Expert roundup: Provisioning best practices

Provisioning best practices

We spoke to some of our friends in the Microsoft community to get their take on provisioning best practices to keep your environment secure and productive.

At ShareGate, we’re big believers in keeping self-service enabled and allowing users access to what they need to do their best work.

However, we understand that provisioning can be a touchy subject. Sure, you want to grant your users the freedom to work how they want, but how can you make sure they’re not compromising the security of your environment in the process?

The answer lies somewhere in between a completely locked down environment and a total free-for-all.

To explain further, we’ve enlisted the help of some Microsoft MVPs. These industry experts gave us their best tips for effective provisioning and explained how you can build a governance plan to ensure your users are working safely while still getting the job done.

Keep self-service enabled

What we found after talking to our friends in the Microsoft community was an overwhelming belief that collaboration between IT and the teams they support is crucial. 

There’s a real push out there for IT to take a “self-service” approach, one that encourages growth and empowerment, allowing everyone at work to be as productive as possible.

In a way, self-service is Microsoft 365—it’s what makes cloud-based collaboration the most flexible and efficient way for teams to build things together.

First of all, enabling self-service features boosts user adoption. That’s a great place to start: getting people using tools you’re adding for them.

Secondly, it helps you save time and manpower with users handling day-to-day tasks that they’re best suited for.

You show them what’s expected, and then step back and let the magic begin! They can work fluidly, and you’re only a ticket away if things go sideways.

Doesn’t that sound better than building provisioning forms, waiting for hundreds of requests, and hoping someday you’ll get to inbox zero?

Marc Anderson 1

The number one best practice for IT departments I think is, to stop saying no and to say, “That sounds really interesting, let’s figure out how we can solve that problem.”

Marc D Anderson
Microsoft MVP, Co-founder and President of Sympraxis Consulting (@sympmarc)

Deploy an org-wide governance plan

So, you want to keep self-service enabled to foster a collaborative environment, but you also want to make sure you’re keeping your sensitive data under wraps. What’s the answer? Good governance.

Governance is a set of guidelines you put in place, like guardrails that keep your users on the right track. When you’ve got good governance policies in place, you don’t need to be constantly on the lookout for the next security threat, or checking in to make sure things are being stored in the right place—it just happens.

Governance policies can include (but are not limited to):

  • Site creation
  • Naming conventions
  • Expiration policy for groups or teams
  • Site and file sharing

We recommend taking a “governance-light” approach, where you aim to keep things small and manageable. 

For example, you can create a steering committee that meets once a month to discuss risks, governance strategy, and any steps you need to take to keep your data secure and make sure that your business needs are being met.

Maarten Eekels 4

I think it’s really, really important to focus on not just the provisioning itself, but what happens after provisioning as well, what happens with the governance around everything that you provision.

Maarten Eekels
Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Regional Director (@maarteneekels)

Liz Sundet

Enable your users to provision, say, new teams, for instance, but then have a governance place that’s on the back end of that, to be able to really control what is being provisioned and then the users become more accustomed to that.

Liz Sundet
Program Manager, Microsoft

Listen to your users

Ultimately it’s your users who will be working with the tools you provide for them every day, so you want to make sure they’re doing that in the best way possible.

Providing them with governance policies to guide usage is a good start, but you’ll also want to make sure that governance and provisioning are designed around your business needs. This means taking into account how people work best and using that to guide your decision-making.

Antje Lamartine 1

Get the feedback of the business, of the business units, understand what their needs are. So whatever you’re building and your provisioning engine, it needs to be something that can be used by the business.

Antje Lamartine
Microsoft 365 Adoption and Change Management MVP (@antjelamartine)
Freese Luise 2

Educate users on what they can achieve in Teams, what assets are available, how SharePoint and Teams are connected to each other, and what is really good practices to learn collaborating.

Luise Freese
Microsoft 365 Consultant and Office Apps & Services MVP (@LuiseFreese)

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