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Thursday, April 30, 2015

How to SHARE without POINTing Fingers: A Practical Guide to SharePoint Information Governance

Earlier this month, on April 16, I had the chance to give a session at SharePoint Tech Fest Dallas titled How to SHARE without POINTing Fingers: A Practical Guide to SharePoint Information Governance
It was the last session of the conference but we had a great turn out.  I want to thank everyone that attended and I enjoyed all the great questions posed at the end.  There were some requests for the presentation deck which can be found here: A Practical Guide to Information Governance in Microsoft SharePoint 2013.

Unfortunately I cannot share the demonstration given here, but if you'd like more information on that please reach out to me directly at antonio.maio @
Since that session I've posted another article on Information Governance that gives some SharePoint specific topics to focus on. I always like to say that having more information helps you to make better decisions.  That article can be found here:  Information Governance: Keeping it Practical and Where to Start.
Some of the main points raised during the presentation were:
  • Keep the process of creating an Information Governance Plan practical.  If a particular topic or set of questions from a governance plan template you've found or downloaded doesn't apply to your company then skip it.  Certainly consider those sections or templates, but be careful not to slow down or cripple the process by debating too much over specific sections.  If you're not sure about a section applying to your organization or not, then just park it and move onto the areas that definitely apply to your organization.  I like to keep in mind the adage that "Some information governance is better than no information governance"!

  • I recommend using a OneNote notebook within SharePoint with questions or questionnaires already listed or pre-populated.  I usually include a seperate section in my OneNote notebook for each of the following governance topics.  The topics used of course need to align with the business needs of the organization (again if a section doesn't make sense then remove it).
    • Overview on Information Governance and on the Process the Organization will follow
    • Operational and IT Management
    • Site Administration and Management
    • Content Management, Policies and Procedures
    • User and Permission Management
    • Training
    • References

  • Using such a OneNote Notebook within SharePoint allows you to do the following:
    • Review specific sections of information governance with your governance committee or working group right within SharePoint.  You can break up the governance planning process into multiple meetings that align with the sections in the OneNote Notebook. 
    • Depending on the size and complexity of the organization each section may need multiple meetings.
    • Answer governance questions, capture notes from the meeting, share governance recommendations and decisions right within the OneNote Notebook right as the meeting progresses.  Share the outcome of the governance commmittee meetings in real time with a larger audience or with the entire organization immediately (either during or immediatly after the meetings).  All that content resides within the OneNote notebook which is already posted to SharePoint and is updated as you take notes within the governance committee meetings.
    • Check off sections and governance policies within the OneNote notebook as they are completed.
    • Highlight questions or sections requiring work to a larger audience, as they are identified within (or immediately after) the governance committee meetings.
    • Share governance decisions and policies with the organization much faster, instead of waiting for a report to be prepared after meetings are concluded.

  • A question I often get is: Do you have any suggestions for how you work with different groups within an organization that differ greatly on opinion related Information Governance topics/policies?
    • This is always tough, when you have individuals as part of the governance discussions and planning process that differ greatly in opinion and are not willing to come to a compromise or hear each other out. 
    • My suggestion is to keep the governance planning process really focussed on addressing the business needs for managing information, sharing information and/or protecting information such that it benefits and aligns with the business.  Information governance plans should not simply conform to or service any particular individual's opinions or comfort level.  In cases of significant or continual disagreement, the discussion often needs to be raised above a particular department or individual's opinions.  Always try to keep the discussion focussed on what the business needs. 
    • One approach is to creating smaller working groups around specific sections or concerns and take particular topics out of the larger governance commitee.  This can allow a particular topic to be debated and researched while the remaining governance planning process continues to progress.
    • Another approach is to designate 1 individual to own a particular topic that might be contentious (a person that is not emotionally or personally attached to the topic) and have them research that topic and come back with impartial recommendations or best practices for the governance commitee or working group to consider.
    • This type of situation also highlights the need to elect a strong leader for the governance planning process.  At some point, if a topic is debated and debated with no resolution, sometimes a decision simply needs to be made by 1 person and everyone needs to try to live with it for some time. That decision could include simply parking that particular topic and moving onto other information governance related topics or decisions.  Ultimately, you want to ensure that the entire information governance planning process is not crippled by 1 particular topic or debate.

Please do reach out if you have any other questions on the process of developing a SharePoint Information Governance Plan.

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