How SharePoint's "Site Sponsors" Feature Can Reduce an IT Administrator's Workload

Microsoft SharePoint is a collaborative tool that has helped many businesses increase teamwork in their staff. Through MS SharePoint, web sites, Extranets and Intranets can be set up for sharing information between employees as well as educating, communicating and releasing information to employees and public as well.

SharePoint is beneficial in many different ways. Information can be updated in real time easily without the intervention of IT professionals, training and maintenance costs can be reduced, information are always available for quicker and better decision-making even on-the-go or in remote locations.

To increase the already powerful capabilities of MS SharePoint, SharePoint Solutions has released the Extranet Collaboration Manager (ExCM) 2010, a solution that supports the use of SharePoint 2010 to create extranet sites and manage them; all while reducing maintenance costs and an administrator’s workload. This is a SharePoint extranet toolkit is a great solution for SMBs to communicate and share information with business partners in a more streamlined and effective way.

Built on the Microsoft SharePoint Extranet Collaboration Manager for 2007, the latest version comes with enhanced functionality and new capabilities that end-users would find useful, such as improved security to govern site access and activity.

ExCM 2010 improves overall SharePoint governance by storing user accounts outside of the active directory, by allowing the auditing of all user maintenance actions, the setting of specific permissions the full customization of security settings and the flexibility of delegation management tasks to business partners.

Being a simple add-on and providing comprehensive guidance, the ExCM 2010 SharePoint solution has been found important for several businesses: Best Buy, Toshiba, MSNBC are some of them that have used the toolkit to build an extranet within SharePoint 2010.

One of the main features of this SharePoint solution is the ability to designate “site sponsors”; this is a feature that by itself can effectively lighten the burden of IT administrators. In fact, site sponsors can make delegation easier for users to perform administrative tasks, including adding user accounts, managing passwords, and inviting users to join an ExCM-powered extranet site. Also, users can register for the site themselves and approval can even be automated while site sponsors monitor the process and verify eligibility.

These routine site activities can be performed by a trusted user (even from the business partner with which the extranet site is shared), without having an IT administrator involved in the registration approval process or carrying out other basic administrative actions. This obviously results in more time for the IT department to concentrate on more technical tasks and reduces, consequently, IT labor costs.

Site Sponsors are nothing but users who can be trusted to grant or deny permissions for all types of uses. They have been given authority over who can access the extranet and how.

It’s really simple to assign the management of an extranet to a site sponsor; through the “Site Sponsor” feature of the Main menu "Extranet Management" section, an administrator can add a user as manager of a particular section or subsection of the extranet.

A series of security settings provided by this SharePoint Solution allows an administrator to keep control over what the site sponsor can or cannot do: Whether it is to add accounts or delete them; if users can send invitations or unlock accounts; and which groups is the sponsor associated with. This of course allows the ability to create sponsors with different permissions to allow for accountability.

The Site Sponsor feature for SharePoint 2010 offered by SharePoint Solutions can be an invaluable tool for organizations using MS SharePoint 2010 and managing extranet with business partners. IT administrators will really appreciate the Site Sponsors feature as it frees them from the burden of every day user accounts as well as groups administration and allows them to devote more time to other IT tasks.