Simple Steps to Avoid SharePoint Governance Failure

What is Governance?

Governance is a requirement for a successful SharePoint implementation and is valuable to organizations as it creates contract between content and its stakeholders.

Once defined, governance provides a set of rules and policies by which all content in the portal will be managed.

Why Should I Care?

Without governance, you will find:

  • Your team struggling to manage a unstructured portal that has similar content sprawling in many directions
  • Absent content owners who can't make decisions when they need to
  • Weakly (or overly) secured content and a security model that is problematic and untrusted
  • Inconsistencies in the look / feel and behavior of sites everywhere in your portal
  • Poor content findability. Without predictable structure and organization, users will struggle to find what they're looking for.  The navigators in your portal won't know where to begin looking for content. 
  • Without standards, policies and rules, your portal will grow in directions that you may not be prepared or able to support
  • Mission critical content may be stored in unlikely places.  If a key user leaves your organization, you may struggle to locate important documents.

Improve Your Chances of Success


If you're going to introduce governance to your portal, you must commit.  When considering the commitment required for your governance, remember the following points:

  • Stakeholders from top down must be committed to the initiative
  • Establish a means of enforcing the polices, rules and standards
  • Identify the content affected and the users that will be expected to commit to the governance plan  

Establishing a high level of commitment is dependent on consensus.  This leads us to our next point.


To begin with, there must be agreement on all levels of policy and standard which make up the governance plan. 

Additionally, The processes and their value must be communicated and agreed upon across the organization.  Governance processes affect how users, owners and administrators interact with content. 

For example, a process that users would follow when adding content to their portal could include:

  • Identifying the content's scope to determine where in the portal it should be stored to ensure it is available to right people
  • Categorizing the content with metadata or classifications so that it is findable and properly classified
  • Identifying the content owner if it is not already implied by where it has been stored.  Someone must be available to make decisions about the content

Change Management and Communication

After consensus has been established, the impact of the policies and rules on the business can be planned for and managed appropriately.

Change management is a very large and important part of a governance plan.  There are changes to behaviours, beliefs, processes and systems. 

Typically, the technical changes are the easiest.  The most difficult changes to manage are those which involve users and the ways they complete their work.  Our recommendation is to follow a process of creating awareness and working towards an acceptance of change.  There are many change management strategies and tactics available to help your governance implementation.


As there isn't a single set of governance rules that work for all organizations, we recommend keeping your governance as simple as possible.

Consistently, we see a trend amongst successful governance implementations - simple rules are implemented, monitored and enforced with simple processes.