When we released DocAve Governance Automation in June of 2012, our mission was to convert unstructured SharePoint management and administration processes into managed services that allowed for better business agility and productivity, and also ensured compliance with data governance policies and necessary IT controls. In the two years since its initial offering, Governance Automation has blossomed into a full-featured business solution for SharePoint service management, including automated provisioning (for site collections, sites, lists, and libraries), permissions management and certification, content and information lifecycle management, and more.
Over the next week, we will post a three part blog series that details some of the major themes and feature enhancements in our new Governance Automation Service Pack (SP) 5 release – which is officially available today – including some powerful and flexible permissions management features and capabilities to help you automate content database placement and sizing. Today, however, I’m kicking off the series with a post about one of the enhancements I’m most excited about: Deeper integration of Governance Automation’s powerful features directly inside the SharePoint interface.
Putting Governance Automation’s Capabilities in Context for Business Users
Our focus in the first few releases of Governance Automation was primarily on expanding the service types that we offered. As a matter of fact, in the new release, we’re even offering a custom service type where organizations can use Governance Automation to offer any scriptable or assembly-based (.dll) service, providing the same approval, tracking, and auditing capabilities as the solution’s native services.
When developing Governance Automation SP 5, however, one of our main objectives was to enhance the end user experience. This update includes a number of enhancements that put the solution’s powerful features into the context of the SharePoint environment, integrating the product more seamlessly for business users so that they no longer need to leave where they are working to make requests or review policy information.
Introducing the Site Card
After building powerful services and rich, site-related information in Governance Automation, we needed to find an elegant way to surface this information for SharePoint end users right where they were working. We found our answer to this challenge in the SharePoint 2013 app model. In Governance Automation SP 5, we are introducing a provider-hosted SharePoint 2013 app for Governance Automation that can be added to any or all of your SharePoint site collections in order to make important information easily available to end users. One of the features of this new app that users will find especially helpful is one we are calling the Site Card.
The Site Card is an app part that can be automatically placed on the home page of every site in your deployment to surface the information and services that Governance Automation has for that specific site. Want to see who owns the site? What about custom metadata Governance Automation has collected for that site? Want to grant someone access, create a subsite, or move content from that site? Just click the appropriate options on the Site Card and you will be taken directly to the information you need. Because this is a SharePoint 2013 app, the Site Card also takes on the branding and styling of whatever SharePoint site you add it to with no complicated CSS editing required in order to ensure a consistent look and feel throughout your environment.
The Site Card is complimented by other Governance Automation app parts that work in much the same way, such as My Tasks and My Requests. To learn more about those app parts, visit our Governance Automation user guide.
Introducing the Policy Bar
Many organizations using SharePoint have worked hard to develop ways of branding their sites to communicate acceptable use to their users. Often this involves custom icons, badges, or color scheme-based master pages that need to be maintained and applied appropriately. With Governance Automation SP 5, we have simplified and automated these efforts with our new Policy Bar.
The Policy Bar is a solution for SharePoint 2013 that enables the policy for each site to be easily communicated to users. Users are made aware of the site’s intended use and can click the bar to get even more information about the defined policy and what it means.
Configuration of this new solution could not be simpler. When you are configuring a Governance Automation Site Collection Policy, you simply indicate the icon and page or site that users will be directed to when they click on the Policy Bar.
With the Policy Bar, you now have a powerful and effective way to communicate to your users how they should be using each of the sites they access without the need to worry about custom master pages or branding.
Intercepting the Access Request Process
It’s a common problem: A user somehow finds him or herself directed to a SharePoint resource that he or she does not have access to.
Depending on the version of SharePoint you’re using, what happens next varies slightly, but, in general, the platform offers little to no visibility about whom you are waiting on and what the status is when you request access to a site.
In Governance Automation SP 5, we now provide the ability to intercept SharePoint 2010 or 2013 access requests and simply replace the platform’s native process with a managed Governance Automation access request service. That service has a defined approval process, duration, escalation, and status to provide transparency for the requester.
This new capability gives administrators the flexibility to determine both broadly scoped access request services that are enabled as soon as the site collection is provisioned, as well as the option to select specific settings for each site collection where appropriate.
As you can see, Governance Automation SP 5 features significant enhancements to integrate the solution’s data governance and administration capabilities directly in the SharePoint interface, making it more convenient than ever before for business users.
In the next two posts, we will discuss two other themes of the Governance Automation SP 5 release that will be of special interest to administrators and anyone else responsible for maintaining a SharePoint environment: Permissions enhancements and content database management.