SharePoint Governance - Overhyped and Not Understood

By Bill English posted 08-24-2012 16:15


Over the last six months or so, I have taken the time to learn about corporate governance through the reading of books, industry association articles and talking with others in public corporate ledership.

I've learned that what most within the SharePoint community call "governance" should rightly be called "management".

Putting together policies and enforcing them is not governance.  It's management.  Governance, properly understood, is tied to risk and compliance.  If you don't have an identified risk that is mitigated by defined actions (compliance), then you don't have governance (the enforcement of compliance).

I've noticed that most of the information being pumped into the market today about governance is immature.  The reality is the technical people who know the SharePoint platform well don't necessarily understand business and how it operates.  I've come to see SharePoint as a business operations platform that consists of a cluster of technologies that support disparate, yet dependent processes.  There is significant risk to the organization if SharePoint is implemented in a way that is inconsistent with the organization's model, culture, values, long-term vision and/or short-term vision.  The problems implementing SharePoint are not about the technology - they are nearly uniformly about the business.

Dysfunction in the business model or culture will surface as a technical problem when SharePoint is implemented.  It's interesting that the adoption groups within a company are usually following a pattern of the more technical groups adopting first, with the slowest-to-change groups adopting last.  Age has something to do with adoption patterns too, but a poor implementation that is rejected at the adoption layer is nearly always due to a poor connection of the platform to a dysfunctional business climate.

Governance isn't going to solve this problem.  Instead, the implementation of SharePoint governance will surface systemic problems in the business itself.  It will be easy to blame the software rather than taking a hard look at one's own business to see where the dysfunction resides.

I'm saddened by all the governance hype.  It's a profitable way for consulting companies and organizations to (unwittingly, perhaps) lead their customers astray.  Governance, by itself, is not the answer.  Fixing the business culture will fix most of the problems with SharePoint.

I honestly wish I had a day to explain all this.  At the end of it, you would have the tools and roadmap necessary to achieve a great SharePoint implementation by working on the dysfunction in the business itself.  It's not difficult to understand, but I'm finding it's pretty difficult to implement.

Ping me offline if youw want to learn more.

Bill English, CEO

#Hype #the #governance #SharePoint #sharepoint #Avoid


10-03-2012 13:32

To be more succinct, your SharePoint governance is as much about the business as it is about the platform. What people don't get is that SharePoint is, essentially, a business operations platform that assumes ambient maturity in process and policy. In most organizations, this simply isn't true. The more I look at this, the more convinced I am that SharePoint consulting is tantamount to business consulting.

10-02-2012 18:45

The academic part of me wants to agree with the Governance definition/position, but as I reflect on it I suspect that management is 80% of what organisations actually need first - only when they are really mature and ahve the management bit cracked is governance appropriate. Management is such a tired term, however, that governance might be better as a way to focus attention on 'doing SharePoint right'.
I totally agree with point that implementations can surface the rocks on a business; however, as we touched on at ISC, this can be a tool in itself. Sometimes fixing the business culture is by exposing the problems.

09-28-2012 04:52

Hi Bill,
Great post on one of my favorite topics concerning SharePoint implementations. I think your analysis is to the point. At the same time i tend to think that there is definitely truth in the urge to pay more attention to SharePoint governance than is usually done with implemantations of dedicated software (like a 'documentmanagement system' e.g.). i don't care if you call this governance or management, but from my perspective and experience, managing a platform like SharePoint with such a great variety of office functions asks for a new way to control the development and management of it's many features. You are right that organizations are often not flexible enough to share these controls in between the many functions and departments that often are involved in SharePoint governance (or management). where SharePoint was traditionally used as a intranet platform, controlled by the Internal Communications Department, you will find that conflict and misunderstanding is just waiting to happen when recordsmanagement kicks in, influencing many functions across the system. You are right that a cultural problem is underneath this all, as recordmanagers, business, communication and IT need to get to know each others knowledge and responsibilities, where this lacks in many places. But the rise of a multi-featured platform as SharePoint makes, that NOT implementing a decent Governance Plan is - quote from Microsoft :-) - 'a clear recipe for disaster'.

08-31-2012 03:44

Solid food for thought, this one. You've hit a couple of points which have been submersed somewhere in my brain as I've been looking at our own drafts of Sharepoint governance. Organizational readiness is a softer and more used term, but organizational dysfunction highlights other necessary aspects. Thanks for the post.