SharePoint sprawl, but with good intentions

By Christian Buckley posted 08-31-2011 20:20


I was born and raised in northern California, and have seen some dramatic changes to the state in the past 40 years. Like many other parts of the country (and in other population centers around the world), California has been in a constant state of growth, with houses and shopping centers and gas stations popping up in every direction, with seemingly little thought going into urban planning. While some cities attempted to control that spread, considering the impacts to environment, commutes, and culture, my guess is that these attempts happen a lot less frequently than you'd expect. Much of the time, it is quicker (and cheaper) to build out new rather than repurpose the old. And in our current economic climate, many municipalities are now having to deal with their short-sighted planning decisions.


See any parallels with your SharePoint environment?


Every out-of-control SharePoint environment started with the best of intentions. To be fair, the reality is that few IT initiative begin with clear cut goals in mind: the business problems to be solved, understanding of how this project is prioritized against other initiatives, how success will be measured. Even if you understand these fundamentals, most SharePoint deployments move forward without a solid governance model in place to guide you on your way.


There's a reason that SharePoint sprawl is so commonplace: we all want to experiment, kick the tires first, explore new ideas before making the decision to tackle something big. That's why WSS (the free version of SharePoint, now known as SharePoint Foundation) became so popular -- people installed it, quickly saw how useful it could be, and just kind of adopted it…..resulting in a bunch of "production" systems in your organization.


What generally happens with these quasi-production environments that people now depend on for their day-to-day jobs, is that someone, at some point, realizes that the current path cannot be sustained. That the company needs to get their arms around these environments, to simplify, to consolidate, to standardize. Many admins find themselves having to retroactively apply policies and procedures. Much like the city council coming together to figure out how to improve the quality of life in their community, SharePoint admins need to come together to examine what is working in the environment today, agree on a collective path forward, and then take action.


The first step is to always go back to the business drivers: what is it you are trying to achieve? Just remember that governance generally begins with an exercise in change management -- to help get your environment back on track. Give your community visibility into the change process, and the decisions being made around your environmental guidelines and policies for enforcement, and explain at every step how these fit into your plan toward meeting your larger IT and corporate goals. Governance is easier when everyone in the community has a voice, and participates.


I guess you could say it takes a village to run a successful SharePoint environment. ;-) 

#buckleyplanet #administration #SharePoint #sharepoint #governance