In my first two blog posts, I attempted to define governance and explain how to prepare your entire organisation - business, IT, etc. - for implementing IT governance. This sets the stage well for today’s topic, which is arranging your governance board and answering common questions all employees will likely have when trying to utilise your SharePoint implementation.
First, it’s time to assign the troops to lead the charge on governance. If your company has a board of directors, it will likely consist of the major stakeholders from key departments that you would need involved. Use common sense here: If your implementation involves people, then human resources should have a seat at the table. Additionally, if SharePoint’s intention is to protect and preserve legal records, ensure that someone from the legal team is a member as well.
It’s important to recognise that your organisation may already have other governance plans that are owned and enforced by various business units. When you’re crafting your SharePoint governance plan, it’s essential that it aligns with these other plans - otherwise you will create the very silos that you’re trying to break by implementing an enterprise content management platform like SharePoint.
It’s a delicate balance, though: You want to be inclusive, but you don’t want your board to grow so large that you have death-by-committee syndrome. I’ve found that it’s best to limit the count to no more than 10 people on your committee.
Once you establish who will be a part of your governance committee, it’s important to come together and answer common questions that end-users will likely have when they are trying to utilise the new platform. Why? Let’s be honest, change is hard. It’s difficult to convince workers to accept and properly use a new system. If you don’t effectively tackle the adoption challenge, your SharePoint implementation will never reach its full potential. Consequently, your governance plan needs to provide clear guidance on how SharePoint should be used and who should be doing what. Think of it as a recipe.
In my experience, the best way to write this “recipe” is to answer common questions that will come to the fore, including (but certainly not limited to):
- Where do I store this type of document?
- How do I apply metadata to classify this document?
- Who owns this content and what are this person’s responsibilities?
- Should I still store files on the file server?
- How and when do I create a new website?
- How do I find/publish/protect/preserve/expire/recover content?
No two SharePoint deployments are alike, so take care to answer questions that are specifically geared to how your organisation will use the platform. Also, when you’re answering the “how” questions, don’t take the easy way out and publish the how-to-do-this-in-SharePoint answer - this is your opportunity to prescribe exactly how to utilize SharePoint in a way that will support your organisation’s specific business goals. This is not a place to cut corners.
In terms of questions around ownership and responsibilities, make it clear that users understand and are empowered to fulfill their duties. SharePoint often creates new roles which need to be filled by new or reallocated employees, so ensure that those who are responsible for content areas have special rules such as security or data quality.
Lastly, a well-written guide is worthless if it isn’t easily found or evangelized - a great place to publish it is as a FAQ within SharePoint. Make the governance plan a core piece of your training plan - and do so in a way that is practical. Don’t just give the basic SharePoint 101 presentation and hand over the keys to the kingdom - train users on how they will use SharePoint to perform their specific, daily tasks.
I sincerely hope that making knowledge workers’ jobs easier is one of the business goals of your SharePoint implementation - by showing them how it will make their job easier, you will be able to sell them on the deployment and make them your advocates instead of adversaries.
In my final blog post on governance, I’ll tackle the issues of enforcing your plan and keeping it fresh and relevant to ever-changing business needs.
By Jeremy Thake, AvePoint