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April 23, 2014


SharePoint Governance Framework: The Managed Systems Catalogue

by Anders B. Skjønaa (

 This article is a part of a series of three, published with the first edition of the “SharePoint Governance Guidebook” booklet, during the European SharePoint Conference 2014. The two other articles are entitled “Implementing SharePoint strategy & Business Drivers” and “Policies & Controls”. These articles are describing essential parts of the implementation of a professional governance practice for Microsoft SharePoint, using the “SharePoint Governance Framework”.

At the heart of the SharePoint Governance Framework is “The Managed Systems Catalogue”. This catalogue is the collection of everything we need to govern. And we do mean everything. With that definition, you can imagine that everything going on in the Governance practice is – somehow – connected to something inside the Managed Systems Catalogue.

The Managed Systems Catalogue is an important concept when implementing SharePoint Governance, because it helps you build that full list of what it really is you need to worry about. When talking to people about governance, building this kind of structure around governing SharePoint is one of the things people are struggling with the most. How do we make sure we are covering everything we need? What objects impacts others and how do we secure consistency and the relevant focus?

The objects we make a part of the Managed Systems Catalogue are called… “Managed Systems” – you guessed it! A Managed Systems can be anything we identify, that need some level of special attention in terms of governance. Across full SharePoint environment, that can be many different things, and the purpose of the Managed Systems Catalogue is to list all of these, keep them in focus, and at the same time enable conscious decisions on what NOT to make a Managed System.

As mentioned in an earlier article, it is important to the ability to realize business value from SharePoint, that we are able to scope the service correctly; meaning remove all the clutter that just makes SharePoint sprawl and is “non-manageable”.

There are a few characteristics connected to Managed Systems. First of all, the must have an Owner. With a collection of Managed Systems of 25-30 objects (which is normal) it is not possible to have one person own everything. On the other hand, we don’t need 30 people here – some people can own several Managed Systems without any issues. But we want to spread out ownership of the different objects to the people and the organizations where they belong. The Owner group should have representation from both Business and it – makes that a goal for you implementation!

To make the Managed Systems Catalogue more transparent, we are dividing objects the Managed Systems Catalogue into three categories; Business Applications, Platform Services and Managed Processes.

Business Applications

These are the application used by business users – to be general. These all have some sort of user interface and users are accessing them to solve any kind of relevant business task or issue. An intranet is always a Business Application, but also individual functionality inside the intranet – like a News publishing application – can be a Business Application. What really decides if this is a Business Application or not, are the general characteristics of Managed Systems, combined with the object being an application used by business users directly. For ownership of Business Applications, you should always try to find a businessperson. That may not always make sense, but it is a good rule that you can make an exception from, when it is necessary.

Platform Services

A platform Service is the service that is provided by the SharePoint platform, used to build Business Application of. For a start; these are all the services inside SharePoint Central Administration or in the online SharePoint admin site; Managed Metadata Service, Search Service etc. Many of these are quite extensive services that require special knowledge to run effectively. That is especially true for the new Search Service in SharePoint 2013, which incorporates a lot of new concepts built on the FAST engine. Search is not just a technology thing, so any server admin will not be able to own this. The same goes for a few of the other built-in services, while other are quite simple.

In many cases you will also be defining add-on technology to your governance practice as Platform Services. A good example is Nintex Workflow, which is being used by thousands of companies with SharePoint. Nintex Workflow is also a service that can be used across the board, and therefore we define it as a Platform Service, and assigns an owner for it, that understands the capabilities of the product, and therefore this person can drive adoption and oversee delivery of the service.

Managed Processes

The last category of the Managed Systems Catalogue object are Managed Processes. This is where it sometimes gets a little difficult for many people. How can a Process be a Managed System? Well – its really quite obvious. Making SharePoint work – both technically and adoption wise – require you to have a good set of processes in place. A process is a definition of a way to complete a set of tasks, so you can do it effectively and the same way over and over again. Processes adds value to your SharePoint platform in terms of quality, transparency, risk and cost reduction. These all have major impact on almost every business driver you can imagine.

To give a few examples; you need managed process for things like; development, on-boarding new business applications and platform services, user education and adoption, branding and more.

So Managed Processes are the things you do around your SharePoint Service to make everything work in the way you planed it to.


Managed Systems business alignment

Now you know what a Managed Systems is, and the three different types we use in the SharePoint Governance Framework. Another thing that is important to say is, that ll Managed Systems are related to at least on of the Business Drivers we identified as a part of the strategy foundation work we did. The first article in this series are covering this a bit more in detail. But the concept is, that you – as a part of building a strategy for SharePoint in your business – identify a set of Business Drivers, that align the purpose of SharePoint to your business priorities.

By making visible relationships between ALL Managed Systems and Business Drivers, you clearly states that we are not adding any systems or services to our platform, unless it adds value – in relation to our strategy. This cannot be said enough! SharePoint will allow you to do much more than what will add value to your business, in any given situation. This is the very reason why you need Governance. To avoid spending resources and money on this that either don’t add value or even expose you to risk that you can not manage.


Policies & Controls

The last thing you need to know when defining your Managed Systems Catalogue is that all of these Manages Systems must have policies and controls. The last article in this series will go into building these and making them operational.


Learn more

You can expect 3 new articles, addressing different part of the SharePoint governance implementation process;

These articles are a part of the “SharePoint Governance Guidebook” published by SharePointPeople at the European SharePoint Conference in May 2014.

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