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The Most Common Governance Mistakes in SharePoint and How to Avoid Them

June 5, 2014 No Comments

Featured article by Dr. Steve Marsh, Metalogix

The mere mention of “governance” can make a room of SharePoint professionals cringe. Why? Defining governance is not easy and many organizations skip this task and move forward without a clear understanding or plan for what governance means. So when SharePoint administrators have to enact ill-defined governance, mistakes inevitably follow.

But, what is governance?

In IT terms, governance encompasses the rules, procedures, processes, and responsibilities that literally “govern” the files, servers, and users that the IT team supports – much of it driven by internal and external rules, policies and regulations.  SharePoint adds an extra layer to IT governance. For example, rules need to be set and adhered to around how users collaborate on documents, create sites, archive/backup/replicate and build content in support of the wider business.

So how do SharePoint administrators cope with exponential user growth, a growing content footprint, and manage the rules that apply to them? Often, SharePoint environments are deployed without a governance plan or with highly restrictive environments that inhibit collaboration. Good governance isn’t in either one of those extremes.

Metalogix has helped hundreds of clients not only identify their governance mistakes, we’ve helped them repair those mistakes and embrace what good SharePoint governance entails.

Here are eight of the most common governance mistakes that we see far too often, and some best practices for remedying them:

1)      Not Defining What Governance Means for their Organization

Governance is a concept, not a clearly defined act. It defines the principles and strategy of how you do business. Sure, you can bring in a consultant to help you define governance, but their recommendations may not align with your current goals. Take the time to define what governance means for your organization. This will help reset the expectations of all your SharePoint stakeholders and could save significant time if done early in the process.

2)      Feeling Overwhelmed by SharePoint Governance

The most common complaint we hear about governance is how overwhelming it can be. It doesn’t have to be that way. Governance is about people, policy, and process. Breaking down your governance into these smaller parts is a smarter way to build an action plan that’s easier to complete. For example, what are the storage quotas for team sites versus other department sites? When applying usage permissions should we use Active Directory or SharePoint groups and never give users direct permissions

3)      Finding There’s No Easy Way to Apply Governance

Governance takes work. It requires the input of people, reviews of established policies, oversight of how those policies become actions and then identifying the technology and tools that can be used in SharePoint to enforce those rules. Take the time to invest in your governance structure.

4)      Not Getting Buy In from Key Stakeholders

Getting buy-in from the executive level is a challenge for many SharePoint administrators, but it’s not the only group that requires attention.  Governance isn’t just about IT. It isn’t just about your legal or compliance department. You’ll also need buy-in from your business and content owners.

5)      Inadequately Training SharePoint Users and Stymying Use Adoption

Your users are your best resource for maintaining a secure and positive collaboration platform. Unfortunately, organizations often introduce SharePoint environments to users with no training. When those users break governance rules or policies, SharePoint administrators make the mistake of reacting to the violation and not to the fact that the user wasn’t trained to avoid those issues. Make a point of training new employees so that they understand SharePoint and how to use it effectively in your organization.  This will also help administrators understand which areas the user should have access to.

6)      Audits Work Better as Proactive Tools

Frequently, a SharePoint administrator will rely on audits to reactively investigate an incident or governance breech. This really redefines the role of an audit and is not a best practice. While audits can and should be used to analyze and recognize why incidents happen, administrators also need to use the insight that an audit can provide to proactively identify potential issues before they happen. No SharePoint environment will ever be issue-free but by being proactive, administrators can reduce the amount of time it takes to fix emergency scenarios.

7)      Failing to Revise Audit and Reporting Tools as Governence Policy Changes

Organizations that do have governance policies in place often make the mistake of failing to revise their audit and reporting tools as those policies change Governance is a fluid process. Take the time to ensure that as your governance policies and rules change that they align with existing SharePoint tools and how your organization uses these systems.

8)      Perceiving Their Environment as Too Small to Warrant Governance

Governance applies to any organization that involves people, information, and business goals.  A solid governance plan should support the way your company operates, drive collaboration, and by extension, adoption of your SharePoint platform. It’s all about working smarter. Setting governance rules in SharePoint also helps SharePoint Administrators better manage their environments as they relate to security and informational compliance.

No SharePoint deployment is perfect. However, by building a well-governed SharePoint environment, SharePoint administrators can better support users, reduce unnecessary audits, and eliminate fire drills.

Steve Marsh Headshot copy The Most Common Governance Mistakes in SharePoint and How to Avoid Them

Dr. Steve Marsh is Director of Product Marketing for Metalogix and is an expert in SharePoint migration and management technologies. Prior to joining Metalogix, Dr. Marsh spent over five years working at Microsoft UK Ltd where he held a number of roles. These include SharePoint Server Product Manager in which he was responsible for business and marketing strategy as well as awareness of Microsoft’s SharePoint technologies. He holds a PhD in Microelectronics and Physics from the University of Dundee where he worked on the research and development of novel semiconductor memory and flat-panel display technologies.




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