While upgrading a Shared Service Provider today. I received the following error which also happens to be the title of this blog post: Shared Services Provider creation failed Reason: User cannot be found.

A quick check of the SharePoint logs (c:\program files\common files\microsoft shared\web server extensions\12\logs) revealed that the error was thrown during execution of a method used to create site collections. The method requires a user to be specified as the site owner… but wait; the command I use to restore/upgrade the Shared Service Provider (stsadm -o restoressp) does not support specifying an account for the site collection owner.

So where could this account be coming from? Looking for the owner of the Central Administration Site revealed that the AD account specified as the Primary Site Collection Administrator no longer exists. I update the account to that of the new SharePoint farm administrator, execute the SharePoint timer jobs (stsadm -o execadmsvcjobs), and the Shared Service Provider provisioning process automatically continues (and succeeds).

Step by step instructions below:

  1. Go to SharePoint Central Administration –> Application Management.
  2. Click “Site Collection Administrators” under the “SharePoint Site Management” group.
  3. Make sure you select the Central Administration Site Collection.
  4. Update the Primary (and secondary of necessary) Site Collection Administrator accounts.
  5. Execute the following stsadm command:
    stsadm -o execadmsvcjobs

You can verify the status/progress of the SSP by clicking on the “Shared Services Administration” link on the left navigation of the Central Administration site.