Conference Notes

Keynote Panel: Real-World SharePoint Governance (Share 2012, Atlanta)

In the final SharePoint content session for the day, Jeremy Thake (AvePoint) is hosting a panel discussion with Richard Harbridge, Sarah Haase, Susan Hanley, and Adam Quinn.

Question 1. Define governance in 140 characters or less.
– Susan: IT assurance, user guidance.
– Richard: required to get the most out of SharePoint
– Adam: the balance between what users want, and what the technology offers.
– Sarah: define plan, revise the plan, do the plan

Question 2. What drove the need for a governance plan?
– Sarah: governance was reactive. Upgraded to SharePoint 2007 in 2007. No business owner for SharePoint. Grew organically for two years. Then had Site Admins. Governance provided a way for moving together.
– … started governance by committee in 2009. Fred came into the company in 2011, to drive overall SharePoint strategy.
– Adam: our approach was also reactive. Had 5000 people in the US, and then 45 companies merged into one company. Needed to figure out how to bring everything together. Needed alignment before going to SharePoint 2007.
– Richard: in our consulting work, we see that governance is mostly reactive. Something bad happens, or IT can’t handle it anymore.
– Susan: finds the jump between the versions is a motivator for doing governance right.

Question 3. The Wild West – is the Wild West a bad thing?
– Richard: it leads to sprawl of sites. Bigger question – has it been implemented in a way that’s understood? Out-of-the-box some of these things are very complex.
– Susan: it happens because people are paired with tools that they don’t understand – no education or training. It makes me want to cry.
– Sarah: when we implemented SharePoint 2007, it for a business unit. It caused some problems – no-one was looking after the system. Have seen huge growth of storage requirements. Have had to spend some time rectifying the earlier decisions. Needed more resources, an internal user group, etc. One positive benefit of the Wild West – we discovered people who were doing great things with SharePoint.
– Adam: the technology is not very easy and intuitive to work with; with going to SharePoint 2007, we build a site provisioning process. Also listed the requirements of the site owners – and the training they needed. As with Sarah’s experience, you get to find great things going on.
– Susan: at another client, one person taught everyone how to use InfoPath forms, even when a simple SharePoint list could be used.

Question 4. Don’t focus on requirements; focus on the outcomes. What has succeeded from a user adoption approach?
– Susan: what’s the business problem you are solving? Eg., we can’t find information, or the process is inefficient, or there is risk around the use of Excel for tracking.

Question 5. How do we get started with governance?
– Richard: governance is not an issue that’s just about SharePoint. See Susan’s book (along with Scott, et al), Microsoft’s governance site (although it is more technically focused), etc. There’s lots of contents. Do the due diligence to find things. Context is the gap though – what do we need for governance?

Question 6. Where do you store your governance standards?
– Susan: most of our time is spent spreading the message, not documenting it. Focused on being an evangelist for governance; helping people understand the best practices.
– Adam: it’s a lot easier to say “it’s one of our standards, or it’s part of our policy” vs. “it’s in our governance plan, so you have to do it.” Also, have tried to bring the governance ideas into the templates, so it happens at the point of creation.

Question 7. How do you enforce governance?
– Susan: there are some tools and products that help with governance. Permissions management is a big area – will need a third-party tool to help with this. Need carrot (education, support, and coaching) and stick. Makes people available to help people. Aims for a two-page governance plan, and no complete sentences.
– Richard: there is lots of functionality out-of-the-box that helps with governance. Eg., workflows for provisioning, required fields, quotas.

Question 8. Have you seen Site Owners being given less than full control?
– Richard: have seen success on both sides – giving them full control, and giving them lower control. Have seen more success with the lower control approach. Need to be careful about the ad hoc things; it depends on the resources you have available to help.

Question 9. How many people in the audience are using customized templates?
– Audience: about 10%.
– Susan: that’s not enough. You need to do this more. Build the practices into the template.
– … eg., Adam turns “New Folder” off by default.
– … eg., delete “Shared Documents,” because it has a space in the file name.
– Richard: content types are very good. Helps with mapping SharePoint to the organization.

Question 10. What have you done to keep improving?
– Sarah: we have a continual evaluation process, based on new things we learn. Per Sue, “you wake up smarter every day.” There are opportunities to improve. Being involved in SharePoint user groups and SharePoint Saturday events – helps with connecting with people, and learning about what they do.
– Adam: have had different experiences. Used to have a committee responsible for changes. It takes time to build things – have tried to make improvements over time. Have put in a consulting request process, to allow Site Owners to request help with things. Have someone on the team to help with re-aligning where teams have gone.

Question 11. What have you seen to manage the usage?
– Susan: communities of practice are good, or Centers of Excellence (or the “Center of the Best Way To Do Things We Know Now”), office hours for seeing IT, a lab environment where the IT people do “duty calls” once a week.

Question 12. How do we measure return-on-investment?
– Richard: in most solutions built on SharePoint, look at long term success with different solutions. You need to measure things in the first place, so you can see the delta. Track how cycle times have decreased.
– Susan: if the solution is delivering success, will you break down the proportion attributed to design vs. governance. In reality, however, look for the quotes where someone says, “I was looking for an expert. It used to take 3 days. But I found one in 15 minutes with SharePoint.”
– Adam: hasn’t found the anecdotes have helped getting more investment, but they have helped in showing the value.
– Richard: there’s a bad side to governance too. Can be used to tell people not to do things – you can’t create sites, change permissions, etc. Other organizations see “governance” as a bucket list. It builds up a huge mess about what governance is.
– Sarah: governance provides a good foundation for moving forward. Don’t get huge up on the same “sharp edges” (Sue Hanley quote). A big missed opportunity is to underestimate the power of the simple solutions. ROI isn’t just about money – testimonials are very powerful, or the “don’t take it away” question. Sarah always goes back three months after a new solution has been implemented, to check on how things are going. Closes the loop, and gives you ideas for improvement, etc.

Question 13. What’s your final take-home idea?
– Adam: identify where your key wins will come from, and share them in your organization.
– Richard: we should trust ourselves. We are probably trying to do our best. Say “well done” to yourself.
– Susan: go back in after a solution has been deployed, and see if the solution is meeting a real business need. Sarah does this really well. There are many great implications of this.