With my background building and running project and product management organizations, I have some definite ideas about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to SharePoint governance. Most of the questions I am asked on this topic actually have little to do with the technology, but in how to get one’s arms around this governance thing.
Where do you start? What is the overhead? What are the costs? Do we have the right internal resources? Can we outsource to a consultant? Is there a tried-and-true template? What can we automate? What are the best-practices?
In my experience, one mistake is forcing a heavy governance model onto SharePoint as a quick-fix, especially if its outside of the way you already do business. Many organizations (well, the managers and administrators within those orgs) love the idea of adopting a formal, structured model for managing SharePoint. Using the hammer of governance, everything looks like a nail. But the model you follow needs to match the culture of the teams within, otherwise you run the danger of killing organic growth, and limiting the overall success of your SharePoint platform. While SharePoint allows strict control of content and sites and permissions to both, you need to wield this power carefully so that the user experience is good.
It can be fairly discouraging when you realize the governance effort in front of you, and you don’t yet have a plan in place. Unfortunately, simply moving to the newest version of the platform won’t cure the headaches. In fact, in many cases, upgrading to the newest version of any application only increases the headaches by adding new features, changing known features, and requiring more oversight and management and training.
While SharePoint 2013 (and SharePoint Online, for that matter) go a long way in helping you to manage your environment and, as a direct result, improve user adoption and satisfaction by improving their ability to find content, you still have to do the hard work to get your organization to that point. There’s no way around this.
However, you don’t need to wait until your formal planning around SharePoint 2013 to start – you can just as easily begin that work now while on SharePoint 2010 (or an older version), helping to streamline your pending upgrade and better understand how to improve management of that future system by cleaning up and organizing what you have in place today. More importantly, by tackling governance now, your new SharePoint design will more closely match the needs of your business, thereby dramatically improving customer adoption and satisfaction with your new system when finally rolled out.
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