4 questions to ask when choosing a SharePoint reporting tool

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SharePoint reporting is crucial to maintaining a secure and organized environment. We cover 4 questions you should ask yourself when choosing a SharePoint reporting tool, so you can make the right choice for your organization. 

Microsoft 365’s reporting options have come a long way since the earlier on-premises Microsoft productivity platforms.  

In the past, there was little more than just PowerShell for reporting. Since then, Microsoft has made reporting much more user-friendly.

With Microsoft 365, you can access a wide range of instantly-available reports from the Microsoft 365 admin center.  

But, while the reporting features are good, they still only provide a high-level overview. Fortunately, Microsoft opened up an API that lets third-party developers create monitoring tools that give users even greater granularity about how Microsoft 365 is being used. 

If you want deeper reporting options, here are some questions you need to ask yourself when selecting your next SharePoint reporting tool. 

1. What kind of SharePoint reports are available?  

You want to know how many users visit your SharePoint sites and what exactly they’re viewing or editing.

When looking for a SharePoint reporting tool, try to find software that will allow you to customize pre-built reports or create new ones if you need to get more specific information about your environment.  

A third-party tool like ShareGate offers a number of built-in reports to get you the information you need to effectively manage your SharePoint.

Most of our reports are also customizable and can be tailored to match the specific business needs of your organization. Alternatively, you can create a report from scratch to get only the information that’s relevant to you.  

You can modify our reports as needed:  

  • Target only your existing SharePoint sites  
  • Locate large documents in your Microsoft 365 and SharePoint environments  
  • Find lists and documents in your environments that haven’t been modified in the last six months or longer  
  • Locate and action documents with anonymous guest links  
  • Locate sites, SharePoint lists, list items, and documents with explicit permissions given to users throughout your environment  

No two organizations are the same, that’s why custom reporting is a must when looking for a SharePoint reporting tool. It’s also best to assess what vendors mean when they say “customizable”. Ensure that you know which fields and filters are available to you when creating reports, and how these reports will be delivered.  

2. Can I automate a SharePoint report?  

SharePoint’s built-in reporting doesn’t allow automated reports. You’ll have to access each site’s admin center individually for data, which can make reporting labor-intensive and increases the chance that someone might forget to export the reports, leading to less consistent reporting.  

Of course, you could use Power BI to set up “homemade” automation that delivers reports in a more consistent and timely manner – but this requires existing Power BI knowledge and some degree of coding capability.

If you’re already in the market for a SharePoint reporting tool, it makes sense to find one that can automate reports. 

Scheduled SharePoint reporting allows you to set your reports to run automatically at times you set yourself so that you can access your full results when they are needed. This allows for SharePoint management without the hassle of report-making and endless emailing.  

Before deciding, make sure that the SharePoint reporting tool you’re considering allows for automated report delivery. It’ll save you time, energy, and the headache of noticing a gap in reporting where you forgot to manually export a SharePoint report.

3. Can I track SharePoint usage?

Out-of-the-box SharePoint usage reports offer information to help you improve both the adoption and business impact of your SharePoint. It’s possible to use audit logs for monitoring adoption but trawling through pages of activity data can be time-consuming.  

For those looking for additional insight and deeper reporting options, look for a reporting tool that answers questions about how users are accessing a site, who has access to what, what’s been shared with whom, what’s going on with the documents in your environment, etc.  

The goal is to gain valuable insight into how your end users are interacting with your SharePoint environment, where you can streamline your sites, and where there might be potential compliance or security issues.   

For example, ShareGate can crawl through your selected target to list all your external users, giving you the power to decide what they should (and shouldn’t) have access to. 

While there might be a number of workarounds, these are some reporting options you should seek to include in your list of requirements for new SharePoint management software. 

4. Can I track activity in SharePoint?

Successful SharePoint adoption means users are creating and using sites and pages, finding information, and sharing documents—internally and externally.

Most organizations will want to encourage this as much as possible. It’s what allows collaboration to thrive, driving up productivity. But enhanced activity in SharePoint also means greater risks in terms of governance, compliance, and security. 

Should those budget spreadsheets still be shared with your organization’s former accounting firm? Who still has access to last quarter’s user research reports? 

The power to enable your organization to work with external users while maintaining control over your environment is crucial. Look for a tool that allows you to easily get visibility into your teams’ external access practices and manage SharePoint permissions for internal and external users so you can pivot with organizational change. 

ShareGate lets you run and automate custom and pre-built reports to monitor, organize, and secure your SharePoint and Teams environments. You get insights far beyond what you can get with out-of-the-box Microsoft reports. For example, you can keep a close eye on external sharing and usage, so you can always stay in control of your cloud environment. 

Want even more control over your environment, in one convenient location? Try our reporting for SharePoint and Teams today for free (for 15 days, no credit card required). 

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