SharePoint Online Governance Tips – Let’s Make it happen

SharePoint Online Governance

So you have your “shiny new” O365 Tenant, you have been given a large amount of storage from Microsoft. Your SharePoint Online sites are sitting there waiting for you to just rollout to your users…. wait…!!! This is a disaster waiting to happen. Yes, one can certainly rollout SharePoint to your users without any form of Governance and it’ll likely work for a while, until the dreaded support call comes in and a user says that they have absolutely no idea why one of their colleges cannot access a document. Worse yet, they say they “accidentally” deleted an urgent company file and now need it back. Even though Microsoft ‘manages’ the infrastructure and environment, the content and structure still need managing / governance within your organisation. So then where do we start, because governance can be a “scary thing”. Below are listed the 2 key tips to getting started with your SharePoint Online Governance:

Tip 1: Start with a Centre of Excellence

Many books you’ll read will tell you to have a “Governance Team”, or have a centralised technical team in IT. All these are worthwhile endeavours but really have no true business value in the real world.

  • Start by identifying users (non IT Business Users) that show “enthusiasm” for this thing called Office365 or SharePoint Online
  • Give them the knowledge (training) which empowers them to really take ownership of their sites, which in turn helps them empower others users in their sphere of influence to adopt this new technology
  • Now build your Centre of Excellence along with these users and begin regular collaboration with them, in the form or online meetings, yammer groups, and even simple “coffee dates”
  • As group host informal “training” sessions or “show-and-tell” sessions which in turn will build enthusiasm

With a core group of individuals in business, you’ll find it easier to roll out Governance Principles (“notice I never said rules”), that assist the business in using this new technology more effectively to achieve business goals

Try wherever possible to have members of the Centre of Excellence come from multiple teams

Tip 2: Create a Governance Reference Area

Too many times I have walked into organisations that have produced a big thick “Governance Document”, that ultimately nobody reads and nobody follows. So in essence a lot of time and money is spent of something that brings no “value” to the organisation. Why not create an online space in your new SharePoint Online Site? E.g.

On the site you can house content such as

  • Roadmap of new and upcoming features and functionality or an indicator to show what’s been achieved and what’s next
  • List of FAQ (frequently asked questions) from the community
      • How can I request a new site?
      • I am experiencing an issue, who can I contact?
    • Benchmarks and Metrics dashboard
    • Principles and Practices for the business to be aware of (e.g. File upload sizes, storage quotas.etc). Don’t do this as a “document” rather distribute the content in the form of searchable wiki’s
    • Company based usage reports
    • Important dates and times
    • Embedded Yammer feed for feedback and compliments
    • Success stories / case studies
    • Site Listings / Site Directory

In general, keep it simple but useful to the business

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Figure 1: Sample Governance Site

Tip 3: Go for Automation

There are many simple and quick options to effectively rollout Governance within your organisation. Start with what is manageable within your frame of control, then as the momentum starts to grow you can extend the reach of Governance further into the organisation

Many may feel that part of their journey may be to just buy a tool and that will “fix” all their governance woes. But this is not the case. A tool is just as good as its implementation and buy-in from business. Even though there are hundreds out there, listed below are a few tools that I have found work well when used in conjunction with business.

  1. ShareGate – This works really well for a light weight, user friendly tool that can assist tremendously with site audits and permission audits
  2. AvePoint – Works really well for an enterprise client on large scale deployments. However you are paying the price for this premier enterprise tool
  3. Metalogix – Their range of tools really plays the middle ground of the two mentioned above and caters for your mid-range enterprises.
  4. FlyView for SharePoint – Although it is a navigation tool but it helps you seeing your entire site collection structure at a lightning fast speed in an interactive tree view

Before even looking at a tool, decide on the two above tips, then decide where you want to focus most of your attention and then possibly look at a tool that will help you achieve your goal.

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