best approach depends on your requirements, constraints, and business objectives. It is important to mention that certain considerations must be taken into account when deciding whether upgrading or migrating is appropriate for your organization.

Centric has assisted many organizations with upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your decision to upgrade or migrate, visit us at


SharePoint On-Premises vs. SharePoint Online (Office 365) – Informed Decisions

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We are now seeing many organizations moving to Office 365, often starting with Exchange Online and Active Directory Federation Services in Azure. Companies that have already invested in SharePoint on-premises deployment are also considering moving to cloud as well. Before making the move to the cloud, take a look at some key decisions in the tables below.

We all know of the significant capital investment that comes with deploying SharePoint on-premises. Companies with on-premises deployments benefit from owning the environment and the full functionality of SharePoint. This also means that you are responsible for administering and supporting the environment. With this in mind, should you go down the Office 365 route?

If you’re not looking to pay for hardware and software up front or for the ongoing maintenance and support costs, buying subscriptions to Office 365 may be a better option. While the monthly operational investment will be a lot lower than the capital expense of buying infrastructure, over time the subscription costs can add up. However, benefits of Office 365 include more robust hardware and services including patching, backup and disaster recovery.

Where should you start?

Some key decisions for staying on premises:



You already have SharePoint deployed Large initial capital expense for hardware and software
The free version (SharePoint Foundation) is still available Cost of scaling up or out and disaster recovery
You can control when updates are applied Downtime required during patch/update
You have full control of solutions deployment SharePoint 2016 requires Software Assurance for new feature packs
SharePoint 2016 is not the last version of on-premises


Some key decisions for moving to SharePoint Online:



New features made available frequently Constant updates
No server maintenance Migration requires a third-party tool
Microsoft SLA for 99.9% uptime Custom deployment
Cost based on subscriptions Critical third-party solutions/tools are not supported
Redundant with multiple data centers Limited integration with internal services
Potential need for upgrading internet connection to account for the additional traffic required by O365

According to the research conducted by The Radicati Group, Inc. in 2016, market share for SharePoint on-premises is still higher than SharePoint Online as shown in the figure below.


However, my experience, especially in the past year, has shown a dramatic increase in the number of organizations considering SharePoint Online.

The bottom line is that your decision of where and how to host your SharePoint deployment might not be a simple one. There are many key decision factors and relevant considerations. The limitations of some cloud-based functionality may not be suitable for some companies, but this is likely to change as SharePoint Online matures. Regardless of which direction you want to take, both short-term and long-term costs must be taken into consideration.

At Centric, we have used this method and other tools to help customers understand the details and make the best business and financial choices. As always, please feel free to contact us at for any assistance you might need.


SharePoint Deployment – Employee Adoption Challenge

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According to the Nielsen Norman Group, SharePoint has a strong foothold on the intranet market and its market adoption is projected to grow at an annual average growth rate of 20% over the next four years. Moreover, 9 out of 10 winners of the 2016 Intranet Design Annual awards use SharePoint with an average organization size of 12,500 employees.

Even with these impressive numbers, organizations are still facing the same challenge with employee adoption according to AIIM’s Impact of SharePoint 2016 report. AIIM conducted a survey with a selection of 195,000 community members in June 2016. Some interesting key findings include 11 percent of organizations have reached a plateau in terms of SharePoint adoption. 22 percent say their SharePoint adoption is facing challenges from the user community.

So why is the adoption number so low? Most of the responses were very common, inadequate user training, and lack of senior management support.

The figure below shows the results of the survey on the pace of SharePoint adoption.


Clearly, these adoption numbers don’t look so great, organizations do realize challenges still exist. Nevertheless, there is some good news; 58 percent of organizations are making SharePoint training a priority and 50 percent plan to update and enforce their SharePoint governance policies.

So, what can you do to build a positive SharePoint experience to increase the rate of adoption.

Some points to consider from business users’ perspective:

  • Did it make any daily routine simpler?
  • Is it easier for me to find information I need?
  • Can I get to the information I need at any time form any device?

Some points to consider from the SharePoint support team perspective:

  • How can I make the UX design user friendly?
  • How can I improve or automate solutions to help uses’ daily routine easier?
  • How can I lessen IT from becoming a bottleneck?

I recently worked with a client where I used the examples above as guiding principles. The result was a high rate of adoption that translated into measurable benefits to the organization.

To learn more on how Centric Consulting can help you with SharePoint adoption, visit us at


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