Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Enterprise Ready Self-Service Site Creation

In my previous article, What process do you use to provide new SharePoint site collections to your users, I made mention of SharePoint's out-of-the-box self-service site creation process not being an enterprise ready solution.  This is a widely accepted opinion for very valid reasons. 

Working as a SharePoint Administrator, and with other administrators, there are two main reasons self-service site creation is not a viable enterprise solution.  The first is lack of approvals.  There should be someone, or some team, that ensures the request makes sense for your SharePoint environment.  Without approvals, there is no way to do so.  Everyone I have worked with required some sort of approval process, usually a business owner over an area and an IT approval as well.  You don't want the approval to become a bottleneck, just a brief stop along the way that ensures the integrity of your SharePoint environment.

The second reason self-service site creation isn't viable in the enterprise is that your SharePoint environment quickly becomes the wild west.  Allowing anyone to create their own site, commonly leads to sites rapidly growing out of control, large amounts of space being consumed, duplicate sites being created everywhere, "test" sites run rampant, many sites sit dormant, and it will soon lead to a large project to cleanup and put some controls in place.

Site provisioning and governance assistant vending machine.  Enterprise read self-service site creation.These issues surrounding the site creation process, are exactly why we developed a product to manage site provisioning and governance for you.  We call it SPGA, which stands for Site Provisioning and Governance Assistant.

I'm on the commercial software side of things now, but have spent over a decade as an administrator.  I also consult with companies around the world looking to solve this problem.  I know firsthand the pain administrators, business owners, and users feel when it comes to getting a new SharePoint site created and handed over.  SPGA takes care of the entire process for you and makes for a really happy SharePoint user base.  As an administrator, you'll be pretty happy too that you just got back a quarter of your year to work on other projects.  Depending on how many sites you provision, and the complexity of those sites, you might gain even more time back.

Here are the steps for the SharePoint administrator:
  1. Create a provisioning site and let the SPGA process know about the site (you can have as many provisioning sites as you want).
  2. Create request profiles - these are the unique requests you allow your users to submit a SharePoint request for.  (Examples - new team site, new extranet site, new project site, add a member to a group).  You customize the request form to get the information you need, set SPGA to automatically provision the site, and add the post site creation activities needed to configure your site to requirements every time - without room for human error.
  3. Figure out what you will do with all the extra time you have saved yourself by utilizing SPGA to handle the most mundane of tasks you have as an administrator.
For the user:
  1. They go to a provisioning site and make a request appropriate for what they need, filling out the form you specified in step 2 above.
  2. Based on their inputs, and your configuration, the approval process begins.  Once approved the site is automatically provisioned, configured, and the user receives notification of the completion automatically.
There are so many great things about using SPGA for this process.  Everyone truly is happy.  The user was able to quickly get the request going, and quickly have their site setup.  The administrator never even had to get involved to create a collection, configure the site, notify the user, log the creation, ensure proper approvals existed and all the other steps involved in the site creation process.

SPGA is your self-service site creation process, that is enterprise ready.  My next post will cover how you can have this enterprise ready solution completely free.

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