This is the second article in the SharePoint Online planning guide for Office 365 for enterprises. It explores the concepts behind planning and managing SharePoint Online sites and site collections.
In this article
Who should read this article?
You should read this article if you are in charge of planning or managing a SharePoint Online site collection, and any sites within that site collection, in Microsoft Office 365 for enterprises.
Note For many tasks, you will need to work closely with the SharePoint Online Administrator for your organization. For more information about SharePoint Online Administrator responsibilities, see Step 1: Plan to manage SharePoint Online by using the Administration Center.
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Manage sites and site collections
A site collection is a group of SharePoint sites that have the same owner and share administration settings, such as permissions. Site collections are hierarchical, and always include one top-level site and any sites below it.
The Team Site, and any sites that you create under it, are available only to users that you invite by giving them permission to the site. With a Team Site, your organization, team, or group can connect with one another and collaborate on documents and other files, post announcements, schedule meetings, maintain tasks, track issues or action items, store information in lists, and so on. You can also create various subsites from the available site templates in the Team Site.
Manage a site collection
As a site collection administrator, you have the Full Control permission level to the site collection. This means you can add or delete sites or change the settings for any site within a site collection. Additionally, you can view, add, delete, or change all content within those sites.
Typical site collection administrator responsibilities
If you are a site collection administrator for your SharePoint Online site, your responsibilities might include the following:
- Serve as a point of contact between your users and the SharePoint Online Administrator.
- Decide who can access important content stored on SharePoint Online sites (that is, you will be responsible for configuring site-collection level permissions).
- Decide which features to make available to the people who will be using the sites in your site collection.
- Provide some technical support for the people who use your site collection.
- Choose a backup administrator for your site collection.
- Create new sites.
- Create and customize the public-facing Website.
- Assist with the administration of certain features, such as:
- Turn available site collection features on or off.
- Create or customize site content types.
- Set regional settings.
Note You may need to work with your SharePoint Online Administrator to manage site collections. For more information about SharePoint Online Administrator responsibilities, see Step 1: Plan to manage SharePoint Online by using the Administration Center.
Your SharePoint Online Administrator can perform the following tasks:
- Create, delete, and manage site collections.
- Allocate and monitor site collection storage.
- Grant access to site collection administrators.
- Set the default SharePoint site.
- Plan for multilingual sites.
- Plan and manage features such as managed metadata.
Typical site owner responsibilities
If you are a site owner, your responsibilities might include the following:
- Create and manage sites
- Manage site features and settings, such as its look and feel.
- Save a site as a template.
- Manage site columns and site content types.
- Delete a site.
- Adjust regional and language settings.
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What kind of sites do you need?
Depending on the size or your organization and the volume of content that you plan to have on your sites, you may want to create subsites to organize content. The sites within a site collection are arranged into a hierarchy. When you create sites underneath the top-level site, you build out this hierarchy. You can create sub-sites underneath your Team Site, and you can also create additional sub-sites under these sites.
Note The SharePoint Online Administrator creates the site collection top-level site and assigns another site collection administrator. Site owners can build subsites.
There are many possible ways you can choose to organize subsites. For example, you could choose to create subsites:
- By team or department
- By functional purpose
- By content category
- By project
- By customer
- By permission level or sensitivity (e.g., if there is information that needs to be restricted, you might want to isolate it to a specific site)
Before you get started creating sites, spend some time thinking about how many sites you might want and the logic by which you want to organize them. You might find it helpful to create a diagram of your site hierarchy to help organize your planning. You can quickly sketch a diagram on a piece of paper or a whiteboard, but you might want to create a more formal diagram by using one of the hierarchy shapes available as SmartArt in Microsoft Word or Microsoft PowerPoint. This will give you a diagram you can save and refer to, as well as modify over time.
In addition to thinking about how many sites you want to create, think about the purpose of each site. This will help you determine what site templates you want to use to create new sites. SharePoint Online includes a wide range of site templates from which you can select when you create a new site. By selecting a site template that is designed for a specific purpose, you can give users a powerful head start on their work. For example, if you want to create a reference site that team members can use to quickly share or update project information, you might want to start by selecting the Wiki site template because this template is designed for this type of communication.
For more information on planning site content, see Step 4: Plan content on sites.
Note Your SharePoint Online administrator manages My Site websites. My Sites are hubs where users can network with colleagues and track information. By using their My Site, users can see a Newsfeed of their colleague’s activities, keep track of content they have tagged, and share status updates with one another. As a site collection administrator, you do not control My Sites. Instead, each user is the administrator of their own My Site. For more information on planning My Sites, see Step 1: Plan to manage SharePoint Online by using the Administration Center
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List of site templates
The following list includes a list of supported site templates and a description of each. Use this list to decide which types of sites are best for your organization.
- Assets Web Database A database to track assets, including details and owners.
- Basic Meeting Workspace A site to plan, organize, and capture the results of a meeting. It provides lists for managing the agenda, meeting attendees, and documents.
- Blank Meeting Workspace A blank meeting site for you to customize based on your requirements.
- Blank Site A blank site for you to customize based on your requirements.
- Blog A site for a person or team to post ideas, observations, and expertise that site visitors can comment on.
- Charitable Contributions Web A database to track information about fundraising campaigns including donations made by contributors, campaign-related events, and pending tasks.
- Contacts Web Database A contacts database to manage information about people that your team works with, such as customers and partners.
- Decision Meeting Workspace A site for meetings that track status or make decisions. It provides lists for creating tasks, storing documents, and recording decisions.
- Document Center A site to centrally manage documents in your enterprise.
- Document Workspace A site for colleagues to work together on a document. It provides a document library for storing the primary document and supporting files, a tasks list for assigning to-do items, and a links list for resources related to the document.
- Express Site A site for teams to quickly create, organize, and share information. It provides a document library and a list for managing announcements.
- Group Work Site This template provides a groupware solution that enables teams to create, organize, and share information quickly and easily. It includes Group Calendar, Circulation, Phone-Call Memo, the Document Library and the other basic lists.
- Issues Web Database An issues database to manage a set of issues or problems. You can assign, prioritize, and follow the progress of items from start to finish.
- Microsoft Project site A site that supports team collaboration on projects.
- Multipage Meeting Workspace A site to plan, organize, and capture the results of a meeting. It provides lists for managing the agenda and meeting attendees in addition to two blank pages for you to customize based on your requirements.
- Personalization Site A site for delivering personalized views, data and navigation from a site collection into a My Site site.
- Publishing Site With Workflow Only available as a subsite of the Publishing Portal or Enterprise Wiki. A site for publishing Web pages on a schedule by using approval workflows. It includes document and image libraries for storing Web publishing assets. By default, only publishing sites can be created under this site.
- Social Meeting Workspace A site to plan social occasions. It provides lists for tracking attendees, providing directions, and storing pictures of the event.
- Team Site A site for teams to quickly organize, author, and share information. It provides a document library, and lists for managing announcements, calendar items, tasks, and discussions.
- Visio Process Repository A site for teams to quickly view, share, and store Visio process diagrams. It provides a versioned document library for storing process diagrams, and lists for managing announcements, tasks, and review discussions.
Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that guide, direct, and control how an organization's business divisions and technical teams cooperate to achieve business goals. With regard to your SharePoint Online site collection, a governance plan can be a guide to help plan the roles, responsibilities, and policies necessary to support your site collection. This may include, but is not limited to, the following considerations:
- Information architecture, including Web pages, documents, lists, and data
- Maintenance activities, including managing user accounts
- Branding and customization policies
It is important to prepare a governance plan for your organization. By participating in the development of a governance plan, you can help identify ownership for both business and technical teams, defining who is responsible for what areas of the system. For more information about developing a governance plan, see Governance 101: Best practices for creating and managing team sites.
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Note You may need to work with your SharePoint Online Administrator to manage users. For example, the SharePoint Online Administrator manages user profiles.For more information about SharePoint Online Administrator responsibilities, see Step 1: Plan to manage SharePoint Online by using the Administration Center.
User accounts in Office 365
The global administrator adds new users to Office 365 for enterprises by using the Microsoft Online Services administration center, which is the portal for managing users and configuring services. When adding a new user, the global administrator specifies whether that user can also access the administration center, sets the geographic location for the user, selects the type of user license, and creates a username and password for the user.
Team Site users
After a new user has been added to Office 365 for enterprises, you can add that user to your Team Site and adjust the permissions for that user. Permission levels and group membership are specified in Site Settings. For more information about permission levels and group membership, see the Permission levels and group membership section in this article.
Permission levels and group membership
Permission levels are collections of permissions that allow users to perform a set of related tasks. For example, the Read permission level includes the View Items, Open Items, View Pages, and View Versions permissions (among others), all of which are needed to view pages, documents, and items in a SharePoint site. Permissions can be included in more than one permission level.
It is not recommended that you assign permissions directly to individual users because this can make it very difficult to track and manage who has access to sites. Instead, assign permissions to groups, and then assign individual users to the appropriate groups. A group is a set of users that are defined at site collection level for easy management of permissions. Each group is assigned a default permission level. For example, the default SharePoint groups include the following permission levels:
Anyone with Full Control permission can create custom groups.
Note When you assign permission levels to SharePoint groups at the site collection level, by default, all sites and site content inherit those permission levels. You can specify whether to break permission inheritance.
Because a user's permissions determine what he can access within a site, you must consider his group membership carefully. For example, a user who is responsible for creating and customizing sites must minimally be a member of the Designer group. On the other hand, a user who needs only to read content and perhaps add comments to a blog may only need to be a member of the Contributor group.
To aid with future maintenance of permissions, consider using a tool like this Site and Content Security Worksheet, or developing some other method to document the layout and security of your site, including all important uniquely secured sites, lists, or items.
For more information about managing users and permissions, see About permission levels, Plan your permissions strategy, and the other Permissions management topics in SharePoint Online Help.
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The backup site collection administrator can be designated by the site collection administrator. As a site collection administrator, you can add another site collection administrator, or change the site collection administrator, through the Site Settings page. For more information about this task, see Manage administrators for a site collection.
Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) 2.0
Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) 2.0 is the Microsoft solution for building federated identity management solutions that extend an organization’s existing Active Directory (AD) deployment. ADFS uses single sign-on (SSO) technologies to authenticate a user to multiple, related Web applications over the life of a single online session. ADFS accomplishes this by securely sharing digital identity and entitlement rights, or "claims," across security and enterprise boundaries.
ADFS enables user profiles to be migrated and synchronized with SharePoint Online. After user profiles are imported, your users will access SharePoint Online services by using Windows Live ID credentials.
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Plan to use site and site collection features
As a site collection administrator for SharePoint Online, you may need to manage features at the site collection and site levels. These tasks may include activating or deactivating features according to your governance plan.
Site collection features that you may need to activate or deactivate include:
- Document ID Service Assigns IDs to documents in the Site Collection, which can be used to retrieve items independent of their current location.
- Document Sets Provides the content types required for creating and using document sets. Create a document set when you want to manage multiple documents as a single work product.
- In Place Records Management Enable the definition and declaration of records in place.
- Library and Folder Based Retention Allows list administrators to override content type retention schedules and set schedules on libraries and folders.
- Office Web Apps Enables viewing and editing scenarios using the Office Web Apps.
- Open Documents in Client Applications by Default Configures links to documents so they open in client applications instead of Web applications, by default.
- Publishing Approval Workflow Routes a page for approval. Approvers can approve or reject the page, reassign the approval task, or request changes to the page. This workflow can be edited in SharePoint Designer.
- SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure Provides centralized libraries, content types, master pages and page layouts and enables page scheduling and other publishing functionality for a site collection.
- Three-state workflow Use this workflow to track items in a list.
- Workflows Aggregated set of out-of-box workflow features provided by SharePoint.
Site features that you may need to activate or deactivate include:
- Content Organizer Create metadata based rules that move content submitted to this site to the correct library or folder.
- Group Work Lists Provides Calendars with added functionality for team and resource scheduling.
- Hold and eDiscovery This feature is used to track external actions like litigations, investigations, or audits that require you to suspend the disposition of documents.
- Metadata Navigation and Filtering Provides each list in the site with a settings pages for configuring that list to use metadata tree view hierarchies and filter controls to improve navigation and filtering of the contained items.
- Project Proposal Workflow Provides a review workflow for managing project proposals.
- Rich Embedded Component for Blogs Use this to insert a photo album or video from a photo or video sharing Web site into a blog post.
- SharePoint Server Publishing Create a Web page library as well as supporting libraries to create and publish pages based on page layouts.
- Team Collaboration Lists Provides team collaboration capabilities for a site by making standard lists, such as document libraries and issues, available.
- Wiki Page Home Page This site feature will create a wiki page and set it as your site home page.
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Previous article in this planning guide: Step 1: Plan to manage SharePoint Online by using the Administration Center
Next article in this planning guide: Step 3: Plan content on sites
Main planning guide article: SharePoint Online planning guide for Office 365 for enterprises