SharePoint Governance Process Saves Home Redecorating Project

February 25, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Posted in Fun, Governance, Microsoft SharePoint, portals | 3 Comments

I took a lot of vacation time at the end of the year for a big project – a complete home redecorating including wood floors, painting, furniture, and little stuff too.  My wife and I started running into some disagreements about various decisions and had to take a step back to analyze the situation.  I realized these issues seemed familiar.  Of course – SharePoint governance!  I just can’t get away from it.

My definition of SharePoint governance popped into mind and really helped clarify the problems that needed to be addressed.  I’ll relate it here in the hopes that it helps to illustrate how to use the SharePoint governance process in light of a much smaller, simpler situation that most of us can identify with.  My wife indulged me in this experiment.  (Note: she is a very special woman with a strategic IT background and patience for my technology experiments.  Do not try this at home!) 

My definition goes:

Website governance uses people, policy, and process to resolve ambiguity, manage short- and long-range goals, and mitigate conflict within an organization.

These were indeed the issues we faced.  The ambiguity about who was allowed to make buying and design decisions and how each party needed to be consulted was causing frustration.  Balancing the short range and long range was also difficult:  Should we quickly acquire cheap stuff that we can replace in a few years or spend more time and money to get higher quality pieces that last?  How much do we concentrate on furnishings that work safely for our baby knowing he’ll soon outgrow those needs?  And the need to mitigate conflict – keeping the disputes from ever getting to a frothy head in the first place – was obvious. 

It was validating to see how the same problems that the governance process addresses were the ones we were having.  But how to solve them?  Well, this definition is more than just a definition, but also illustrates how to proceed with solving the problems.  Back to my SharePoint governance process, I knew I needed to create a statement of governance that we could agree to. It consisted of people, policy and process.  I have posted it up here: Home Decorating Statement of Governance.

People: I started by defining a set of roles (designer, user, consultant) that clarified the responsibilities that needed to be assigned for each room.  Then, for each room, we agreed on the ownership by assigning the roles.  My wife is the designer of the living room, while I’m a user (but a consultant for the stereo setup).  I’m the designer of the deck, with my wife as user.

Policy: We had some discussions about our overall goals for the house.  Believe it or not, we hadn’t done this – we had just jumped into talking about specific colors and drapes and such.  Once our policies were codified, we felt better about leaving someone else to make decisions without approval as long as those decisions adhered to the policy.  In other words, the designer had freedom to make decisions, but only within the bounds of the agreed-upon policies.  These policies included items such as the Pricing Policy (anything over $200 requires review), Babyproofing Policy (we agree that unless a room is designated as an adult area, it should be babyproofed), and Gender-friendly Policy (nothing too lacy or too football themed).

Process: A few processes were needed based on these policies.  There’s one to determine the babyproofing room list, one for how to handle approvals of >$200 items, etc.

How did it work?  Well, we’re still in the process of redecorating, but it’s already made both of us feel better about what we can run with and where to stay hands off.  Conflict has been reduced.  And I think we’ll both feel more ownership of the result.  I think this experiment also shows that governance doesn’t have to be a big, bureaucratic sort of thing – this was self-governance between the parties involved.  Finally, as with SharePoint governance, the process forced us to talk through a lot of issues that were being left ambiguous and that would have remained as underlying causes of many smaller disputes if left unaddressed.  It’s the conversation and agreement that matters, not getting the document out the door.



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  1. Looking forward to seeing 2010 fully roll out and tested in live environment.

  2. Thank you very much for this article. It very interesting.

  3. […] SharePoint Governance Process Saves Home Redecorating Project […]

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