This morning I attended the session “SharePoint 2010 Governance Planning and Implementation” presented by Scott Jamison and Susan Hanley. They’re both dynamic, confident speakers with years of in-the-trenches experience, and their stories and passion about the subject actually make Governance concepts seem interesting and engaging.
Hanley said the most important thing in starting a far-reaching project like a SharePoint implementation is to think about “What am I trying to accomplish?” For example, it’s not good enough to say “We need social computing.” You need to know specifically what you want to get out of it. She urged the audience to think about the technology “not in IT terms but in business terms.”
This dovetails with one of the principles in the book The Opposable Mind, by Roger Martin, which I was reading on the flight to the conference. In the section “Specialization and its Discontents,” Martin says:
“Business’s dominant mode of specialization is the functional area – finance, marketing, production, sales, human resources, and the rest of the organizational chart. Each functional area has its own accepted range of salience, its own accepted causal relationships, its own training, its own insiders’ language, and itst own culture…. But specialists aren’t optimally suited suited to solve the biggest problems businesses face, because [as Peter Drucker pointed out], ‘there are no finance decisions, tax decisions, or marketing decisions; only business decisions.’”
Here are some of the ways, discussed by Hanley and Jamison in the session, to move away from a “specialized” view of your SharePoint implementation (i.e. “The Human Resources department needs an onboarding workflow,” or “The CFO wants dashboards,)” and move toward a more high-level, business-oriented perspective:
• Centralize your SharePoint service.
• Treat it like an enterprise application – have a corporate-level taxonomy and establish metrics for success.
• Have an executive sponsor.
• Divide SharePoint logically from the topmost level for all users, through divisional and team levels, down to individual contributors
• People can’t remember policies – so for successful governance system-wide, come up with catchy short phrases that people can remember. (Hanley’s example – “Send links, not documents.”)
• Provide a consistent user experience
• If the goal is knowledge management, default access should be “read” for everyone in the enterprise.
These ideas represent the kind of integrative thinking which Martin advocates in his book – not to let what is optimal for one sector of the business take precedence over what is optimal for the entire business. Approaching the system holistically and integratively is ultimately the path to success.
Switching gears: one surprising piece of the content for me was this recommendation:
• In SharePoint 2007, the best practice was: use metadata, not folders.
• In SharePoint 2010: use folders, inherit metadata.
I’ll need to learn more from these two experts and work a lot more with the product if I’m going to get over my anti-folder prejudice!