Naming Conventions

Naming conventions are an important part of your toolkit when it comes to keeping Microsoft 365 manageable. Consistent naming has many benefits from helping Outlook users find the right distribution group, to helping administrators apply the right policy to the correct set of SharePoint sites, and beyond.

An incomplete list of things where naming conventions are useful:

  • Distribution Lists
  • Security Groups
  • Office 365 Groups
  • Microsoft Team names
  • SharePoint site names and URLs
  • Exchange resources
  • Retention Policies
  • Label Policies (Retention and Sensitivity)
  • DLP Policies
  • Environments (Power Platform)

When choosing a naming convention, think about how items will group when sorted in a list or appearing in a drop-down. How will people find what they are looking for?

Does it make more sense to name prefix distribution groups with a Location when people are likely to browse by departing e.g. Johannesburg-Sales vs Sales-Johannesburg? What about searching for a meeting room? In this case, geography might be more important than department e.g. I need to find a meeting room in Durban.

I was visiting a client recently and noticed their meeting rooms were named after native birds. Perfect, because the room names are directly related to the organization’s environmental values. Perfect until I received an invite to attend a meeting either in person or online, with the meeting room called “Houtkapper”. It wasn’t immediately clear where the meeting room was, so I needed to follow up with a call, “Houtkapper is in Bloemfontein, please attend remotely”. I committed that to memory.

Retention Labelling Policies are another area where naming is important. Agreeing on a naming convention before publishing policies can save a lot of confusion. Labels can take up to 7 days to apply, so when you publish a new one it is important to get it right and avoid having to make changes if you can.

Having consistent naming for SharePoint sites and Microsoft Teams helps end users locate and understand the purpose of the site or Team. They can also help administrators with bulk operations. Consider using prefixes that indicate the purpose and then further parts of the name to indicate the detail e.g., PRJ-XXXX-OfficeRefit (where XXXX = Capex or project code).

A few things you should also consider:

  • Reserving names for official items e.g., do you want someone else grabbing “Finance” as an Office Group or Distribution Group?
  • Having a banned word list
  • Implementing an Office Group Naming policy in Azure
  • Using automation rather than manual naming where possible
  • Writing your policy down and making it available

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