First published on TECHNET on May 08, 2018
Did this research for a customer and wanted to put it here for you and myself...
As we had discussed to be able to create a custom Site Collection template there are a few steps you need to consider after you perform ‘Save as Template’. As well I have added a second method for consideration.
Create your Template by ‘Save as Template’, then edit the solution so that you can change it from Sandbox solution to a Farm solution.
NOTE: A little bit of information about Site Templates https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/dev/general-development/save-download-and-upload-a-shar... , this method does not work in O365.
How to manually edit a SharePoint wsp file
SharePoint 2010 and web templates (This is true for SP2016)
How to Build a Site Collection Template from A Web Template in SharePoint 2010
Instead of creating separate templates for different functionalities you can create an add-in to run and add the desired objects ie List or WebPart. I recommend you start with this article to understand the basics, then you can start digging into the articles below.
NOTE: This method is supported in O365.
SharePoint Add-ins compared with SharePoint solutions
Get started creating SharePoint-hosted SharePoint Add-ins
SharePoint List in SharePoint hosted Add-in
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