You can't run a SharePoint project and expect it to be maintenance free. You need to have an organization, both during and after the project.
Clarification of Human Forces
When I started thinking of forces I found two parts of the word that interested me: First I was thinking of military forces: a group of humans working together to achieve a common goal.
The second thought I had was about Star Wars (the movies), where human “jedis” with special skills/forces can do wonders to save the galaxy. It’s the same at work: humans with lots of different great skills work together to achieve common goals.
Humans, well that’s you, me and the rest of the people on this planet. ;-)
When I say human forces I sometimes refer to governance support groups and governance owner/s. But also all other people that may be involved one way or another.
I will give you two examples of organizations that should be formed during the early parts of a project and continue to exist after the first project is completed.
Governance Management Model
The management model is simple.
The governance team works together with the business to manage business needs and objectives to deliver ROI. They also work with IT to maintain IT alignment, maintenance and support.
The Governance Organization works on the SharePoint Service to support the operational governance. IT works on the SharePoint Service to manage the technical aspects and development.
Cross collaboration between business and IT is not recommended, as it will create conflicts at the decision level.
Two Ways to View Organization
There are two ways to view Organization; the first way is the traditional line management view. The second is to view organization by responsibility.
What you can see below is an example of how a governance organization could look. Let me explain this top down.
Business advisory group and SharePoint Center Of Excellence
These groups are normally professional consultants or similar. They will help both the business steering committee and the governance owners when they need to.
Business steering committee
The business steering committee is in a medium/large organizational group that is mixed with cross-organization management.
They need to be at a high level in the company so they can define and take decisions on, outcome effect targets, strategies and budget. They are also responsible to decide if the projects will deliver business value or not. Risk minimization and high-level communication management are also part of their job.
The business steering committee needs to be very active in a SharePoint project if the outcome is to deliver value and ROI.
In a small organization the business steering committee and the governance owners can be the same group or person.
Some key responsibilities that the committee should have:
- Goals & Objectives
- Outcome effect targets
- Business “Value”
- Risk minimization
- Communication responsible
To me a governance owner is a person or a group of people that has very broad knowledge. Not just solution knowledge, but more important, an excellent understanding about the business and how it is run. I know that finding a person like this can be hard, so the alternative option could be to have a governance owners group.
Communication skills are also a very valuable skill that the governance owner should have. If I were to set a title on a governance owner, I would say that Product Manager could be the right title
The owner’s responsibility is to manage and take responsibility for the following areas:
- Solution development
- Solution strategy
- Projects (should be in the project steering group)
- Governance documents
- Management of governance support groups
- Shared Vision
- Education and Training
- Solution alignment against the technology alignment
- IT relations and cooperation
- Budget and planning
- Web mastering
- Continuous improvements
The governance owner (if a single person) should not sit under IT. (If a group, not all members should be from IT.) The reason for this is that IT sees the business as their customer, but they don’t see themselves as a customer. They usually just see a cost when something is triggered from within IT itself.
Trying to set requirements to IT when working in IT is damn hard, trust me, I know!
If I could choose a place for a governance owner to sit in the organization then I would choose Corporate Communications. It’s the heart of all communications and a person that is part of corporate communications will know and hear information very fast, and can take control of upcoming needs and requirements directly. If your solution is a purely collaborative solution, then this isn’t as relevant.
A possible problem here can arise if IT is holding the full budget for the systems and solutions. If this is the case, it is even more important that the governance owners and the business steering committee have a very strong influence on the business, with or without the governance support groups.
Governance support groups
The Governance support groups are meant to help the business with solution management and training. They also have to be the eyes and ears of the business: seeing the needs and transforming them (together with governance owner/s) into a solution that helps the business forward, creating value for the business.
To get the best effect, group members should come from across the organization. They should have great company knowledge and key positions so that they can see where the business needs help to reach goals and objectives. This will be a challenge -- people are reluctant to help you with something like this, and even when they say they will, they won’t do it.
They need to be convinced that they don’t just do some work for you, but that they actually help themselves. To take a really simple example: The governance support groups have been involved in a project to solve a business need. By doing that they might also save themselves lots of time and effort by using the new “application” or “feature,” bringing business value to themselves.
It is up to the governance owners to manage this challenge and if they get the right thinking, that usually makes it much easier.
Group members should also get first class training on the solution so that they can act as key users providing help if needed. But their knowledge about the solution is also very important, as they have to know what the system is capable of. I’m not saying that all of them should be technical, but from my own experience I believe that if they have a good understanding about the system then they will more easily convert business processes to system processes and apps.
Large organizations will have more groups than a small organization. Each group should have between 5-10 group members to get the best effect. A too large group will have problems with decision making and a too small group will have less power to affect the business.
It is very important that the governance support groups and the governance owners share the same vision and goals for the SharePoint solution. If either one of them has a split view, then the wrong message could be sent to the business.
Some key responsibilities that the support group should have:
- Pick up and “forward” new interests and needs to the governance owner/s
- Help manage sites and content (others help themselves)
- Help out with education and training
- Be part of projects to make sure their needs and requirements are fulfilled. But also be a key resource to the projects
- Evangelize the solution, be the sponsors that encourage others to use it
- Continuous improvements
IT is responsible for managing the SharePoint Solution from a technical perspective. It is important that IT and the governance owners have close collaboration and communication to maintain professional service and support as well as IT and SharePoint alignment
Here is a very short list give an example of what IT is managing:
- Technical Support
- System maintenance
- Backup and recovery
- Web mastering
The organizational chart below describes a very general example of what a governance organization could look like. The parts that are joined with orange lines are positions/people that can be merged in small organizations.
Governance Organization by Responsibility
If you don’t have the option to form a hierarchic organization or if you feel that it’s hard to define the responsibilities then here is the solution for you.
In the drawing below you see that we have divided the organization into responsibilities. First we have the business steering committee, then the governance organization and last but not least, IT.
If you can find the right people or groups that can cover all the responsibilities then you have formed your organization. After that, it's up to you how to organize them hierarchically, but the diagram above may offer some ideas.
Next week will conclude my series on SharePoint Business Governance Strategy. Be sure to check back next Monday for the final installation.
Editor's Note: To read previous articles from Frederik's series: