10 Best Practices for Comprehensive SharePoint Governance

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The rapid pace at which businesses move towards achieving digital transformation leads to an increase in adopting new technologies, optimizing existing administrative and operational processes. This calls for an emphasis on better Governance strategies to ensure that business goals are aligned with the new technology changes, and lead to better compliance and efficient administration.

As per Microsoft, SharePoint Governance is defined as an aggregation of policies, procedures, roles, responsibilities, and processes that define, direct, control, and measure how the business divisions and the IT teams collaborate to achieve business goals.

 

With SharePoint being one of the most popular platforms for creating intranet portals, sharing data, creating Apps, and collaboration; a well-defined, expertly curated, and all-inclusive Governance strategy is essential for the success of its adoption.

Need for an Effective Governance Strategy

The success of a Governance strategy lies in implementing it across all users of an organization. A comprehensive strategy ensures the below benefits:

  • Identifies and mitigates risks
  • Ensures optimal ROI
  • Aligns with dynamic business goals

Governance in SharePoint can be quite simple, or complex based on the function or feature being governed. A “My Sites” page will have a simple Governance model, whereas a custom application will have a comprehensive and complex model. With the vast set of features that makes SharePoint the preferred form of communication and collaboration, Governance can be broadly divided into three major areas.

  • Technology Governance- for the software and technology services
  • Data Management-for the content that is stored and accessed by users
  • Application Management-for the custom solutions that are built on SharePoint

Within the areas mentioned above, let’s have a look at the top 10 best practices for effective Governance in SharePoint.

1. Define the Scope of the Content Distribution

Determining the scope of content distribution and access is the most important part of SharePoint Governance. The information that is stored needs to be made available for users on a need-to-know basis. This enables SharePoint administrators to set access privileges, ensure confidentiality of data, and maximize its usability and manageability. For example, a field staff cannot have access to confidential business strategy plans.

2. Having a Comprehensive Data Architecture

Data architecture defines how the data will be stored in SharePoint-in the form of web pages, lists, and documents. A well-defined data architecture must include the below aspects to get optimal benefits from using SharePoint.

  • Using Metadata to make the data easy to search and access
  • Using appropriate data versioning
  • Having elaborate catalogs and user-friendly navigation
  • Making the data effectively manageable
  • Ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements, data security norms, and privacy factors
  • Being scalable and extensible
3. Using Tools for Data Management

SharePoint has a rich collection of tools that enable easy and secure data management. Outlined below are the key tools and features that need to be included in an efficient Governance plan.

  • Workflows and approvals for building and accessing data repositories
  • Using version controls for historical data management and for the master document
  • Setting expiration for document storage and access-to ensure organized management of the entire document lifecycle
  • Using the content organizer to manage libraries
  • Define and implement site policies
4. Applications and Customization

Within the Applications developed in SharePoint, there is a need to define and implement guidelines for access and customization. This should include the permissible customizations, tools, procedures for packaging and deploying customized applications, and the responsibilities for building and maintaining them, which Azure DevOps can achieve.

Azure DevOps has a set of tools and services that enable the implementation of Continuous Integration and Continuous Development (CI/CD) in development projects. They help in automating SharePoint Framework builds, unit testing, and application deployment by using multi-stage pipelines.

SharePoint uses web parts and sections to help customize content, layout, and scripts. They facilitate the easy creation of pages that reflect branding styles, thereby ensuring that custom designs follow defined Governance rules.

5. Governance for Apps

SharePoint allows custom App development for specific business needs, apart from having a huge collection of pre-built Apps on the Apps store. Having a well-defined Governance policy for Apps ensures that usability and accessibility goals are properly met, as per the below aspects.

  • Including provisions and permissions for downloading third-party Apps
  • Using the App catalog to make Apps available for users
  • Specifying the rules for App licensing
  • Track App usage and set procedures for troubleshooting issues

With the above aspects that are crucial for a successful SharePoint Governance strategy, the below outlined inclusions will ensure a comprehensive roadmap.

6. Ensuring adequate visibility for the Governance guidelines to ensure that they are easily accessible for all users

7. Make changes as per the dynamic business requirements. Successful Governance strategies must have a comprehensive change management policy

8. Ensure transparency and have a well-defined communication strategy that defines the roles and responsibilities

9. Define and implement practices for external access of the SharePoint site, ensuring a clear distinction between external and internal access restrictions

10. Track usage, monitor performance, and use insights to enhance existing Governance rules

The above tips are necessary inclusions for an effective and comprehensive SharePoint Governance strategy. The key to success lies in efficient management and effective adoption of the SharePoint environment. Though the Governance model differs across various industry verticals, and the organizational culture, it’s necessary to have proper checks and balances to ensure streamlined operational processes. With easy extensibility and integration capabilities, SharePoint is often used along with the Microsoft 365 suite, which calls for an increased focus on developing an all-encompassing Governance strategy.