SharePoint Governance – get clear

If there’s one word that really brings the energy down in a project meeting, it’s governance. The exciting part of planning your new SharePoint intranet – or any new project – is working out what it can do, how it will benefit business users, what will it look like. Administering and maintaining the platform once it’s up and running... not so much.

However when it comes to your intranet, governance is crucial. It’s governance that keeps your digital workplace in line with its stated goals and objectives. It’s governance that ensures your intranet does not turn into a sprawl of sites, subsites and libraries with chaotic information architecture, poor search experience, random fonts and dated graphics.

"The outcomes of a strong governance approach included greater clarity for decision making, clear signals on expected employee behaviour, and a mechanism for avoiding wasted investments."[1]

The goal is to find the right balance between anarchy and over-regulation, guiding document and site creation while allowing business users to contribute and feel engaged. We need to have rules in place but if it requires 2 documents signed in triplicate to add anything to the intranet, no one will bother.

When beginning SharePoint planning, or working through requirements for your intranet upgrade, creating a governance framework guide is a good place to start and it doesn’t have to be overly complex. It could be a 2-page document and realistically this is more likely to be read and understood than a huge, complex file.

Who is responsible

To establish ownership of the intranet, define a balanced team of members representing each of the strategic business units. Key ownership is usually with Communications, IT and HR. You also need to define ownership across different portals and sites and hold people accountable for maintaining their piece of the pie.

Generally for the main intranet, the governance model is controlled and tightly governed and for department and team sites it is more relaxed. Centralised, delegated or hybrid approaches may be appropriate based on the organisation structure and roles and responsibilities. You must decide what’s best for yours.

How will it work

Once you have defined your team representing different strategic business units, then determine as a minimum:

  1. Who is ultimately responsible for the intranet – the more senior the better
  2. Who makes up the core intranet team and how often they will meet
  3. The number of maintenance hours per week from each department - agreed in writing
  4. Content approval and publishing process
  5. Process and criteria for requesting, approving and building new intranet sections
  6. What is the process for receiving ideas and feedback on the intranet. Surveys, idea forms, champions in different departments and focus groups are all potential vehicles
  7. Schedule of new initiatives to be delivered by your IT dept or external consultancy
  8. Maintenance and administration of the platform: archiving, upgrades, back-up schedules and recovery process

Communicate and Celebrate

Once you have a framework in place, don’t leave it lying on the shelf. Use it and make sure it’s respected as the principal intranet document. Publicly recognise those contributors that are really making an effort to ensure their digital workplace content is searchable and well-structured. Communicate what they are doing well to the team to help them do the same. Decide how rules will be monitored and how to manage non-compliance without demoralising enthusiastic contributors.

It’s hard to make intranet governance sexy but keep in mind users and business benefits are at the heart of any good governance strategy – these are not rules for the sake of rules, they are helping your teams connect and engage, and helping your organisation reach its potential.
Set your organisation up for success now and the rewards will be great.

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[1] Enterprise Collaboration Community Snapshot 2017 - http://www.techfestconf.com/enterprise-collaboration/aus/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Enterprise-Collaboration-Research-Report-2017.pdf