SOLVED

Company Word templates available for anyone in the organization

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New Contributor

Hello,

 

Situation explained:

A lot of companies use custom Word templates to facilitate their company branding and and create a uniform layout for their Word documents. These Word template files usualy reside on a normal ReadOnly file share, and are accessible for all users in the company.

Now, with Covid-19, most users are working from home, and the normal fileshare is not available. The Word templates cannot be used. So, a clever solution is needed. SharePoint template might be the answer. 

I tried, if it is possible to publish a set of Word templates in SharePoint, company wide. This seems a hard nut to crack, and not much information seems to be available with best practices how to solve this challenge.

 

What is the limitation I faced so far

Publishing company Word templates on a SharePoint Site is possible when storing the company template Word file as *.docx into the SharePoint TeamSite. Depending on the setting chosen, Word Online or local Word opens this template file in the correct company layout. So far, so good.

When it comes to saving this file, the default behaviour is that MS Word (Online or Local) wants to save the new document to the same SharePoint TeamSite it was opened from. 

 

This behaviour is not desirable when working with company templates. The default save location should point to the users OneDrive folder, or the TeamSharePoint location the user belongs to. MS-Word should never take the decision to store the file in the same location as the company Word templates. This behaviour can result in a cluttering of documents from multiple teams. 

A document created by a board member, should never be stored in the same location as a document created by a member of the company kitchen

Idealy Word (Online or Local) should ask the user where to store this new document, and suggesting OneDrive as the default location.

 

My question:

Has anyone a cunning plan to crack this nut?

All suggestions are welcome. Thanks for your help.

11 Replies

@Bonevoyage 

 

I had this scenario a few years ago and what we did to resolve this was to create a content type with the docx template in the Content Type Hub.  We then made sure that it was added to all new sites and OneDrives.  As we use PowerShell to create these, via BAU and new user onboarding, it's not often that we get sites created that don't have these.

 

We did this alongside a consistent message in our user adoption, which was "Start where you want to end up", an approach that meant the user created the initial word document wherever they wanted it to be saved.  Thus, the board can compose papers in the secretariat site, finance in finance and so on.  The save action recognises where the document was initialised and provides the appropriate folder / site in the backstage area.   So I can confirm your findings, but for us, this was default behaviour but for us it was a positive thing.

 

We did have a need that was similar to your own, which was trying to make all SPO sites that a user was involved with visible to the desktop apps by default.  Our solution a few years ago was to create a SharePoint page that when visited would auto-bookmark in Office365 a specifically set number of sites.  We did this via JavaScript and the CSOM.  As users started opening and accessing their material they built appropriate links within the Desktop apps and started using them.

 

We did look at default save locations but I can't recall offhand what we did.  I'll check my project literature tomorrow and will come back with this point and anything else that may be of use for you.

@Steven Andrews 

Thanks for the answer Steven,

I'm afraid I've to come with some cunning solution to push company templates to all users. SharePoint is unfortunately not the way to go at this time, eventhough it is globally available to all our users and easily accessible from any place on this globe.

 

@Bonevoyage 

Understandable!  I ended up having to modify the default.dotm for the entire organisation today in a very similar request.  Glad to hear you solved your issue though.

@Bonevoyage Hi, would you mind sharing how you managed to do this. Am am creating a number of Outlook templates, for out globally dispersed team, (IT, sales, finance, marketing, etc) and want everyone in their respective teams to be able to use the standard templates.  At the moment I'm struggling to get this to work! I also want to control the templates - format, colours, etc so the only thing the guys would do would be to add the relevant information into each email.  Thank-you so much.

best response confirmed by Thomas Maier (MVP)
Solution

@Bonevoyage Have you tried to store your template in an Organisation assets library?

 

The templates will be available on the Office Clients (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

 

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/organization-assets-library

 

https://regarding365.com/how-to-create-an-organisation-assets-library-in-sharepoint-online-to-store-...

 

Sorry, forgot to mention that I think you need E3 or E5 licence....

@Martin Coupal 

The SharePoint Organisation assets library is the way to go for our company. We do have the Office 365 license model needed to use this feature. Already implemented, the first Word templates in DOTX format are visible and useable from within Word O365.

 

It even becomes better since no additional GPO settings for MS-Word are required to enable this feature. It works out of the box. All company users can find the company Word templates needed even when working in Timbuktu.

 

All company Word template documents, saved in DOTX format, and stored into the Organisation assets library can be found in: MS Word -> File -> New -> <Your company name> 

 

Automation:

With classic Word templates stored on a company network file share, VBA code can be used to create document automation. With this new SharePoint Organisation assets library approach, MS_Word QuickParts can be used. I've not been able to find a good article how to get the most out of QuickParts and the SharePoint  Organisation assets library (OAL) automation in combination with MS-Word QuickParts.

 

Filling in the Author QuickPart field is one of the simplest, and works fine when opening a Word template from the OAL. When a user who starts this template, the Author QuickPart is replaced with the current username into this new document. This is the first step into document automation.

 

How to use the QuickPart in depth to benefit of the most, and where the source data for QuickParts is actually coming from is a puzzle I'm still working on, and trying to find the correct answers.

 

Still going on:

All projects like this always take time to find out what is the best method to use a new feature. In my opinion when implementing a solution like this, the goal must be to keep it simple from end-user perspective and manageable for system administrators.

 

I've not found all the answers yet, but a good start has been made.

Thanks for the suggestions posted here, that helped me a good deal.

 

When some of you have more technical information, weblinks or usefull webinars how to get the most out of QuickParts in combination with OAL, and how they work in depth, you can post your answer. 

 

Thanks in advance for all you help.

Greetings, Fred

@Martin Coupal thanks for sharing the info regarding the organization assets library! Just tried with my Microsoft 365 Business Standard license and that also works as expected. Great feature!

Great thing with organization assets library, but company spesific templates where we have memos, invoices, meeting invites and so on. How can we govern corporate templates at a high level. Is there integration with document API to create text tags, extract master data from AAD etc?

There is little to no information regarding this around without extreme overpriced 3rd party solutions.

Help me out :)

Thanks,
Øyvind

@Martin Coupal your solution works great in the desktop app. But.... templates still won't show in Word online. This is really annoying since a lot of people in my organization open a new word document directly from their Teams or Sharepoint so it saves directly to the right directory. Do you have any idea if Microsoft has a solution for this?

@Martin Coupal 

I can confirm that this works with any license that includes Office applications.  I have distributed our templates to Business Standard licensed users.  It is in fact part of your SharePoint Online subscription so no additional costs.  They can access the templates from Office Dekstop and Office online inclusing Mobile apps.