Is anyone a fan of Governance? Hands up – who likes being told what to do? When it comes to your Digital Workplace, governance is crucial. It will keep your Digital Workplace from turning into a sprawl of sites, subsites and libraries that in turn lead to chaotic IA, poor Search and terrible user experience.

Users will feel overwhelmed or uncertain and silos will develop as user groups access and use different features. No one will be able to find anything. Anarchy will ensue. On the other hand, over-the-top governance can also squeeze the life out of progress. So where’s the right balance for your organisation? To find out, you need to create a suitable Governance Framework.

Governance Framework

Your Governance Framework will be the treasure map to navigate the balance between chaos and stifled growth. It doesn’t have to be a weighty tome, it can be a simple three-page document and can change over time. In fact it should, as you refer to it regularly. Governance is not supposed to be used to control the masses; it should ensure that people are held responsible and accountable for maintaining their piece of the pie.

Your Governance Framework should include the following information:

Ownership and roles

You’ll need to set up ownership of the Digital Workplace and ideally create a steering committee. Choose a balanced team including but not limited to Communications, IT, Marketing and HR. Create a realistic schedule of when your team will meet, with a preference for attendance over frequency.

Determine which department will do what, then get each department representative on the committee to commit to their action. Ownership can change across different portals and sites. The governance model for the homepage and key content will normally be tightly controlled, whereas Department and team sites, can be more relaxed.

As a minimum, you need to determine:

  1. Who’s responsible for the Digital Workplace overall? The more senior that person is, the better.
  2. Who are the decision makers and how will decision-making be managed?
  3. How will permissions be managed?
  4. What is the publishing process?

Platform ownership

Your Digital Workplace platform may be managed either by an external consultancy, or your IT department, or a combination of both. Either way, it’s good to clearly understand what the platform manager’s responsibilities are, so run a session with stakeholders to identify roles and responsibilities.

Office 365 and SharePoint Online also require other administration tasks such as:

  • Backups
  • User/Active Directory synchronisation administration.
  • Production process.
  • Feature management.

An on-premises SharePoint platform also requires patching and upgrades, permissions management and  multiple environments (Production, Dev, UAT).

Managing initiatives

During your scheduled governance meetings, your team needs to determine:

  • Suggestions process. eg surveys, idea submission forms, champions in different departments and focus groups.
  • How to evaluate and approve ideas. Criteria to identify ideas to be implemented in the near term. Some departments may offer to fund an idea that positively impacts them.
  • Deployment schedule Sometimes IT have other priorities, so have a backup plan if possible.

Ideally, plan well in advance, so people have time to schedule (and no excuses).

Site provisioning

Determine the types of sites that can be created ongoing e.g. main intranet, document centre, team site, knowledge base, Group, Team etc. Then establish the requirements for a site request:

  • What’s the business benefit?
  • Is there another site that fills the need already?
  • How many users will access the site?
  • Is it for the short or long term?

Start with basic governance rules, get your ducks in a row, and you’ll ensure that your Digital Workplace is a sane place to visit – and manage.

Governance is just one of the 9 Pillars or Digital Workplace Success featured in my new book: Digital Transformation from the Inside Out.  Click here for your free 3-chapter extract:  https://webvine.com.au/book/ or use Discount code: ‘Collab365’ for 20% off.

Review the other posts in this exclusive community series:

Pillar 9: User adoption
Pillar 8: Governance (this post)
Pillar 7: Social Technology Strategy
Pillar 6: Document Management
Pillar 5: Search
Pillar 4: Usability and Design
Pillar 3: Information Architecture
Pillar 2: The Right Team
Pillar 1: Executive Support

About the author 

Marcus Dervin