SharePoint governance is an integral part of a SharePoint deployment but can often be skipped or under-valued. We always recommend a clear governance plan, so once the SharePoint solution has been implemented it continues to be used, organised, valued and beneficial.
"Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that control how an organisation's business divisions and IT teams work together to achieve its goals. Every organisation has unique needs and goals that influence its approach to governance." Microsoft
The design, development and even the implementation can be overseen by a small number of internal staff but the whole project is built for the whole business and all staff. For most of these staff members, they will not know what to expect from SharePoint or more importantly, how to use it. If your staff doesn’t know why it’s been implemented, what it does or how to use it then it how can you expect it to be organised, maintained and useful to your business?
By building and following a governance plan, your staff are included and educated - which means that SharePoint stays organised and correct, which often saves the IT department a lot of time and headaches. It also ensures the continuity and integrity of the system, which will lead to a continued return on investment and a long-term business plan.
Examples of what is included in a governance plan
- The reason for implementation
- Who is responsible for content, issues, changes etc?
- How will updates be communicated effectively?
- Who controls permissions?
- How do you ensure correct permissions are applied?
- Who will have training?
- How will staff use SharePoint?
- User guides: do’s and don’ts
- How will content be structured?
- How are starters and leavers controlled?
- Is everyone happy with using the system?
- How are updates managed and communicated?
Governance along the way
While you know your business inside-out, we know SharePoint inside-out. We work with our clients to match the solutions to the business needs and can often think of innovative ways to use or manipulate SharePoint to benefit unique business requirements. As a rule, we always ensure there is a governance strategy with every SharePoint implementation and the way we work incorporates this continually throughout the project at each of these stages:
Scoping and workshops
The reason for implementing SharePoint needs to be clear – whether it’s to fulfil a need, or to bring additional functionality and benefits to the business – if you don’t know why it’s being implemented how will you measure the benefits? Scoping and workshops identify the reason at the very beginning of the project so everyone is clear on why the system has been chosen.
We are advocates that intranets and extranets need to be branded and designed – like you would a website. Without user experience design and a visually-appealing system, user adoption is poor and staff will not want be encouraged to use the system. By branding a website and/or incorporating elements of your business website, staff have a more intuitive experience and find navigation and use easier and more enjoyable, which may reduce the amount of training and guidance needed.
We offer full training to ensure users know how to use the system, as well as what the system does. This is especially useful when integrations and custom development has been carried out, producing functionality that isn’t out-of-the-box. We recommend a training plan that trains ‘super-users’ rather than all staff. Not only is it more cost effective it ensures a few users within the business have a thorough knowledge and can then go on to train staff internally – reducing costs and gaining independence and flexibility.
Guidance & Strategy
While training will show users what to do, they also need 24/7 access to training documentation and user guides – in case anything is forgotten or also for when updates need to be communicated. The best place for this is within SharePoint – we favour the homepage, especially for go-live giving everyone the information they need to use the system, so the IT department don’t need to answer ‘how-to’ questions. We can help to create these user documents – whether you prefer videos, documents or whatever form of education is deemed the most effective.
Finally, some businesses prefer to have ongoing dedicated SharePoint support, especially when there are few in-house SharePoint specialists. By having SharePoint support, businesses benefit from sharing governance with partners – having a point of contact for issues and resolutions and knowing that a team of experts are available, which is especially useful for peace of mind.