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July 11, 2012


Do you know if SharePoint is “critical”?

by Anders B. Skjønaa (

SHAREPOINT GOVERNANCE: If you are a CIO or SharePoint Service Owner/SDM, one question that you should be asking yourself is, if SharePoint has grown into a business critical system. There’s a good chance that is has – and even without you knowing it. 

One of the things I do at all the companies I work with, is to find out exactly how critical SharePoint is to the business. You might think that determining criticality for a thing like SharePoint is an easy task. The System Owner can probably answer that from the top of his head. But in more cases than not, the expressed level of criticality is not reality.

A client I worked for recently was experiencing some issues with keeping their SharePoint based intranet application stabile. On a regular basis, the intranet stopped responding to users requests and would not get back, until one of their system engineers did some backend magic.

The company has gotten used to this. Since the intranet itself did not stop business from running – it “only” meant that some information was not available for the period of time it would take to reset the system and restart the services required to make the intranet come alive again.. Not really critical – or was it?

Well – typically when you think about how critical a platform like SharePoint is, you are evaluating the impact of service outage of the services provided in the platform. In this case, the primary service delivered was information publishing, and even if information stored in intranets can be considered somewhat critical to the business, it is typically not stopping the business and thus typically these things are not considered business critical.

Un-official User Stories

Being a platform with many services, there was an issue that my client didn’t think about. In the intranet “mega-footer” users had gotten used to finding links to the timesheet application – running in SAP – a completely different infrastructure and system. Being a user, these systems were presumed as being the same, but of course they were not.  When the intranet was down, the timesheet application was still doing fine.

So what can be called an “un-official user story” has evolved in this company;  Giving a user access easy to the timesheet application. This user story was now completely dependent on SharePoint. Being a global operating company with hundreds of projects going on at all times, access to timesheets was highly critical.

Determining the right level of criticality is one of the most important foundational principles for driving an efficient governance practice for SharePoint. That is the insight you base decisions on and a good help to decide individual risk impact of processes, services and application across you SharePoint environments.

Even if the services you are providing with SharePoint– by themselves – does not seem to be “business critical”, you need to pay special attention to the type of “User Stories” that develop by themselves in any organization as they can  suddenly throw your SharePoint environment into a business critical role.  SharePoint has a tendency to grow these things as a result of widely distributed rights and capabilities. And – remember – that’s a good thing. Just as long as you are governing it.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Woah this blog is magnificent i really like studying your articles. Stay up the great work! You understand, a lot of people are looking round for this info, you can help them greatly.

  2. “Do you know if SharePoint is critical?
    Field Notes on SharePoint Architecture, Stategy & Governance” was a very good
    post. In case it included alot more images it could be possibly even more beneficial.
    All the best -Danilo


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  1. Do you really know if SharePoint is “critical”? « SharePointPeople Blog | ARB Security Solutions

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