SharePoint Governance: Just Another Cog in the Machine?

No 2 governance plans will be the same, but there are 3 specific areas every organization should focus on.

Liam Cleary

October 24, 2013

5 Min Read
SharePoint Governance: Just Another Cog in the Machine?

By Richard Harbridge

With IT departments tasked with managing people, processes, policies and technical requirements, your organization’s enterprise collaboration governance policy must be powerful enough to ensure simplified and respected management across all business areas.

But how do you put together a successful SharePoint governance plan that also shows how fundamental IT is to your organization’s collaboration success?

No two governance plans will be the same, but there are three specific areas every organization should focus on. These three governance areas are SharePoint operations, SharePoint development, and SharePoint support, and will be key to ensuring a successful deployment and optimal collaboration.

#1: Operations - Provide Tactical Operation Planning and Coordination

The purpose of this governance step is to see how an organization’s SharePoint operations group can improve, and what practical advice can be given for how the organization can better manage their SharePoint deployments.

This step is generally carried out by the same group or team of people, who will perform nightly backups, performance monitoring and analysis, and ensure the environment is current with security releases and upgrades.

With the goal of operational excellence in mind, the team will also be sure to document all of their plans and resolution strategies, while meeting to discuss SharePoint challenges on a regular basis.

Some examples of providing tactical operation planning and coordination would be as follows:

·        SharePoint Operations Kick-off Meeting: Determine the current state of operational readiness, and identify what gaps must be closed to support the SharePoint technology roadmap of implementation of SharePoint solutions.

·        SharePoint Environment Planning:An ongoing tactical activity, the operations team must ascertain the current state of the SharePoint environment as well as what the desired future state of the environment should be, and what must be done to achieve that future state.

·        SharePoint Maintenance Planning:Often ongoing and repeated based on operational usage and need, this involves keeping SharePoint healthy, up to date, and ready to support demand being placed upon it.

RELATED: Architecting SharePoint Governance

#2: Development - Provide Tactical Development Planning and Coordination

This step is necessary to learn how an organization’s SharePoint development group can improve, and to provide advice for how an organization can effectively manage its SharePoint development.

SharePoint development is driven by the need to achieve business objectives, so as the business finds successes in the implementation of SharePoint-based solutions, it may be necessary to devote more resources to development.

The governance activities within this step are handled by a team or loose knit community of ranging skill levels, where the goal is to encourage the sharing of best practices and experience between more mature developers and those who are still learning their way around common SharePoint challenges.

Some examples of providing tactical development planning and coordination would be as follows:

·        SharePoint Development Kick-off Meeting: Determine the current state of development readiness, and identify which gaps must be closed to support the SharePoint technology roadmap and implementation of SharePoint solutions.

·        Development Patterns & Practices Discussions: This may be needed for larger organizations/implementations where resources need to be able to be backup or fill in for another resource. This will allow for SharePoint developers to share their techniques, examine what is working, and show what hasn’t worked to avoid duplication of effort.

·        Application Lifecycle and Deployment Planning:Done during or in parallel with the operations activity of defining a SharePoint plan.

#3: Support - Provide Tactical Support Planning and Coordination

This is one of the most challenging steps in a governance plan because of how broadly it relates to SharePoint usage, SharePoint maturity, and what the organization would like to achieve by using the platform.

The end goal though is to determine how an organization’s SharePoint support group can improve, and to learn how the organization can support SharePoint more effectively.

While a team approach generally works for operations or development, support is more difficult because of the need for specific roles, structure, and responsibility.

When thinking about which employees would fill these roles at your organization, remember to think of a tiered system of escalation, training, and empowerment.

This could begin with Learning Libraries and Online Help, then escalate in order to Power Users, Site Administrators, Help Desk, and finally, Tactical Support Team.

Some examples of providing tactical development planning and coordination would be as follows:

·        Information Architect Planning: How an organization might approach the planning for, and defining of, the right information architecture for them.

·        Content Planning: Knowing what is contained in SharePoint will be critical to supporting it, so it is necessary to understand the content, and optimize the storage and usage of this content whenever possible.

·        User Permissions and Security Planning: What happens when a new user is brought into the environment, and what happens when they are removed from the environment? How will their permissions be scaled and optimized?


This is just a small portion of what is needed in a complete and comprehensive governance plan, but these three sections should not be overlooked.


Richard Harbridge is an internationally recognized expert in Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365. He has defined, architected, developed and implemented well over 100 SharePoint solutions from small implementations on a single server to over 80,000+ user implementations in international organizations. To dive deeper into organizational governance needs, take a look at the “SharePoint Governance: A Definitive Guide” whitepaper Harbridge wrote with Jeremy Thake, Vice President of Global Product Innovation, AvePoint and Randy Williams, Director of AvePoint Client services.


About the Author(s)

Liam Cleary

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