As SharePoint Use Increases, Governance Decreases by Christian Buckley, Director of Product Evangelism, Axceler

In a recent article entitled,
Prolific SharePoint Sites Undermine Governance
, technology
writer Jake Frazier outlined a common problem with the growing
number of SharePoint customers: the uncontrolled growth of
SharePoint sites, and how it impacts governance. SharePoint is
proliferating in the marketplace, with KMWorld
SharePoint licenses worldwide at more than 130
million. The more sites that are created and the more content added
to a SharePoint environment, the more difficult it can be to change
course, correct mistakes and implement a governance model. But the
business value to having a formal governance model in place is
enormous. As Mr. Frazier points out,

“To accomplish the defensible disposal of information, including
information in SharePoint sites, companies must put in place and
enforce a record retention policy that recognizes the three major
reasons to keep information: business value, regulatory
requirements and legal holds.”

The difficult part of building out any kind governance plan is
figuring out where to begin. While the ideal situation is to have a
plan in place from the beginning, it’s just not realistic. Most
organizations adopted SharePoint by trying out the free version
(WSS or Foundation), only deploying the enterprise version once
users had embraced the platform. Suddenly, many IT organizations
find themselves trying to clean up, organize, and administer these
systems. What they need is help in building out governance in a
real-time environment. Mr. Frazier outlines two very important
steps in building a plan for taking back control of governance:

  • Getting executive support. This is essential
    to any IT project, but especially with SharePoint governance, as
    you may need to enforce certain policies, using both the carrot and
    the stick.
  • Creating a cross-functional taskforce or governance
    This is where your governance model is debated,
    designed and approved by stakeholders across your

In my role as an evangelist, I am constantly talking to
customers and partners about the issues that hold them back from
getting the most out of SharePoint. At the root of most issues is a
lack of governance planning and execution. Most organizations need
help to implement, automate and enforce their governance
strategies. While these two recommendations are essential steps to
taking back control of your SharePoint governance, they are just
the beginning of your planning process. Some additional steps might

  • Create a governance strategy. Formalize your
    plans, so that stakeholders and end users alike can provide input,
    and help make the resulting plan part of your company culture,
    ensuring long-term success.
  • Understand your usage and activity. Start your
    planning with data, so that you better understand who is using
    SharePoint, how they are using it, and where there are gaps in your
  • Map out your records management policies.
    Different departments may have different rules they need to adhere
    to, and one set of rules may not apply to everyone.
  • Implement and iterate. Once the plan has been
    built and signed off by your executive sponsor, stakeholders and
    end-user influencers, begin to implement — making sure you have a
    strong change management process in place, so that you can adjust
    your strategy and make alterations as you learn.

For most organizations, the best way to achieve these goals
quickly is through a combination of education, tools and expertise.
The reality is that every project team has its limits on what it
can achieve and how fast, typically due to personnel and funding
restrictions. But don’t let these issues detract you from
identifying your governance gaps, and properly planning out your
system. Resource limitations require better prioritization, and to
better prioritize you need to clearly understand what is happening
on your system and with your end users.

I look forward to sharing more insights – and hearing about your
SharePoint governance challenges – at the European SharePoint

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