Creating SharePoint Intranet Governance

Summary: Intranet governance may sound complicated, but it can help you drive engaging content and decrease the burden of maintenance on your IT and Communications teams. What’s included in the initial governance list will depend on which features you’re using on your intranet. In addition to having an initial set of rules, plan to have an ongoing governance review to update the list.

Intranet governance is simply a list of processes along with responsible parties involved.

Let’s say, someone from HR wants to update an expense form template on the intranet.

  • Who should do it? Whoever is less busy or a specific person?

  • Should we keep an old version?

  • Should we let everyone know about the update? If so, how would we communicate this change.

  • Is everyone on HR team aware how to handle this new template?

  • Should anyone approve the template before it’s published?

  • What happens if employees have questions about the new template and, who should they contact?

As you can see, without these questions answered there are lots potential routes. Having a governance around templates, in this case, will help everyone on the intranet team understand their roles and who’s accountable for what, and the process to follow.

The alternative is to handle each request in ad-hoc way, which increases burden on your resources; in organizations with > 200 users that’s not even sustainable.

What should the intranet governance document contain?

Avoid generic templates of 100 pages worth of SharePoint governance. These are too general to be useful. They provide a lot of details around out-of-the-box features but nothing related to your organization.

It doesn’t take a lot to create efficient governance document of few pages which tackle relevant parts of your intranet.

Here are the key SharePoint intranet governance considerations we see on every intranet project:

  • Sites

    • Creating New Generic Content Site & Team Site. If you have several templates on your site such as project sites, ensure you have checklist for those too

      • Naming conventions (Title and URL)

      • Branding

      • Permissions for Readers, Contributors and Owners. Ensure restricted sites have adequate permissions set up

      • Update to Footer Links, if the site lives under 2nd, or 3rd navigation levels

      • Update to other navigation links and apps

  • Pages

    • Creating a Page

      • Using WIKI versus Site Page

      • URL and naming conventions

      • Determine apps required for the page in this section

      • If apps require dependencies, add them as needed

    • Layout

      • Which page layout to use for which type of the page

        • [One column with sidebar]

        • [One column]

        • etc.

    • Content and Styles

      • Styles for Headings

      • Styles for normal text

      • Font sizes

      • Embedding rules

    • Home Page (this being the most prominent page it needs strict editing rules)

      • Rules about editing the content on the page

      • Rules about changing the layout of the page

      • Rules related to updating key apps on the home page such as new carousels, links, shout outs, polls, etc.

    • Landing Pages (these are the second most prominent types of page; they also need editing rules)

      • Rules about editing the content on the page

      • Rules about changing the layout of the page

  • Apps

    • Apps related to the home page and related rules. Such as ‘do not place more than 10 quick links on the page’, or ‘keep naming conventions of the links on the page’

    • Dependencies for specific apps. For example, whether apps require lists and libraries to operate, what are those, and what is the required metadata

    • Image resolutions for apps to best render their pages

  • Processes

    • Renaming of sites and pages to avoid broken links

    • Alerts on lists which collect user input

    • Versioning rules

    • Content review process

    • Archiving rules

    • Removing obsolete content

Roles and Responsibilities

In intranet contains content from a variety of sources and being able to find out quickly who is responsible for which content is not always so easy.

Every governance document must contain roles and responsibilities when it comes to key areas of running the intranet, those are:

  • Intranet Owners (individuals who own the home page, landing pages, and key areas of the site, they also assign area owners but are not technical users)

  • Area Owners (individuals who control specific areas of the site, such as HR; they also assign Area Authors)

  • Area Authors (individuals who create content for the area of the site)

  • Platform Owners (technical users who monitor and control the platform: Office 365, SharePoint etc.)

For every area in your intranet information architecture, you need to determine who of the above will have which role, including:

  • Who are the key contacts?

  • What is the approval process?

  • What is the support process?

Governance Committee

Governance committee is the key to ensuring your governance evolves based on the lessons learnt and decisions are made quickly to accommodate changes.

To ensure you get the most out of your governance committee, follow these key considerations:

  • Have mechanism to capture issues and feedback.

    • Issues rarely happen randomly, they are likely a pattern or a gap that can lead to more of the same

    • Provide the ability to provide feedback for your users

      • Communicate expected SLA

    • Capture issues in the issues log and determine the patterns

  • Prioritize issues and impact (diagram below illustrates how updates can be prioritized)

  • Determine updates to your governance

  • Communicate governance changes to affected parties: Area Owners, Authors etc

This chart illustrates how proposed governance updates can be prioritized to determine which ones to tackle next.

This chart illustrates how proposed governance updates can be prioritized to determine which ones to tackle next.

Conclusion

The value of governance is its practicality and transparency. The easier it is for everyone to know the process, the less of a burden managing the site will be.

Do you maintain governance plan? What are the challenges you find with it?


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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky