Why is a strong governance policy so important for controlling SharePoint?
As the usage of SharePoint expands and evolves in an organisation, it is easy for the vast quantities of unstructured data generated to make the platform cumbersome and inefficient. For this reason, a governance policy is needed to control the growth of data in a way that is easy for IT departments to manage.
One of the biggest challenges within SharePoint is accountability. While one person may be responsible for creating a SharePoint site today, as they move to a different role, there is a risk that the site will be left without electing someone to take over responsibility for its upkeep. This can mean that sites quickly become inefficient, forcing users to find other ways of sharing data. A key part of a SharePoint governance policy is therefore to allocate responsibility and ensure this duty is maintained. This is something that can be difficult to control with SharePoint’s out-of-the-box features, which can make third-party governance tools appealing.
How should an organisation develop a SharePoint governance policy? How closely should it align to the overall business strategy?
Every single governance policy in the organisation should align with the business strategy. A SharePoint governance plan, just like one for any other piece of software, should match the aims of the business. Therefore, it helps to possess a corporate or executive sponsor who can support and help enforce the plan. If you try to enforce rules and regulations from the bottom up, no one will pay any attention. The most effective way is to have the corporate board and IT department implementing those rules from the top down.
What are the key first steps when introducing a governance strategy?
When developing the policy, keep in mind that the plan will define the relationship between a business arm that wants solutions and an IT arm that has to overcome challenges. Setting expectations and boundaries in the governance plan can therefore help manage the relationship between both.
When introducing a governance strategy, define how long the introduction will take to build out – not just the creation, but how the plan will be communicated and how the business will enforce the policies within the plan. By setting expectations for what both sides can and can’t do, problems can be dealt with quickly and easily when they arise.
What is one of the most common pain points that organisations face when deploying or maintaining a SharePoint deployment, and how can a governance policy help?
Many companies face challenges with the back up and restoration aspects of SharePoint. While SharePoint has built-in data protection capabilities, businesses rarely go through the disaster recovery scenario to check that they can get back up to speed within a certain timeframe in the event of a disruption.
The purpose of a governance plan in this case would be to define how long a recovery would take with the current hardware and software capabilities. If the business thinks that it will take too long, then a discussion can take place to work out what IT needs to expedite the recovery. Then, when the unexpected does happen, the IT department knows what the process should be to avoid disruption and can set a timeframe to restore functionality with confidence that the business will support them.
How often should a business review its governance strategy?
A lot of organisations say they will review their policy every quarter, but realistically that is too short a period of time to understand what needs to change. Instead, businesses usually review their policy once or twice a year.
However, the key to measuring the success of a policy is to establish metrics up front that the business can track. Without this, there is no hard evidence to support any conclusions. With that said, measuring metrics within SharePoint can be difficult. That is why most businesses purchase third-party solutions to assist in this process.
What features should customers look for when deploying a governance solution for Microsoft SharePoint?
When buying a third-party solution, it is imperative to find something that employees can use intuitively without training. For example, with our DocAve platform, we’ve built our service catalogue so that end users only see the areas that they need for a specific function.
If a governance policy states that someone working in Sales can create a site for a customer but needs approval from two senior staff members to do so, employees working in Human Resources will not see the same service request. We create dynamic interfaces that are based on the person logged in, which makes request forms really simple and only showing the fields they need to complete.
How can a governance policy help companies deal with future trends in the industry?
I expect future versions of SharePoint will have different modes in which people can work. There will be the usual office mode; remote office mode where you might have an hour to work at an airport or in a remote location; and a commuting mode, where you only have a few minutes to perform a task on the go. Collaboration amidst these three modes will require different ways of working with SharePoint. In that respect, a governance policy can help define procedures for different areas such as enforcing mobile devices to have stricter security measures, helping the IT department make sense of a fragmenting, mobile workplace.