Getting Started with SharePoint: A Complete Setup Guide

Software & Applications

Setting up SharePoint can be a smooth process with the right guidance. This guide is designed to help you through the initial SharePoint setup and ensure that you are well-prepared to use SharePoint effectively in your organization. Whether you’re setting up SharePoint for a small team or a large enterprise, these steps will help you create a robust, organized environment.

Step 1: Planning Your SharePoint Environment

Define Your Objectives

Start by outlining what you hope to achieve with SharePoint. Are your goals centered on document management, team collaboration, or perhaps both? Understanding your objectives will help you design a SharePoint structure that meets your needs.

Assess Your IT Infrastructure

Ensure that your current IT setup can support SharePoint, particularly if you are hosting it on-premises. For SharePoint Online, check that your internet connectivity is reliable and secure.

Plan Your Site Architecture

Sketch out a blueprint of how you want your site collections, sites, and sub-sites to be organized. This structure is critical as it impacts user navigation and information retrieval.

Step 2: Installing or Subscribing to SharePoint

On-Premises Installation

If you choose to install SharePoint Server on your own servers:

  • Purchase the necessary licenses and prepare your servers according to Microsoft’s requirements.
  • Install SharePoint Server, carefully following Microsoft’s guidelines to avoid common pitfalls.

SharePoint Online Subscription

For SharePoint Online:

  • Subscribe through the Microsoft 365 admin center.
  • Assign licenses to your users to give them access to SharePoint.

Step 3: Configuring Your SharePoint Environment

Set Up User Identity and Permissions

  • Decide on a method for user authentication. Options include Active Directory for on-premises setups or Azure Active Directory for SharePoint Online.
  • Define and assign permissions based on roles and responsibilities within your organization to keep your data secure.

Configure Storage and Document Management Settings

  • Set up storage quotas for sites to ensure that no single site can consume excessive resources.
  • Configure versioning, check-in/check-out, and document deletion policies to manage document lifecycles.

Step 4: Creating and Customizing Sites

Create Your Site Collections

  • Start by creating the top-level site or ‘root site’ for your main site collection. This site will serve as the hub for your SharePoint environment.
  • Build additional site collections as needed based on your planned architecture.

Customize Site Designs

  • Use SharePoint Designer or the new SharePoint Framework to customize layouts, navigation, and branding to match your organizational identity.
  • Implement responsive designs to ensure accessibility across devices.

Step 5: Managing Content and Collaboration

Develop a Content Management Strategy

  • Establish guidelines for content creation, sharing, and retention.
  • Train your team on how to use SharePoint for document management and collaboration effectively.

Utilize SharePoint Features

  • Set up libraries for document storage and team sites for collaboration.
  • Use lists to manage data, calendars for events, and task lists for project management.

Engage Your Users

  • Encourage user adoption by involving them in the design process and providing training on how to use SharePoint.
  • Gather feedback to continuously improve the SharePoint experience.

Step 6: Maintaining and Expanding Your SharePoint Environment

Regularly Review and Update

  • Schedule regular audits of your SharePoint environment to ensure it continues to meet your organizational needs.
  • Update permissions and settings as your organization evolves.

Scale Your Environment

  • As your organization grows, you may need to add more site collections or integrate additional Microsoft tools with SharePoint.
  • Consider using SharePoint hubs to connect related sites and improve navigation.

Step 7: Ensuring Security and Compliance

Implement Security Measures

  • Use SharePoint security settings to protect sensitive information.
  • Regularly review access logs and audit trails to detect unauthorized access.


  • Ensure that your SharePoint setup complies with relevant laws and regulations regarding data protection and privacy.
  • Set up retention and archiving policies to meet legal requirements.


Setting up SharePoint might require careful planning and implementation, but the payoff in organizational efficiency can be substantial. By following these steps, you’ll ensure that your SharePoint setup is successful and that your organization is positioned to make the most of this powerful platform. Start simple, plan thoroughly, and scale wisely to create a SharePoint environment that aligns with your business objectives and grows with your needs.