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Categories: Business;SharePoint;Office 365

In the midst of keeping track of what's changing in the cloud, making decisions on what should you be doing with the cloud, and ensuring that you are cloud ready it is easy to forget one major aspect of adopting such a large change. And that one forgotten piece is usually governance.

Hopefully by now you have already come to understand the importance of governance for SharePoint. The discussion will always continue on what's the best way to create and promote governance, but the underlying importance of some form of governance is undeniable. You may already have a governance plan, but let's explore what are some of the new things you have to incorporate into your plan in order to accommodate the complexities of the cloud. For now I want to focus on three key elements:

How to handle new features

Just recently we have seen two new features introduced to the cloud environment, Delve and Office 365 Videos. As the release cycle is shortened, we are going to be seeing more and more changes and updates coming to the cloud. Most likely, your current governance plan isn't set up to support a software model that sees new features being introduced constantly. As these new features pop up, there has to be a method of formally reviewing them and seeing how they fit into the current organization. This means that you have to have a role established within your environment to identify new features. Along with the role you then have to have a process defined on how to evaluate and if applicable, implement the feature. This role may not be a single person alone, but instead a person leading the discovery of features and then bringing them forward to the steering committee to review their effectiveness.

How to handle sharing external content

One of the greatest features of SharePoint Online is the ability to share content with external parties. This can be both exciting and scary. Once enabled this means someone within your organization could potentially share "internal" content with anyone that has an email address. Your governance plan must outline what your organization’s policy is for sharing content with external parties.

  • Will users be able to share content externally?
  • Who will make the decision whether a site can be shared externally?
  • How are your users made aware of what can and cannot be shared externally?

All of these are just some questions that your governance should be able to answer.

How to handle storing content on-premises and in the cloud

In many cases, organizations are going to be adopting a hybrid approach. Keeping some content on-premises and some content in the cloud as it makes sense to their usage scenarios. This hybrid approach now creates a potential problem. The end user is now potentially faced with yet another location where they may be sharing content. The last thing you want to do is confuse your users. Within your governance plan you should be outlining at a high level, the information areas that exist within your environment and what type of information goes in each of those areas, with specific examples of types of documents/content. Now this isn't just a part of governance, this is something that must be incorporated into end user training as well.

This is just the beginning. As the evolution of the digital workplace carries on, we will have to continue to adjust the way we ensure that these tools have guidelines that fit our organization and its end users. At the end of the day it’s about empowering your users with tools that help them do their job, but at the same time ensuring there is governance in place to provide a clear direction for all.