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SharePoint is one of the most customizable tools available.  The highly customizable nature of the platform provides multiple areas for innovation and collaboration.  While flexibility is great, it is key for Information Technology staffs to provide a framework that business units can use to ensure tools within the enterprise architecture portfolio are used effectively and efficiently.  There are multiple elements we need to think about and address to support a SharePoint Online/Office 365 deployment that will remain user friendly and scalable. There are different levels to governance which can include the enterprise, divisions, offices, business units and project teams.  These groups will be determined by the organization that has deployed the platform and will not represent the full spectrum of options.  As you develop a governance plan, it should be noted there is no one size fits all method or plan. The question is, what is the goal of the governance plan.  The answer is to provide a framework that is flexible and contains guidelines but also provides a level of automation that supports a low barrier to complete the implementation. In this post we will discuss the questions we should ask, how we can automate and how to continuously improve.

When creating SharePoint assets that will store data that will be consumed by users both internal and external to the organization we need to begin with the following elements:

  • Who is the information for?
  • What will they do with the information? Read, Update, Share?
  • How should the information be architected and presented?
  • What is the lifecycle for the data? Is there a records schedule associated with the data?
  • What classifications will be associated with the data?
  • What navigational elements should be available?
  • What search capabilities need to be available?
  • What resources are available to manage from a technical and/or business level? Roles and responsibilities for the asset? What permissions will be assigned to users in the access control list?
  • What storage limits will be set for the asset?
  • What problem does the solution solve?
  • What access restrictions will be implemented for the asset? Location, Device, etc.

The questions listed above should be answered prior to new asset creation. Once the answers to these questions are available, a decision regarding the fulfillment of the request can be made.  If a decision to create the asset is made there will need to be a prioritization of work based on current backlog, need and capacity.  Information Technology staffs often have capacity issues due to a lack of personnel.  These issues can lead to frustration from users who access Help Desk systems and request service.  Depending on the agreed upon SLA (service level agreement) present in your organization users may decide the “wait time in line” for service is to long.  When this occurs users often attempt to find work arounds that process data outside the boundaries of the governance and security. Once these boundaries are crossed, data leakage can cause legal, compliance and security issues that put users, businesses, agencies and clients at risk.  The answer here is automation based on a predefined set of use cases.  There will not be a use case for every scenario but support for the core line of business will provide wins that allow the information technology staff to devote more time to development, modernization and enhancement or DME. Once targets for automation are identified and the governance process is wrapped around them there will be a need to monitor these process for areas of improvement.  A process for improvement must be defined and implemented.  This continuous cycle of improvement will create credibility and provide value added service upgrades.

With time to available to devote to DME, continuous improvement will be a task item that will pay dividends by way of improved efficiency throughout the primary line of business and better customer service metrics. As processes improve and the “wait time in line” shortens information technology staff should become less burdened and business users will become more efficient.  The overall collaboration between the business and information technology team will improve the bottom line.  A governance plan should be a business enablement framework that ensures the appropriate use of technology resources that complement and support business specific requirements.

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