Managing the Information Explosion and Risk Generated by SharePoint’s Collaborative Tools

Thousands of diversified organizations in vertical markets including technology, pharmaceutical, retail, finance, education and federal agencies all have the same problem: how can you possibly manage the information explosion – and risk – inherent within SharePoint’s collaborative tools? SharePoint offers tremendously powerful social computing tools, but administrators remain rightfully worried about the holes that such capabilities open.

Collaborative Tools

Every day within these organizations, scores of people create content inside SharePoint. They upload documents, share and update calendars, and create external and internal websites. With SharePoint 2010’s social computing capabilities, users generate tremendous amounts of content, updating MySites, TeamSites, wikis and blogs every second. How can any organization keep up? Furthermore, how can an organization balance the openness and benefits offered by these tools while keeping specific information (Personally Identifiable Information, Protected Healthcare Information or other company confidential details) secure?

The answer is to implement an, integrated solution that offers repeatable, practical and measureable steps to combine technology and policy and enforce regulatory and corporate guidelines for private or confidential information.

Repeatable, Practical and Measurable

A repeatable solution. Any technology that seeks to manage the compliance of the huge expanse of data and information generated by SharePoint’s collaborative and social computing tools needs to be able to repeat the validation process as content is generated. This mandates an automated and integrated solution, easily customizable by an organization’s staff to meet specific regulatory governance requirements and preferences.

Automation and integration means that content gets tested throughout its lifecycle to protect the organization at every step. The first time someone posts a file to a TeamSite, it is scanned before it’s posted, blocking problematic content from being published in the first place and alerting stakeholders to the issue to help prevent future mistakes. Ongoing monitoring can also be set-up to scan content that is already published on the system. An automated and integrated approach gives an organization maximum protection from accidental leaks.

A practical solution. While collaboration and social computing tools improve productivity and better engage your workforce, no organization can participate in them at a premium cost to the IT department or the budget. The successful automated content compliance solution reduces time and money spent by manual testing and hard to customize solutions. By standardizing testing, it reduces the guesswork and human error associated with manual scans.

An automated content compliance solution maximizes an organization’s investment in SharePoint. It opens up collaborative features while safeguarding personal and confidential information. It must be scalable, secure and take the guesswork out of compliance. Standard rules and recommended guidelines come prepackaged in the best solutions.

Measuring the results. While any number of tools may help contain data or even scan and detect problems, the right monitoring solution will provide visibility into compliance issues at a granular level, letting department managers monitor compliance and watch for improvements over time. . Regular reports on ongoing issues give managers direct access to problem content creators and offers the ability to improve the issue at its root.

The best content compliance monitoring solutions provide executives with concise, but detailed dashboard reports on the compliance status of an entire website or intranet, or even specified sections where sensitive data may be stored. This reporting gives the executive team a snapshot of compliance at any instant. Many of these reports are also required by compliance regulations and can be used for historical data.

Employees are asking for social computing tools to accelerate business processes and improve productivity. Compliance tools that audit and monitor without being intrusive can give employees what they crave without sacrificing privacy or security. These tools can provide a means to reinforce learning about proper online behavior with alerts and notifications back to the “offenders.”

Collaboration and security is not about either/or. With the proper technological tools, content compliance within SharePoint can be easily monitored, measured and managed, minimizing an organization’s exposure to risk and taking full advantage of all that collaboration has to offer.

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