OK, time to make a SharePoint governance plan!
Governance. That dreaded “G” word nobody has time for. No, we need our SharePoint up and running yesterday—planning just takes too long and holds the whole thing up. Let’s just wing it and fix any issues when they come up.
Sound familiar? It should. It’s what everybody does. Really. If you want to preserve your faith in global business, do yourself a favor and don’t look behind the curtain.
But I digress.
SharePoint really should have some planning behind it to get the most out of it. Otherwise, you’ll be floundering when you have to fulfill requests that you have no defined process for fulfilling. Then your users get angry and ragequit, and there’s no going back from there!
One easy aspect of governance that doesn’t take much planning is site ownership. Seems straightforward enough, but it’s far too easy to be lax on it and give the car keys to someone who’s not qualified to drive. Happens all the time, and often nothing bad comes as a result. But every once in a while, hoo-boy, prepare for trouble and make it double.
There should be a site request process in place, as well, though that’s out of the scope for this particular article. Assuming there’s a formal request process—you know, one where there’s an audit trail and a requirements-gathering session, at the very least—determining the rightful owner of the new site should be a component of that process.
So that prompts the question: Who should be a site owner?
Perhaps a better question would be: who shouldn’t be a site owner? That one’s a little easier to answer. Obviously, anyone can be a site owner—just grant that user Full Control access to the site and you’re done. But therein lies the danger—all you need to do is set it and forget it, and that person now has the power to manage permissions, create sub-sites, and even delete the site itself. Trust me, when someone with no experience managing permissions accidentally re-inherits permissions from the parent site and removes all the custom permission settings, you’ll be that one interviewee on the news saying, “I never thought it could happen to me!”
So who shouldn’t be a site owner?
Anyone who’s too busy. That’s really the all-encompassing answer. All too often you’ll have a department head request a SharePoint site for their team and insist on being the owner when, more than likely, his or her day will consist of meetings and paperwork with no time for SharePoint. While on paper it seems to make sense for the department head to be in charge of the department’s SharePoint site, if she or he never has any time to manage it, nothing will ever get managed! And that can lead to ragequitting.
Directors and VPs should have access to the site, of course. But that’s different than having Full Control permissions.
You need someone who’s actively involved with the SharePoint site and who has time day-to-day to actually manage things like user access and content organization. Preferably someone familiar with technology, but it’s not a requirement—people can learn, and you should definitely have some level of user training involved with your site creation process. But site owners have the ability to create new sub-sites, create lists and libraries, manage page layout and content, and set the permissions of the site. They need to have a certain level of responsibility to keep all of this in check, or else the site can become a chaotic mess very quickly.
Administrative assistants and project team leaders are often great choices—they’re going to be hands-on and invested in the management aspect. Directors and VPs have other things to do. Sure, they may log on and pull down some content for their next meeting, but it’s definitely too much to ask for them to take hours out of their day to configure permissions and add web parts to the homepage.
Don’t forget, there’s no restriction on the number of people who can have site owner access. That’s both a blessing and a curse. If there are too many cooks in the kitchen, users and administrators could be passed around from one owner to the next when trying to get their questions answered—there’s no one to take full responsibility. But having too few can result in other issues—if there are two owners and they’re both on vacation for a week, there won’t be anyone to manage the site in the interim.
That’s why you need a plan! Site owners are your first line of defense—users should be going to them for any site-specific assistance, and the administrators should only get involved further up the pipeline. Pick people who can handle the responsibility, share the responsibility, and have a grasp of the purpose of the site and a vision for where it needs to go. They’ll be excited to take on the task, and they’ll give their users an excellent impression of SharePoint. But if your site owners are just figureheads, your users will never get the full experience. They’ll have a bad or disappointing experience, which can only lead to one thing.
Be very afraid.
If you’d like some help with setting up your organization’s SharePoint governance plan, check out our Office 365 services center or reach out. We’d love to get you started.