Practical Governance: Administration of your Platform


If you already have a governance plan in place or are just starting down the road, this post will cover some critical focal points for outlining the administration focused aspects for your governance strategy.

In my experience with practical governance implementation I have found that including at least these four major administrative functions will get you off to a good start.

Teamwork

In relation to the overall ownership of governance and administrative tasks teamwork is critical. Establishing a solid partnership early in the governance game will serve you extremely well down the road. In my experience at Sony Electronics (SEL), we put a large emphasis on co-ownership of the platform through assigning both business and IT resources as leads. These parties shared the burden for all aspects of administration of the environment with governance being a main focus.

Your organization may differ in structure and function but the key is to have accountable parties with both a business and IT focus and for the team as a whole to govern the platform. This co-operative ownership will not only grant additional bandwidth for administrative tasks but also increased visibility into how tools are actually being used and by whom.

I have done many presentations on SEL’s experience with this approach and often get the question of HOW to find the yin to the yang of platform ownership. My answer is always to look into who is already using your platform and may be going above and beyond. These could be power-users exploring new ways to utilize OOB functionality, business groups who upload more often than other groups, or groups that could benefit the most from what the platform has to offer — HR, Corp Comm, Project Management are some examples of common big players.

Once you have an idea of how you are going to work together to govern the platform and who the key players will be, it is time to clarify roles.

Role Definition

First things first, let’s start by outlining what our administrative teams will be doing. Play to your resources’ strengths. Use your IT focused resources to manage support and define policy to ensure any IT security requirements are being met while leveraging the soft skills of your business focused resources for communication, user interactions and advocacy.

A very helpful mechanism for facilitating the discussion and even officially recording decisions is to use a responsiblities matrix. Brainstorm out the main functions associated with your platform then the activities associated with that function. Once you have a good high-level picture, assign accountability. It is important to understand that what you are assigning is the accountable parties, not necessarily the person/people doing the work. Often times you will see a mix of IT/biz work to drive certain activities. Below you will find a sample of what a mapping could look like.

Roles Matrix

While you are mapping out accountability, you will most likely start to get into discussions on overall strategy and direction on the platform since some of the activities you are mapping might not yet be in place. This leads in to the next step of putting together an official roadmap.

Roadmap

Now that you have set the Foundation for your platform, assembled your team and assigned accountability, you are ready to take a look at the future. Outlining a roadmap is essential to governing your platform. Before we can define what users should and should not do we need to have a clear picture of where we would like to go with the technology.

With your newly established team of outstanding, knowledgeable people hold a meeting (or three) to dig in and brainstorm. If you’ve ever heard me speak on this topic you know I call these my “Dream Big” sessions because this is where we want to lay it all out on the table. Think about fantasy land and what would be amazing to do, then just whiteboard out the why’s and why not’s. If it takes more than one session, don’t worry. Progress toward a cohesive plan is what we are looking for. Once you have a manageable wish list start prioritizing based on budget, need, user impact, etc.

Make sure you keep your eye on the O365 Roadmap (even if you are on-prem) so you know what could be changing in the future and what might be beneficial to your organization.

Once you have a solid roadmap defined, you are FINALLY ready to start talking “governance” as the rest of the world knows it.

Controls & Monitoring

This is often part of the strategy that everyone thinks is most important. Yes, it is critical to ensure we have controls and monitoring in place to keep our environments clean and our users in line (hah) but, it is just one of the many pieces. I personally feel that many plans fail because this is their number one concern when it should be just one facet.

The reason that this does not come earlier in the framework is because we need to know what we are using, who is using it, who is running it and where we are going with it before we can set any rules around how to use it. This is practical governance at its finest.

To set some context, controls would be prevention or lessening of functionality while monitoring would be allowing functionality but focusing on reporting. Swaying too much toward either side could be detrimental. You want to make sure you have a good mix of locking down potential risky features and freedom for users to explore and grow.

My most critical piece of advice here is to make sure you are taking all of that brainstorming and dreaming big into consideration. We tend to lean toward the overly cautious side for collaboration platforms but using a framework like this will allow you to rely on other ways of governing instead of just locking everything down. For instance, you might want to right away prevent users from using SharePoint Designer BUT what if you could allow certain users to build their own simple workflows through SPD with proper training and monitoring? Imagine the efforts you could potentially remove from support/project teams that can be redirect toward more value-added work.

Make good use of the governance team and you will see an easier road ahead! Oh and added bonus, the output of this pillar can serve as your SharePoint specific policy!

With that we are officially halfway through the framework for practical governance. For a recap, see my previous posts on Exploring the Pillars of Practical Governance and Establishing the Foundation of your Governance Strategy. Up next in this series, how Communication plays a part!

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