Truly effective business management in Office 365 and SharePoint is going to require trust and delegation to the business – IT cannot and should not be doing everything. The Sales team is moving past design and on to creating Site Content Types and Site Columns needed to define the structure of soon-to-be-created lists and libraries. This helps define a reusable classification and taxonomy framework through which the organization can structure documents and list items. Though this process does require elevated privileges in SharePoint Online, it can (should) be delegated to business teams to manage on their own when possible.
Policies such as these, which control how Westmorr approaches business management in O365 and SharePoint, are going to be formalized into Westmorr’s overall SharePoint governance plan. Subject matter around best-practices for Term Store management, Site Column and Site Content Type creation, document management, list management, etc. fall under their Information Governance mandates which are based on Microsoft’s Governance Guidance documentation found here:
Later, this will all be rolled-up into a much bigger Office 365 governance plan.
I have found few documents more useful in defining ways to consider how to effectively control and implement business management policy in SharePoint than those listed above. Provide your organization with those links and truly absorb their content, couple that with the thousands of SharePoint blogs, and take advantage of all the free training at (for example) Microsoft Virtual Academy. If you’re trying to effectively manage your business, launch LOB applications, or even simply manage documents…it’s essential that your organization and you (the reader) spend time working with the materials above if you want to be successful.
Review the Content Type and Site Column Basic Structure
Okay, back to the Sales team – they use the outline the team previously built to provide guidance on creating site columns and content types. For reference:
Because of the free training that Sales took at the Microsoft Virtual Academy, they know that they need to choose whether to create site columns and content types at the site collection level or the site level. This time around, they’re basing the choice on two basic questions:
- Will somebody likely want to reuse a site column and/or content type across multiple sites?
- Will somebody likely want to create a site column and/or content type with the exact same name outside of a specific site’s scope?
Westmorr’s answer to question 1 is: yes, customers and sales contracts are types of content that will be used outside of the CLM site. To question 2: no, they’ll reuse the existing column and content type, and if they overwrite it, that will be inside a specific site’s scope. Therefore, Sales is going to create the site columns and content types at the Site Collection level.
Adding the SharePoint Site Columns
Navigate to the top level Intranet site, and select “Site settings” from the Control Gear. Start by building site columns which you will assemble later into site content types.
Choose “Site columns” from the “Web Designer Galleries” section of the top-level site’s Site Settings page:
Briefly a bit more about the “site collection level” or “site level” questions above. Site columns and content types can be made available to all the sites in a site collection or they can be scoped to just a specific site. The fallout of this decision will be covered in more detail in following-posts when we actually use the content types. But, for now…to visualize this, if Sales hadn’t gone to the top level site in the Intranet before creating the site column or content type, it would be scoped to the specific sub site they were on instead. Using the “Contract Lifecycle Management” site as the example, if they create a column called “Test” in that sub site, it would look as follows (versus creating the same column in the Intranet top level site):
- Columns such as Business Department, Category Picture, and Description (which happen to be OOTB) exist in the top-level site, so all of the sub sites inherit and can reuse those columns.
- However, by creating a column “Test” in the CLM sub site, you can see it is scoped specifically to “Contract Lifecycle Management“.
- You can even create an identically named column (i.e. “Test”) in the top-level Intranet site that is completely separate and will be available to all other sub sites but, as just noted, is superseded in the CLM sub site.
After clicking “Site columns” from the “Web Designer Galleries”, you’re presented with the following UI. Click “Create” to get to the Create Column form:
The following tables identifies all of the columns and values that Sales specifies while repeating the Create Column steps.
Note that, with Site Columns and Site Content Types in the table below you’ll read “n/a” for description fields. In real practice, governance would suggest you absolutely specify description values. Do not skip setting “Description” values in production.
Also, please note that I’ve specified customer names below, they are completely fictitious.
CLM – Sales Contract Related Site Columns
CLM – Customer Related Site Columns
*The Customer Name also applies to Customers but is already created above
Reviewing the SharePoint Site Columns
Review your work and confirm that all site columns are created:
And, with the column framework built, now move to creating the content types: Sales Contract and Customer.
Creating the SharePoint Site Content Types and Adding Site Columns for CLM
Starting at the top level Intranet site – Control Gear > Site Settings > Web Designer Galleries > Site content types > Create.
From the Create UI, create the Sales Contract content type:
Business Management – Sales Contract
After saving the settings, you’ll be brought to the edit page for the Site Content Type. Use “Add from existing site columns” to build out the content types:
There, use the “Select columns from” to filter down columns and then specify those columns which apply to the Sales Contract. Press OK when done.
*Don’t worry about the Hidden field shown below for “Title” or the Calculated column “Sales Contract Title”…that’s covered later. Yours will read “Required” for “Title” and you won’t have the “Sales Contract Title” field. This should be very close to what you see:
Now, do the same for Customer.
Business Management – Customer
*Same as above, your “Title” field will read, “Required”, and you’ll see how/why to set it to “Hidden” later:
And finally, review the Site Content Types list to ensure you see the two new content types correctly grouped under WMC Business Management:
You’ve created site columns, and after creating the site columns you created content types from those site columns. In the next post we’ll start seeing the libraries and lists come together and Sales making further progress on facilitating CLM through Office 365 and SharePoint, and moreover, continuing to mature overall business management framework in O365 and SharePoint.