Governance as a Hammer

TEC2010 110

I’m in Los Angeles for a couple days presenting at The Experts Conference on metadata, taxonomy, and social media in SharePoint, and having great conversations with participants (including @susanhanley and @henry_ong) about the role of governance and administration – which led to a few ideas, then Tweets, and now this quick post on the subject.

With my background building and running PMOs (project management organizations), I have some definite ideas about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to SharePoint governance. Most of the questions I am asked on this topic actually have little to do with the technology, but in how to get one’s arms around this governance thing.

Where do you start? What is the overhead? What are the costs? Do we have the right internal resources? Can we outsource to a consultant? Can we purchase a pre-populated taxonomy? What can we automate? What are the best-practices?

<soapbox>One mistake is forcing a heavy governance model onto SharePoint as a quick-fix, especially if its outside of the way you already do business. Many organizations (well, the managers and administrators within those orgs) love the idea of adopting a formal, structured model for managing SharePoint. Using the hammer of governance, everything looks like a nail. But the model you follow needs to match the culture of the teams within, otherwise you run the danger of killing organic growth, and limiting the overall success of your SharePoint platform. While SharePoint allows strict control of content and sites and permissions to both, you need to wield this power carefully so that the user experience is good.</soapbox>

It can be fairly discouraging when you realize the governance effort in front of you, and you don’t yetmn_hoarding_028mjm have a plan in place. I use the picture to the right in my presentation to illustrate that overwhelming feeling that you’re surrounded by content, and don’t know where to begin cleaning it up. Add to the mix all of the new keyword and metadata tools within SharePoint 2010, and many anxious admins are looking to a quick upgrade to the 2010 RTM as a solution for all of their headaches.

Unfortunately, it won’t cure the headaches. In fact, I suggested in my presentation yesterday that upgrading would instead increase the headaches….exponentially. I’ll address this in a future article.

While SharePoint 2010 goes a long way in helping you to manage your metadata and, as a direct result, improve user adoption and satisfaction by improving their ability to find content, you still have to do the hard work to get your organization to that point. There’s no way around this.

However, you don’t need to wait until your formal planning around SharePoint 2010 to start – you can just as easily begin that work now while on 2003 or 2007, helping to streamline your pending migration. More importantly, by tackling governance now, your new SharePoint design will more closely match the needs of your business, thereby dramatically improving customer adoption and satisfaction with your new system.

More content on this topic is forthcoming…

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.