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Common Business Requirements of Governance

When architecting governance plans and policies, it is vital to identify the business requirements that your policy and plan must meet. In our talks with thousands of customers worldwide, several common themes came to the fore:

1. Accountability – Not just for creation of content, but for the entire content lifecycle. Essentially, think of accountability as content ownership. People will come and go in organizations, sometimes even transferring roles, so there must be a way to ensure that ownership never falls through the cracks. Among all requirements listed herein, this one is arguably the most important.
2. Quality – Throughout the entire content lifecycle, ensuring quality is also of paramount importance. Often content is created and never published, muddying sites and potentially leading to sprawl. In other cases, critical business decisions are made from content contained within SharePoint. Be sure that content reviews are factored into your quality plans and, as part of this, be sure that stale content is properly archived.
3. Restrictions – Not all content is created with the expectation that it will be visible to everyone in the organization. Prime examples are Human Resources content and Accounting data. Having the proper restrictions in place for content is extremely important. Proper security also ensures that information confidentiality, integrity, and availability is achieved.
4. Appropriateness – Along with ownership and accuracy come appropriateness. Identifying which content should be on SharePoint is a common concern among organizations – particularly personal documents in My Sites and forms of personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security numbers. Don’t assume that everyone has the right level of maturity or understands the basic content principles you expect in your organization – put proper governance plans and policy in place to define which content should “live” in SharePoint.
5. Discoverability – For a successful solution, content in SharePoint needs to be discoverable. While SharePoint search is very powerful feature, it requires planning and regular tuning to deliver relevant results (not too little, not too much).
6. Compliance – A large topic to address in relation to the content lifecycle, the hottest concerns lately are with regard to social content. The ability to add status messages to your profile, post comments on profile note boards, or update your user profile without content approval or auditing is a major risk. Achieving compliance is a key requirement for those organizations that must comply with federal or state regulations or internal standards.
7. Training – Of course, training is your opportunity to empower your people on how to use SharePoint, but more importantly they must know how they should be using SharePoint within your organization. Somehow, these governance standards, policies, and guidance must be communicated to users. Instead of training users on the just basics of SharePoint, be sure your training program is molded around how they will be using it in their daily tasks.
8. Adoption – Despite myriad requirements, asking users to unlearn old habits, and work differently, organizations still expect adoption. Adoption is a bit of a balance game. With too little use, SharePoint doesn’t give you the collective, synergistic benefits that you would expect. You don’t have true collaboration if only some of the people collaborate. On the opposite end of the spectrum, too much use will lead to struggles managing growth and maintaining a quality service offering. Governance does help address the adoption problem by providing clear guidance on who should use SharePoint and how. But, for that to work, adoption requirements and expectations should be clearly defined.
9. Storage – Storage costs are a large concern to organizations that do not desire to spend a great deal of money on expensive, SQL-specialized, SAN storage. The ability to treat content with different priorities of cost is extremely important. Be sure to consider how content lifecycle (creation, life, and eventual deletion) affects future storage requirements so that you can plan your storage needs appropriately.

Are these business requirements ringing a bell? Any that aren’t listed on here you feel are important? I’d be happy to hear any comments you have below.

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