Unleashing the Full Potential of SharePoint and Microsoft 365: Custom Solutions, Intranets, Search, and Provisioning

July 7, 2023
9 min read

In today's business landscape, custom solutions are increasingly becoming an essential aspect of SharePoint and Microsoft 365. These tools provide businesses with a platform to tailor solutions to their unique needs, which can increase productivity, collaboration, and efficiency.

This article explores the many customizations and enhancements that businesses can build into SharePoint and Microsoft 365 to extend out-of-the-box functionalities. Here are some examples:

The possibilities are virtually endless, limited only by an organization's needs and the creativity of its developers. Businesses can combine these customizations to meet their specific needs, such as the following:

  • Intranet
  • Document management
  • Project management
  • Business process automation
  • Provisioning applications
  • SharePoint Search Center


Built on SharePoint Online, an intranet can serve as a central hub for employees to access information, collaborate with colleagues, and stay up to date with company news and events.

An effective intranet should include the following elements:

  • Homepage: A homepage that uses out-of-the-box web parts like news, calendar, setup, and navigation.
  • News and announcements: A section for company news and announcements, such as new hires, product releases, or policy changes.
  • Document management: A centralized document library for storing and managing important documents, such as policies, procedures, and forms.
  • Collaboration tools: Quick links web part to highlight tools for collaboration, such as shared calendars, task lists, and discussion forums.
  • Search functionality: Search Center (out-of-the-box or custom) that allows employees to easily find information within the intranet.
  • Metrics and analytics: Metrics and analytics on site usage to track engagement with the intranet and to identify opportunities for improvement.

By including these elements using out-of-the-box and custom solutions, an intranet can improve communication, collaboration, and productivity within an organization:

A screenshot of a SharePoint homepage with out-of-the-box webparts.
Figure 1: Example of an intranet homepage using out-of-the-box web parts samples from look book. | Used with permission from Microsoft.
A screenshot of a SharePoint homepage with custom webparts. The webparts in the screenshot include latest emails, upcoming meetings, and my tasks.
Figure 2: Example of an intranet homepage using custom web parts. | Used with permission from Microsoft.

Document Management

Businesses can use SharePoint and Microsoft 365 to create a centralized repository for documents. They can build a custom solution to ensure that documents are properly managed, tracked, and updated. A document management solution includes features such as version control, check-in/check-out, and document search capabilities.

Document management should include the following features and capabilities:

  • Document storage and organization: Document libraries to organize documents logically and efficiently, including the ability to create folders and metadata fields.
  • Metadata: Create fields like status, approver, and business area that give key information and that users can filter on.
  • Version control: Tracking changes to documents, including the ability to view and restore previous versions.
  • Document approval workflows: Create and manage documents with Power Automate approval workflows to ensure that others review and approve documents before being published.
  • Access control: Set up permissions to control access to documents, including the ability to set permissions and restrict access to sensitive documents.
  • Collaboration tools: Collaborate on documents with others using office or web, including the ability to co-author and provide feedback.
  • Integration with other systems: Integrate with other systems, such as email, customer relationship management (CRM), and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like Power Automate or custom using PowerShell and Azure Functions, to streamline document management processes.
  • Reporting and analytics: Check site analytics on document usage, such as document views, downloads, and edits.

By including these features and capabilities, a document management system in SharePoint Online provides a centralized and secure location for managing documents and streamlining document management processes.

See an example of a custom interface.  

Figure 3 shows a customer interface with documents from a document management system.

A screenshot of List view with custom interface that shows documents from the document management system.
Figure 3: Custom interface to show documents from a document management system. | Used with permission from Microsoft.

Project Management

Businesses can use SharePoint and Microsoft 365 to manage projects from inception to completion. They can build a custom solution to create project sites that include features such as task lists, calendars, timelines, and project tracking tools. These capabilities help manage resources and timelines more effectively, which help lead to increased efficiency.

Project management should include the following features and capabilities:

  • Project tasks and timelines: The ability to create and manage project tasks and timelines, using SharePoint lists, including the ability to assign tasks to team members, set deadlines, and track progress.
  • Resource management: The ability to manage project resources, such as team members, equipment, and budgets, using SharePoint lists, to ensure that projects finish on time and within budget.
  • Project reporting and analytics: The ability to export reports and analytics on project performance, such as project status, risks, and issues from SharePoint lists.
  • Integration with other systems: The ability to integrate with other systems, such as CRM and ERP systems, using PowerShell and Azure Functions, to streamline project management processes.
  • Project templates: The ability to create and use SharePoint site templates and document project templates to standardize project management processes and ensure consistency across projects.

By including these features and capabilities, a project management system in SharePoint Online can provide a comprehensive solution for managing projects, from planning to execution to reporting and analysis. 

Here is an out-of-the-box project management site template that you can use.

Figure 4 shows an out-of-the-box interface that displays project-related activities and milestones. 

A screenshot of a SharePoint page with out-of-the-box webparts that shows tasks, activities, and events.
Figure 4: Out-of-the-box interface to show activities and tasks. | Used with permission from Microsoft.

Business Process Automation

SharePoint and Microsoft 365 are useful in automating business processes. Businesses can build a custom solution to create workflows that automate tasks such as document routing, approval processes, and task assignments. This automation reduces errors, saves time, and increases productivity.

Business process automation should include the following components:

  • Forms: Custom forms using Power Apps or Form Customizer (SPFX) allows users to collect and manage data.
  • Workflow: A Power Automate workflow enables users to automate workflows that can streamline and optimize business processes such as the following:
    • Approval workflows
    • Task assignment workflows
  • Integration capabilities: The app should be able to integrate with other business systems, such as CRM or ERP systems, using PowerShell or Azure Functions, to enable data exchange and improve automation.
  • Notifications: Teams approvals provide notifications to users, such as email or Teams app notifications, to keep them informed of changes or updates related to the approval process.

Here’s how to get started.

Figure 5 shows a SharePoint List view formatter with options to create, edit, share, export, automate, and integrate.

A screenshot of a SharePoint list with custom interface. The following task options are displayed: New, Edit in grid view, Share, Export, Automate, and Integrate.
Figure 5: SharePoint List view formatter with options to initiate actions. | Used with permission from Microsoft.

Provisioning Applications

Provisioning applications can be a valuable custom solution in SharePoint Online, as they can help automate the creation and management of SharePoint sites, lists, libraries, and other resources. With a custom provisioning system, you can define templates for different types of SharePoint resources and automate the process of creating new instances of those resources based on those templates.

Provisioning applications should include the following components:

  • Template catalog: A catalog of available templates that users can request, such as sites, lists, libraries, or web parts.
  • Approval workflows: Power Automate approval workflow process to ensure that resource requests are authorized before they are provisioned.
  • Automated provisioning: Automatic provisioning using PnP Provisioning Engine resources once the request has been approved. This saves time and reduces manual work.
  • Customizable templates: Customizable templates that allow users to preconfigure resource settings, such as site templates, list templates, or document library templates.

Overall, the provisioning system app in SharePoint Online should provide a streamlined and efficient process for requesting and provisioning resources, while ensuring that resources are properly managed and secured.

See the provisioning system being used by look book.

Figure 6 shows the homepage for the SharePoint look book with examples of modern experiences that you can build in SharePoint.

A screenshot of look book application. It displays various sample modern experiences that you can build with SharePoint.
Figure 6: SharePoint look book homepage. | Used with permission from Microsoft.

SharePoint Search Center

SharePoint Search Center provides a centralized location for users to search for information across sites, lists, and libraries within a SharePoint environment. A Search Center typically includes advanced search functionality, customization options for search results, and other search-related features.

The Search Center should include the following components:

  • Search box: A search box that enables users to search for content across SharePoint sites and documents.
  • Advanced search: An advanced search option that allows users to refine their search results via filters and criteria, such as date range, content type, or metadata using PnP filters and refiners.
  • Sorting and filtering: PnP filters that enable users to sort and filter search results based on specific criteria, such as relevance, date, or popularity.
  • Content sources: The PnP search web part to configure SharePoint and Microsoft 365 content sources, which are locations that the search center should crawl and index, such as SharePoint sites, external websites, or file shares.
  • Search analytics: Search analytics tools that enable administrators to monitor and analyze search usage, such as popular search terms, search frequency, and search results clicked.

Overall, the SharePoint Search Center in SharePoint Online should provide a comprehensive search experience that enables users to find the content they need quickly and easily. It should also give administrators the tools they need to manage and monitor search usage.

Learn more about providing a custom search experience.

Figure 7 shows an example of a custom search layout.

A screenshot of a custom search layout.
Figure 7: Example of a custom search layout. | Used with permission from Microsoft.


In conclusion, SharePoint and Microsoft 365 provide businesses with a powerful platform for collaboration, productivity, and efficiency. Businesses can:

  • Build custom solutions to enhance capabilities, including document management, project management, and business process automation.
  • Create custom workflows to automate processes in SharePoint and Microsoft 365, including approval workflows, task assignment workflows, and notification workflows.
  • Create custom search components to enhance search capabilities, including custom metadata fields, custom search web parts, and federated search.
  • Create custom data stores to extend data management capabilities, including custom lists, custom libraries, and custom forms.
Rubén Toribio

Rubén Toribio

Rubén Toribio is a software developer with over 13 years of experience in the field, specializing in web development using Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint, .NET, and Azure. He is also Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate and Microsoft Certified: SharePoint Developer, demonstrating his expertise in these areas.

Rubén has a deep understanding of SharePoint development and extensibility, building custom solutions. Throughout his career, Rubén  has been involved in numerous complex projects. He is highly motivated, constantly seeking out new opportunities to learn and stay up-to-date with.

Rubén is passionate about sharing his knowledge and helping others succeed. He is an active member of the tech community, regularly participating in speaking engagements, training sessions and workshops.