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Getting started with Office 365 – SharePoint Administrator Checklist

If you are reading this post, you probably have the lucky job of being an Office 365/SharePoint Administrator. Mazel Tov – welcome to the club! As a SharePoint Admin, there are a few things you might want to do before you create the first site in SharePoint or allow users to upload documents and other content. Hence, I would like to share with you this unofficial SharePoint Administrator Checklist – something I go through every time before I create Intranet and Project portals for my clients.

1. Set the proper Time Zone on the root site collection

By default, the root site collection in SharePoint is set to US Pacific Time Zone. That is probably because Microsoft headquarters are located in Redmond, WA, which is on the West Coast of the United States in a Pacific time zone (PST). Unless your company is located in the same time zone, you need to change it. Otherwise, the timestamps on any content uploads or changes (i.e. Created or Modified dates) will show a wrong time. Moreover, when you create subsites in your site collection, they assume the time zone from the parent site. So you better set the time zone right away, to assure any future subsites use the appropriate time zone. Additionally, if you already created subsites in your environment, even after setting proper time zone at the root of the site collection, you will need to repeat the steps for all subsites manually.

Here is how to properly set a timezone for a site collection:

  1. Navigate to the root of a site collection (the very top level site)
  2. Gear Icon > Site Settings
  3. Under Site Administration, click on Regional Settings
  4. Click on the Time Zone drop-down (most likely it will be set to Pacific Time (US and Canada)SharePoint Administrator Checklist
  5. Adjust to your specific time zone and click OK

NOTE: In case you are a global company that spans multiple time zones, set the time zone that would suit the majority of your employee base (i.e. company headquarters). Your employees can follow these instructions to set their own, personal time zone as well.

2. Configure settings in SharePoint Admin Center

Another important thing you need to do as a SharePoint Admin is adjust SharePoint settings in the SharePoint Admin Center. Most of the time, you would leave them as default. However, there are a few that are absolutely a must for you to address.

  1. From the Office 365 App Launcher, click on Admin Tile
  2. Click on SharePoint from the Admin centers
  3. Once in SharePoint Admin Center, click on Settings
  4. In the middle of the page, under Site Creation, by default Create site command is displayed. This allows users to easily create sites connected to an Office 365 group right from the SharePoint Homepage. You might or might not leave this setting on depending on your governance!SharePoint Administrator Checklist
  5. Under Custom Script, make sure to switch both radio buttons to Allow. In most Office 365 environments, by default, it is switched off (does not allow custom scripting). I know it is a bit misleading since we are out of the box guys and girls and have no intention of using any custom code or custom scripts in our SharePoint environment. However (without going into technical details), if you do not do this step, your SharePoint Online environment will lack some key features, like the ability to Save Sites as templates, as well as lack majority of most frequently used web parts. So we must enable it! Read this article from Microsoft to learn more about all the blocked features if you prevent custom scripts.

3. Add yourself as a Term Store Administrator

Next, you need to make yourself a Term Store Administrator. Just because you are a Global Office 365 Admin or SharePoint Administrator, does not automatically make you a Term Store Administrator. And you really will need to be one, if you want to utilize the term store to manage your metadata with the organization. To make yourself a Term Store Administrator, follow these steps:

  1. From the same SharePoint Admin Center screen you accessed above, click on Term Store
  2. Under Term Store Administrators section, add your name and click Save

4. Configure External Sharing settings

I am sure you will be sharing externally from within your SharePoint environment. To do that in an organized manner and to prevent your Intranet from becoming a Wild West with externally shared content all over the place, you will need to set up certain site collections for internal and external sharing accordingly. I provide a detailed explanation of external sharing in this post.

One thing you might want to do right away is to make sure that your default site collection is not set up for external sharing. That’s because this is where your corporate Intranet will reside.  This will ensure that users don’t share any internal sites and content externally. To do this:

  1. Navigate to SharePoint Admin Center again
  2. Click the checkbox next to default site collection, then Sharing
  3. Make sure External Sharing is disabled, click Save

5. Office 365 Theme/Logo

Now that we took care of the important stuff, it is time to spice up/personalize your Office 365 environment. You don’t have lots of options here, but one thing you can to do is brand the Office 365 navigation bar and company logo. I provided detailed instructions on how to do this in a separate blog post, check it out here.

6. Turn on Office 365 Auditing

Lastly, enable the audit logs in Office 365. This will allow you to record user activity in your whole Office 365 environment, specifically in SharePoint and Exchange. This might be a great tool to monitor what your users are up to and might prove invaluable to Admins and content managers alike. I have published detailed instructions on how to set it up here.

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