Creating a Governance Program is the 1st Step towards a Successful SharePoint Implementation

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Successful SharePoint implementations are less about the technology and more about the business functions that are delivered to the end users.  To insure that the delivery of the SharePoint solution is consistent and meets the needs of the users, a robust governance program should be established.   Governance programs are one of those areas that can cover different topics depending on the focus of the organization.  Successful SharePoint solutions require a governance program that covers the business aspect of managing the SharePoint implementation.  A SharePoint governance program will cover the:


  • Establishment of a Governance Board
  • Definition for release management, standards enforcement, and cross-functional delivery
  • Roles and responsibilities for using and administrating the SharePoint system
  • Actions to be taken in the resolution of issues or problems relating to the SharePoint system


The SharePoint Governance Board is comprised of both business and IT representatives.  It is also critical that the Governance Board has an Executive sponsor that represents the board and governance issues to the senior leadership team.  The Governance Board is responsible for:


  • Driving Project-level governance, Key Decisions, and issue resolution
  • Approving designs, plans, and results
  • Creating business requirements, standards, and governance
  • Recommending enforcement policies


The Governance Board also is responsible for understanding the SharePoint Roadmap and recommending the phases and budget for implementing key SharePoint functionality.  Successful SharePoint projects are typically implemented in short phases that deliver a defined solution or set of functionality that delivers value to the end users.


The initial governance meeting is critical to establishing the principles for the SharePoint project.  This initial meeting should:


  • Explain the SharePoint Program and Roadmap
  • Review Project Timelines
  • Detail Guiding Principles, Approach, and Governance
  • Validate Roles and Responsibilities of the Governance B
  • Confirm SharePoint Initiative Board Team Membership


When developing the guiding principles, several areas should be evaluated.  These areas include:


  • The amount of customizations.  Should the implementation be very close to out-of-the-box or was customizations needed to meet the required functionality
  • The development of a  global framework and governance for internal and external SharePoint usage
  • Look and feel, designs
  • Participants / quotas
  • Exposure (Internal / External)
  • Data retention
  • The design and implementation using a phased approach.  Using the SharePoint Roadmap, determine the phases of functionality that will deliver a defined, measurable business value
  • The determination of the importance of a customized user interface versus the functionality of the site
  • The creation of a consistent user experiences (internal / external)
  • SharePoint templates/themes for common branding
  • The utilization of third-parties to provide marketplace best practices and deployment assistance
  • The establishment of program metrics: Quality, performance, functionality, cost
  • The capture the successes and areas for improvement, translated into lessons learned, and applied  to other initiatives
  • The prioritization of areas for future deployments of Social Networking, Web 2.0, and Collaboration Tools


Once the Governance Board has been established, charter set and the project direction has been determined, the next steps towards establishing a governance program are to develop a governance plan.  The plan is a guidebook outlining the administration and support of SharePoint system. It identifies lines of ownership for both business and technical teams, defining who is responsible for what areas of the system. Furthermore it establishes rules for appropriate usage of the SharePoint system.    The plan will outline the approach to managing the SharePoint system, identifying if the system will be managed centrally by IT or distributed by the business owners.  This is a key decision as it affects the process and procedures for provisioning new sites and maintaining the access to current sites.  

The Governance Board, as previously stated, provides the business leadership.  This includes:

  •  Vision, Design, Plans, and Results
  •  Policy, Procedure, and Issue Resolution
  • Governance and Key Decision
  • Layout and Structure


The Content Owner is responsible for managing the content and access to sites and sub-sites.  This can include:


  • Determining site membership
  • Policing the content integrity
  • Provisioning sub-sites


The Contributor role provides users with the ability to create update and delete content.  It is up to the governance plan to define the process and procedures for submitting and promoting content for general availability.   The Reader role is a general role assign to users of the system that allows them read only access to content. 


Just as important as the business roles is the Technical Administrator.  This role is responsible for:


  • Maintaining the system configuration
  • Managing the standards and security
  • Enforcing the policies and procedures
  • Provisioning the sites
  • Performing system maintenance and backup


Establishing these roles early in the program will insure that the necessary policies and procedures and established and followed both during implementation and usage of the system.


Creating the Governance Board and Governance Plan are an essential step toward the success implementation and operations of your SharePoint system.  In summary the key items to remember are:


  • Governance should be part of an overall Roadmap
  • Governance should be included in the Foundation and in all phases
  • Governance IS an ongoing effort.
  • Departments may change depending on project mix
  • Key roles will not changes
  • Best Practices will not change

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Mike Alsup

This is all good stuff, but it seems to me sort of unconnected with the problems of SharePoint governance that I see all the time. Your article is about people and process, but not automation. I see the problem of SharePoint governance as how to provision and enforce content governance consistently through automation. Without this, policy and procedure loses the battle, because SharePoint goes native and viral. Thoughts?
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Rich Blank

people and process are definitely important. however, many organizations have documents that outline this. unfortunately, policy is not always followed unless there's a systematic way to enforce governance through automation. that automation might involve site provisioning, access to sites, auditing, and more...

out of the box, sharepoint lacks a lot of capabilities to automate governance and you have to rely on the Microsoft ecosystem to provide a third party solution or develop your own custom "governance" solution that fits your organizational requirements.
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Sean Swords

Most standard SharePoint governance models don't give enough attention to the administration effort created by SharePoint with site super users spending half of their time unlocking data that should never have been locked down in the first place. Clever models should take this into account and place as much power as possible at the leaf level, without compromising security or stability of course.
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This post and comment(s) reflect the personal perspectives of community members, and not necessarily those of their employers or of AIIM International