Why is SharePoint governance such a popular topic? And why does it seem like there are so few SharePoint governance success stories in the market?
The answer lies in what I feel is a general misconception of what SharePoint governance is and how you should approach it. Although governance has been a hot topic for several years now, all too often these initiatives fail to drive any lasting change.
First, let’s define governance. Governance relates to the actions an organization takes and the decisions an organization makes in order to govern and manage a particular service. Governance is not a document, but documenting governance decisions is a good start when you need to create a shared understanding across your team.
Somewhere along the way, this notion came along that governance challenges could be solved by bringing in a consultant for a few weeks to produce some documentation containing all the answers—what I think of as “governance in a box.” It’s easy to sell, and it feels like it is solving something, but the feeling turns out to be very short term.
I believe this fallacy of solving governance with governance templates and documentation delivers only a temporary catharsis, but rarely drives any real change. I’ve found three keys needed to drive real governance with lasting change: training readiness, defining ownership, and establishing targets.
1. Training Readiness
Before you start, your team needs a base competency level with an understanding of the technology and its implications for your organization. You can work toward readiness though formal training, on-the-job experience or by engaging a trusted adviser to guide your team.
Part of readiness is preparing and training your users, as well, so they get the most out of SharePoint. You can offer training sessions or online tutorials. In addition, you can provide training materials for users by leveraging my free SharePoint end-user training guide.
Technical readiness to some level is necessary because, without it, your team won’t have the skills to take actions or the necessary information to make decisions—the two aspects of governance. Likewise, ownership is necessary to implement any actions and maintain any governance decisions your team makes.
2. Defining Ownership
I always say, the buck has to stop with someone—someone needs to hold ultimate accountability. If you establish a service level agreement (SLA), you can use that to document the scope of your SharePoint service, define ownership and communicate the escalation process.
A RACI matrix is my favorite tool to define ownership and ensure I haven’t left any gaps in support coverage. For each task, a RACI defines who is responsible for performing the work or making a decision, who holds ultimate accountability, who needs to be consulted ahead of the work, and who needs to be informed after it’s complete.
3. Establishing Targets
You’ve probably heard that old saying, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” You need something to aim toward, something measurable to identify when your SharePoint service is on or off course.
Your targets should include operational targets such as server performance metrics and service response times identified in an SLA, but also business objectives that define the purpose your SharePoint service aims to achieve.
Successful SharePoint Governance
Governance can feel like a daunting initiative. In my experience, it doesn’t need to be. By starting slowly and focusing on these three key areas, the most important aspects of governance naturally fall into place.
I’ve found by establishing readiness and ownership while defining targets to measure, you will address the most salient governance needs and create good practices. These governance habits will quickly add up to a sustainable and dynamic SharePoint service.