3 Ways to Apply SharePoint Governance in Your Organisation


At a recent 2 day workshop with a large UK central government department I drew this diagram to explain how we feel SharePoint Governance could be applied effectively in any organisation.

Applying SharePoint Governance

As you can see the diagram is split into three main areas:

  1. Governance Documents
  2. Governance Boards
  3. “In-line” Governance

I suspect (actually I hope and pray) that the first two are familiar to you and you have to at least some level embedded in your organisation, but the third may be new to you and I’ll explain a little later in the post what I actually mean and how you can apply it.

The key for me is that in order for your SharePoint platform to be successful ongoing, at the intersection of any governance initiatives you apply there must be a shared vision.

This is a key philosophy that we at 21apps highlight in most of out consulting engagements and content.

But let me ask you:

“What are you doing to ensure your organisation has a Shared Vision?”

1. Governance Documents

We can’t get away with (not yet anyway) at some level having a governance document, hopefully your not still wordsmithing a huge tome that no-one else is going to read? Hopefully any governance document you have is written in “plain English”,  succinct and relevant? Maybe you’ve even been brave enough to publish it as some kind of wiki.

Whatever medium and format you choose to have any SharePoint governance documentation, please ensure that you apply continuous improvement principles to it. Most SharePoint solutions are emergent as in they evolve as people and organisations “learn”, adapt, evolve and pivot; your governance documentation must be in a format to evolve with these business and organisational shifts.

2. Governance Boards

It’s a phrase that (at least in the SharePoint world) should always be plural…

In our experience, one governance board is rarely effective, predominantly because we tend to by default, populate boards with “execs”. But the reality is that very few governance issues require exec / board / senior consideration, steer and approval.

Our recommendation is to set-up multiple governance boards in your organisation. As a minimum, two may well work for you:

  1. Strategic Governance
  2. Tactical Governance

This allows the BIG decisions to be taken appropriately, but also allows a more agile, tactical level of governance to be applied and support your SharePoint platform.

Depending on the size of your organisation and the strategic impact or importance of your SharePoint platform will influence whether you need further boards sandwiched between the two specified above. It is not uncommon for “big corps” to have 4 or more levels of governance boards!

A couple of rules of thumb for you:

  1. Aim for “just enough” governance boards, don’t over complicate
  2. Align board members to our “5 Pillars of SharePoint Governance” to ensure that you have the right mix and coverage of members
  3. Members must be engaged, have a passion and interest and must have a shared understanding and commitment to both the Organisational and SharePoint Vision.

3. In-line Governance

So far I’m guessing most of what I have talked about is familiar at least to some level to you, this section I hope will offer some inspiration to change the way you implement SharePoint governance in your organisation…

I want to talk very briefly about three different ideas that can be used in what I call “in-line Governance”; as in ongoing, in the field, at the coal-face kind of techniques:

  1. Governance Signposting
  2. Centre of Excellence
  3. SharePoint Tummeler.

Governance Signposting

This is a simple but very effective example of in-line governance where you provide the end-user with governance information and rationale in-place visually within the sites and content they are creating.

Yes it does potentially take up real-estate on the page but we’ve hopefully learnt that governance is extremely important, so the ROI must be clear?

Andrew did a great mock-up for one of our clients shown below, the example is showing site owners how SharePoint governance fits organisationally (Why) and how it is implemented:

Signpost Mockup - SharePoint Governance Guidance

As you can see for this example we have quite literally used a signpost and we are articulating the “why?” and “how?” for this piece of content.

Centre of Excellence (C of E)

We are starting to see the gradual emergence of SharePoint C of E’s, especially in big corps. This is a dedicated team that is represented on the governance boards, contributes to the governance documents and works pro-actively with both IT and the business to ensure SharePoint delivers clear business value and that user adoption is maintained.

Activities that the C of E may undertake include:

  • Evangelism
  • Training / Support
  • Mentor
  • Change Management
  • Requirements gathering
  • Business engagement / Stakeholder management
  • Continuous development of the platform.

The size, shape and responsibilities of a SharePoint C of E will very much depend on the size and strategic importance of your SharePoint implementation; but one thing that is becoming very clear, whether its just a couple of dedicated people or a full on SharePoint-Army, the value a SharePoint Centre of Excellence can deliver is immense.

SharePoint Tummeler
You may be asking what the ?!*? is a “Tummeler”, well its described as follows:

“Tummel is a Yiddish word.
A tummeler is a person who catalyses others to action, traditionally hired at Jewish weddings to encourage everyone to dance. It originates from the German tummeln, which means ‘to stir’. “

The big challenge we see in a huge number of SharePoint implementations is that once live, the momentum, user adoption and value can very quickly bottom out without any ongoing stimulus, that is what a “SharePoint Tummeler” can provide either as part of the C of E discussed above or as an autonomous function; either way, “poking the box”, leading the way and evangelising by example is an extremely powerful function for ensuring ongoing business value from your investments.


I hope that whirlwind tour through three groups of techniques for applying SharePoint governance effectively in your organisation was of value to you and your organisation, the takeaways are:

  1. Think of governance holistically
  2. Ensure you have a shared vision
  3. Apply governance as an embedded ongoing organisational activity
    (and yes we mean forever)

Additional Resources

To help you along the path to SharePoint Governance Nirvana, here’s a few resources that you may find of value:

Governance Services:
2 day Governance Kickstart (£2,400 + VAT & Expenses)

1 day Governance Healthcheck (£1,000 + VAT & Expenses)

2 day Private Workshop “Aligning SharePoint Governance to Improve Business Results” (£6,000 + VAT)

Blog Posts, Videos & Webcasts:
21apps & Innovative-e Webcast - “The Evolution of SharePoint Governance”

The Missing Link in All SharePoint Projects

The 5 Pillars of SharePoint Governance Video

SharePoint Governance 3.0

And please feel free to get in touch with us directly to discuss your unique SharePoint Governance needs, we can help you with:

  • SharePoint Tummeler
  • Education
  • Mentoring
  • Consultancy
  • Centre of Excellence development
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