legoGovernance is a complex and often avoided topic and why many collaboration (Portal) service offerings go south.Too many decision makers, power struggles too many fingers in the pie!

SharePoint Governance is about improving the management and control of SharePoint related decision activities and enabling executive management to exercise proper oversight (With the numerous stakeholders spanning several departments/areas is critical that executive management steer SharePoint related decisions). To achieve this, better processes, controls, communications, transparency and management techniques are required. However all of these improvements will only succeed in a sustainable way if the culture of the organization is influenced to drive and support the desired new approach (to governance).

How do you know you have a governance problem? Think wild west. Rogue decisions, quality controls bypassed, ownership issues, administration conflict, service quality issues, information architecture inconsistencies, people avoid SharePoint like the plague.

What most SharePoint governance blogs and white-papers cover is the easy part of SharePoint and not the organizational dynamics. Consider that in most cases your are influencing company culture and depending on scope the “change” will take time and is more about understanding how to influence, break down barriers and coach.

For example:

  • What behavior are you trying to influence? Ownership? Accountability? Open decision making? Team work?
  • Who are the stakeholders? Who will benefit? Who owns risk? Are you dealing with multiple countries?
  • Who are the nay sayers? The power mongers that use political power to step on others that get in their way?
  • Who owns the service? Only one person should own it – everyone means no one.
  • Who are the customers of the service? Whose work is impacted? Whose revenue is impacted?
  • Who is involved in making decisions? Voting on changes, enhancements etc…This should comprise of the business, architecture and operations at a minimum.
  • What criteria are used to support the decision? Risk plan? Business benefit? Cost reductions? Simplification?
  • How are decisions communicated?

Ultimately its the CEO responsible for governance and not IT. Look to senior management for answers and mandating governance, adoption plan and measures. You will require senior executives supporting your efforts so that artificial barriers and political islands can be broken down. If you have a weak executive team then you probably won’t get far and will constantly be watching your back – if your savvy.

For executives that need some help, there’s no excuse, Microsoft has published some materials to help kick start the process and there are great books out there such as IT Governance: How Top Performers Manage IT Decision Rights for Superior Results by Weill and Ross that spoon feed you.

Once you’ve read the IT Governance book, have a look at these documents:

You night also want to read Russ Edelmans Blogs part 1 and 2: