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SharePoint governance—Information architecture’s role

The governance structure must take those into consideration when defining ownership, responsibility, security and permissioning that address group, term set and term management within the term store for actions such as:

  • Creation or insertion of new terms (e.g., new product or product line).
  • Renaming existing terms (e.g., change to a product name).
  • Splitting terms (e.g., a category becomes too voluminous and needs to be split into multiple sub-categories).
  • Merging terms (e.g., too few items across sub-categories).
  • Adding a new facet (e.g., new activity or business process).
  • Deleting an existing facet or category (e.g., product discontinuation, selling of a line of business).
  • Deleting a term (e.g., an activity, business process or line of business cease).
  • Moving a category or merging terms (e.g., changes in business or organizational structure).
  • Term reuse (polyhierarchy).

Automating information life cycles using policy, workflow and compliance

A lack of information life cycle design is an important contributor to the accumulation of content that has become redundant, outdated or trivial (ROT). SharePoint implementations that begin and end with a technology-centric approach to design and implementation often end up evolving into generic dumping grounds for content and ultimately end up becoming significantly more difficult to both manage and use. The resulting information abundance causes substantial decreases in findability, which eventually leads to degradations in the user experience, particularly in the area of search as users are forced to sift through pages upon pages of irrelevant results.

SharePoint provides capability to implement information management policies with out-of-the-box policy features that include:

  • Retention—Ability to ensure that content is not retained for unnecessary periods of time.
  • Auditing—Provides the ability to audit user behavior against defined policies and procedures by tracking operations performed on content, such as viewing, opening or downloading.
  • Labeling—Capability to attach labels to physical copies of documents so they can be correctly identified.
  • Restrictions on print—Ensures that the printing of sensitive content items is restricted.

Retention schedules can be associated with content to enable automation of processes that ensure relevance and timeliness of information by addressing review, archival and/or disposition on a regularly scheduled basis. Attaching retention actions and workflow to specific content types allow for increased control over the behavior of that content. Retention stages defined within the settings for a content type include:

  • Event definition—Identify what needs to take place in order for the retention stage to initiate. Typically based on values captured within date fields that represent the passing of a specified amount of time since a previous event took place on the document, such as creation or modification.
  • Action—Identify the action required to occur once the event has been triggered. Actions are frequently associated with workflow and typically include archival, standard review or permanent deletion.
  • Recurrence—Identify the time period for which the retention stage is required to be repeated, which is often associated with the passing of a specified period of time since successful completion of the previous retention stage.

Workflow is an important requirement for ongoing management of content in the SharePoint environment and is required for managing phases that fall within a content type’s life cycle (creation, capture, modification, disposition and/or archival). SharePoint offers simple predefined workflows out of the box that include:

  • Collect feedback—Sends a document for review.
  • Approval—Sends a document for approval, often as a prerequisite to publishing it.
  • Disposition—Manages document expiration and disposition.
  • Collect signatures—Routes a document for signatures.

As with content types, the workflows provided often do not meet the needs required to automate management of the content. There may be more general workflows that can be created that can be used across content types and custom ones that might apply to a single content type. (Chart 2-http://www.kmworld.com/downloads/73944/KMW_2_2011_chart2.pdf.)

Measuring success

The success of SharePoint in any environment will be measured by the ability of users to easily find the information required at the time of need. Information architecture and governance establish the foundation for findability by providing a methodology for modeling both content and user needs and creating a set of standards and processes that are consistently applied to organizational information. Consequences of their absence include:

  • Insufficient resources to keep content up to date or to correctly tag and organize information in support of business objectives.
  • Lack of ownership and accountability leading to content that gets lost, stale or disorganized.
  • Decreased findability through search and navigational access mechanisms, resulting in poor good will, low productivity and frustration among users.
  • Expected efficiencies and cost saving are not achieved.
  • A lack of future opportunities if foundational capabilities are not developed over time.

When designing for information governance organizational culture and maturity must be key considerations. It cannot be something that is imposed upon or establishes obstacles or barriers to productivity. Overall structure must be created in collaboration with stakeholders and subject matter experts. Communication and socialization is required to ensure understanding about how controls put in place are intended to reduce or eliminate content management and findability problems.

Governance is not a one-time thing, but rather an ongoing process that has operational components integrated directly within the SharePoint environment. It needs to be thought of as an extension to the information architecture process and viewed as the establishment of a solid foundation required for information management success.

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