Sue Hanley – Introducing an Amazing Place for your Office 365 Governance and Training: the New Communication Site

by DWCAU2017 Speaker – Sue Hanley.

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This past week, Microsoft announced the roll out of modern Communication Sites in SharePoint online. If supported at your organization (and when this capability arrives in your tenant), when you create a new site you are asked to choose the type of site you want to create.

Communication Sites vs. Team Sites

  • When you want to create a place where the members of a work group or project team can collaborate on project deliverables, plan an event, track status, or exchange ideas, you want a Team site.
  • When you want to “broadcast” a message, tell a story, share content for viewing (but not editing), or showcase services or people, you want a Communication site.

Communication Sites

Communication sites are brand new and do not yet have all the features that we expect they will have in the future, but they are pretty awesome right out of the gate. Even if you have a highly structured intranet based on the SharePoint publishing framework, you may want to use a Communication site to create “fit for purpose” micro-sites for scenarios like a new initiative, a new organization-wide program, or for my favorite example – your Governance and Training site!

One of the biggest problems with typical governance plans for SharePoint and Office 365 is that they are written as documents. Sometimes, very large documents. Do you know what happens with very large documents in most organizations? They don’t get read. If your governance plan never gets read, how can you possibly achieve your objectives and govern your environment? You can’t!

Communication Sites for Governance and Training

The best way to ensure that your governance plan is effective is to deliver actionable governance information right when people need it and in a format that is both engaging and “consumable.” Until this past week, I’ve been using “classic” SharePoint sites to create governance and training delivery environments – and they work very well. The important thing for “consumable” governance is not to create a document. But, going forward, I’m going to recommend if you are using Office 365, you should try a Communication site for this purpose.

Modern Communication sites are perfect for your governance and training delivery environment. Your Governance site has a unique purpose that can probably live without your intranet branding (though I have been able to apply an “out of the box” theme to a Communication Site). You can, however, connect a Communication site to your intranet global navigation with a link and then link back to the intranet from the top navigation of the Communication site. If you can think of your training and governance environment as a complement to the intranet, the site you use for this purpose probably doesn’t necessarily have to exactly “match” the rest of your intranet.

A Look at an Example Governance and Training Site

We’ve had early access to modern Communication sites at one of my clients and we’ve already launched a few sites inside the organization with great success. Our Governance and Training site is critical to the success of the new intranet and was one of the first sites we “modernized” with the new Communication site template.

Here’s a screenshot of the demo Governance and Training site I’ve created for the Digital Workplace Conference. I’ll be talking about exactly how I created the site – with no code – and provide detailed examples to help get you started, including content that you can add to your governance site, whether you implement it in a new Communication site on Office 365 or in SharePoint 2013 on premises.

Want more info?

Microsoft has created some very helpful documentation to get you started with Communication sites. You can check it all out at the following links:

With the framework I’ll introduce at DWCAU and a little homework with the training provided by Microsoft, you’ll have an amazing governance and training site ready to go in no time!

Sue’s sessions at DWCAU are:

Sue’s Information Architecture Workshop is on 25 August.