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November 26, 2009

Does it make any sence to talk about SharePoint Governance?

by Anders B. Skjønaa (

Over the last few days I have been having conversations with a few other professionals in the ECM, portal and collaboration industry, as a result of two conference talks I gave last week. Among the returning topics is “Governance and SharePoint should be included in the same sentence – but most companies cant bring themselves to deal with this reality”. (Almost exactly cited from one of these conversations)

A common viewpoint is, that It governance is a common practice across all technologies. And it really is-  at least on an academic level – so, that governance is about driving maximum potential – or value – of every it investment!

So does it make sence at all, to talk about “SharePoint Governance” as some thing special.

Yes – it does!

There are many opinions on sharePoint as a product or a technology. “Is it good at doing anything?” I hear a lot, and these discussions are really helping all of us to get a better perspective on what SharePoint is and “is not”?

From my experiences with SharePoint – that goes back to the first versions and the technologies from Microsoft that came before SharePoint (Site Server 1,2 & 3, Digital Dashboard and MCIS) – there are a number – too large a number – of implementations that have gone bad. The reasons for that is – in most cases – a misunderstanding of the SharePoint platform in general, that have roots into the early versions of the software. SharePoint have not had the same “hobbies” up through it’s childhood, and the perception the SharePoint technology today (which is in most areas still young but grown-up – like the rest os us 😉 ) is making a lot of problems for companies implementing it.

Martin White, a UK based intranet consultant (visit used an image of LEGO bricks to explain this recently. SharePoint today is a box of good technologies that can be fitted together in almost unlimited ways. But if you dont have a plan of what you want to build, and how to make sure it does’nt get knocked over easily, you will not get a very good result.

This is the reason why we shoul tak “SharePoint Governance” all the time! You can build the most fantastic creations using LEGO bricks – especially if you have a lot of experience and – yes – a lot of bricks. But you can also use the building guides in the box. You may not get a unique creation on day one, but as you build on it, you will learn and one day your creation will look like this:

Governance for SharePoint is tricky, mostly because of the vast number of things you need to make decisions on. Like building LEGO’s your decisions make the great result.


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