What Is Sharepoint Governance And Why Its So Essential
Governance is the set of rules, policies, roles, processes, and procedures around using SharePoint Online in your organization.
SharePoint governance is an integral part of SharePoint deployment and cant be ignored.
- Assets and liabilities: Sensitive data is wide-ranging, and can include a number of personal details and well as confidential corporate information that, if leaked, could seriously compromise your operations.
- External sharing: Our internal data shows a significant increase in external sharing. Considering the rise in cybercrime, you need to stay in control of the who, what, where, and when of external sharing without hindering user productivity.
- Compliance management: SharePoint has many features to help with IT compliance management such as auditing tools and role-based permissions. Configuring SharePoint for compliance management will go a long way to helping you meet compliance requirements and regulations.
We recommend forming a governance steering committee that includes stakeholders from across your organization and that meets regularly to discuss risks, governance strategy, and any steps you need to take to keep data secure in your organizations intranet.
And since governance is a living, breathing thing that evolves as your organizations business divisions undergo continuous growth, your plan should be reviewed whenever new features and updates are introduced.
Creating A Sharepoint Governance Framework
A SharePoint governance framework is a system with formal usage guidelines, rules, regulations, dos and don’ts in the environment controlling how the IT teams and departments work together to achieve business goals. A SharePoint governance framework should consist of:
A Governance Plan This is a formal document outlining the rules around the platform’s usage. The plan helps monitor the activities of different users and maintain security while keeping the system compliant with regulations and standards.
A Governance Committee It is a team that reviews, monitors, and revises governance rules for SharePoint at regular intervals.
User Communication The SharePoint governance plan is created for users who decide the success or failure of the system. An effective governance plan is centered around user communication.
Though every organization has unique requirements deciding the specifics of a SharePoint governance plan, here are some of the indispensable components of a robust governance plan.
Essential Elements Of Sharepoint Intranet Governance
In the past, weve written extensively about the elements you need to include in your intranet governance framework, as well as governance for other 365 tools such as Microsoft Teams. In this post, were going to explore some of the primary elements you need for SharePoint intranet governance, although there may be additional elements needed depending on what you use your SharePoint intranet for.
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Understand Why You Are Using Sharepoint For Your Business
Remember, we are not building this SharePoint Governance Plan for ourselves nor are we doing it strictly for IT. SharePoint is there to help the business and thats what the Governance Plan is there for, to help the business use the platform. If we plan to make different business site templates available for our users, we first need to know what they would need it for. My experience shows that its best to start with one or two and let it grow with time, for you to see how people are using SharePoint or what they need from it.
Notice I said « business site template »? A common mistake, made especially by us geeks, is to instantly think of SharePoint site templates. But fact is, it doesnt matter. Since the Governance Plan is to help guide the business to better utilize SharePoint in some way, its important not to confuse our business users with SharePoint terms.
So before you go any further, make sure you know what you plan to do with SharePoint.
What Is A Sharepoint Governance Plan And Who Writes It
Lets get some definitions out of the way. If we want to build a Governance Plan, we first need to understand what it is exactly and what purpose it serves. When I start my document, after the title and main presentation page, the first thing you will see is a summary and the objectives of the plan I am writing. Essentially, the summary is the definition of a Governance Plan:
The SharePoint Governance Plan is a guidebook outlining the administration, maintenance, and support of X Corporations SharePoint environments. It identifies lines of ownership for both business and technical teams, defining who is responsible for what areas of the system. Furthermore it establishes rules for appropriate usage of the SharePoint environments.
Recognize the text? It comes from Microsofts sample governance plan but is a great way to start off ours as well.
But then, who should be in charge of writing this important document? The question I am often asked is Should it be done by the Business or by IT? and my answer is simple. It should be done by whomever is most knowledgeable on the SharePoint Platform and in most cases, thats IT.
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Content Roles And Responsibilities
Another key element of SharePoint intranet governance is the associated content roles and responsibilities. This might include establishing who is responsible for central content areas like your homepage, news centre and lists of apps and tools, as well as detailing the responsibilities and tasks of local publishers and individual page owners at a site or section level. Part of establishing content roles is ensuring there is clear and visible ownership of every page, driving accountability for your content.
What Is Sharepoint Governance
Though the term governance might confuse you, it simply refers to creating transparent processes that help stakeholders in understanding their roles and duties. As per Microsoft, the definition of SharePoint governance is The set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that guides, directs, and controls how an organizations business divisions and IT teams cooperate to achieve business goals.
If you search on the internet, you will find many definitions for SharePoint governance including SharePoint governance tools. Nonetheless, the underlying fact is that it is a set of policies that guides and directs the organization about using any software or IT product to improve efficiency and productivity.
An ideal SharePoint governance plan helps the organization assign roles and responsibilities to stakeholders, help meet business needs, and directs different divisions and teams to cooperate and achieve business goals.
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Putting It All Together As Sharepoint Site Template Definitions In Your Governance
To be able to get to where we are now, weve made sure we understand the need for SharePoint and what we plan to do with it, listed the site templates, defined site management policies and even retention rules. We can now create our Site Template Definitions and serve it to our business users in a format that can easily be read and understood. In my next article, Ill talk about the user agreement as well as putting the Site Requests and Site Template Definitions together into your process in a way that makes sense. For now, you should be able to create an easy to read table with all the information, one that fits your organization of course. Once you have this, youll be able to decide whether the information is sufficient or if youll need more.
You may start to realize why its also important to have someone who knows how SharePoint works to build a Governance Plan. Setting these guidelines can be easy enough on paper, but how will they be technically created to fit the need is another story. A shameless plug, but I will because its free right now, is the . You can easily make sure Sites, Lists and Libraries or Documents respect some your policies.
If you can visualize your Site Request form with fields asking the business user or whomever what site he wants. Then for that person to quickly jump with a hyperlink to the Governance Wiki that shows this table for him and understand what it is and what it comes with, but most importantly what can or cannot be done for each.
Relation To Other M365 Channels
Office 365 and Microsoft 365 tools are increasingly integrated, and have some overlapping capabilities. In terms of governance, it helps to map out the relationship between SharePoint and other tools and channels in terms of integrations, user experience and which tools gets used for what content and communications. For example, you may want to delineate between when Teams gets used for more local, team-focused content and when your SharePoint intranet gets used for content that is of wider interest.
You may want to clarify the relationship between Yammer and SharePoint when do you use SharePoint commenting, and when do you use Yammer? How are Yammer sites integrated? The future relationship between your intranet and Viva Connections may also need to be decided, as well as how you evaluate and introduce future additional tools and features to the 365 suite.
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Security And Information Management
Your governance plan should not only include what should be posted on the intranet â but it should also include guidelines for content that should not be posted on the intranet. You may be able to enforce some policies using automated information protection capabilities, but you will want to provide training and guidance for site owners and content authors to ensure that they understand their responsibilities when it comes to security and information management for both sites and content.
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What Is Information Architecture
Information architecture determines how the information in that site or solutionâits webpages, documents, lists, and dataâis organized and presented to the site’s users. Information architecture is often recorded as a hierarchical list of content, search keywords, data types, and other concepts.
Assess your organization’s information architecture to make it as efficient as possible: A comprehensive assessment of your organization’s information architecture can help you identify efficiencies, such as the following:
Use metadata to make it easier to search for and compare related data or content.
Manage versions and records to ensure that you can tell which is the authoritative version of a document.
Catalog and store information properly so decision-makers can find and rely on the right data.
Design navigation and present information so that users can find important sites and information.
Integrate your information architecture with your environment’s search strategy, so your users can find the right information. Information architecture includes the wireframe and site map, search and navigation, managed metadata tags, and content types.
Define a publishing strategy: distribute authoring tasks and use cross-site publishing to control the design of the site and display of the content.
Good information architecture supports the following goals:
Questions to ask when you design a site or solution:
How To Create An Effective Sharepoint Governance Plan
However, many companies fail to achieve desired outcomes and results from SharePoint. There might be many reasons for that. However, the primary reason might be the lack of a formal and effective SharePoint governance plan.
When you buy a new software product in your company, multiple stakeholders have assigned roles and responsibilities. Similarly, when you install SharePoint, you need to design a SharePoint online governance plan with a clear set of roles and responsibilities for each stakeholder. If not, it might create chaos in the organization as the stakeholders dont have any ideas about the responsibilities they share. It is for this reason that SharePoint governance is essential.
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Site Provisioning And Decommissioning
A key intranet governance decision involves determining who can create a new intranet site. Your modern intranet architecture will be âflatâ which means that your intranet will contain many sites. Do you want to provide a self-service model for new intranet sites or do you want to manage site creation through a form submission and workflow? There is no right answer to this question â but no matter which approach you choose, you need to think about governance. There are two popular solutions to governing new site creation:
Implement a site request process for intranet sites
You can easily hide the option to create a new site in the . If you do so, you will want to create a process for users to request a new intranet site. Having a request process makes it easy to review and track site requests and ensures that your environment remains âtidy,â but if your review and approval process takes too long, it could be frustrating for your users. Your provisioning process can leverage a site design to ensure consistency or you can manually create sites to follow your design patterns. A key part of your provisioning process will be to ensure that new site owners have the appropriate guidance and training that they need to be successful when you fulfill their site requests.
Allow self-service site creation
Terms Of Usage And Other Policies
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How To Use A Sharepoint Governance Plan
So you have a plan. Now what?
First, make sure your governance committee has discussed every page and approves it being accepted as the companys new governing document for SharePoint. Review it as a committee on a quarterly basis to make sure its still serving its intended purpose and is staying updated.
Get the word out. Use your governance committee to help you communicate its publication throughout the company in members various departments. Write up an article for email distribution and/or your SharePoint home page highlighting members completed work on the plan. Perhaps an open session or town hall to reveal the plan and hold Q& A would be useful.
Print it | Post it | Share it | Makes us | Harder | Better | Faster | Stronger
Encourage organization-wide feedback via form or email. Follow up on suggestions and questions to encourage end users to continue being an engaged adopter and active participant in the SharePoint realm.
Continue communicating with your company through multiple channels on later modifications changes to keep everyone on the same page and minimize ambiguity/confusion.
Aside from communication, its important that you act as a role model in adhering to whats written in the plan and referring back to it when answering questions or doing consultations for new projects. Keep the document alive and relevant by using it as intended on a regular basis.
Start By Listing The Business Site Templates In Your Governance Plan
The SharePoint Governance Plan will have a lot more information than just the Title and Description of your site templates. However, for now thats what we should start with to get us in the right direction. Depending on your business need, list the site templates you plan to work with in your SharePoint.
An example of site templates in a governance plan could be:
A site for members to quickly create and collaborate on usually short-term projects.
A site meant for users to test any kind of actions before applying them in their own production site.
A site tailored to a specific business process that usually requires custom development.
I cannot stress this enough, its not because they are called Team Sites or Community Sites that they refer to the SharePoint Templates. These are simply what they planned to be named in our business, thats what the Governance Plan is here for, to help us set these guidelines. As an example, the Team site, Community site and the Sandbox site could all be using exactly the same SharePoint template with differences only in permissions for each of them. At this point, the SharePoint Site Template we plan to use is irrelevant and in most cases, I barely even mention that in my SharePoint Governance Plan.
**Note: Something I dont mention enough in this SharePoint Governance series of articles is that each step should be done by specific people. Remember when we identified the Roles and Responsibilities in Part 1?
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Setting Up A Sharepoint Governance Plan
While the specifics of your governance plan depends on your companys individual requirements, here is a list of some of the must-have components of a great governance plan:
Roles and Responsibilities
Everyone employee needs to be aware of and responsible enough to fulfill their roles and responsibilities. Your governance plan must be designed while keeping in mind the roles and responsibilities of each of your employees. This will make the access right distributions and permission levels quite easy to set up and handle. This enhances employee ownership while ensuring that every situation can be handled with proper reporting and auditing.
Policies and Procedures
These are the essences of your SharePoint governance plan. They are the rules that define what a user can and cannot do in SharePoint. This includes multiple permission levels ranging right from simple situations such as who can edit what, to higher-level access and admin rights.
Things might go wrong. You cant expect everything to run smoothly. When things go wrong, its important to have a way to restore it to the previous versions quickly and effectively.
Branding is extremely important for an organizations identity. Your SharePoint sites need to be uniform in both function and form. This means that your sites and pages should have a consistent look or Branding
Training & Implementation