Friday, 23 March 2012

Making Sense of SharePoint Governance

Whatever SharePoint project you are involved in you are bound to hear the term ‘SharePoint Governance’, but what exactly is it and who needs it?

Basically ‘SharePoint Governance’ is the rules and responsibilities that you put in place to ensure that SharePoint works as your business/organisation wants it to work. For example your company Document Management Policy might state that all documents must have a Document Owner and be reviewed every two years. So your SharePoint needs to somehow enforce that all documents have a Document Owner and are reviewed every two years. This is just one of the many examples of SharePoint Governance.

The problem with ‘SharePoint Governance’ is that these rules and responsibilities can be anything your business/organisation wants them to be. I say a ‘problem’ because you can’t just Google it (or Bing it) and find the exact set of SharePoint Governance that fits your needs. You need to spend time thinking about all the different parts you need to implement. This part is made a lot easier if your business/organisation already have policies and procedures in place. It is fairly straightforward to enforce existing policies using SharePoint the time taken is in reaching agreement on the policies to start with.

I am not really explaining this well so I am going to resort to doing what I often do and explain it in football terms (for my American readers this is the kind of football where only goalkeepers get to use their hands). Imagine a game of football if nobody had ever clearly defined the rules. Well, this is like SharePoint without any governance. Probably great fun but soon it would be totally out of control. Without rules you aren’t controlling how many players are there on each side, how big the pitch is, how long the game will last and what exactly is a foul. It would be like those games in the street that end up forty a side and never seem to end (sounds like American Football!). So you need to have rules. You need to put limits in place as you do with SharePoint. But what good are rules in both football and SharePoint if nobody is responsible for enforcing them?

In football we need a referee (we seem to be gaining more all the time at the moment) to make sure that the players do keep within these rules. In SharePoint Governance it is important to define responsibilities. What is expected of a Site Owner or who is responsible for a certain Site Collection? So if it helps to understand what ‘SharePoint Governance’ is remember it is rules and responsibilities and think of football rules and refs.

Of course there is a lot more to SharePoint Governance really and I recommend you read the excellent white paper ‘The Five Pillars of SharePoint Governance’ that was written by Chris McNutty Quest. The link is . Also a very useful article on SharePoint Governance is written by Pentalogic

I started by saying “..what exactly is it and who needs it?” well, I have mentioned what it is, but who does need it? The truth is that all SharePoint environments needs some level SharePoint Governance but how much really depends on two factors. Firstly, how many users you have. Secondly, how important your information is. Truth is if you have less than 5 users you don’t need that many rules and responsibility is not so important, but if you have 100,000 users and critical business information then the rules and responsibilities are vital. So I am saying the amount of SharePoint Governance you require is proportionally linked to number of users and importance.

Aston Villa 1982
Let me take you back to my football comparison. If four of you are playing football in the park then you might need some basic rules (i.e. the jumpers for goalposts each end are nearly the same distance apart) but you don’t usually need a ref. However, if you are playing in the Champions League Final with billions watching and millions of pounds at stake then you need every rule clearly defined and multiple people responsible for ensuring all these rules are enforced. Not only rules of the game but rules of advertising, rules of television rights and many other rules have to be sorted. So this is like a multinational SharePoint environment with the highest value information. If this is the case a very considerable amount of time needs to be devoted to ‘SharePoint Governance’.

It is important not to get too bogged down with ‘SharePoint Governance’ when you are starting your SharePoint project though. It can develop and change as your system develops and changes. When William McGregor, the famous son of Aston Villa, founded the English football league in March 1888 he did not think about crossbars, floodlights, shirt sponsors or Mobile Telephone Broadcasting rights; these things all came slowly during the next 124 years. Maybe William should have included a rule that a team in claret and blue from Birmingham must always be in the top division.

Hope this blog answered the questions of what ‘SharePoint Governance’ is and who needs it. If you wanted any help on deciding on how to define rules and responsibilities for your SharePoint then please don’t hesitate to contact Office Talk.

Just two notices to end with this week. Firstly, voting in the Andy Dale SharePoint Awards 2012 has been phenomenal but closes on 1st April 2012. If you haven’t voted yet in any of the eight SharePoint sections please vote now at .

Lastly, the sale of our pack of 10 SharePoint Department Templates continues to go well and I would like to make you all aware that until the end of April these are available at the stupidly cheap price of £199.95. So don’t miss out visit

Monday, 12 March 2012

Ten Rules of SharePoint Navigation

Ten Rules of SharePoint Navigation
[If you are visiting this SharePoint blog to cast your vote for this year’s SharePoint Awards please see the blog dated 5th March for information on the finalists and then click here to vote.  But why not read this week’s blog about SharePoint Navigation whilst you are passing?]
One of the important things to remember in any SharePoint implementation is to make it as easy as possible for the user to navigate. I am sure, like me, when you drive one of the most annoying things is lack of signposts. When you are unsure which way to go and come to a T junction you expect a signpost showing you where each road will lead you. I am still very wary of Sat Navs because I always think what if the Sat Nav is lost itself or suddenly goes out of range. So I like a good old fashioned signpost. The same is also true for me within SharePoint where despite the modern way being to use the ‘Search’ I still favour simple navigation. The Search in SharePoint is good and has advanced a lot since the early versions of SharePoint, but still it is prone to finding excessive amounts of results and relies on the author having used the correct terms in the document.

So I want to share with you a few basic rules I use when creating navigation within SharePoint. These aren’t defined ‘Best Practice’ just a few rules that have helped me over the years. Now, before I list the rules let me just clarify the terms used for navigation in SharePoint. If you are using Windows SharePoint Services, SharePoint Foundation or a Team Site on SharePoint Server navigation comes in two parts. These parts are called ‘Top Link Bar’ and ‘Quick Launch Bar’. They can be accessed by Site Actions – Site Settings.  Very simply ‘Top Link’ is along the top and ‘Quick Launch’ along the left-hand side. It is though possible using SharePoint Designer or different Page Layouts to change the position of these around. You might be the kind of person who likes their ‘Quick Launch Bar’ on the right of the page. We are all different.
Microsoft don’t make it easy though, because for SharePoint Publishing Sites they change the rules and rename the ‘Top Link’ and ‘Quick Launch’. They package them together under the term ‘Navigation’. I suppose they are now thinking more about Websites than basic collaboration sites. But then to make it even more confusing they call what we know to be the ‘Top Link Bar’ the ‘Global Navigation’. I suppose the idea is that this is the navigation that everyone sees. Well, as long as you don’t stop using navigation from parent site. The side navigation that we called ‘Quick Launch’ is on Publishing sites called ‘Current Navigation’. I suppose the idea is that this navigation just refers to the current site you are on. Although, yet again you can select ‘Display the same navigation items as the parent site’.  Well, I hope that all made sense. Now we can get on with my rules (for these rules I will call them ‘Quick Launch’ and ‘Top Link’;
1.       Never have an item listed in both the ‘Top Link’ and ‘Quick Launch’ navigation.
2.       Try to have a consistent ‘Top Link’ throughout your sites. Inheriting from Parent site wherever possible.
3.       Never have more than eleven items in the Top Link Bar. If you have to scroll right you have too many.
4.       Try and make the names of the items on the Top Link Bar a similar size (probably no more than 20 characters including blanks) and consistent with terms used in your organisation (for example use common names for departments of products).
5.       In Quick Launch bar use meaningful headers. Change the standard headers like ‘Libraries’ and ‘Lists’. Headers need a URL though so a cheat I often do is to add the URL of the Home page of the site so clicking on it doesn’t take you anywhere.
6.       Order the Headers in the Quick Launch Bar so the section that will be used the most is at the top. Try to keep these headers and the order of them consistent on other sites.
7.       Move the links in the Quick Launch to under the appropriate Header.
8.       Add links to the Quick Launch that go to different Views and also links that open New Forms. To find the URL for a new form just open a form, right-click and copy the URL until the end of the NewForm.aspx. In SharePont 2010 copy url for 'All Items' view and then replace the part all%20items.asox with Newform.aspx.
9.       Keep the labels for the links on the Quick Launch meaningful but short. They should not wrap over more than two lines.
10.   If you have to scroll down the page to see all the Quick Launch items then there are too many.

Example of SharePoint Site using Andy's 10 Navigation Rules

As I have stated these are just my guidelines and rules that I myself stick to. Yes, I do mention them in my SharePoint Training session and workshops for SharePoint Administrators and I am more than happy if anybody wants to use them. If you would like to discover more about my onsite Training courses in the UK please email

The SharePoint Awards 2012 are certainly going well with staggeringly over 5000 votes cast in the first week. If you haven’t yet cast your votes please read the list of finalists in the post below.

I shall end this week’s post with something I have never done before. I am going to congratulate Villa Manager Alex McLeish on helping Villa win against Fulham last Saturday and going along way to keeping us in the Premier League. His substitution might have been greeted with cries of ‘You don’t know what you are doing’ but when substitute (and future star) Anders Weimann scored the winner with the last kick it had Villa Park rocking. Maybe , just maybe there might be a future at Villa Park for Mr McLeish.


Monday, 5 March 2012

SharePoint Awards 2012

So we have sent Valentines cards, tossed pancakes and given up chocolate for Lent so that means it must be time for my SharePoint Awards. The Villa might not be in the running for any honours this year (well, apart from Most Unpopular Manager of the Season Award) but 46 different SharePoint organisations are in the running to land one of the prized eight 'SharePoint Gold Seals of Approval'. Now in the 4th year of the awards there are eight categories and I have put together a list of the finalists that you can now vote for. So without further ado and so we don't run out of time like the Brits here are the finalists;

1. Best SharePoint Information Store?

a) SharePoint Reviews -
b) SharePoint Magazine -
c) Nothing But SharePoint -
d) SharePoint Pro Magazine -
e) SharePoint User Group -


2. Best SharePoint 3rd Party Application?

a) Sharegate -
b) Nintex Workflow -
c) ShareKnowledge -
d) Colligo Contributer -
e) for SharePoint -
f) HarePoint Analytics for SharePoint -


3. Best SharePoint Training Provider?

b) Combined Knowledge -

So after three categories it is time to take a short break so time for an advert.

We have to thank SharePoint Village, the One-Stop Shop for all your SharePoint needs for yet again hosting my awards. Whilst you are thinking about who to vote for why not take time to browse the many different SharePoint shops. See what SharePoint bargains you can pick up.

So let's get back to the finalists;

4. Best SharePoint Web Part?

b) SharePoint Calendar Rollup Web Part -
d) File ControlUP for SharePoint by SPeals -
f) Quick Poll Web Part by Amrein Engineering -


5. Best Web Part Provider?

a) SharePointBoost -
b) Bamboo Solutions -
c) Infowise -
d) Virto Software -
e) Component One -
f) Amrein Engineering -


So as you take a look at the different Web Parts available for all versions of SharePoint I am reminded by those nice people at SharePoint Village to say that they have a section of Shops devoted just to companies supplying SharePoint Web Parts. So why not take a virtual stroll there?

Coming up we have the 'Best SharePoint Management Tool where two previous winners go head to head, but first let's add a bit of humour with a talking dog.

So back to the Finalists;

6. Best SharePoint Management Tool?

a) ControlPoint by Axceler -
b) Idera SharePoint Diagnostic Manager -
c) DocAve Software for SharePoint -
d) Migration Tool Metalogix -
e) SharePoint Management Solar Winds -


7. Best Free SharePoint Product?

a) SharePoint Designer 2010 -
b) Colligo Reader for SharePoint -
c) SharePoint Foundation 2010 -
d) Modeler for SharePoint by IntranetFactory -
e) Idera SharePoint Performance Monitor -
f) Google Chart Web Part by Amrein Engineering -


The last category is a new one and a special thank you to the many great SharePoint people out there who write SharePoint Blogs. They might not use videos of talking dogs but there blogs contain great technical SharePoint information.

8. Best SharePoint Blog?

c) SharePoint Fun -
d) SharePoint Farmer (Shane Young) -

Okay now you have seen all the finalists it is time to open the voting at SharePoint Village. You have until April 1st 2012 to get your votes in. You can vote for up to two finalists in each category. Good luck to all the finalists and thanks to all of you for helping to make SharePoint an even better product. So get voting!!! May the best SharePoint products win.

Now for a bit of extra time fun and my own five finalists in a competition the Villa might just win.

Who has been the most unpopular Premier League Manager in 2012?

Please feel free to leave your comments on any of the SharePoint products or the unfortunate managers.