According to the initial results of a Microsoft SharePoint governance survey commissioned by Axceler, more than two-thirds of the respondents consider SharePoint governance to be extremely or very important to their organizations. Yet nearly half of those same respondents confirmed that SharePoint governance policies do not exist or are undefined.

Governing in a State of SharePoint

The state of SharePoint governance today, as indicated by the survey, shows that though SharePoint remains a “strategic enterprise platform” by a majority of respondents (65%), more than half of the organizations surveyed have just started their governance planning efforts, or have not begun them at all.

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To help us better understand the misconceptions about governance and best prepare and empower our companies to manage data more effectively, we turned to a former Microsoft insider. In January, Keith Galumbeck was appointed director of the Microsoft practice at Array Information Technology. Before that, he served as Microsoft Practice Manager for Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and spent nearly eight years as a technology strategist at Microsoft, where he provided technical process planning and strategic guidance in the technology adoption process.

Is Governance a Part of Your Organization Culture?

According to Galumbeck, when it comes to managing data, everyone has their own ideas and approaches, so much so that sometimes basic reporting and social skills are ignored. As well, without building a sound governance philosophy from the top down and bottom up, companies fail to make policies a part of the infrastructure.

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Different Perspectives, Different Needs

Of course, there are many perspectives from which a company can manage its information management. At a high level, it’s important to know who your users are across the world, so the right data is subject to the right global policies. At a more granular level, however, it’s just as important to evaluate the more basic, operational functions of how data is managed, where it is being shared and with whom it can be shared.

Educate & Empower

Recent information management surveys have highlighted the way information, even sensitive information, is shared among employees in and out of the company’s four walls. To ensure that all users understand the implications that taking work home with them, or leaving sensitive information on their smart phone or emailing files to unauthorized users has on a company’s governance and compliance, Galumbeck says that companies need to marry management’s view of data with users’ perceptions.

It’s important to understand how employees regard information and the entitlement issues attached to accessing data readily, when they implement solutions to managing it effectively. The empowered employee, while important to innovation, has come to expect a certain level of access and mobility, which may be unrealistic and risky for many organizations to maintain.

However, educating users need not be difficult. Galumbeck cites examples of company intranets that feature a governance tip of the day, which reminds users about privacy policies and guidelines for sharing information; or anonymous web forms through which users can submit questions to legal or HR departments.

The Future is Now

As the management of SharePoint, particularly governance policies, has become a top priority for organizations now relying on SharePoint to work smarter and gain competitive advantage, the time to plan is now. To stay on the right track so they can effective and proactively grow alongside emerging technologies and regulatory standards, governance needs to become woven into a company’s culture as well as its strategy.