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Governance of SharePoint Governance?

Governance might be one of the most overused terms in the SharePoint community. Governance exists at many levels in different organizations. There is corporate governance, legal governance, project governance, system governance and many more. SharePoint governance might fall under system governance. It is a small piece of what might be a much bigger effort. If you agree that most often SharePoint governance discussions are a sub-topic of system governance, specifically one of many systems in our organization we can begin to break governance issues down to small efforts.

I am not in the camp which believes governance drives user adoption. Some believe If you don’t take time to create a plan for user adoption, you may not be successful in getting users “on board” during a SharePoint delpoyment. I might submit this enabling process is more a requirements gathering and training effort. I am not convinced it is a good idea to combine requirements gathering and training plans with a SharePoint governance document. If training and adoption require governance I might make this part of my overall project governance as they are requirements of many successful projects of any type. Organizations tend to confuse process orientated artifacts like implementation plans, project plans, user requirements and training plans with governance. Take a moment to Bing! “project governance –SharePoint”, “corporate governance –SharePoint” to see examples of each. If a SharePoint deployment project fails due to lack of governance it is often a failure to control project governance, not SharePoint governance which leads to failure.

An interesting exercise might be to Bing! your governance topic without the word SharePoint. for example “taxonomy governance –sharepoint”. If you get lots and lots of good information, examples and third party systems then it probably should have it’s own governance separate from SharePoint governance. This may be confusing as you may implement your taxonomy using the SharePoint platform however others might consider taxonomy to be a ubiquitous system or business process as it spans many levels of the company. Another good example might be Bing! “business intelligence governance –sharepoint”. Ask any large financial company if their business intelligence governance falls under SharePoint governance. You may be surprised at the answers you receive.

Of course you should plan and document SharePoint governance as needed. I believe this process can be simple as identifying responsibilities and roles to maintain uptime, performance and compliance. Like a content type governance should be hierarchal. We inherent governance attributes from our corporate, legal, and system governance then simply add the SharePoint structure. The tricky part may be identifying these existing governance artifacts and processes. You may see others in your organization use different titles for governance, like business process model, system planning, corporate strategy, etc.

Ideally your SharePoint governance document will be very concise and clearly stated for executives and information technology workers. Remember if you can’t enforce a governance process perhaps you shouldn’t document it. Don’t make your company liable by creating a detailed governance plan that can’t be enforced. Don’t get paralyzed in this governance process. Do it and move on. It will require the least of your effort and, of all the tasks you perform during a deployment the governance document is the easiest to change.

If you don’t have corporate, project and system governance why would you consider SharePoint governance? Have the “powers that be” focus on these efforts first and when they finish add your bit about SharePoint down at the leaf level. Structuring corporate governance around any software product seems ineffective at best.

Know the organization, understand the existing business processes and existing governance and then provide a solution that empowers the organization to compete. If governance doesn’t exist in your organization today then don’t delay the need for a swift effective solution with a bureaucratic governance process, which most likely can’t be enforced anyway.


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