Who should be able to create a SharePoint Site?
The question of who should be able to create SharePoint sites is one which has troubled SharePoint implementations for over 15 years. There are different opinions on the best approach and these opinions have changed as SharePoint has evolved. To further confuse the matter, the answer may not be the same for different companies, business sectors and generations in the workforce.
This post will help you decide the best route for your company by considering three of the most common approaches to who can create SharePoint sites. I will specifically focus on the creation of SharePoint sites in Office 365, as this is where now the debate is most relevant. I will not provide a definitive answer to the question but will instead challenge you to rethink the question itself.
Everyone can create sites
Let’s start with the default setting in Office 365, which is that all licensed users can create a new Modern SharePoint Site. This fact alone is a shock to many of the organisations that I advise about Office 365 governance. However, by empowering users to create SharePoint sites, you are giving them a greater sense of ownership over what is created. Furthermore, this extreme form of user self-service removes a perceived barrier from IT.
There are, of course, a number of problems with this approach to SharePoint site creation. Firstly, an organisation needs to ensure all users have had the right level of training to be able to create a site technically. This training may need to include additional configuration of the site once it has been created. Secondly, users need to understand when it is appropriate to create a site and ensure any new sites do not crossover in purpose with existing sites.
SharePoint Administrators can create sites
Concerns around all users being able to create SharePoint sites is why many organisations take an extreme approach in locking this action down. Only a small group of administrators in IT or a business team are able to create new SharePoint sites. Users are able to request new sites from this admin team through some form of internal request mechanism.
A single team of well-trained administrators creating SharePoint sites will ensure greater consistency. However, end users are often left frustrated by the time involved to create a new site and do not have a sense of ownership over the new sites. Also, this approach does not make the best use of the skills possessed by SharePoint administrators, and they too are left frustrated.
Super Users can create sites
The middle ground approach to SharePoint site creation is to develop Super Users throughout the organisations. They will not always be called Super Users; I have also heard the terms Power Users, Site Owners or Champions. However they are referred to, they are users in each team and department who will create SharePoint sites. They will have had specific training on how to create and configure new SharePoint sites according to any define business rules.
The success of the SharePoint Super User model very much depends on identifying the right people to fill these roles. This is difficult to achieve in every department and team in an organisation. Some managers will be reluctant to empower an appropriate team member or will select the wrong personality. The result is a perception of a SharePoint system with outstanding governance, but the reality is a mixed quality level in how SharePoint sites are created.
Rethinking the whole question
The development of Modern SharePoint in Office 365 has made the question of who can create sites even more important. The trend is towards more users being able to create sites, but this should not discount the models of SharePoint Administrators or Super Users. I think the problem is that we need to be rethinking the whole question.
Instead of asking who should be able to create sites we should instead be asking how do we empower the maximum number of users to create sites. Only by enabling users can we improve user engagement, ensure the right site is created at the right time and reduce the risk of Shadow IT. However, we must make this self-service experience as easy as possible for users, without the need for complex training and in a way consistent with governance needs.
If you would like to find out how ProvisionPoint 365 helps organisations empower user self-service for SharePoint then contact us for a demo.