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TechnologyApr 12, 2012

7 Key Governance Tools for SharePoint, Office 365, or Information Sharing and Collaboration in General

Jesus Salazar

I recently presented at a SharePoint Conference earlier this year laying out a handful of “Tools” that help with Information Sharing and Collaboration (ISC) Governance. You can view that presentation here – 7 Key Governance Tips for Office 365.  A lot people like to refer to ISC Governance as “SharePoint Governance” but I contest that Governance is not technology specific. Technology can drive the decisions you are forced to make but in true Governance, if you aren’t focusing on addressing problems within the business process or function, you may end up in the weeds really quick.

In full disclosure, some of the tools I have laid out may be easier to incorporate if you are currently using SharePoint but it is not required. At this conference we laid out 7 helpful tools (not necessarily 3rd party software tools but components or elements) that help support effective governance. If your organization is missing one or more of these, give them a try and see if it helps. Enjoy!

1. Collaboration Center of Excellence – This is not just a “Governance Team” although they sometimes do the governance. This is a team non IT people who are well educated with the problems and potential solutions around Information Sharing and Collaboration. The problem is that most of the time IT holds all of the knowledge or know how around this which can make it hard to get people bought into the solution. A good Center of Excellence empowers end users, promotes ownership of solutions, and increases helps to increase user adoption.

2. Governance Workspace – If you have SharePoint as part of your ISC, build a workspace! A secure SharePoint workspace helps provide continuity and accountability between governance meetings. This is especially important as people can get busy and attendance can be inconsistent sometimes. At a minimum, it promotes real world collaboration experience for the team and takes the theory out of it. This is also a great way for the team to challenge themselves to improve how they collaborate. Be creative with your site but KEEP IT SIMPLE!

3. CXO (where X != I or T) — An Executive Champion is critical for many reasons. First off, they are closest to business objectives and can provide direction and ensure business alignment. Second, they can ensure time and money are being invested appropriately to manage your information. Lastly, they can exert influence on the rest of your organization when needed to ensure people are listening and taking ISC seriously. Typically someone on the operations side of your organization will have the most clout. If you find getting someone like this on board, there are lots of amazing statistics on SharePoint, Lync, Exchange, or Enterprise Search that should catch their attention. Did you know that according to IDC, employees spend on average 10hrs per week simply looking for information?

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4. Ongoing End User Surveys – Surveys are so simple to do in SharePoint or any decent portal technology and can help you keep a pulse on your user community. Getting objective feedback from users should always be a priority for any organization and anonymous feedback sometimes can help you get to the root of most problems quickly. Without a pulse on what users are getting value out of, you are shooting in the dark! If your responses are low, small incentives work wonders. It is amazing what people will do for a $5 Starbucks Gift Card!

5. Reporting/Auditing – Web analytics are immensely useful to understand what people have a hard time articulating or find difficulty remembering. Good analytic reports (Top Pages, Top bad urls, Top search keywords, Failed searches, etc.) are a goldmine and if used to proactively find problems can help you quickly resolve usability and user adoption issues. SharePoint on premise has most of these reports out of the box. If you are using SharePoint Online, you may need to add Google Analytics to derive most of this information.

6. Agile Development – Testing and Quality Delivery are generally one of the things that organizations try to focus on improving when it comes to ISC Governance. I believe that Agile development is a great model to follow to ensure users are spoon fed new features and tools in a digestible manner. Also as volatile and shifty as ISC can be, Agile will help you to ensure you are able to focus on business priorities as they ebb and flow.

  1. The “Tune Up” – No matter how good you are at governance and how long you have been doing it, over time, a governance process can get stale and so can the team. What do you do when you are “out of good ideas”? GET A FRESH PERSPECTIVE. Find other organizations using similar technologies and share ideas. Technology conferences are a great place to meet like-minded people. Experienced consulting firms also have a wealth of knowledge. They typically have seen dozens and dozens of different problems and multiple solutions applied across a variety of industries.

Hopefully you found at least a couple of new ideas and things to try as you embark on your governance journey. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Credera if there is anything we can help you with. All the best to you and good luck!