Sharepoint: The battle against content proliferation

Allowing Microsoft SharePoint grass-roots adoption from the bottom up can help to encourage wider use when compared with limited use-case environments, but this doesn’t come without governance challenges. “Work harder.”...

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Allowing Microsoft SharePoint grass-roots adoption from the bottom up can help to encourage wider use when compared with limited use-case environments, but this doesn’t come without governance challenges.

“Work harder.” “Do more with less.” “I needed that project completed yesterday!”

Sound familiar? Sure it does.

In today’s extremely competitive business landscape, enterprises are forced to become more agile and stay ahead of the innovation curve in order to improve their bottom lines.

Since many organisations do not have the luxury of hiring more people to meet this challenge amidst a tough economy, they are turning to technology in order to help empower the existing knowledge workers to help them better collaborate in order to not just meet, but exceed their business aspirations.

Microsoft SharePoint is a leading collaboration platform to help organisations meet this need by:

  • Increasing productivity by giving people quick and easy access to the business information they need to complete their tasks
  • Lowering costs with a unified platform and infrastructure for companies’ portal, document management, collaboration, intranet, extranet and internet sites
  • Rapidly responding to business needs with out-of-the-box applications and a highly scalable platform for solutions to meet organisations’ unique requirements

With new and enhanced social features, records management capabilities, and simplified application development in Microsoft SharePoint 2010, many enterprises have adopted the platform in order to improve collaboration among their often distributed workers.

Many SharePoint deployments start small in scope - many starting to use it as a content repository, then moving on to use it for team and project collaboration and, eventually, if all goes well SharePoint becomes a full-blown enterprise content management system that powers a global enterprise. The ease with which users can create their own document libraries, team sites and project pages is a blessing for user adoption, but could be a curse for successful IT governance. Considering that a recent report from Gartner Research predicts that 20 percent of Chief Information Officers in regulated industries will lose their jobs for failing to successfully implement the discipline of information governance, the stakes have never been greater.

Think about it: If any user can create their own team sites, document libraries and more in SharePoint, that means there could be a bevy of content uploaded, metadata established, workflows set in place that are in no way consistent with organisational policies or compliance regulations. So not only could sprawl cause your CIO to lose her job, but your enterprise could also face litigation for compliance failure.

You want to encourage your workers to continue using SharePoint, because if it’s locked down too tightly they will revert to getting their jobs done by any means necessary, negating the very reason for which you purchased SharePoint.

So now that you’ve come to a crossroads, which way do you go?

In response, many organisations look to define policies, metadata, approval processes, permissions, and auditing parameters associated with SharePoint management tasks, including site provisioning and maintenance to meet their specific business needs. In sum, automate the implementation and enforcement of governance policies. Because SharePoint is so extensible and customisable, many enterprises decide to custom code governance solutions. However, I’ve found in my work with organisations worldwide that this is not without risk, as all custom code must be documented and supported internally.

Another option is to look for third-party vendors who offer automated, end-to-end SharePoint service and information management solutions that will support the approval processes and comprehensive reporting you crave in order to define, implement, and enforce SharePoint governance policies and close the custom code gap. Why take the time, resource, and money to build, maintain and support custom solutions internally when you can automate controls for governance policy implementation and enforcement?

It’s time to focus again on your business, instead of losing your precious time and resources to manually enforce governance across the entire enterprise. It’s time to live up to another common work adage that maybe you haven’t heard as much lately: “Work smarter, not harder.”

Posted by Jeremy Thake, AvePoint

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