In yesterday's article, “The Evolution of SharePoint Project Governance: Lessons Learned,” we explored the differences between SharePoint governance of the past and today’s holistic view of SharePoint governance as it relates to organizational goals and business needs. Today we reveal how an organization can move from the antiquated form of SharePoint governance to a modern form of SharePoint governance that provides true business value.
SharePoint is a technology that demands strategic integration with both business plans and IT plans. Business governance shapes the vision and sets the course for the company, but SharePoint project governance keeps the tiller pointed in the proper heading.
Successful SharePoint governance for today’s modern organizations mandates participation by a wide range of stakeholders to keep an organization heading in the right direction. One of the first steps of a SharePoint deployment, according to Caroll Ford of Innovative-e, is to establish a governance board.
The governance board is responsible for developing governance strategies and continuing to refine them over time. With the help of a governance board, SharePoint governance becomes a living, evolving guiding strategy instead of a one-time static document. The governance board puts mechanisms in place to manage future projects, as well as ensure that governance strategies are applied to all SharePoint projects and the overall internal SharePoint user community.
When you bring in a new project, part of the project process should be to engage the board and seek answers to the following questions:
- What do we need to adjust in our governance process to add this new capability?
- How does the project integrate from that?
- What do we need from the project team?
- What do they need from us?
- What role should the governance board play in this new project?
In addition to the board, there are numerous other stakeholders who should play a role in the governance, management and strategy of SharePoint, including:
C-level executives owning the ultimate SharePoint strategy must understand the ramifications of the integration: where the purpose of the business intersects with the functionality and productivity of the technology. The worst of all failures for SharePoint leadership occurs when projects are on time, on budget and within scope, yet miss the ultimate business goals and metrics intended.
IT leaders have the challenge of maintaining existing infrastructures and systems while adding new components as requested, typically for the least possible cost. They have the greatest reason to appreciate governance and understand the risks faced when business strategy and IT tactics don’t mesh.
Change Agents (Business and/or IT)
Governance procedures must allow change agents to implement the changes asked of them without excessive restriction. These people will focus more on short-term goals so they need to be educated regarding the purpose behind higher-level governance policies.
Mainstream Managers and Administrators
Mainstream managers and administrators want governance that keeps lights-on business-as-usual (BAU) running for the least cost and minimal hassle.
Users (Business and/or IT)
IT users appreciate governance that prevents business users from needing constant IT support. Business users appreciate SharePoint sites that work, and help desk support when it doesn’t.
Paying Customers (Internal and External)
Customers want governance that allows them to receive consistent value for their money.
Bystanders benefit from governance that protects them from harm and allows for remedies when harm occurs.
While each player has a different reason for participating, all need to follow the same rules of the game, i.e. the governance structure. With such a wide audience, it’s easy to see how the governance structure of SharePoint projects must protect individual competing goals for limited resources from diverting the enterprise away from its optimal goal. Below are SharePoint project governance best practices, developed by Innovative-e, Inc., to help keep individual SharePoint projects in alignment with overall business goals and objectives.
SharePoint Project Governance Best Practices
SharePoint is a business platform full of bits of information, work and productivity functionality. This information exists in many formats and stages, but how consumable is it for users?
As noted in the previous article, users can consume celery, but to what degree is it a satisfying “meal”? We have to wrap our SharePoint business platform with project collaboration components, add guidance, direction and apply review practices to determine if the “meal” we intend to prepare actually meets the needs of those who will consume the meal, the end users.
The SharePoint project governance best practices below help to create a SharePoint user community where users are able to access the platform in the most efficient, effective and productive way possible.
SharePoint projects should be screened and vetted before a commitment is made to deploy them to ensure that they are aligned with an organization’s business and technical goals before implementation. Business alignment is impossible without the involvement of the stakeholders mentioned above.
If the governance board rejects the project for alignment, then the stakeholders submitting the project need to rethink their approach and work with the governance board and other stakeholders to seek alignment.
It is imperative that SharePoint projects have a business owner. This is typically an executive whose budget and people are primarily invested in the success of the project.
In the past, the SharePoint project would have been driven by IT, but in today’s era, the project should be a business project supported by IT. Even if the business owner is from IT, the project should still have a business-driven goal with expected measurable and beneficial outcomes.
Preparing for Organizational Change
Once the project scope and request is accepted based on general alignment, then the project team consisting of all stakeholders should develop a detailed project plan that includes activities that manage the change to both business and technology.
Because of the behavioral changes that, in most cases, are core to a SharePoint initiative, organizational change management is a key factor in the success of the project. Just as organizations benefit from governance over business matters and IT matters, project governance calls for attention to non-technical concerns, as well as technical.
Stakeholder investment representing all “5 Pillars of SharePoint Governance” (business and technology) is essential in creating success metrics. These success metrics are the core that keeps the project aligned throughout its lifecycle. The key here is that the project needs active participation by both the business and technical stakeholders.
Once the project plan is developed and the project moves to planning, start-up, control and execution, continued participation by all stakeholders is essential. The creation and continued integration of a communication plan is another key process that leads to success. This includes project and status meeting cadence, evangelism, coordination, leadership briefings and end-user communication.
Remember, behavioral change requires building excitement and inclusion throughout the stakeholders.
When the new business solution goes live, what then? Project closeout activities must ensure that the key success metrics are evaluated. In addition, the project must be transitioned to operations, maintenance and support.
If key performance indicators (KPIs) are to be measured over a long post-period, then either the project should remain open pending final metrics, or responsibility for these measures must be transitioned to the stakeholders and a review date scheduled.
Finally, collect lessons learned and adjust the SharePoint governance process to improve future outcomes and processes.
Successful SharePoint deployment and ongoing management of your SharePoint user community requires an integration of business goals and technology solutions, an ongoing governance process with continued improvement, organizational change management, and a much broader perspective of how governance impacts the overall organization. It’s time to leave the past behind and see the opportunity for a better future with a holistic view of governance.
Editor's Note: You may also be interested in reading:
- The Art of SharePoint Success: Architecture - The User Centric Intranet by @symon_garfield
- Aligning Business Objectives with SharePoint #NZSPC by @buckleyplanet
- SharePoint Applications: Migration Planning by @joeshepley