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Optimizing policy management on SharePoint and how to overcome the gaps


Discover the best practices and tools for efficient policy management on SharePoint.

Compliance with the latest policies should ideally involve everyone across the organization. But often it doesn't. Policy management software therefore helps organizations create, manage, distribute, and monitor compliance with internal policies and external regulations. It serves as a central repository for all policy-related documents, making it easier for employees to access and adhere to the latest policies and ensuring that the organization remains in compliance with legal and regulatory standards.

This blog covers:

Using SharePoint for managing policies

SharePoint is a powerful platform for managing policies. With its robust document management capabilities, it provides a centralized location for storing and accessing policy documents. By utilizing SharePoint Online, organizations can ensure that policies are easily accessible to employees and stakeholders.

Here are some of the key reasons to use SharePoint for policy management

Make the most of your SharePoint license

Most organizations already have SharePoint as part of your Microsoft 365 licensing

Document management

SharePoint Online offers version control, allowing organizations to track changes and maintain a complete history of policy documents. This ensures that any modifications or updates to policies are documented and can be audited if needed.

Security and compliance for policy management

Security and compliance are critical aspects of policy management, and SharePoint Online provides robust features to maximize security and compliance.

One key aspect of policy management on SharePoint Online is the ability to define different security levels and permissions for policy documents. This ensures that only authorized individuals have access to sensitive policies. Additionally, SharePoint Online allows for version control, making it easy to track changes and maintain a complete history of policy documents.

Integration with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365

One of the key advantages of policy management on SharePoint Online is its integration with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365. This integration allows for a seamless workflow for policy creation, review, and approval.

With Microsoft Teams, team members can collaborate on policy documents in real-time, making it easy to discuss and make changes to policies. Additionally, Microsoft Teams provides a centralized location for policy-related discussions and meetings, ensuring that all stakeholders are on the same page.

Integration with Microsoft 365 further enhances the policy management process. Organizations can leverage the rich set of productivity tools in Microsoft 365, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, to create and edit policy documents. 

Audit trails and reporting

Furthermore, SharePoint Online provides audit trails and reporting capabilities, making it easy to monitor policy activities and ensure compliance with internal and external regulations. Organizations can track who accessed or modified policy documents, as well as view the complete history of changes made.

Gaps when using SharePoint for policy management

Data silos

In most medium to large size organizations, policies are stored in multiple locations from employees' local OneDrives to seperate instances of SharePoint, especially if the organization has multiple offices in multiple geographic locations. 

Making information easily available

SharePoint's strength lies in storing documents but due to the data silos mentioned above as well as the way documents are stored in Microsoft Teams. employees struggle to find the latest documents.

Policy dissemination and targetting

 SharePoint lacks robust features for targeted policy distribution. If you need to ensure that specific policies reach only certain departments or roles, you might find this challenging within SharePoint alone.

Manual metadata and tag management

Owners need to manually update metadata and tags. 

Monitoring and reporting

SharePoint does not have the capability to monitor results so that policy administrators can instantly see who’s view and accepted or rejected a policy or they can evaluate questions employees have answered so as to measure performance.

Best practices for implementing policy management

When implementing policy management on SharePoint Online, there are several best practices to consider:

1. Define a clear policy management strategy: Before getting started, organizations should define their objectives and goals for policy management. This includes determining the scope of policies to be managed, defining roles and responsibilities, and establishing processes for policy creation, review, and approval.

2. Design a logical structure: It is important to design a logical structure for organizing policy documents on SharePoint Online. Create dedicated document libraries within SharePoint for different types of policies (e.g., HR policies, IT policies, compliance policies). This ensures that policies are well-organized and easy to find. You can also set up subfolders within libraries for further categorization.

3. Use Metadata and Tags: Leverage SharePoint’s metadata features to add relevant information to policy documents. For example:

    • Document Types: Tag policies as “procedures,” “guidelines,” or “standards.”
    • Applicability: Specify which departments or teams the policy applies to.
    • Effective Dates: Include metadata for policy review dates and effective dates.
    • Owners and Approvers: Assign metadata to indicate who owns the policy and who approves changes.

4, Version control: Enable versioning for policy documents. This allows you to track changes over time, revert to previous versions if needed, and maintain an audit trail. SharePoint automatically tracks versions whenever a document is edited.

5. Establish security and access controls: Organizations should carefully define security levels and access controls for policy documents. This includes assigning appropriate permissions to different user groups and ensuring that sensitive policies are only accessible to authorized individuals.

6. Train and educate users: It is crucial to provide training and education to users on how to effectively use SharePoint Online for policy management. This includes demonstrating how to upload, edit, and search for policy documents, as well as explaining the importance of version control and compliance.

7. Continuously monitor and update policies: Policy management is an ongoing process. Organizations should regularly review and update policies as needed, ensuring that they are up to date and aligned with changing regulations and business requirements. This includes definining retention policies for policy documents. SharePoint allows you to set automatic deletion or archival rules based on document age or other criteria.

Benefits of utilizing policy management tools

Implementing policy management tools combined with SharePoint, offers numerous benefits.


One of the key advantages is improved efficiency in managing policies. By centralizing policy documents and utilizing features such as version control and advanced search, organizations can save time and effort in accessing and maintaining policies.

Enhance collaboration

Another benefit is enhanced collaboration and communication. Policy management software allows for easy collaboration among team members. Additionally, integration with Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365 further enhances collaboration by providing a seamless workflow for policy creation, review, and approval.

Reduce compliance and security breaches

Furthermore, policy management software provides increased security and compliance. With built-in security features, organizations can ensure that policy documents are protected and only accessible to authorized individuals. Additionally, policy management software helps organizations stay compliant with internal and external regulations by providing audit trails and ensuring proper version control.

Enable self-service

Employees and policy management teams are able to self-servce while governance is upheld.

In summary, utilizing policy management software together with SharePoint brings numerous benefits, including improved efficiency, enhanced collaboration, and increased security and compliance.

Atlas - the platform of choice for optimizing policy management on SharePoint

Atlas provides a comprehensive set of features and functionalities to fill the gaps in SharePoint, including:

  • Central policy library - Atlas is the one place for employees to access policies as well as document owners to eaily manage policies. This ensures all documents and information related to policies and processes are integrated into one platform. 
  • Easy management of policies - Atlas enables your policy teams to manage documents easily with automated metadata management and workspace templates. 
  • Target individuals and groups - Cut through the noise by targeting the right people with the right policies and at the right time - making it more relevant and meaningful. 
  • Mandatory reads and read history records -  Set mandatory reads options so employees know that they must read and acknowledge policy deadlines by specified dates. This ensures key policies or processes are read by employees and document owners are given visibility of which employees have read the policy document. 
  • Polls and questions to test comprehension. 
  • Find experts quickly and contact them directly with Microsoft Teams with any questions you have on policies or process.
  • Advanced search and signposting - Atlas provides a quick and easy way for employees to find the latest version of your policies, processes and other related documents with enterprise search functionality, filters and displaying relevant policies. 
  • Improve communication and engagement of policies with Atlas' simple user interface and visual display of policies.  
  • Workflows and notifications for policy management is made easy with Atlas, using tools that are already available in Microsoft 365.
  • Seamless integration - Atlas is built for and on Microsoft 365, providing a seamless experience.

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Author bio

Barry Wakelin

Barry Wakelin

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