Tips for Planning your Site Provisioning Experience

How do users collaborate with other users? A common struggle with planning an effective collaboration solution is figuring out the logistics for where collaboration occurs and how users can initiate that place.

An important aspect of SharePoint governance has to do with the potential exponential growth of SharePoint sites and site content. Do you let users create their own sites, or should they make a request and go through a process?

On the one hand, if users can create their own site on demand, users will create many sites since they won’t have hoops to jump through. Without barriers, some sites will potentially duplicate existing sites, and some sites will fall dormant. Another potential issue occurs when users create sites and the sites could get lost in the pile of sites, hiding the content from other users.

Alternatively, when users face a lengthy bottleneck with site requests for collaboration areas, they may resist or seek other alternatives (such as e-mailing documents around or using a public file sharing tool). Too many barriers can produce undesired effects as well.

Capturing the right information and figuring out right level of automated workflow can establish a middle ground. Your balance can range from fully automated, self-provisioned sites, to an approval workflow with some checks prior to creating the actual site.

SharePoint has the option to enable self-service site creation. This allows users to provision a site on-demand, rather than requiring them to go through a manual site request process and then wait for IT to provision a site. My personal favourite is to enable self-service provisioning using Apps for SharePoint 2013.

To complement your self-service process, you can implement a workflow to manage the right level of rigour to your site provisioning process. This often includes capturing information about the site, such as who is the site owner, when the system should dispose of the site, and the sponsor who approves the site request. The sponsor can also delegate site ownership at a later date if the site becomes dormant.

Whatever your approach to site provisioning, the best tip I can give you is to think through the process from the site’s conception to its disposition. For each of the different site types you want to offer users, answering the following questions will help you think through the requirements and design a great process:

  • How much automation do you want?
  • What information do you need to collect?
  • Who needs to approve new sites?
  • When and how should SharePoint dispose of sites?

The better you nail the site provisioning process, the better your overall SharePoint experience will be, for both your portal managers and your users. Your users’ experience will benefit from a smooth process enabling them to request a site and potentially even self-provision sites right away. Your portal managers’ experience will benefit from all the metadata you collect during the site request process, and of course, from the ease of end-user adoption.