We recently took over technical support for a customised SharePoint 2013 farm for a public-sector organisation in the UK. Here are our key tips and guidelines for anyone taking over support of an unfamiliar farm:
1. Perform a Health Check
Before getting started, thoroughly review the farm configuration according to Microsoft guidelines. This includes Alternate Access Mappings, Managed Metadata Service, User Profile Synchronization, Search, SQL Server, Excel Services, SSL certificates, Outgoing Email, Drive Space, Patching, Diagnostic Logging and more. The chances are you’ll quickly find yourself with a few issues to resolve!
2. Identify the risks
Once you have listed the weaknesses in the farm’s configuration, identify the risks. It’s helpful to categorise them into severity levels.
3. Identify customisations
Talk to your client! Find out what they’ve done to customise their environment or what they’ve had done. It’s important to get a good understanding of what is unique to the environment so that any changes which are made do not have a detrimental effect on their system. This can be anything from custom InfoPath forms and workflows to custom features and solution packages.
4. Create a Remediation Plan
Now that you have a good understanding of the configuration issues, risks and customisations, it’s time to address them. Use Microsoft’s guidelines to plan changes which will stabilise the platform, mitigate risk and alleviate any potential issues. Documentation provided to the client will help them to understand what needs to be done and why.
5. Carry out the Remediation Plan
This is an obvious one! Discuss and arrange the necessary actions with the client and get their platform to an optimum state before you dig in to regular support. Be sympathetic and pragmatic in terms of organising changes and updates, particularly if it involves the farm being unavailable. Some changes could be tested in a non-production farm in advance (if available), although it’s rare for the configuration to match exactly, so be aware that results may vary.
6. Test thoroughly
Ensure that the changes are thoroughly tested and that the client is happy with the changes carried out.
You should now be in a good position to support a happy, healthy SharePoint farm!