We’re in the early stages of defining our governance plan. We think we have identified the people we would like to have help define our strategy and we have asked them to participate in our governance committee. We have gotten many questions about how large a time commitment this will be. Obviously, there will be much work defining the plan, but what about the ongoing commitment? What is the role for the committee once the governance plan has been created? – P.
The SharePoint Therapist Says: Well, a lot of that is going to depend on the specifics of your governance plan. For instance, if you are limiting new site creation to those that have a demonstrated business reason, someone is going to have to do that evaluation. That “someone” might be your governance board.
In my current environment, that authority is delegated to the SharePoint team (myself, my fellow SharePoint administrator, and our manager), especially during this time where we are migrating sites from our old environment, but the committee reviews our decisions. Our expectation is that, should a situation arise where we are unsure if the business justification is sufficient, we’ll kick the decision to the board, which includes people who might have a clearer understanding of the business reasoning (or lack thereof).
Obviously, there will be a need to revisit the plan regularly and make sure the plan still aligns with the business needs, and that you haven’t erected unnecessary barriers to productivity.
Uncovering new pain points, where the policies may have failed to take something into account (especially if you are combining a new governance plan with an upgrade or migration) is especially important – responsiveness to changing conditions before things get out of hand can be a prime role for the board. Of course, to do that means you need some sort of feedback mechanism for the users to report issues and concerns.
Which brings me to my biggest point. I think that a main responsibility for a governance group is to monitor the policies in place for their effectiveness. For example:
- Enforcing HR policies regarding inappropriate content stored on SharePoint may fall to a combination of user reporting, manager oversight, site owner auditing, and HR auditing. Are the audits being done? How is this reported to the board?
- The plan may call for specific service levels from the backup team, the database team, etc (even if these teams are the same person/people). Are these service levels being met?
- Processes may be specified for moving customizations from dev to test to production. Are these process being followed?
- Is the training and communication plan being followed? Is the training effectively impacting user adoption and appropriate usage?
While the governance board may not be directly responsible for monitoring things day-to-day, or doing audits, or running disaster recovery drills, the governance plan should include specific metrics and expectations on reporting the effectiveness and outcomes of the policies in the plan. As much as possible, each requirement of your governance plan should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Feedback should be actionable. And if you have tied each requirement of your governance plan back to business goals, your analysis should be able to go both ways:
- Is the requirement that we are evaluating enabling the business goal it is related to?
- Is the business goal that we are evaluating being achieved, and how are the requirements enabling/hindering it?
Since all of this can be a pretty big responsibility, if possible, try to rotate the membership of your group. Not only will this help prevent burnout and loss of enthusiasm, but it can bring in fresh perspectives with possibly differing points of view, and perhaps communicate to the user community that the board is inclusive and open to different points of view.
Hopefully this will give you something to bring back to your governance committee to help them define their ongoing role, and perhaps spark discussion of important issues.
To the SharePoint community: What do you think? Have I missed anything? Can you add your perspective on your experience and help P. define their committee’s ongoing role?
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