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A Practical Approach to SharePoint Governance

According to a recent survey conducted by Collaboris.com, 83% of organizations that use Microsoft SharePoint use it for document management. The survey also found that these same organizations and many others are using SharePoint in many other ways such as publishing, social networking and running apps. As expected, SharePoint is being used as both a repository to store documents and place for collaboration.

Despite the many functions SharePoint has to offer, many organizations are still struggling to govern information stored in this multi-functional repository.

A PPT (People, Process, Technology) strategy has been tossed around by industry experts and makes a ton sense in solving the SharePoint sprawl.

Let’s discuss how applying this strategy to your SharePoint governance aids in the proper records management strategy.

People

First, you must engage key stakeholders to bring the right people to the table. Key stakeholders can include: Information Technology, Records Management, Privacy, Security, Legal, Human Resources, Finance, etc.

Next, you must understand how people currently use SharePoint in your organization. Some of the ways to gather this type of information include: interviews, surveys and possibly even informational lunch and learn sessions. In our experience, the latter has worked well because users are in a relaxed setting and are willing to share their ideas and experiences.

However, much will depend on the culture of the organization to decide what will work best; a hybrid approach will mostly likely prove to be most successful. In the end the choice is yours.

Process

Once you have been successful and have brought the right people to the table, the next step is to decide if the current business process actually works. In other words, is your current process meeting the goals of the business? For example, suppose during one of the interviews with your legal department, you find out SharePoint is used to transfer data to other counsel. Why? Because it’s easier to share information using a repository like SharePoint rather than by email, due to file size restrictions and limits.

However, you also find out that each user operates a bit differently, and as a result, duplicate data is scattered across multiple sites without the ability to apply governance policies. This process must be dealt with immediately and the existing process will need to be amended.

At this point, an organization must decide on a process that is aligned with the business goals. Please keep in mind, the new process should not make it harder for users to do their jobs. If it does, your efforts will fail.

Technology

After you have engaged with the right people, evaluated processes, and spent time refining the processes, you must leverage technology to ensure the long-term success of the new strategy.

Organizations have three options:

  • Utilize existing technology
  • Purchase new technology
  • A hybrid approach – combination of existing and new technology

When trying to decide which option to choose, it’s important to be sure that the selected technology for your SharePoint governance continues to align with your business process and overall goals.

Suppose that after much analysis, it’s decided that the functionality of your existing technology can longer support the requirements of the business process and goals, so the organization chooses to purchase new technology. Perhaps a software application is required to enforce information governance policies. Under no circumstance should the process change because of the purchased technology. In order to be successful, the technology must be able to properly enforce policies and grow with the business. Not the other way around. It’s simply not practical and will once again lead to failure.

At Gimmal, we’re confident that if organizations follow this three-step approach (People, Process, Technology) their SharePoint governance environment will no longer be considered a black hole, but a secure repository that is trusted by everyone in the organization.

Posted by Shawn Cosby

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