Though Office 365 SharePoint Sites are easy to create and use, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make mistakes with them. In fact, I’d be prepared to say that its greatest strength is also its worst enemy. And that’s the fact that it's simple and accessible for anyone. In this article I want to share with you some basic tips for your Office 365 to keep them healthy.
What to do to stay in control of your Office 365 Sites
SharePoint is a platform that has existed for quite some time now and with time you learn a few things. Today, SharePoint has grown beyond the standalone server it has always been available in and is used by Office 365 to provide solutions, also called Experiences, to your organization. Here are a few things you can to do to avoid mistakes or long term problems.
1. Don’t be afraid of new Site Collections
In previous versions of SharePoint, we would advise against this without some serious thinking beforehand. The reason for it is that Site Collections do not talk to each other which makes it harder for teams to work together and see files from one another without duplicating. However with Search and the Office Graph with Delve, this is no longer an issue.
In fact, you are better off with Site Collections rather than Sub Sites in a large Site Collection. Many settings are set at the Site Collection level and may impact all your Sub Sites instead of the one that was targeted.
2. Keep the number of Sub Sites to a minimum:
Ideally, your Site Collections only has one site in it. In fact, that’s how OneDrive for Business and Groups for Office 365 work. This makes it easier for management as well as a number of features in SharePoint.
3. Set aggressive site quotas and follow up
It’s not because you're in the cloud that you should dump everything regardless of consequences. The more there is, the harder it’ll be to find content. It’s ok to set standard quotas based on the site’s purpose (Team, Project, Ad Hoc, etc…), then follow up to see why it was reached and if an increased Site Quota should be granted.
4. Enable Site Retention and Deletion Policies
Keep something longer than you need and it will either save your life or hand you a ton of problems. From a legal perspective, you want to keep your documents only as long as you need them. Well, I’d argue it's the same for the Sites in which everything is stored. But it’s more than just legal restrictions - it’s a simple way to ensure Sites that get created so easily are just as easily removed depending on your organization’s policies.
5. Only activate features you will need and use
Site Features and Site Collection Features can be activated to add new functionality to your site and its users. However, it can also potentially add new problems and compatibility issues. For example, activating the Publishing Feature may remove the ability to save your site as a template and stop creating pages in your Site Pages library.
6. Index columns you’ll use to prevent the 5,000 threshold limit
Everyone has seen this problem at least once in their lifetime of using SharePoint or Office 365. Though lists and libraries allow you to have 30 million items or documents in them, they’ll stop working if you try to show more than 5,000 at a time. If you index them beforehand, it’ll help you avoid this issue. Here is an article on the 5000 threshold limit and how to fix it.
7. Create Site Columns whenever possible
Creating Site Columns allows you to provide reusable columns across all lists and libraries in the site which they were created in, but also all sub sites below it. Not only does this help you centralize a choice column for example, it also helps you create a lookup column that works for all the sub sites as well. In Office 365 they are also automatically turned into Managed Properties to be used by Search.
8. Keep breaking permissions inheritance to a minimum
If this were an On-Premises installation, I’d tell you to do this for performance reasons. The more your break permissions the slower it’s going to get. However, this is Office 365 and one would assume performance is not an issue. Beyond performance reasons, it's also extremely difficult to manage a site that has broken permissions inheritance everywhere within it. Thus increasing the risk that a human mistake will be made and access granted to the wrong users.
9. Enable External Users only when needed
Though a great feature to empower business users to easily work with people outside of your organization, it may just as well introduce new problems. In fact, we’ve had our own Office 365 security breach because of it. Enable it only on Site Collections where you will need and keep a close eye by running regular reports.
10. Turn on auditing before you need it
By default, Office 365 sites don't track events. This means that if you need to audit anything within your environment, you won’t be able to view any of the reports. Make sure you turn on and configure Auditing for the Sites where it’ll be needed.
11. Use IRM features included in Office 365
You have it out of the box and with very minimal effort on your part. The ability to add a new layer of encryption and protection on your content is a big benefit of Office 365 and you should use it. The IRM features for Office 365 can prevent users from printing a document or viewing it straight from the browser.
Of course there are many things you learn as you use SharePoint or Office 365 Sites, have you learned anything you wished someone had told you before?