8 Things You Need to Know about SharePoint Governance
John Mancini

By: John Mancini on June 17th, 2009

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8 Things You Need to Know about SharePoint Governance

Information Governance  |  Sharepoint and Office 365

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) is incredibly popular and powerful as a basic content repository. Microsoft claimed $1 billion in revenue from sales of the software in 2007. A recent survey by AIIM indicates that SharePoint is rapidly becoming pervasive within the enterprise. Of those responding to the survey, 83% said they either currently use or likely will be using Microsoft SharePoint.

There are also many reports of SharePoint deployment projects being derailed or having less than desired results. Some of these are related to a lack of features necessary for an organization, such as more robust records management or a more controlled repository, but many are because of the lack of SharePoint governance.

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A SharePoint Governance model has the following components put in place to guide the development and use of a solution based on SharePoint:

  • People – roles and responsibilities
  • Policies – a collection of principles and guidelines on what is and isn’t allowed
  • Processes – a how-to guide for common processes, such as site creation, changing site themes, etc.

Here are eight things you need to know about SharePoint governance:

  1. There is no easy button.

    Unlike the popular office supply company’s commercial where you push the button and get the comforting message, “That was easy,” you can’t push the easy button, and SharePoint governance suddenly appears. While there are tools and templates available (from both Microsoft and others) to help guide the process, it will take resources – people and time – to create a governance model for SharePoint in your organization.

  2. One size does not fit all.

    A SharePoint governance model for a Fortune 25 organization is different than one for a small business. A governance model must be adapted for the size of the organization. There are no “cookie-cutter approaches” for developing the governance model. You can certainly repurpose a governance model intended for a different size organization into your own, but it again takes people and time.

  3. It’s not rocket science.

    On the other hand, creating a governance model for SharePoint is not an impossible task or one that will take months of effort and armies of consultants. You simply need to treat it like any other project - dedicate adequate resources to it and then decide what needs to be governed in your organization and how you want to govern it.

  4. You can do it now, or you can do it later – but you will do it.

    SharePoint governance is like the old TV commercial where the greasy mechanic says you can pay me now or you can pay me later, inferring that you will pay me eventually. The SharePoint governance model can be created while you have a new, pristine SharePoint farm or site collection, or you can do it after you have hundreds of sites and document libraries with no clear indication of what content exists in the various sites or why. It will take require more resources to do it later.

  5. Some options don’t have an “undo” button.

    Creating a SharePoint governance model will ensure the organization has thought through the various options and capabilities available in SharePoint and made intelligent choices based on their goals for the software. An organization has only one shot at several installation and configuration options unless a total reinstall is performed.

  6. Fewer silos instead of more.

    Many organizations implement SharePoint for basic content services and to gain better control of the content on their shared drives. The same AIIM survey referenced earlier indicated that 60% of the respondents use SharePoint for file sharing. Without SharePoint governance, there are no clear standards on the creation and use of sites and document libraries. Organizations can find themselves with more information silos after SharePoint instead of less that they planned for.

  7. It’s not just about the technology.

    Implementing new technology is certainly hard work, but the harder work is in changing the way people work. A governance model will help from the change management and usability standpoint of implementing SharePoint.

  8. You can have governance, or you can have chaos.

    Chaos in SharePoint looks like what many have called content sprawl – sites, sub-sites, and document libraries with junk and no clear ownership. It may also resemble the same content types with slightly different names or with different metadata. A governance model with some basic information architecture can help ensure consistency across the entire SharePoint site and guide how sites are commissioned, used, and decommissioned when no longer required.

Resist the urge of the IT department to just install it like any other Microsoft application – insert the CD and install it with the default settings. You need a governance model to:

  • Ensure the system is used as intended and aligns with business objectives
  • Reduce or eliminate replication and duplication of content and SharePoint sites.
  • Leverage existing content and promote reuse
  • Ensure the system is sustainable and scalable over time
  • Define responsibility for system management, administration and use from individual users to roles and groups


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About John Mancini

John Mancini is the President of Content Results, LLC and the Past President of AIIM. He is a well-known author, speaker, and advisor on information management, digital transformation and intelligent automation. John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of more than 30 eBooks on a variety of topics. He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as jmancini77. Recent keynote topics include: The Stairway to Digital Transformation Navigating Disruptive Waters — 4 Things You Need to Know to Build Your Digital Transformation Strategy Getting Ahead of the Digital Transformation Curve Viewing Information Management Through a New Lens Digital Disruption: 6 Strategies to Avoid Being “Blockbustered” Specialties: Keynote speaker and writer on AI, RPA, intelligent Information Management, Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation. Consensus-building with Boards to create strategic focus, action, and accountability. Extensive public speaking and public relations work Conversant and experienced in major technology issues and trends. Expert on inbound and content marketing, particularly in an association environment and on the Hubspot platform. John is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William and Mary, and holds an M.A. in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.