What is governance in SharePoint?

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Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that control how an organization's business divisions and IT teams work together to achieve its goals. Every organization has unique needs and goals that influence its approach to governance. Larger organizations will probably require more—and more detailed—governance than smaller organizations. A good governance plan can:

  • Streamline the deployment of products and technologies, such as SharePoint.

  • Help keep your organization's system secure and compliant.

  • Help ensure the best return on your investment in technology.


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Governance team

Your governance policies should support your organization's goals and be kept up-to-date as your organization's needs change. We recommend that you create a team from various disciplines across your organization to develop and maintain these policies. Include people from as many of the following roles as possible:

Role Responsibility
Executive stakeholders
Key executives should define the overall goals of the governance committee and periodically evaluate the success of the implemented practices and policies.
Financial stakeholders
Financial officers should make sure that governance rules and processes help increase the return on your organization's investment in SharePoint.
Business division leaders
Business leaders represent the teams that do the primary work of the enterprise and drive the architectural and functional requirements of the deployment. They work with information architects to structure the information architecture and taxonomy standards. Business leaders also work with IT leaders to create service-level agreements and other support policies.
IT managers
IT managers help develop their service offerings and determine how to achieve their IT responsibilities (for example, improving security and maintaining reliability) while supporting the features required by the business teams.
Software development leaders
Software development leaders help determine which customization tools are approved, how to verify code security, and ensure code-related best practices.
Technical specialists
Technical specialists design, build, and run IT services and solutions.
Instructional experts should develop a training plan for your organization.
Influential information workers
The members of your organization who do the day-to-day work should help ensure that the services and information architecture meet their needs.
Information architects or taxonomists
Members of these groups design information systems and taxonomies. Based on their analysis of the information needs of the audience, they develop plans that support organizational objectives and define site architecture and navigation.
Compliance officers
Governance includes making sure that an organization meets its regulatory and legal requirements and manages its corporate knowledge. If your organization has roles that are responsible for compliance or legal oversight, include representatives from those disciplines in your governance team.

Your organization might not have all of these roles, or it might use a different name for some of these roles.

Governance and training

Great training, good resources, and effective search are keys to user adoption. We recommend you provide the employees of your organization with the following:

Provide Why?
Training for the products and services
Training and education about SharePoint in your governance plan helps drive adoption and reduce support costs.
Education about your governance policies
Training your user community appropriately increases compliance with your policies, increases satisfaction with your services, and reduces support costs.
Content to support your services and policies
Having good quality resources and information available helps your users find the answers when they have questions about a service, process, or policy.
A good search infrastructure
Having a good search infrastructure helps your users find what they need when they need it.

Best practices for governance plans

An effective governance plan anticipates the needs and goals of your organization's business divisions and IT teams. Because every enterprise is unique, we recommend that you tailor a governance plan to your environment by using the following steps.

  1. Determine initial principles and goals. The governance committee should develop a governance vision, policies, and standards that can be measured to track compliance and to quantify the benefit to your organization. For example, your plan should identify service delivery requirements for both technical and business aspects of your SharePoint deployment.

  2. Classify your business information. Organize your information according to an existing taxonomy, or create a custom taxonomy that includes all the information that supports your business solution. After your information is organized, design an information architecture to manage it. Then, determine the most appropriate IT services to support it.

  3. Develop an education strategy. The human element is, after the governance plan, the most important ingredient in the success or failure of a SharePoint deployment. A comprehensive training plan should show how to use SharePoint according to the standards and practices that you are implementing and explain why those standards and practices are important. Your plan should cover the kinds of training required for specific user groups and describe appropriate training tools. For example, your IT department might maintain a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page about its SharePoint service offerings, or your business division might provide online training that shows how to set up and use a new document management process.

  4. Develop an ongoing plan. Successful governance is ongoing. The governance committee should meet regularly to review new requirements in the governance plan, reevaluate and adjust governance principles, and resolve conflicts among business divisions for IT resources. The committee should provide regular reports to its executive sponsors to promote accountability and to help enforce compliance across your organization. Although this process seems complicated, its goals are to increase the return on your investment in SharePoint, take full advantage of the usefulness of your SharePoint solution, and improve the productivity of your organization.

See also


IT governance in SharePoint

Information management and governance in SharePoint

Application management and governance in SharePoint

Other Resources

Governance planning in SharePoint

What is governance poster (Visio format)

What is governance poster (PDF format)