Prepare the Organization for SharePoint Site Self-Service

You’ve decided to allow self-service in your organization. Here are the things you need to consider before you move ahead.

Before you begin self-service

Develop your governance plan

If you do not have one already, now is an excellent time to develop your governance plan. You are opening the doors to everyone and they need intuitive direction for what they can and cannot do. Outlining this ahead of time will reduce the surprises a few months down the line of self-service.

A wonderful resource to kickoff this planning is Sue Hanley’s Governance Policy and Guideline Questions. This slide deck walks through the information architecture of your environment, external sharing capabilities, alignment with other Office 365 services, and more.

Create a short one pager of your governance in layman’s terms to be shared with the business when you begin training. Focus on things that matter most to the end users: whether they can create Team and Communication sites, naming conventions for their site, custom permissions within the site, and folders versus metadata. Reach out and ask some of your SharePoint champions about what they are most interested in or review your help requests for common themes.

Set up auditing

Your governance plan is in place so how will you track the activities in your environment to maintain it? Microsoft does provide some auditing, though the examples below may require a third-party tool or custom development. Some common areas to focus on include:

New Team and Communication site creation – Be aware of what is being made in your environment and reduce the occurrence of shadow sites
Team sites that have been unused for 90 days – It is part of the natural life-cycle for team sites to no longer be needed as projects end. Have a decommissioning plan in place for the sites you no longer need.
Sites without valid owners – These are like a ship without a rudder. Having a Site Owner for each site will support your governance policy by having a responsible party overseeing the activity in their site.

Consider site designs

What are the common site needs across your organization? What do you find yourself manually building each time you spin up a new site for an end user? You can create new site designs or edit the default templates to have these automatically provisioned for you.

For example, your organization is focusing on standardizing the project management of smaller projects across the organization.  The team identified that each team site should have a SharePoint List to track action items. You can include this in the site design so any time a new SharePoint team site is created it will automatically have the action item list.

Laura Kokkarinen created an Ultimate Guide to Site Designs and Site Scripts that walks through every aspect from what they are to how to build them and where site designs are headed in the Office 365 landscape.


Opening up self-service

You have done the prep work to develop a governance plan, set up auditing, and create site designs for your organization. Now it is time to invite your end users to get involved.

Get feedback on what your end users want to learn

As you are developing your training be sure to check in with your audience. What are they most interested in learning? What are they trying to build to help their function be more productive? Target the people who are most enthused about SharePoint as well as those with the most questions. You will have a varied audience and getting feedback from the full spectrum will help you tailor your training content.

Outline roles and responsibilities

In your training include a table of the roles and responsibilities. This will clarify to your end users where IT is still involved to support their initiatives. Your governance plan defined a few of these key areas already. If you have a formal training policy at your organization, you might also include an agreement to be signed at the end of the training (or a brief test to display understanding of the key concepts).

Celebrate your site owners’ efforts

Whether your SharePoint self-service training is optional or required, celebrate your site owners’ initiative to learn SharePoint better and build collaboration tools for their teams. Feature their site as a case study in a company newsletter or create custom swag for site owners to receive at the end of training. Providing public recognition will showcase the efforts of your site owners and provide additional advertising of your self-service initiative to the business.

Provide long-term support

While your site owners are diving into building their new sites, it can be easy to overlook the need for continued support. Microsoft is continually releasing new features, your governance plan is changing as the company grows, and you have new initiatives for the intranet on the horizon. Include your site owners in quarterly meetings to highlight the changes that are coming and continue getting their feedback on their experiences. Consider re-certification for your site owners to keep their skills fresh. Host office hours or monthly meetups to exchange ideas and talk through common challenges. The most successful sites will never be finished as they continue to evolve with the business.


What has worked for your organization? Continue the conversation in the comments.

2 Thoughts

  1. Our organization activated Teams self-service last week. At the same time, we are in the early stages of planning an SPO-based intranet, and decided to proactively reserve a number of the top-level site names/URLs for when it came time to build it. Seemed worthwhile, so thought I’d share in case anyone else found themselves in a similar position.

    Using O365 Group reserved names (in Azure AD) seemed an attractive method to achieve this at first, but it is really meant for profanity and things of that nature. Blocking “Corporate Communications” would block any Team/Group/Site with “Corporate” OR “Communications” in the title, for example. Instead, we used PowerShell to create the sites we needed, thereby reserving them for future use.

    Liked by 1 person

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