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SharePoint governance can be a slippery thing to define. Everyone agrees that it’s indispensible, but the fact that good governance differs so significantly from organisation to organisation makes it almost impossible to hold up a quantifiable model of best practice. Stakeholders often sit nodding their heads when they’re told in a meeting what governance is, but come away without a good idea of how it can be enacted in their business.

Sometimes, they go on not to produce a SharePoint governance plan at all. In other cases, they push ahead with the project with all of the best intentions but without the knowledge or foresight required to steer clear of mistakes that render their hard work worthless.

Sounds like a familiar story? Here are three of the most common SharePoint governance errors made by organisations that have the right motives but the wrong tactics. These blunders can have a wide range of repercussions – they might result in the policy being ignored, or even end up dramatically reducing the platform’s usefulness to the business.

Trying to implement governance in a prescriptive way

As mentioned above, something that constitutes good governance in one organisation might be utterly irrelevant to another. In order to steer a SharePoint implementation in the right direction, a business needs to ask itself: “What does governance mean for us? How can we align this project with our business goals? And what cultural barriers will we have to overcome to do it?”

Any good SharePoint expert or systems integrator will point out that you can’t silo or outsource a governance plan – it needs to be developed with the input and oversight of every stakeholder, and with a keen eye for the overall business outcome.

Producing a massive document for users to study

Another common SharePoint governance error is that an organisation will design a suitable policy, but only present it to its users in the form of a static, 50 to 100-page document. It’s not reasonable to expect employees to learn and adhere to this kind of governance plan, and the outcome might be that they ignore it wholesale – something that renders the effort meaningless.

Businesses should instead focus on what matters, accepting that employees need some degree of flexibility to work in the ways they want to, and break down their governance plans into smaller parts that can in turn form the basis of discrete training sessions and documentation. And if it’s possible to relieve individual users of their responsibilities via automation, then that should be pursued too.

Failing to update the policy as requirements change

Finally, it’s important to remember that SharePoint governance is an ongoing obligation. Organisational structures and business goals shift over time, so policies for appropriate information management change too. It’s no use to have that 100-page document sitting gathering dust somewhere – governance is a living, breathing thing, which needs to be reviewed and tweaked on a regular basis to deliver the best possible results.

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