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Author: Jonathan Stuckey

Linking Office templates and SharePoint Libraries

A hidden gem in Office | SharePoint integration is publishing document templates

This basic feature for Office desktop applications has been a troublesome thing to do for big organisations. Typically seen as a high-effort implementation and IT labour the historical access of templates from file-shares with Office application policies, Group policies - and other technology guff which made this high-value solution too painful for smaller organisations to adopt.

Well Microsoft made this little gem of integration seamless and easy and quick to do a few years ago. Today Spoke deliver Office template integration almost as a throw-a-way business value extra - enabling your staff to deliver a professional output without a high training overhead.

Use the services and functionality as designed

Taking some of the nicest, and easiest implementation changes to make life easier. Now you can automatically link your managed templates in SharePoint library...

and have them turn-up in Office apps, without a huge IT project:

Microsoft Word backstage integration for templates

Want to deploy and adopt Microsoft 365 services successfully?

Microsoft has done a great job in streamlining the technical setup and deployment of inter-connected services, but as usual they given business a shoddy set of guidance and only finished 1/2 the job for integration. For your users all they want is an easy life from the technology so they can get on with the day-job.

In the a previous article (You missed a trick: instant user-benefits from M365! ( we covered configuration needed to technically setup access for templates, but the other half of the battle is actually the Information Management guidance. Here is where the magic of good naming convention, succinct meaningful names and structured folders for templates will make all the difference to the users and your internal adoption.

Even small organisations will have 10's if not 100s of business process templates and forms; everything from expense forms and requisitions, through to marketing surveys and staff polls. Key to publishing templates for Office is:

  • Less is more - not everything is needed by every team - get the common templates out first

  • K.I.S.S. - keep names simple, succinct and consistent. Pre-fixes are still useful

Even with good practice Microsoft can still be relied on to do something stupid, so once you get well into double-figures for number of templates being published a Folder structure (Don't ask - I get grumpy about it) can be useful to group things together.

Management practices

There are a number of template management practices which you need to take into account, including need to keep both a template format, and a document format available for most frequently used templates because of limitations of SharePoint library content types and Office Webapps not following the same integration models as the Office desktop and Mobile applications.

Keep an eye open for videos on key practices coming shortly

Also while Microsoft collaboration services in Office 365 typically mean keeping only Major versioning, and not applying tight document management controls to libraries, the designated Template library should be controlled in this way with combinations of require check-out, major-minor versioning options and approval on changes - to ensure that people don't make a mess of originals.

Do you don't need a lot of controls or rigor-mortis in your document management, but making use of the document management features will ensure best experience for all users and managers of templates.

Want to know what we know? Give us a call

If you want the best experience for your users you need to know some of the tricks-of-the-trade and all the stuff Microsoft doesn't bother to tell you. You will also need to do a great-job of enabling your people.

If you want to know about better adoption of Office with SharePoint, drop us a line:

About the author: Jonathan Stuckey


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