“GOVERNAGE” – The mix between Governance and end user Usage

13 februari 2014

A vision paper written by Rick Hilferink – SharePoint Enthusiast @ Portiva.

This vision paper will be written in a series of three blogs. In each of these series I hope to provide you with more insight in my understanding of today's Microsoft SharePoint technology and how governance can be applied best.

Table of contents

Blog 1 – A new Era

  • Introduction
  • SharePoint puberty

Blog 2 – The rising

  • SharePoint grown up
  • Governance explained, what is it?
  • End users (Business Roles)

Blog 3 – The future

  • Vision and Strategy – Ownership and dedication
  • "Governage" and SharePoint as a platform – Find the right mix
  • A look into the future (Maturity?)

Blog 1 – A new Era


Hi there, my name is Rick Hilferink. A SharePoint enthusiast working for Portiva, a top SharePoint company with its roots in the Netherlands.

In the past 9 years that I've been working in this business I have had the luck to see Microsoft SharePoint evolve from a document management solution into a strategic portal technology.

Back in 2001 when Microsoft introduced SharePoint, the product had three features, 1) Document management, 2) Intranet, 3) Content management. In those first few years that the product was released, companies started to use the technology with projects often started by the IT department itself. After it has proven successful other departments would try to hook on to this new technology. This was the classic grow model, mostly starting within the IT department.

Now, in 2014, SharePoint has become a lot more than just a document management solution. Today it provides an office-like interface for adding and editing content, lowering the threshold towards from site admins to end users. There is a wide variety of usage options, such as integration with ERP systems, social features, intranet portals, extranet portals, websites, business intelligence and enterprise search.

Implementing a new SharePoint platform is complex. It requires architects to plan hardware and infrastructure. Business consultants talking to the business, often in workshops, to gather functional requirements and startup an implementation project. One of the implementation steps is called 'governance'. Creating a Governance Plan means that time should be spend on setting up rules and policies for using the application, for maintaining it, and also for creating new functionality on this platform.

Every single time that governance is set up and thought off, it is unique. For each and every organization the set of rules and agreements are tailored to fit and serve the business as best as possible. Governance should not be about creating barriers, it should be about long-term stability and quality.

I have come to this point, realizing that the next couple of years will be about finding the right mix in using modern technology and providing the best governance model possible for your organization. Keep it simple but organized. Don't overdo!

That is what I call "Governage". In a practical way, fitting the exact needs off the business to the complex enterprise platform SharePoint has become.

SharePoint puberty

SharePoint was designed from the need to have documents centralized available for sharing and collaboration, easily findable, without the folder jungle, that file shares did provide. On the network, outside the regular file shares that went 10 levels deep.

In 2001 two versions of SharePoint were released. SharePoint Team Services (STS) and SharePoint Portal Server (SPS). In STS users could create websites and fill content - a bottom up technology. SPS however was meant for administrators, the IT guys, for indexing files and other databases. There was no or very little connectivity between the two.

SharePoint 2003 was the first integrated application version that provided a solution for document/information sharing and applications/websites within the company network. STS and SPS were connected. A dashboard for creating sites, adding/uploading and removing files was added so that end users could contribute easily to SharePoint sites. Old school administrators, the IT guys, were left with the management of the SharePoint application and most of the decisions.

Within three years, a small shift from managing technique into managing information became visible. Still, the classic administrators had a significant role in how information architecture would be set up and maintained. The end users only provided the content.

A SharePoint implementation project, if it was a project at all, would be started bottom up: Starting with IT, it would sometimes evolve into a business application that would be used by upper management. Unfortunately this created enough inconveniences because of never thought off challenges such as storage limits or confidential documents being available somewhere in the site hierarchy.

This is the period I call 'SharePoint puberty'. A rather new product with great potential became a quick success because of the upcoming internet industry. People started to use internet in their personal daily routines, which lowered the threshold for people when first confronted with this new portal technology. It was cool to use SharePoint instead of those old dull file shares everyone used.

In retrospect, what was missing in those days, regarding governance?

  • No or very little requirement inventory with the business
  • No definition of roles and responsibilities
  • No policies
  • No training / instruction
  • No agreements on usage
  • No plan for growth
  • No plan for backup and recovery

In the following posts I will discuss the SharePoint evolution history, how companies started using SharePoint as a tool and how it evolved into an enterprise platform requiring extensive guidelines and policies. I will also provide detailed content of what I think a governance plan should contain.

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