So you’ve got your hands on SharePoint and you’re excited. Some might say we’re biased over here at the Pentalogic blog, but we definitely wouldn’t blame you for itching to deploy this user friendly and incredibly powerful server side software across your whole organization super quickly.
But wait a moment! Have you set out who will be in charge of migrating your shared drives to SharePoint, authorising new sites to be created and setting out an information lifecycle to manage your data? What about indexing information so it can be easily searched should you need an answer to be at your fingertips? If any or all of this sounds like a minefield to you, let me assure you that you’re definitely not alone.
Regulating SharePoint affects many users and most of us will look for guidance about managing our use of it at some point. With this in mind, we’ve put together a quick guide to explain why it’s vital to set out protocol for using SharePoint in your organisation sooner rather than later and have added some useful resources for you at the end.
SharePoint governance is a hot topic and it’s pretty much here to stay. The storming success of the software product was firmly established with Microsoft’s announcement that sales passed the $1billion revenue mark a few years ago. Team this with the exciting new features in SharePoint 2010 and you’ll see why its popularity is set to rocket.
It’s hard to believe that there can be downsides to SharePoint’s many shining qualities. The fact that anyone can use it straight out of the box is a key selling point and this awesome usability is something that we really love. But it can mean that most end users won’t think to put an operations plan in place before they start to use it, which can cause no end of problems over time.
Fight or flight
You might think that making plans will spoil the fun of playing with your new toy (and up to a point I’d agree with you), but if they’re left to spawn organically without regulations, SharePoint sites will grow rapidly and the data in each one will become unmanageable, especially if you’re likely to be running thousands of them.
Ironically, without governance, you’ll make it harder to find, share and manage information across your sites if they are built inconsistently or in conflicting content types. Searching for information will become a chore and your users will switch off, never mind the fact that you may not be taking full advantage of SharePoint’s built-in auto-provisioning tools which are there to make your life a bit easier. D’oh!
It’s at this point that your stressed-out IT administrator may find themselves landed with the frustrating job of subsequently applying standards across your entire SharePoint environment, a labor intensive and time consuming task.
I really have to say though that regulation isn’t unique to SharePoint, its good practice to administer any new software that you’re going to introduce into your business. And if it’s backed up with a solid plan, ideally before or pretty soon after you begin using it, SharePoint really shouldn’t give you any management related headaches at all.
Before I go into the nitty gritty of what to include in your governance plan, I think it’s a good idea to create a policy with flexibility. The last thing that you need is a long list of bureaucratic actions to extend and even undermine the whole process. Also, keep it collaborative! Why not discuss what should be in your governance plan by using a SharePoint wiki? Surely it makes sense for the key policy team members to use the software to discuss and create a plan?
Everyone’s plan will vary as we know you all have different needs and any general model should be adapted for the size of your organization. This advice should also be applied to the SharePoint governance guide and checklist at Microsoft’s own website(link).
A good SharePoint governance plan should focus on the following basic points to ensure its successful deployment in your enterprise:
- Roles – defining responsibilties in your organization
- Rules – a set of guidelines to state what is and isn’t allowed
- Routes – well-defined guides on how to handle different processes like taxonomies, sharing documents, adding sites etc.
Even though you will all have different requirements for your plans, it’s a good idea to monitor the creation, use and eventual deletion of sites to prevent countless ‘orphans’ in your environment. These are sites which have been abandoned but are still full of junk that is eating up your server space. Don’t forget to include backups of your system, sometimes overlooked elements such as branding or customization and any future migration strategy.
The sky is the limit
Think about why you are using SharePoint and what you want to gain from it. Your plan can then be a development strategy where goals can be ticked off as they are achieved. This should keep you referring to your document and making any adjustments to it. It’s best to see your policy as something that will need to be reviewed from time to time and not just as a static item. Ideally, it should grow and evolve with your business needs. The sky really is the limit!
Have you already formed your SharePoint governance plan? Tell us how it went.
There are countless posts on this topic, but here’s a list of some key ones that should help you further:
Getting started: resources at Microsoft
- Veronique Palmer’s adaptations of the Microsoft governance plan:
- Shawn Shell on making SharePoint governance simple:
- Susan Hanley on why governance planning is more important than ever in SharePoint 2010:
- Christian Buckley on how to kick start your governance plan:
- Joel Oleson’s 10 steps to successful SharePoint deployment. See point 2 on governance planning:
Next time: SharePoint Governance #2 – Roles, Rules and Routes.