SharePoint, I Love You
"Yes," said Tamir. "There needs to be some sort of governance framework to determine two things: One, what to do with the site when the project is done; and two, what do you do with the content that is attached under that site? Sites keep growing and growing and growing... now consider all the possible SharePoint users in the organization, and all the various jurisdictions, such as other countries... how do you maintain and how do you govern those records?"
"The vast majority of companies love SharePoint," said Theresa. "They use it, they understand it... but when you ask them what they're doing about governance, you hear crickets chirping."
A Gritty Committee
"Actually, there are two separate subjects when you talk about governance," said Tamir. "There's IT governance—when employees leave the company you have to disable their passwords, make sure they don't have access to any SharePoint sites, etc." That stuff, explains Tamir, is old news and is pretty well in hand. "But the other kind of governance is about information, and the policies you put in place. Companies do not have control over the information itself. And it is all discoverable in the event of a litigation or employee matter."
We discussed the difficulties in exerting across-the-board control while appeasing all the possible stakeholders in play—from HR, to legal, to business to marcom. THAT would take a village, and it is a hard thing to accomplish.
"You're right; there's no way a single person can understand each of the business areas," said Randy. "But there can be a core team from all the departments, plus maybe an executive component, that sets the direction and creates a vision for how SharePoint should be used throughout the organization."
"A committee could also develop policies on what to do with content that moves from SharePoint into other repositories, like records management, for example," added Tamir. "It would be great and wonderful if companies could standardize on one platform, but in reality—they haven't. They have multiple repositories, multiple systems and multiple formats. So take that steering committee and their discussion to a level higher than just SharePoint. It could help ensure that all the various constituents are on the same page."
But none of the people on the call that day had any misconceptions. "Let me tell you," said Tamir, "creating that governance committee is a big challenge. It's easy to say, but there's politics, there's culture, there's the ‘what's in it for me?' factor; there's hesitation to want to join a committee."
"It would be good, but I don't think many people do it," said Theresa. "Companies generally have a means of provisioning their other software licenses, where uses can check-in and check-out software as needed, and they keep track of their licenses that way. But SharePoint doesn't seem to fit into that scenario! It falls under that radar screen," she said.
And it's not only rules and regs. If companies want to take full business advantage of SharePoint, they must also teach best practices around using SharePoint for the highest value possible.
"Most of the policies we see today are reactive in nature," said Theresa. "It is a rare organization that can look into the Magic 8 Ball and have the vision to be proactive on setting forth best practice polices. I thought that the recent mortgage banking controversy might do it. But it didn't seem to have quite the earth-shaking effect I thought it would. It just doesn't seem to be in the consciousness of the organization yet. It's as though they're saying, ‘it's not our problem yet, so we'll think about it later.'"