What is Site Provisioning?
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Whether you're building out an internally-focused SharePoint intranet, deploying Microsoft Teams for project teams and business units, or planning out your external sharing strategy with a formal extranet, one of the most requested customizations is the ability to automate provisioning.
The provisioning process can be as simple or as complex and your business requirements need, from a simple approval workflow on the front-end to document new site or team requests, or a more advanced programmatic solution to create an pre-configure sites to ensure that governance and compliance guidelines are met, and ongoing management of SharePoint and Microsoft Teams is kept in check. One of the key benefits of automating the provisioning process is removing the all-too-often bureaucratic barrier to collaboration, allowing your employees to add infrastructural components by request and in a timely manner -- while maintaining the necessary information architecture, thematic and branding elements, and critical apps and site components to ensure a consistent user experience across your entire environment.
According to Microsoft MVP, software architect, and PnP core team member Laura Kokkarinen (@LauraKokkarinen), "an automated workspace provisioning pipeline means a process, where the workspace is created and configured automatically in a pre-defined way. As with many other automated processes, there are two benefits:
- Reduces the amount of manual work. When all the steps are automated, an administrator is no longer needed to create teams or SharePoint sites in a controlled manner whenever users need them. And end-users don't need to always do the exact same configurations for each workspace manually. Users can trigger the provisioning process themselves, and the creation and configuration of the workspace is done automatically (after a possible effortless approval step). This saves time (and hence money) for both the administrators and users to focus on the tasks that matter and can't be as easily automated.
- Humans make mistakes. If all teams are configured manually, possibly by a lot of different people, things can easily get set up in an unintended way. When configurations are automated, all teams and sites get created consistently and correctly."
(Teams and SharePoint Provisioning: What, Why and How?)
What Microsoft provides:
- SharePoint Developer Community Patterns and Practices (PnP) resources (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/dev/community/community) is an open-source initiative managed by Microsoft, but with strong participation from the global community to share documentation, samples, reusable controls, and other guidance for SharePoint development.
- The PnP Provisioning Framework (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/dev/solution-guidance/pnp-provisioning-framework) which "provides a code-centric and template-based platform for provisioning your site collections. The new provisioning engine allows you to persist and reuse provisioning models in Office 365 and SharePoint Online as well as on-premises site collections." PnP templates are a quick and powerful way of applying consistent designs and configurations to a SharePoint site, and can be used to create lists with content types, views, and content, as well as set your site and list permissions, activate and deactivate features, and much, much more. This site provides an excellent overview of the advantages of the PnP provisioning model.
- Detailed Site Provisioning guidance and examples (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/dev/scenario-guidance/site-provisioning) based on SharePoint version and latest PnP updates.
- The SharePoint Provisioning Service website (https://provisioning.sharepointpnp.com/) provides a showcase of all of the out-of-the-box designs available through the PnP Provisioning Service, with templates by organization type, department, team, community, and solutions. Each options outlines the site features available, web parts used, and content included within the provisioning service, as well as details on system requirements.
- The SharePoint LookBook (https://provisioning.sharepointpnp.com/assets/SharePoint_lookbook_2019.pdf) is another resource made available by Microsoft to showcase what is possible with SharePoint
How Extranet User Manager can help:
You'll find a number of webinars and other great resources on the EUM.co website around provisioning, but there are three that we'll highlight in this article to help you understand where to get started, and how EUM may be able to help:
- The EUM Site Provisioning whitepaper (https://www.envisionit.com/products/teams-provisioning) outlines an open-source solution from Envision IT/Extranet User Manager that empowers business users to create sites, Teams, and Office 365 Groups with appropriate structure and governance, without waiting on IT administrators to complete the process. With this foundation in place, the solution is completely automated within SharePoint Online, Microsoft Flow, and Azure Automation, saving users valuable time while also maintaining control over the environment. While Microsoft's modern experience has really come together, there are so many ways to creates Teams, Groups, and Sites. This whitepaper will help you to standardize both the approach and the result with an open-sourced request form (SPFx), approvals (Power Automate/Flow), and provisioning process (PowerShell, PnP, Azure Automation).
- The Teams Governance and Automation Trailer (https://youtu.be/FdVg7MdchUs) outlines how the EUM open-source site provisioning solution has been expanded to a Microsoft Teams solution. Not only does it provide governance and automation around the creation of new Teams, but it also manages the channel creation process, including setting up the appropriate tabs in Teams, sections in OneNote, Planner buckets and tasks, and structure in SharePoint.
- On-demand Webinar: Microsoft Teams, Office 365 Groups, and SharePoint Sites Provisioning (/resources/events/webinar-2019-09-10-site-provisioning) helps you to better understand how to combine the concept of channels across Teams, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, and Streams to better organize how your staff collaborates. Through automation of tabs in Teams, sections in OneNote, plans in Planner, and channels in Streams, plus navigation in SharePoint to tie it all together, you'll see significant gains in your teams' productivity. This webinar covers Office 365 Groups and Teams templates and governance through provisioning, the open source site provisioning project from Extranet User Manager, SPFx form to customize the site request form experience, Power Automate (Flow) workflow to manage the approval and site creation initiation, PowerShell scripts to create the list, populate with existing sites, and create new sites, and Azure Automation to host and run the PowerShell scripts in the cloud.
Automating the SharePoint and Microsoft Teams provisioning process can be a powerful method for improving the scalability of these platforms within your organization, while ensuring security, compliance, and ongoing governance of your environment. Be sure to check out these great online resources, and let us know if we can answer any questions as you build out your provisioning strategy. We're here to help!