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Publishing Office Templates in SharePoint

Bring governance to template publishing with an approval process. 

In brief

  • Using Organizational Assets allows you to publish Word, Excel and Power PowerPoint templates directly to Desktop Office apps from SharePoint.
  • Security trimming allows you to target templates to specific user groups.
  • An approval process enabled brand (marketing) & legal signoffs.

Utilising templates like Word Letterheads and PowerPoint Sales Proposals is essential for maintaining consistency in document creation. They help enforce branding guidelines, ensure legal compliance, and reduce friction for employees.

We can extend the definition of templates to include forms such as Incident recording and Health and safety inspection forms. Forms such as these will often form part of a quality process (ISO:9001) – and therefore naturally require a greater level of control.

 

Microsoft Word for the Desktop showing centrally distributed templates..

The challenge is that many organisations struggle just to keep the copyright year up to date on their legal documents and PowerPoint templates – but when you add your new corporate identity or when Microsoft quietly ushered in change by retiring the default Office Calibri font to the new Aptos font, you very quickly have a recipe for organisational wide inconsistency.

SharePoint offers a centralised way of working, and this extends to Microsoft Office templates too. They can be easily stored and retrieved, but there is more than one way of doing this.

Templates attached to a Document Library

You can set a template for a specific document library in SharePoint. This is useful for a self-contained team or a specific use case, such as a contract management system.
However, this approach is not scalable for the whole organisation, as you must deploy the template to every document library that needs it.

Creating a Document based on Template in a SharePoint Document Library

Modern Templates

A more recent addition to document libraries is the “Create Modern Template” option, part of SharePoint Premium (previously Syntex) – this paid-for option helps you create documents where you want to prompt the user to complete the field or take that data from metadata. Again, this works in specific use cases in a single document library – but not organisation-wide.

Organizational Assets

We know that the learned user behaviour is that people like to start office documents in their desktop apps – not where they end up saving them. That is based on a history of using file servers rather than SharePoint.

What Organizational Assets allows you to upload your Word (.dotx), Excel (.xltx), and PowerPoint (.potx) templates to a document library and then publish those so they appear in Office Desktop apps as templates. PowerPoint Online in the browser is also supported, although Word Online and Excel Online are not currently supported.

Start from a custom PowerPoint Templates in the browser

What happens when you open an office template from SharePoint?

It depends, and there is no consistency here, most of the time you will want to start a new document based on the template.

  • From SharePoint to “Open in the browser”: You get a read-only view of the template
  • From SharePoint to “Open in app” (desktop client): You open the actual template
    and can edit/overwrite the template.
  • From the Desktop OneDrive Sync: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint will start a new
    document, called “Document1”.

 

Only the final option gives you the desired outcome, as you can see this inconsistency shows that this is not the answer to working with templates.

A key limitation that we need to work around is that the entire organisation will use a single site for their assets – so we need to consider how to use folders and permissions to manage templates.

A sample structure using folders to aid the employee experience and help with template governance is below. 

A sample structure for a company operating in different jurisdictions.

By using security groups, we can ensure that the right templates are only accessible to the right people. You could create a flatter structure by putting permissions on the templates themselves, but from a management perspective setting permissions on folders is recommended due to the ease of maintenance as well as user experience.

Policy Express is a Microsoft 365 SharePoint solution that helps manage templates and forms that benefit from an approval process, an audit trail, and that require periodic review. Ideal for meeting compliance requirements.

  • It can handle any type of controlled document, whether it is a template, a policy, or a form.
  • You can evidence that quality-managed forms have been formally approved.
  • Integration with organisational asset libraries and quick parts to ensure that the templates are updated and consistent with the metadata in SharePoint.
  • It can automate the workflow of reviewing, signing off, publishing, and refreshing the templates and forms, while also providing a dashboard to monitor the status and compliance.

Configure Organizational Assets in SharePoint.

  • Organise your templates into permission-managed folders.
  • Add an approval process to ensure quality and consistency

If you need help managing your templates:

  • Policy Express could add value for you – see our overpage for videos, pricing, and a downloadable factsheet.
  • Alternatively, book a call to speak to a SharePoint expert.

FAQ

Q: How to Get Templates to Appear in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint

By using the Organizational Assets feature in SharePoint – you can publish templates automatically to Office Desktop Apps and PowerPoint online.

Q: What are the limitations of Organizational Assets in SharePoint?

The key limitation is that you can only have one site for the whole organisation – this may be a challenge for more complex organisations where folders and permissions can help.

Q: Can I use Organizational Assets in Word Online?

Unfortunately not, Word templates published as Organizational Assets in SharePoint are only accessible through Word on the desktop.

Q: Can I use Organizational Assets in Excel Online?

Afraid not, Excel templates published as Organizational Assets in
SharePoint are only accessible through Excel on the desktop.

Q: Can I use Organizational Assets in PowerPoint Online?
Yes, PowerPoint is the only web app that does support Organizational Assets, meaning that you can access centrally published templates both in the app and on the web.
Q: How Co I configure Organizational Assets with PowerShell?
  1. Firstly, you will need to set up a site and document library to store the assets.
  2. Then download the latest SharePoint Online Management Shell.
  3. Finally execute the PowerShell command to complete the configuration.
  4. Add-SPOOrgAssetsLibrary -LibraryUrl <URL> [-ThumbnailUrl <URL>] [-OrgAssetType <ImageDocumentLibrary or OfficeTemplateLibrary>] [-CdnType <Public or Private>]

If you're a client of ours, we can advise on best practice and perform this for you.

Q: How do I configure Organizational Assets with the SharePoint Branding Centre

The SharePoint Branding Centre enables you to set up a site for your organisational assets. Which you can find here:

Open the Admin Centre -> Settings -> Org Settings -> Services -> Brand Center

What it doesn't currently allow you to do is set up a template folder - you'll still need PowerShell to do that.

Author

Rupert Squires

Client Director

2 mins read

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Policy Approval in SharePoint 

Policy Approval in SharePoint 

Within your organisation, a risk, a legal requirement or a standard has been identified, and it has been agreed that it should be addressed via a documented company policy. We can expand this approval requirement more broadly to Controlled Documents.

Manage Microsoft Office templates in SharePoint 

Manage Microsoft Office templates in SharePoint 

Utilising templates like Word Letterheads and PowerPoint Sales Proposals is essential for maintaining consistency in document creation. They help enforce branding guidelines, ensure legal compliance, and reduce friction for employees.

Microsoft 365 Copilot Licensing + Pricing

Microsoft 365 Copilot Licensing + Pricing

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