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Session Notes from SharePoint Conference 2014: A Strategic and Pragmatic Conversation on Governance

On Wednesday morning, March 5, Eric Riz, SharePoint MVP and Executive Vice President of Concatenate, led a session on Governance. The title of Riz’s presentation was A Strategic and Pragmatic Conversation on Governance. The session was well attended. Riz sprinkled his presentation with a number of one-liners. I thought the common theme behind many of his humorous asides spoke to a sense of frustration about planning, implementing, and then administering governance policy for SharePoint. Riz evidently felt this frustration was characteristic of the experience of much of his audience as they provide their role for their respective organizations.

Quite a change from 2012, when Governance was a vital topic for SharePoint stakeholders, who approached it, with a lot more enthusiasm back then, at conferences like the Share Conference held that year in Atlanta, GA here in the US.

Riz also included a number of questions for his audience. It was interesting to see the few show of hands when he asked about policies for BYOD at attendee organizations. Should we conclude governance policies are still to be drafted and implemented, or have they hit a roadblock? Is this the same roadblock behind the “SharePoint adoption is passe” movement?

When he asked “how many of you had a governance plan before you implemented SharePoint?”, the audience responded with a lot of laughter. A follow on question as to how many attendees are still using their governance plan, got no response from the audience. Riz used this question to illustrate why it’s important to revise these plans over time, to ensure any new and important IT trends are quickly added to an IT Governance plan.

Riz then presented a Hybrid model of governance for managing data for many of today’s larger communities of SharePoint users. His hybrid model includes on premise storage for mission critical data and a set of matching cloud components for data components suitable for off premise storage.

Some of the points I found to be useful at this point in his presentation include a list of mandatory requirements for organizations considering their IaaS options. A couple of interesting requirements for IaaS include local, national storage for any corporate data (illustration: a Canadian business needs to pick a cloud IaaS provider offering storage in Canada), and the need to select an IaaS provider capable of providing satisfactory download speeds to local users.

When he asked whether “anybody [have an interest] in taxonomy?” only a couple of hands were raised across an audience of likely 4-500 people. He then, perhaps inadvertently, diminished the importance of taxonomy by adding “this is the only time I’ll mention that topic”. Of course, he identified the obstacle to implementing taxonomy as a lack of tags, which, in turn, is the result of organizations not using MMS.

Finally, I found Riz’s position on apps versus solutions to be worth thinking about. Riz emphasized the importance of building solutions for governance, rather than apps. After all, he noted, “apps are for everyone”, but governance plans should be organization specific, hence the need for solutions, rather than apps.

But Riz counseled opting for solutions, rather than apps, doesn’t mean not paying attention to apps. He stressed the need for Governance stakeholders to set policies, procedures, and enforcement for apps used by mobile personnel.

A final pair of questions are worth a comment. “How many think governance is not understood, organization-wide?” got an enormous show of hands. But less than half of the audience raised hands on the question of whether, or not, governance is a critical function for the organization. Is it safe to say we’ve come a long way from 2012 on the topic of SharePoint Governance?

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved