SharePoint Governance: Best Practices in a Hybrid Environment

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Since Microsoft launched Office 365 in 2010 and began providing it via a software as a service (SaaS) model, the cloud has led to a leveling of the playing field by allowing many small businesses to reduce their costs, increase productivity, and gain valuable administrative insights which are enabling them to compete with much bigger rivals.

However, for many reasons, a direct move to the cloud is not necessarily a practical move for every business. Therefore, the appeal of getting the ‘best of both worlds’ with a move to a hybrid SharePoint environment is becoming increasingly popular.

The reasons behind this trend comes down to the positives of moving to an IT environment that gives you the flexibility and scale of the cloud and also enables you to retain sensitive data on site within your on-premises farm.

Adopt the Cloud with Your Feet on the Ground

However, like most good things in life, going hybrid is not all plain sailing. With the power of the cloud comes the responsibility of governance best practices, which must be addressed. Today we are focusing on SharePoint governance best practices in a hybrid environment to make sure you get the best out of the environment without compromising data compliance or regulations.

Let’s take a moment to define what we mean by the term ‘governance’:

” Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities and processes that control how an organization’s business divisions and IT teams work together. “

It Used to Be Oh So Simple

In the past, when SharePoint was only available on-premises — you only accessed your system from your desktop in the office —governance was not so much of an issue. It was relatively easy to control in a typical top-down model.

That has changed with the advent and growth of hybrid environments, mobile working, the BYOD (bring your own device) explosion, and sky-rocketing in the quantity of data collected. As a result, the traditional manner of governance had to be adapted for a modern cloud-based environment. Your policies will be the same in theory but, in practice, there will be changes to auditing, financial management, reporting, permissions management, etc.

successful SharePoint governance planning

A Plan for Governance Is a Plan for Success

First thing’s first, to make sure your security and compliance measures continue to be adhered to, it’s a good idea to break down your SharePoint on-premises governance procedures step by step and then look at how you can achieve the same online. Remember then that you’ll still be using steps from the on-premises system along with the new online procedures. The complexity levels here are raised because you’re essentially—from a governance point of view — dealing with two separate systems (i.e. online and on-premises).

Plan and Plan Again

Remember that this isn’t just about making changes to technical aspects of your IT platforms. It’s also a business process change that requires the input of your entire organization. Ask yourself, for example, will hybrid change how your business’s financial transactions occur? Will you need to provide a new method of financial transparency? Appointing a governance team to effectively plan how your business needs to change can really help you plan and effect these changes to governance procedure — this should be your first step.

Know Your Business

Your organization is unique, with a distinctive set of goals that will influence your approach to governance. It also has a unique set of compliance and regulation concerns. Make sure you understand these avenues of your business — are there legal guidelines that could determine how your SharePoint environment will operate? Will you be in possession of sensitive information that you will need in case of future audits?

Boost User Adoption & Get Feedback

When you make changes or alterations to anything in your business, it’s vital to have regular communication with your power users and business teams. Create an avenue for feedback and suggestions so that user concerns can be acknowledged and progress can be logged.

Put Your Policies Front and Center

Transparency starts at home – use the feedback and questions from your users to create a site that is dedicated to your Governance policy and philosophy. Keep this site updated and dynamic, as well as functional — don’t simply dump everything here and hope that people will dig through it to find the information they need.

To Change Is to Improve

As you gain more and more experience within your SharePoint environment you’ll get better at managing your processes and procedures; you should allow your processes and procedures to evolve along with your experiences of what’s working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to update the way you do things if you find a better way. To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change constantly.

Authority Now and into the Future

Governance remains an important aspect of enterprise as businesses continue to adapt to more efficient ways of working. Our guide towards best practices, when tailored to your organization, will give you a good foundation for keeping authority over your processes, now and with future innovations.

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