“GOVERNAGE” – Thé mix between Governance and end user Usage – Blog 2 follow up

a vision paper written by Rick Hilferink – SharePoint Consultant @ Portiva.

This vision paper will be written in a series of three blogs. In each of these series I hope to provide you with more insight in my understanding of today’s Microsoft SharePoint technology and how governance can be applied best.

Table of contents

  1. Blog 1 – A new Era
    1. Introduction
    2. SharePoint puberty
  2. Blog 2 – The rising
    1. SharePoint grown up
    2. Governance explained, what is it?
    3. End users (Business Roles)
  3. Blog 3 – The future
    1. Vision and Strategy – Ownership and dedication
    2. “Governage” and SharePoint as a platform – Find the right mix
    3. A look into the future (Maturity?)

Blog 2 – The rising

SharePoint grown up

SharePoint has evolved as a product, containing lots of modern technology and features suitable for a wide variety of businesses both small, medium and enterprise. Not less important it has also evolved into a strategic platform for large enterprises which are very much depended on this platform, day in day out. Microsoft is a strategic choice, so is SharePoint.

Some numbers…

Microsoft SharePoint is a grown up product these days. According to an article that was published on ZDNet.com three years ago, SharePoint had been adding 20.000 users per day for the previous five years. Between 2006 and 2011 that means, 36,500,000 users began using SharePoint.

In an article on caldiatech.com these massive numbers were revealed.
(Ref: http://www.caldiatech.com/blog/3-surprising-facts-regarding-the-worldwide-use-of-microsoft-sharepoint.html)

80 percent of the fortune 500 companies are using Microsoft SharePoint with approximately 100,000,000 user accounts. These numbers were updated after the SharePoint 2013 release, which proved very successful.

As we can see, the influence and dependency grows, and it grows fast. More and more companies choose Microsoft strategically; the decision for SharePoint is a no-brainer.

Off course these are just (awesome) numbers. Installing SharePoint, adding users and use it as a document management system does not solve all your issues or business challenges and far more important is not a guarantee to success.

This is the reason that governance is a hot topic the last few years, people and businesses start to understand that SharePoint is more than just a tool or application that is evident when Microsoft becomes a strategic choice.

It requires high priority and attention from upper management.

Governance:

“… The collection of guidelines, roles, responsibilities and processes, which is defined to control and to supervise the deployment of SharePoint, so that the pre-defined objectives can be achieved within the organization.”

The reason for establishing and implementing a governance plan is to control the platform and how it is used. It ensures that resources can be used to its full potential. Agreements are clearly defined within the framework by a strategy group that determines to what extent and at what level governance is applied and secured.

Governance explained

Introducing the SharePoint 2013 platform can be compared to building a house. The client has a specific design in mind. When constructing a house, all kinds of rules (procedures) should be followed. There is a zoning plan (vision), there are regulations (company policy), there is a design (functional design) and a drawing (technical design). When construction is completed, the building must be maintained and perhaps rebuilt again after several years to improve the structure or the use of it.

This is the same for the SharePoint platform. It requires designs, plans, regulations and maintenance.

A governance plan.

To start determining a governance plan for your company, you have to setup a strategy group. In that group people from multiple layers of the organization should be represented, preferably from multiple departments. This mix ensures a broad perspective on your governance plan thus providing a more qualitative governance plan.

The strategy group needs to determine and agree upon a lot of subjects which describe how the platform will function, to which rules people should obey and all procedures and guidelines to make the platform work the most effective as possible. These subjects are divided into two different areas: Functional and Technical.

  • Vision and Purpose of SharePoint Implementation
  • Roles and responsibilities
    • Support Roles
    • Who is owner?
  • Information policy
    • Document retention and lifecycle
    • management of data
    • Taxonomy
    • Agreements about metadata
    • External and mobile access.
    • Name conventions
    • Work agreements
  • Branding
    • Theming / MasterPage / Document templates
  • Education plan
  • Authorization structure
    • Define a matrix
  • Quota’s
    • Per Site Collection
    • Per Site
    • Per document library
    • My Site storage
  • Management organization and management tooling
    • Define strategy group
  • Auditing
  • Search

Functional

Example of an image that describes the user support within SharePoint. This way users know where to go and how support is being delivered. Part of the “Roles and Responsibilities” subject.

Technical

  • Updates
    • When and how often installed?
  • Service packs
    • Always the second most recent version available?
  • WSP deployment
    • Time windows, who can and who can’t?
  • Performance testing
    • Monthly or quarterly scheduled?
  • Backup
  • Recovery time
  • Allowed loss of data
  • Disaster recovery
  • Technical guidelines
    • Development via .wsp’s allowed or apps only?
    • Development guide
    • Testplan acceptance procedure
  • Service accounts

An important thing to discuss, besides these functional and technical subjects, are the things you, as an organization, do not wish to accomplish when implementing the SharePoint platform. These could be very practical things like: SharePoint should not only replace the fileshare and SharePoint should not cause employees to receive an information overload.

How to get the business involved?

Business users determine the success of a SharePoint implementation. Therefore the users should get involved with setting up the platform right from the beginning. This would mean that they, as a group, should be represented within the strategy group to begin with.

Within all organizations there are multiple types of end users, we call these the business roles. These business roles that make use of the SharePoint platform should be represented within the strategy group, this is best thinkable although not always possible.

The size of the strategy group and how many people are representing the business is dependent on a lot of things but should be thought of very well. This is an early mistake easily made, not inviting the right people for these discussions could cause them to loose direct interest.

Get the business involved, talk to the end users, set up a communication plan and communicate! And be aware, that when you communicate towards the business, your governance should be in place to provide the business with all guidelines and procedures in order to help them create added value for the company.

Write down all requirements that the business provides in a roadmap. Discuss about these requirements and roadmap in the strategy group and attach dates to them. Then again, communicate with your business and enjoy the controlled added value of the SharePoint platform.

In the next blog part I will talk about how governance has evolved along with SharePoint and provide a quick look into the future. One thing that will be more and more important these next few years is Office 365 and SharePoint online. Off course governance applies for these platforms as well, but is it the same? If not, what is different and how does that effect your business?

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“GOVERNAGE” – Thé mix between Governance and end user Usage

A vision paper written by Rick Hilferink – SharePoint Enthusiast @ Portiva.

This vision paper will be written in a series of three blogs. In each of these series I hope to provide you with more insight in my understanding of today’s Microsoft SharePoint technology and how governance can be applied best.

Table of contents

Blog 1 – A new Era

  • Introduction
  • SharePoint puberty

Blog 2 – The rising

  • SharePoint grown up
  • Governance explained, what is it?
  • End users (Business Roles)

Blog 3 – The future

  • Vision and Strategy – Ownership and dedication
  • “Governage” and SharePoint as a platform – Find the right mix
  • A look into the future (Maturity?)


Blog 1 – A new Era

Introduction

Hi there, my name is Rick Hilferink. A SharePoint enthusiast working for Portiva, a top SharePoint company with its roots in the Netherlands.

In the past 9 years that I’ve been working in this business I have had the luck to see Microsoft SharePoint evolve from a document management solution into a strategic portal technology.

Back in 2001 when Microsoft introduced SharePoint, the product had three features, 1) Document management, 2) Intranet, 3) Content management. In those first few years that the product was released, companies started to use the technology with projects often started by the IT department itself. After it has proven successful other departments would try to hook on to this new technology. This was the classic grow model, mostly starting within the IT department.

Now, in 2014, SharePoint has become a lot more than just a document management solution. Today it provides an office-like interface for adding and editing content, lowering the threshold towards from site admins to end users. There is a wide variety of usage options, such as integration with ERP systems, social features, intranet portals, extranet portals, websites, business intelligence and enterprise search.

Implementing a new SharePoint platform is complex. It requires architects to plan hardware and infrastructure. Business consultants talking to the business, often in workshops, to gather functional requirements and startup an implementation project. One of the implementation steps is called ‘governance’. Creating a Governance Plan means that time should be spend on setting up rules and policies for using the application, for maintaining it, and also for creating new functionality on this platform.

Every single time that governance is set up and thought off, it is unique. For each and every organization the set of rules and agreements are tailored to fit and serve the business as best as possible. Governance should not be about creating barriers, it should be about long-term stability and quality.

I have come to this point, realizing that the next couple of years will be about finding the right mix in using modern technology and providing the best governance model possible for your organization. Keep it simple but organized. Don’t overdo!

That is what I call “Governage”. In a practical way, fitting the exact needs off the business to the complex enterprise platform SharePoint has become.


SharePoint puberty

SharePoint was designed from the need to have documents centralized available for sharing and collaboration, easily findable, without the folder jungle, that file shares did provide. On the network, outside the regular file shares that went 10 levels deep.

In 2001 two versions of SharePoint were released. SharePoint Team Services (STS) and SharePoint Portal Server (SPS). In STS users could create websites and fill content – a bottom up technology. SPS however was meant for administrators, the IT guys, for indexing files and other databases. There was no or very little connectivity between the two.

SharePoint 2003 was the first integrated application version that provided a solution for document/information sharing and applications/websites within the company network. STS and SPS were connected. A dashboard for creating sites, adding/uploading and removing files was added so that end users could contribute easily to SharePoint sites. Old school administrators, the IT guys, were left with the management of the SharePoint application and most of the decisions.

Within three years, a small shift from managing technique into managing information became visible. Still, the classic administrators had a significant role in how information architecture would be set up and maintained. The end users only provided the content.

A SharePoint implementation project, if it was a project at all, would be started bottom up: Starting with IT, it would sometimes evolve into a business application that would be used by upper management. Unfortunately this created enough inconveniences because of never thought off challenges such as storage limits or confidential documents being available somewhere in the site hierarchy.

This is the period I call ‘SharePoint puberty’. A rather new product with great potential became a quick success because of the upcoming internet industry. People started to use internet in their personal daily routines, which lowered the threshold for people when first confronted with this new portal technology. It was cool to use SharePoint instead of those old dull file shares everyone used.

In retrospect, what was missing in those days, regarding governance?

  • No or very little requirement inventory with the business
  • No definition of roles and responsibilities
  • No policies
  • No training / instruction
  • No agreements on usage
  • No plan for growth
  • No plan for backup and recovery


In the following posts I will discuss the SharePoint evolution history, how companies started using SharePoint as a tool and how it evolved into an enterprise platform requiring extensive guidelines and policies. I will also provide detailed content of what I think a governance plan should contain.