Guide to Becoming a Successful SharePoint Administrator

SharePoint Administrator8 Skills Every SharePoint Administrator Must Know

Quality SharePoint Admins are hard to come by. It’s a complicated technology to begin with, and once you train someone they become a target for recruiters almost immediately.

Recently, I was contacted by a local HR professional on LinkedIn asking for advice on what makes a qualified SharePoint Administrator candidate.

I was happy to help, and it got me thinking about what it takes nowadays to be a SharePoint Administrator. All SharePoint professionals know that the product has many moving parts, has many different use cases, is highly customizable and has tight roots in many Windows Server technologies behind the scenes. My goal is to list and discuss many of the most important competencies that a SharePoint Administrator candidate must have.

Important Traits Your SharePoint Administrator Should Possess:

1.) Windows Server Administration Experience

SharePoint is a Microsoft Server product that is installed on one or more Windows Servers. In order to set up SharePoint properly, you need to understand in-depth IIS, Active Directory, DNS, NLB, Windows Services, and more.

2.) SharePoint Deployment, Configuration, Upgrade, and Patching Experience

The candidate should have extensive experience in designing, deploying, and maintaining one or more SharePoint farms. Proper architecture design, effective service application configuration, patching and general maintenance are critical to the success of a SharePoint deployment.

3.) SQL Server Administration Experience

SharePoint deploys a large number of content and configuration databases to SQL Server. If SQL Server is down or not performing well, neither is SharePoint. General understanding of SQL Server permissions, logs, data files and performance tuning is important if you don’t have dedicated SQL DBA resources.

4.) Excellent Troubleshooting Experience

Most everything around supporting IT systems involves problem solving and troubleshooting. Due to the fact that SharePoint is a platform built on many different components and technologies, effective problem solving skills are a must to resolve application and performance problems. The candidate must know where to look to gain more information about issues such as the windows event log, ULS logs, IIS logs, etc.

5.) Web Application Security Planning and Configuration

User authentication is decoupled from SharePoint in 2010 and even more so in 2013. There are many options on how to authenticate users and each method has its own ‘gotchas’ or caveats that may require custom code to deliver a fully functioning system. The choice of the authentication mechanism will greatly impact the end user experience.

Aside from choosing the security method, there are many architecture design decisions based around web application and site collection topology, search capacity and performance planning, business intelligence integration, and much more that needs to be well thought out before implementation.

6.) Microsoft Certification in SharePoint Administration

Most of the general configuration and farm planning is covered by the MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Pro) exams and the new SharePoint MCSE exams. If the candidates have earned these then they probably have a nice foundation of knowledge and experience around the product.

I know there are people out there who don’t believe in these exams for various reasons such as lack of real world implementation exam questions among others, but from my experience in studying and taking these exams, I have learned a lot!

7.) PowerShell Experience

All of the Microsoft Server products can be deployed and managed with PowerShell. PowerShell is an incredibly powerful tool and allows for scripted and repeatable SharePoint installations among many other use cases. I have utilized PowerShell mostly for automating long running operations and automating SharePoint installation and configuration.

8.) Background in .Net\SharePoint Development is a Plus

SharePoint is an ASP.Net web application which encompasses web sites, Windows services, WCF services, SQL Databases, stored procedures and much more. There are times when having this background helps troubleshoot errors or issues caused by customizations and third party add-ons. Looking at the different log sources and stack traces to identify the erroneous component is generally easier if you have a programming/debugging background.

I hope that you find this information useful in your search for a candidate or your studies. SharePoint Administration is a multi-layered position, but, from a high level, I believe this covers most of the qualities a good SharePoint Admin will possess.

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6 Responses to Guide to Becoming a Successful SharePoint Administrator

  1. This is a great list Andy. I would add one more though. Research Skills – Being able to get to the root issue and spending time both online, in books and looking at the environment are crucial.

  2. stazra says:

    @Andy, Thank you for post. I have been looking for this kind of information.

    QQ: I have been working as a SharePoint Admin for 2 years now and honestly i didn’t get a chance to learn more about “Windows Server Administration” nor the “SQL Server Administration “. Now I would like to take a professional training course in one of these. Which one would you recommend is more important for a SharePoint admin? “Windows Server Administration” nor the “SQL Server Administration ” Side-note: Also, I would eventually like to become a SharePoint Architect in 3-4 yrs.

  3. Larry says:

    Andy, would you have a similar list on what 8 skills a successful Site Collection Administrator should know?

  4. Andy Milsark says:

    @Larry
    Hi Larry. They should understand information architecture (ie content types, site columns, lists, libraries, etc). They should also be able to configure user permissions for subsites and items. Typically a site collection admin may also need to know how to customize the look and feel and create workflows with SharePoint designer. Hope this helps.

  5. google farsi says:

    would you have a similar list on what 8 skills a successful Site Collection Administrator should know?

  6. Geoff Talbot says:

    I would add two more must haves!

    1. The patience of a saint
    2. The ability to juggle while riding a unicycle

    SharePoint Admins, sit on the spoke of the tech world, juggling so many requests that need to be done yesterday, thus making interpersonal skills and tech skills essential.

    Thanks
    Best SharePoint Branding

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