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

1 comment:

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