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Share point governance - an inside out perspective

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In the last few years, the adoption of SharePoint has caught everybody (even Microsoft) by surprise. Everybody seems to be investing into SharePoint and SharePoint has become the platform for the …

In the last few years, the adoption of SharePoint has caught everybody (even Microsoft) by surprise. Everybody seems to be investing into SharePoint and SharePoint has become the platform for the collaboration in the industry especially in mid to large sized organizations. Enterprises are using SharePoint in some form or the other.

When we trace back the roots of the popularity of this platform, it takes me back to the basic need of a human being which is being able to communicate easily with the people we live or work with. In the enterprises today, the need for people to collaborate or communicate is reaching its pinnacle because of the current economic conditions around the world. Let’s think about it, people in the ancient era formed small societies or communities to live together so that they can safely utilize the skills that they possess as a group which is not possessed by any single individual. These needs become more and more important when you are surrounded by adverse conditions. Sounds familiar?

This white paper discusses governance in above context. This big community (which is made up of smaller communities) constitutes an organization.

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  • 1. www.aditi.com SharePoint is the fastest growing product in Microsoft history for a reason. Organizations have recognized the platform's unmatched ability to serve as a centralized document repository, online collaboration workspace, intranet, extranet, and portal service. As adoption of SharePoint continues to accelerate globally spreading into every industry vertical and market, growing numbers of organizations are confronting the formidable challenge of governing and monitoring the platform's infrastructure, activity and growth. To optimize platform performance and mitigate exposure to legal and compliance related risk, organizations must develop a comprehensive understanding of their SharePoint's deployment- including architecture, end user behavior, patterns, and administrative capabilities and limitations. Only with this understanding can administrators and other stakeholders develop strategies to ensure proper stewardship of this mission critical asset. To begin developing this understanding, it is very useful to first discuss the important concepts of SharePoint Governance- Principles and Policies. Principles are the values on which the organization is standing. They are the core of the organization and this does not change based on context. Policies on the other hand are the set of governing rules which make sure that every act performed is mapped back to the principles of the organization. Policies can always have exceptions. For example, the organization has a principle of openness; they might decide upon a policy that every piece of content in SharePoint will be accessible and searchable to everybody in the organization. In a nutshell, organization principles are backbones of the organizational policies. Abstract In the last few years, the adoption of SharePoint has caught everybody (even Microsoft) by surprise. Everybody seems to be investing into SharePoint and SharePoint has become the platform for the collaboration in the industry especially in mid to large sized organizations. Enterprises are using SharePoint in some form or the other. When we trace back the roots of the popularity of this platform, it takes me back to the basic need of a human being which is being able to communicate easily with the people we live or work with. In the enterprises today, the need for people to collaborate or communicate is reaching its pinnacle because of the current economic conditions around the world. Let’s think about it, people in the ancient era formed small societies or communities to live together so that they can safely utilize the skills that they possess as a group which is not possessed by any single individual. These needs become more and more important when you are surrounded by adverse conditions. Sounds familiar? This white paper discusses governance in above context. This big community (which is made up of smaller communities) constitutes an organization. SharePoint Governance - An inside out perspective POLICY POLICIESPRINCIPLES GOVERNANCE
  • 2. www.aditi.com Governance is all about setting up a set of policies for effective communication to happen in this big community and making sure that this communication can happen on a continued basis and uninterrupted. To understand governance better, let’s dive into the three axes of governance. Three Axes of Governance: Governance can be defined across three axes: 1. Organizational Governance 2. Informational Governance 3. Operational Governance Organizational Governance is all about defining the people who will be responsible for defining the informational governance and operational governance. a) Custodians of the Principles: This is what is known as steering committee in most of the organizations. These are the people who are up in the ladder and are really the ones who will provide inputs on the organizational principles to come up with the policies which can be implemented at the root level. b) Representatives of the self- contained smaller communities: If the organization is big and it has some smaller self-sufficient teams, consider creating this team constituting representatives of these teams. You need somebody to steer this as you can already sense some conflicting thoughts. This team will become the sounding board of the policies to make sure that these smaller groups are happy to conform to the policies. This may or may not be required based on the size of the organization. c) Strategy team: This team should end up taking inputs from the above two teams and convert that into a set of ground level policies. Informational Governance will be defined by the strategy team. This team will make sure that policies are implemented in such a way that information though controlled at the higher level is allowed to flow easily between the defined boundaries. The more complex the information flow is, the more difficult it will be for the people to adopt it. Key things to be defined here are a) Information boundaries: This will help the technical guys define their SharePoint farms, taxonomy, information architecture and lot of other good stuff around permissions. Most often than not, it is considered to be a purely technical task but it really is informational governance that then needs to be backed by the technical details. SharePoint is really flexible in mapping it back once its defined property. b) Life cycle of the information: This should also be an organizational discussion and further needs to be backed up by technical components around data retention policies, record management and archival etc. The key point that usually is left undetermined in the incubation of the idea. This has to be highly unrestrictive, personal space. c) Information translation: This should map back to technical policies around the web services, SOA and rest based data access. This also provides direction to the technical team on covering the development policies. Operational Governance ensures that these policies are used, new people are on boarded with these policies or are made aware of them (this is most often forgotten) and ensuring that the services are provided uninterrupted.
  • 3. www.aditi.com I often term these policies as the environmental support to the communication. Backup, recovery, availability, performance and all the policies around that are covered here. The operational policies can really be divided into two blocks a) Ensuring the environment: The policies around ensuring that the environment is available and accessible for people to use are covered here. Also the policies around how would somebody ask for the site; ask for permission etc. should be covered here. b) Planning for the worst: What happens in case of something goes wrong. What should be the plan or communication? How should governance be implemented? An effective governance plan anticipates the needs and goals of your organization's business divisions and IT teams. Every enterprise is unique, you must determine the best way to implement a governance plan that is custom tailored to your environment. Here is a road map that outlines the stages of a governance implementation for your organization: Initial Principles and Goals: The governance committee should develop a governance vision, policies, and standards that can be measured to track compliance and to quantify the benefit to the enterprise. For example, the plan should identify service delivery requirements for both technical and business aspects of the SharePoint Server 2010 deployment. Business information/content: Organize your information according to an existing taxonomy, or create a custom taxonomy that includes all content required to support your business solution. After your information is organized, design an information architecture to manage your enterprise content. Then, determine the most appropriate IT services to support the information architecture. Educate: The human element is, after the governance plan itself, the most important ingredient in the success or failure of a SharePoint Server 2010 deployment. A comprehensive training plan should show how to use SharePoint Server 2010 according to the standards and practices that you are implementing and explain why those standards and practices are important. The plan should cover the kinds of training required for specific user groups and describe appropriate training tools. For example, your IT department might maintain a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page about its SharePoint Server 2010 service offerings, or your business division might provide online training that shows how to set up and use a new document management process. Plan, plan, plan: Successful governance is an iterative process. The governance committee should meet regularly to consider incorporating new requirements in the governance plan, reevaluate and adjust governance principles, or resolve conflicts among business divisions for IT resources. The committee should provide regular reports to its executive sponsors to promote accountability and to help enforce compliance across the enterprise. Consider that, although this process seems complicated, its goals are to increase the return on your investment in SharePoint Server 2010, take full advantage of the usefulness of your SharePoint Server 2010 solution, and improve the productivity of your enterprise.
  • 4. www.aditi.com The Solution: We defined and implemented a robust Governance Framework for SharePoint 2010 which included: • Governance Policies (Site structure, Quotas, Workflows, Branding, Information Architecture etc.) • Development Policies (Design, Versioning, deployment, Hotfixes, 3rd Party add-ons etc.) • Operational Policies (Security policies, Disaster recovery, Monitoring etc.) Our framework definition was supported with continuous user awareness sessions to facilitate easier user adoption. Finally, we conducted large scale expo style events for users to experience the power of collaboration. Business Benefits With the successful implementation of SharePoint Governance, the governance team at The Co-operative group was able to act proactively and provide a controlled and managed environment to satisfy the business needs of collaboration. Higher ROI: The increased level of user adoption, time saved in buyer- seller negotiations, better utilization of resources and reduced transactional costs led to a marked increase in ROI. Faster time-to-market: The collaboration tool ensured spending less time on business processes like tracking price changes, negotiations, promotions, reporting and efficient contract management. Data Security: By enforcing a defined security model, business users were assured of data protection. Increased platform performance: Improved document storage, better relationships between suppliers and buyers, predictable growth of server farms ensured an increase in platform performance. The Client Story/ Problem Statement: The co-operative group has 13 different business and thus a very diversified user base. There is a high potential for the employs to collaborate within and across business units to provide a better customer services to this user base. The need to share the data and the knowledge across this customer base is a key to grow the business and provide a seamless experience to the internal and external customers across these businesses. Solution Overview: Aditi rolled out an enterprise wide governance framework and ensured end users are on board through department level training and adoption workshops
  • 5. www.aditi.com About Aditi Aditi helps product companies, web businesses and enterprises leverage the power of cloud, e-social and mobile, to drive competitive advantage. We are one of the top 3 Platform-as-a- Service solution providers globally and one of the top 5 Microsoft technology partners in US. We are passionate about emerging technologies and are focused on custom development. We provide innovation solutions in 4 domains: Digital Marketing solutions that enable online businesses increase customer acquisition Cloud Solutions that help companies build for traffic and computation surge Enterprise Social that enables enterprises enhance collaboration and productivity Product Engineering services that help ISVs accelerate time-to-market www.aditi.com https://www.facebook.com/AditiTechnologies http://www.linkedin.com/company/aditi-technologies http://adititechnologiesblog.blogspot.in/ https://twitter.com/WeAreAditi Of course, there are many perspectives from which a company can manage its information management. At a high level, it’s important to know who your users are across the world, so the right data is subject to the right global policies. At a more granular level, however, it’s just as important to evaluate the more basic, operational functions of how data is managed, where it is being shared and with whom it can be shared. Recent information management surveys have highlighted the way information, even sensitive information, is shared among employees in and out of the company’s four walls. To ensure that all users understand the implications that taking work home with them, or leaving sensitive information on their smart phone or emailing files to unauthorized users has on a company’s governance and compliance, It’s important to understand how employees regard information and the entitlement issues attached to accessing data readily, when they implement solutions to managing it effectively. The empowered employee, while important to innovation, has come to expect a certain level of access and mobility, which may be unrealistic and risky for many organizations to maintain. However, educating users need not be difficult. Industry experts have shown examples of company intranets that feature a governance tip of the day, which reminds users about privacy policies and guidelines for sharing information; or anonymous web forms through which users can submit questions to legal or HR departments. As the management of SharePoint, particularly governance policies, has become a top priority for organizations now relying on SharePoint to work smarter and gain competitive advantage, the time to plan is now. To stay on the right track so they can effective and proactively grow alongside emerging technologies and regulatory standards, governance needs to become woven into a company’s culture as well as its strategy. Sahil Sagar is a Technical Architect at Aditi Technologies He is a seasoned technology professional, with expertise in consulting and technical architecture. Sahil is primarily focusing on consulting around the Microsoft technology stack (specifically SharePoint and BI) to provide the maximum return on the investments for organizations. He has been a speaker in public forums during community tech days and Spark IT.