SharePoint Permissions Best Practices for North American Businesses


Microsoft SharePoint is a widely recognized and utilized platform for business collaboration and document management. Its robust set of features and capabilities make it an invaluable tool for businesses of all sizes across North America. However, managing SharePoint permissions to ensure that sensitive information remains secure and accessible only to authorized personnel can be a challenging task. With the right guidance and expertise, businesses can deploy SharePoint permissions best practices to maintain the optimal balance between content accessibility and data security.

In this article, we will discuss SharePoint permissions best practices, focusing on the vital aspects that businesses need to consider for effectively and securely managing access to documents and resources while benefiting from Alcero’s professional expertise.

Understanding SharePoint Permission Levels

SharePoint permission levels are designed to manage access to specific content, enabling administrators to determine the roles and responsibilities of users on the platform. The default permission levels include Full Control, Design, Edit, Contribute, Read, Limited Access, and View Only. It is vital to understand the functions and capabilities of each permission level to effectively manage access to sensitive content.

Full Control grants users unrestricted access to SharePoint features, the ability to change permissions, and manage all other settings. Design encompasses the ability to view, add, update, delete, approve, and customize content. The Edit and Contribute levels allow users to view, add, and update content, whilst the Read level allows users to view pages, documents, and items only. Limited Access grants the user view-only access for specific content, while View Only grants users read access without the ability to download documents.

Establishing Clear Permission Hierarchy

Creating a clear and efficient permission hierarchy is essential to managing SharePoint access and security effectively. It involves assigning users and groups to different permission levels based on their specific roles in the organization, ensuring that access to sensitive data is restricted to authorized personnel only. To establish a clear permission hierarchy, consider implementing the following guidelines:

  1. Utilize Sharepoint Groups: SharePoint groups are predefined collections of user accounts, aiding in efficient management of permissions across multiple users. Assigning permissions to SharePoint groups rather than individual users simplifies the process and ensures consistency across the organization.
  2. Grant Minimal Permissions: Assign the least amount of permission required for users to perform their tasks, without granting unnecessary access to sensitive content. This practice conforms to the concept of “least privilege” in data security, minimizing the potential risk of unauthorized access.
  3. Create Custom Permission Levels: If the default permission levels do not meet the specific requirements of your organization, consider creating custom permission levels tailored to your organizational structure.

Implementing Security Best Practices

While managing permissions is an essential aspect of SharePoint administration, taking additional security measures is necessary to protect sensitive information. Implementing security best practices, such as those listed below, can minimize the risk of unauthorized access and ensure the safety of your organization’s data:

  1. Consistently Review and Audit Permissions: Regularly review and adjust permissions to ensure that outdated or unnecessary access is revoked. Monitoring permissions regularly aids in maintaining a secure SharePoint environment.
  2. Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Implement multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security to the SharePoint platform, reducing the likelihood of unauthorized access.
  3. Train and Educate Users on Security Best Practices:Educate employees on the importance of data security and train them on best practices for using SharePoint securely.

Documenting and Communicating Permissions Management

Effective communication and documentation of SharePoint permissions management practices are crucial for maintaining consistency, accountability, and security across the organization. Consider implementing the following strategies to ensure that all users are aware of and adhere to the permissions management guidelines:

  1. Document Permission Management Processes: Create a comprehensive document outlining the organization’s permissions management procedures, ensuring that administrators and users alike have a clear understanding of the rules and responsibilities.
  2. Conduct Regular Training Sessions: Conduct training sessions for employees to reinforce the importance of permissions management and to clarify any confusion about the role of permissions in the context of data security.
  3. Establish a Clear Point of Contact for Permissions-Related Inquiries: Appoint a dedicated SharePoint permissions manager or team to handle user inquiries, process permission requests, and provide guidance on best practices.

Monitoring and Auditing SharePoint Permissions

Regular monitoring and auditing of SharePoint permissions enable organizations to maintain security, identify and rectify any inconsistencies, and ensure that permissions are aligned with organizational objectives. The following guidelines can aid in the consistent monitoring and auditing of permissions:

  1. Leverage Sharepoint’s Built-in Audit Log Reporting: Utilize features like audit log reporting in the SharePoint platform to track changes made to permissions and other administrative actions, providing valuable insights into unauthorized access or potential security risks.
  2. Implement Third-Party Tools for Advanced Auditing: If the built-in SharePoint audit functionality does not meet your organization’s requirements, consider implementing third-party auditing tools to gain deeper insights and more extensive monitoring capabilities.
  3. Review Permissions Regularly: Establish a schedule for reviewing and adjusting permissions as needed, ensuring that the access levels are up-to-date and reflect the current organizational structure.


Adhering to SharePoint permissions best practices is essential for companies seeking to protect sensitive data, streamline collaboration, and optimize the overall efficiency of their SharePoint platform. By understanding permission levels, establishing a clear permission hierarchy, implementing security measures, and maintaining consistent communication and documentation, organizations can safeguard their data and ensure seamless collaboration among team members. Partnering with a strategic IT consulting firm like Alcero can significantly benefit businesses in their quest to optimize their SharePoint platform and navigate the complexities of permissions management. 

Alcero, a leading North American provider of strategic IT consulting, integrated and electronic document management, and business applications development for Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Azure, and WordPress, is no stranger to the intricacies of SharePoint permissions management. Our deep understanding of the platform and industry experience allows them to counsel organizations on efficient strategies to ensure data security and seamless collaboration. Take the first step towards a secure and efficient SharePoint environment. Contact us today and exploring their range of services and solutions!