It is very common for SharePoint projects to be run by IT. The focus will then become technical functions and features instead of business value. It is therefore important that the business is running the project to make sure it solves business needs and gets ROI in the end.
I have once lectured to a company where IT managed the project and by the end of the lecture it was silence. After about a minute one of the project members stand up and said: well, I understand now, we have done it all wrong, we have next to zero business value!
Sadly for them, they had come quite far and they used a third party consultant that convinced them later on to continue instead of re-aligning the project.
What is project governance to you? To me it’s all about having the right purpose, goals, objectives and resources to deliver the right business value in a structured way.
To do this you need to have the following tools and knowledge:
- Clearly defined roles and responsibilities.
- A Senior Project Manager that understands IT as well as the business.
- A good project plan that treats all necessary parts of a SharePoint Project.
- You should probably use a method like PRiSM when running the project.
- You should be aware that if you have consultant helping you, they will run the project-using Scrum, so be prepared that they will shoulder the project on you.
- Consider dependencies in the project plan.
But what might be the most important thing here is that the business must understand that after the project, the SharePoint solution will need a governance organization. This organization should be formed during the earlier part of the project, so that the members can learn and contribute along the way.
It’s important that the governance organization that is formed in the early stages of the project is going to continue working after the project is finished, continuously improving and creating business value.
Roles and Responsibilities
To avoid management issues as the project progresses, it is important that roles are predefined and documented before the project starts.
I will give you a short-list of possible roles that you might need in your project.
- Project Manager
- Project Sponsors
- Steering Committee
- Business Analyst
- Governance Owner(s)
- Governance Support Groups
- Change Manager
- Webmasters (if intranet/portal or public web)
- Test group (a selection of business users)
When you have found your roles then you need to make sure the responsibilities are very clear. In any project it is important that if a person that has responsibilities can’t deliver, that needs to be highlighted very fast. I think this is something that can be told straight out to all included.
People not performing their tasks are a big risk in all projects.
The Project Manager
To implement a SharePoint solution in an organization is not an easy task and therefore there should not be a junior PM running the project.
The project manager should have proven skills in Business Projects and in IT Projects. It is also important that the project manager have great insight in the current organization and its functions and objectives.
Obviously, I would not recommend having a Project Manager who can be influenced too much by IT.
Project Sponsor & Steering Committee
A project sponsor and a steering committee must understand and define the business value of the SharePoint project.
If they can’t see any business value, then the project is most likely on the wrong path and should be re-defined or stopped.
Both the sponsor and the committee must be active in the project. I know many people believe being a member in a committee is a more “flashy” thing (good to have in CV) to do than actual work. But the committee’s job is to be very involved in the project, so they can make decisions which benefit the business. And not only that, they need to inform management in an effective and correct way.
It’s their job to minimize risk; they need to remove organizational obstacles, etc.
The Project Plan
What is a project plan? It’s just a big document (or many) that should structure the project. I have not yet found a perfect template for this and I’m pretty sure I know the reason. You can run 50 projects and none of them will have an exact same project plan. In some cases you can scale off a lots of sections and in other projects you need to add sections.
The Business Analyst
The business analyst's role is to make sure requirements and objectives will give business value and ROI. This role is super important if you are to succeed with your SharePoint project.
Make sure the business analyst is senior and has worked in the organization for some time.
The change manager's role is to manage changes in the project. This person must have good communications with all involved parties of the project. Any change that is to be made needs to go through this person. It's important that this person works closely with the project management.
In most SharePoint projects you need to have an organization that can help the users and the system to deliver. The webmasters should be part of the project to learn as much as possible before the system goes live. Webmasters also need to get very good training.
The test groups must be ready to manage testing of the system before it goes live. There could be a test manager that creates all test records. The members in the test groups must get proper training during the project.
Once again, I think that highlighting the Shared Vision is important. If all members of a project do not have the same vision of what is about to be delivered, then you can be sure that some or many of the tasks performed will have to be redone. For a person to do a great job, that person needs to see the full picture of the project. Also, new and exciting ideas can be born through this shared vision.
Editor's Note: This is the final in Frederik Leksell's SharePoint Governance Series