SharePoint Roles and Responsibilities (SharePoint Online)

Further to my blog regarding SharePoint Roles and Responsibilities (On-Premises and Azure IaaS) this is a follow up on how roles and responsibilities differs when moving to Software as a Service (SaaS).  

Network Admin

Network administration is a crucial component for using SharePoint Online. The network needs to be configured optimally to ensure good performance between users and the data in SharePoint Online. There are a number of steps that can be taken to optimize network performance. But also there are factors that exist outside of the internal network that can affect performance to SharePoint online. Most commonly are related to how long does it take for DNS to resolve traffic to Microsoft network. Paul Collinge has some great tips that I have called out in an earlier blog post, but still of benefit:

Global Admin

This is the gate keeper account to your Office 365, and by thus give you full administration access to SharePoint Online. This account can also be used to set global settings for external sharing feature and capabilities for Sharepoint Online.

SharePoint Online Administrator

This SharePoint Online administrator is still responsible for the operation of SharePoint online, but now does not have to manage the following:


  • Hardware Resources (CPU, Memory)
  • Patch Management
  • Backups and DR


However the SharePoint Online administrator will still need to track storage, whilst SharePoint Online will provide limitless storage in the future. The site collections will still need to be monitored in Sharepoint Online to ensure that sites are not close to exceeding boundaries, thresholds and supported limits.


The SharePoint Online administrator is also responsible for the management and configuration of the service applications such as Search, User Profile Service, and Managed Metadata Service etc. Whilst many of the service applications are setup once, they still needed to be managed and maintained to ensure they provide the organization with the data and service they expect.


Auditing is a new feature being rolled into Office 365 and is important for an organization to track how the data in Office 365 and SharePoint online is being used via the compliance center. The following video gives a great Overview to the feature in the compliance center. The SharePoint administrator can track for number of active users to ensure licenses are optimized for usage, check sites that are shared externally and generally help keep track of company assets in SharePoint online.

The SharePoint Online admin can also has access to a number of PowerShell cmdlets to better help them manager there SharePoint Online service.  



The developer for SharePoint is a broad spectrum as they can be a web designer in configuring the look and feel of a SharePoint site. Whilst you cannot deploy farm based solutions in SharePoint online you can still use sandbox solutions (sandbox solutions have been marked as deprecated) as well as SharePoint Apps. Which can either be squired from the SharePoint Online store or built for purpose to connect to SharePoint using all or some of the following OAuth, OData and REST.  

Code going into SharePoint online must meet a standard that is measured with Microsoft Code Analysis Framework you can also look at SharePoint Code Analysis framework which gives a more in depth analysis of your code for the Office 365 and On-Premises. However these tools will only validate coding practices and not whether the code itself is malicious. The deployment of the code is limited to sandbox solutions, as SharePoint Apps are self-contained programs.  

Site Collection Administrators

The site collection administrator is a person who manages a site collection and all of the sub-sites within that collection. There is a misconception that a SharePoint Admin and a Site Collection admin are the same. Whilst in some unique cases this is true, in most cases this is not. The purpose of a Site Collection admin is to delegate the management of a site or group of sites to people who better understand the need and requirement of a site. This helps empower workgroups to have more control over their web sites and less reliant on core IT services. It is paramount that multiple Site Collection Administrators are setup to provide cover so that management of sites can continue in the absence of the main site collection administrator. This role remains pivotal both on Premises and in Office 365.

Information Architect

The assets stored in SharePoint can be from just personal documents stored in OneDrive for Business to entire corporate documentation. Therefore it is important that the data is classified, and architected as to how the document is to be stored, when to be archived/disposed. Also the information architect can provide some insights on how long backups are to be retained depending on legislation. It is important that the Information Architect and the SharePoint Administrator establish a relationship as a SharePoint admin can better plan storage requirements when they are away of the documentation plans of the organisation, and the information architect can be sure that when their proposals are rolled out the infrastructure is in place to accommodate the workload.

Information Architecture is critical in on-premises, Azure IaaS and SharePoint online. As no matter where the data is hosted the data still belongs to your company and must be managed according to your business requirements for data. SharePoint Online does not provide automated document management service for document disposal and archiving, all of the requirements will need to be manually configured but the SharePoint Online administrator.

Technical Architect

The technical architect will usually design the solution whether it be intranet, internet and/or document collaboration. The technical architect usually has the outline of what is the purpose of the system and the vision of how it is to be used. Therefore it is important that their vision is aligned to the Information Architect data requirements. The Technical Architect can set the tone of how SharePoint online is to be used.  

Governance Team

The governance team should be the glue between the different roles and responsibilities ensuring that each role has the required information they need in order to complete their role. As can be seen by the brief description of roles, all roles have dependencies on other roles.