Five Ways to Make SharePoint Governance Sexy Again
Governance in the SharePoint realm is nothing new. It has, for the most part, become synonymous with any successful implementation. However, what IS new is the “application” of governance in the emerging cloud world. While introducing a myriad of features, Office 365 adds some complexity to our governance such as:
1. Allowing users to easily share information with external users
Within a few clicks a site can be enabled to allow sharing of content with any external user. Although this is can be a very powerful feature, not knowing what in your Office 365 environment has been shared with external users can also be a little scary.
For instance, Briana shares a project site with some selected vendors to distribute Request for Proposal artifacts. Briana ends up leaving the organization while the project continues with vendor selections. Once the vendors are selected, the project is now underway and no one notices that the project site is still being shared with additional vendors.
Unfortunately, we see scenarios like this quite often, and without governance in place this can go undetected. Your governance plan must cover topics such as, what type of content can be shared, how long should it be shared for, and how will these permissions be audited. A tool like Metalogix Essentials for Office 365 should be paired with your governance plan to easily allow administrators to audit permissions and catch scenarios like this.
2. Providing a platform that is constantly evolving with features and functionality
We are now in a world where the Office 365 platform is constantly evolving. This can mean major changes like the addition of brand new tools such as Planner or Groups or subtle changes like the ability to embed Office 365 Videos onto SharePoint pages.
This means the organization has to decide if it should allow this constant change to directly affect the end user or develop a method of channeling these changes/updates through a review process? Your governance plan should outline this review process. This means identifying who will be a part of the First Release group to review and evaluate tools/changes/features, and which group/individual decides whether it will be used within the organization. A great resource for keeping up with those changes is the Office 365 Roadmap site.
3. Providing several roles for the successful management of Office 365 in your organization
Depending on which products (Skype, Exchange, SharePoint, etc.) your organization are assigned there’s a need for many management roles to be filled. These roles ensure that different tasks are performed, and ongoing maintenance doesn’t fall through the cracks.
What I have seen work quite well to address these roles is using RACI charts. RACI charts are a great way to assign roles and responsibilities, for a quick overview on RACI charts click here. Below you can see a sample RACI chart that I have created to get an idea of what this can look like. Of course the roles and responsibilities must get further detailed as you go into the management of each technology. Again, managing licenses and roles within the Office 365 admin portal can be cumbersome, and that’s where a tool like Metalogix Essentials for Office 365 can help.
4. Providing specific patterns and practices for customizations in Office 365
Although it is possible to customize in SharePoint Online, how you customize is very important. Whether it is staying away from custom master pages or avoiding the newly deprecated sandbox solutions, it is important to follow the best practices for implementing any customizations within SharePoint Online. Your governance should reflect this by identifying the type of customizations allowed, and the person or group charged with keeping up with ever-evolving best practices.
5. Providing multiple tools to do similar tasks
A common issue people run into is figuring out when to use what tool in Office 365. Should we be using an Outlook Group for collaboration or spin up a SharePoint team site? There is no right or wrong answer.
The way to approach these scenarios is to evaluate the tool or combination of tools based on the needs of the situation. This in itself is an art form and a possible topic for a future post, but what I do want to emphasize is the role governance should play in this. Ideally your governance plan should outline at a high level, what the tool standards are for core business operations within the organization. Using your governance plan, users should be able to identify where they should be storing, sharing and collaborating on different types of content.
Creating a governance model is simply not enough. Governance must be enforced to make sure what has been identified in it is actually being followed. This is where tools like Metalogix Essentials for Office 365 comes in. They do the important job of making your governance “real” by giving you the ability to audit information like licensing, permissioning and usage.
Zeshan has been with Softlanding since 2007. In his role as Business Analysis Lead, Zeshan focuses on envisioning, planning and delivering Enterprise Content Management solutions. He brings a strong development background to the planning process, enabling him to advise clients about out-of-the-box SharePoint capabilities vs. customization as requirements are being gathered. Alongside planning and envisioning, Zeshan specializes in facilitating information architecture redesigns, and introducing governance for SharePoint enterprises.