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Using the new year to reassess Microsoft SharePoint deployments

Risk, privacy and compliance concerns within SharePoint shoot up the priority list

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Every year brings about an itch to set new personal goals to achieve. 2013 will be no different for the average organisation, particularly in terms of business goals for their use of SharePoint. 

While the announcement of SharePoint 2013 may change the landscape, and plans may be put in place to upgrade the existing SharePoint environment, generally speaking same SharePoint governance policies will need to be discussed, agreed upon and enforced within the organisation.

The New Year is a chance for organisations to reassess existing policies and measure their effectiveness. To be able to measure the effectiveness, though, it is important that the correct metrics are being captured throughout the year. If after review these metrics are not useful or able to show success, a new method should be implemented.

A great example of this is that often there is a policy stating that no emails sent internally sent contain attachments, and that instead employees should use hyperlinks to SharePoint content. 

This approach would encourage “single source of the truth” document management and prevent an email thread of 15 users, all reviewing and editing the document and leaving the original author to merge these afterwards - a true sign of poor use of available tools for collaboration. 

Tracking the views and storage use of documents overall to highlight the increase in use of SharePoint could indicate a success here, but some organisations would also measure the amount of individual emails with attachments internally as a true measure of the policy being enforced. 

Along with accessing existing policies, new policies may arise due to new SharePoint workloads being introduced into the organisation or even a sudden surge in an existing workload that has highlighted some guidance needing defining. 

It is suggested that you have a SharePoint governance site that allows you to collaborate together on new and existing policies, which can also then be used to submit new ideas or discuss issues with how SharePoint is currently being governed with the users.

From my travels this year worldwide for industry conferences, I have spoken to many SharePoint customers who are seeing risk, privacy and compliance within SharePoint shoot up their priority list. The main reason for this is that SharePoint is being seen more and more as a business-critical document management system and, in some cases, more throughout the entirety of the lifecycle of the document to include records management.

This doesn’t just concern regulated organisations, and the costs associated with legal disputes and settlement are raising the stakes with CIOs. Protecting that content with regards to security management is the major concern, and organisations often don’t have the correct governance in place to ensure that the only right people can sensitive information. I believe in 2013, locking down SharePoint will be a tremendously huge - and fruitful - initiative to undertake.

By Jeremy Thake, AvePoint Chief Architect and Microsoft SharePoint MVP

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