Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Minimal SharePoint Governance Plan - Part III

This is part III in a mini-series about the Minimal SharePoint Governance Plan needed to get you started with your SharePoint governance efforts.This part gives a more detailed overview of the mininal governance plan. The overview comprises operational and functional areas from SharePoint architecture, via site, user and information lifecycle management, to realization of SharePoint solutions. As you will see, there is a multitude of governance aspects, even if just focusing on the technical aspects. Executing on all governance aspects from day one is not viable, that is why I recommend to start with simple governance.

The is no one governance plan to rule them all. Governance is too multi-faceted for a single set of policies to fit all the different site types across diverse business areas. Governance for controlled publishing sites will be very different from Enterprise 2.0 pull-style situational solutions, as will it differ for management of project sites and team sites, and as for community, social and personal sites. Adapt your governance plan according to the targeted solution.

The site classification scheme shown here is from the Technet SharePoint Governance Checklist Guide, refer to page 20 for more details.

Architectural Governance

The governance plan for the SharePoint solution must define a logical architecture model based on your Information Architecture analysis, adhering to architectural components, farm deployment, capacity and planning recommendations on Technet.

• Farm design policies for a robust and flexible platform
• Sharing and isolation policies for applications and information
• Site-collection structure policies to drive overall solution architecture & governance
• Information asset structure policies to ensure classification, management and findability

The objective of having architectural policies is to create a workable farm and solution design considering hard and soft SharePoint limits.

Site Lifecycle Management

The governance plan for site lifecycle management (SLM) must specify policies for managing sites from creation to disposition. Define a classification scheme for site types and adapt your governance plan to each site type. It is recommended to develop timer jobs to automate and enforce SLM policies.

You need a site sweeper job that disposes expired, abandoned and useless sites from your solution to ensure that the overall effect produces useful business results. Make sure that knowledge captured in obsolete sites are retained through information management tasks before permanently disposing the sites. Alas, don't be afraid of self-service provisioning, after all more is different.

• SLM policies must be defined and enforced
• Site Provisioning
    o Implement custom provisioning if ootb functionality is not sufficient
    o Provisioning policy per site type defines level of automation and self-service
    o Use provisioning wizard to collection data related to SLM
    o Store SLM data in site properties or a site inventory list
• Site Retention
    o Do not rely on database backup for retention, backup retention might be shorter than site retention
    o Prepare to restore sites deleted by users
• Site Disposition
    o Implement custom site sweeper if ootb functionality is not sufficient
    o Standard site sweeper is only for site-collections (site use confirmation)
    o Define a procedure for information management when disposing a site

Note that there is no ootb site directory in SharePoint 2010. Still, just create a shared custom list and use it for inventory management of sites as part of your SLM implementation.

DocAve Backup & Recovery a recommended 3rd-party tool, it provides capabilities beyond ootb SharePoint 2010, such as item-level recovery. For site retention, the CodePlex MSIT Site Delete Capture tool is an option.

User Lifecycle Management / Identity & Access Management

The governance plan for user lifecycle management (ULM) must specify policies for managing users from onboarding to termination. ULM is directly related to information security (access and auditing), information management, and Identity & Access Management (IAM). Employees come and go, resulting in SharePoint data that nobody manages, or in worst case, lost knowledge.

Implementing good site disposition policies and good information management policies will reduce the efforts required for user lifecycle management, as obsolete sites and information then will be disposed of in a timely manner - keeping the quantity of orphaned data down.

• ULM policies must be defined and enforced
• Site memberships and permissions must be assigned for new users
• Site and information asset permissions & ownership must be handled when
    o Account is terminated
    o User transfers to another business role or department
• A policy for reassignment of ownership must be defined

Having tools for management of user permissions, ownership and lifespan is nice, but no prerequisite. LigthningTools DeliverPoint or Axceler ControlPoint are recommended partner solutions for user management.

Content Type Governance / Information Management

The governance plan must specify policies for content management according to your Information Architecture analysis and taxonomy. A taxonomy is realized in SharePoint using Site Content Types for information asset types and Term Sets for coherent tagging of information. Content types combined with metadata tagging is essential for information classification and for driving findability.

Content types defines the static classification hierarchy of the information managed in SharePoint. A content type is built from a set of fields defining the metadata of the content type, further detailing the classification of the information. Some metadata fields require the use of a controlled vocabulary for content tagging.

Information management policies can be assigned to content types. The most important are for retention and disposition of content, helping you manage e.g. outdated content to ensure the relevance and timeliness of your information.

• Reuse the Open-Closed Enterprise Taxonomy across web-applications and site-collections
• Always use a core Content Type Hub store for the enterprise taxonomy
• The core content type store defines company specific immutable base content types
• Ensure that all additional content types derives from the core content types, by extending the immutable base
• Use few required metadata fields, max 3-5 per content type
• Use sensible default values where possible
• Define polices for
    o Reusable content (document repository)
    o Retention of outdated content / historical archive (document repository)
    o Retention of expired content (records repository or disposition)
    o Regulatory compliance records (records management)
    o Disposition of content
• Retention policies are important for driving findability, use them to prevent irrelevant search results
• Define and enforce behavior using
    o Information Management policies
    o Workflows / Event receivers
• Use Information Management policies for
    o Retention, disposition, auditing, labeling / barcodes
• Ensure that content types are evolved according to best practices

The new SharePoint 2010 multi-stage retention support, combined with workflow and document /records repositories allows for implementing and enforcing sophisticated content management policies. Note that the new SharePoint 2010 Content Organizer only supports Document-based content types, in addition to e-mail messages.

Managed Metadata Governance

The governance plan must specify policies for management of the managed metadata used when tagging content in SharePoint. Managed metadata is a controlled vocabulary defined in the corporate taxonomy, realized in SharePoint 2010 as term sets defined in the Managed Metadata Service.

• Reuse the Open-Closed Enterprise Taxonomy across web-applications and site-collections
• Always use a core Managed Metadata Service term store for the enterprise taxonomy
• Allow local Managed Metadata Services for isolated, locally managed term stores
• Always use synonyms when defining terms, consistent content tagging is essential for content management and for driving findability
• Use term translation to support other languages for the term
• Avoid random or haphazard tagging due to unintelligible terms
• Enable managed keywords for user-driven freeform tagging of content
• Ensure that term sets are evolved according to best practices
• Define and enforce a policy for reviewing open term sets for improper usage

Note that search do not comprise term synonyms or translations when searching, it only finds the stored key term. The same applies to faceted search – or 'refinement panels' as they are called.

You can have multiple Term Set stores and Content Type Hub inventories in SharePoint 2010. This allows for combining both enterprise definitions and local definitions to support both shared and isolated taxonomy configurations. See Plan to share terminology and content types on Technet.

Social Tagging Governance

The governance plan must specify policies for management of the social tagging features

• Use managed keywords to enable folksonomy for content (list items)
• Use social tagging to enable folksonomy for "anything with an URL"
• Allow for managed metadata and managed keywords to be included in social tags
• Define and enforce a policy for reviewing the folksonomy tags for improper usage

Note that the social tagging of "anything with an URL" is provided by the SharePoint2010 User Profile Service application, not the Managed Metadata Service application. Thus, social tags have no explicit relation to the term store at all. The same applies to other SharePoint2010 social features such as ranking and social bookmarking.

Document Template Governance

The governance plan must specify policies for using Office templates in content types.

• Use a shared set of enterprise Office templates
• Manage and store templates in a SharePoint document library at a central location
• Do not store templates directly in content types, always reference the central shared templates
• Make use of the Office 2010 Backstage or the document information panel for managing metadata directly in Office

Office 2010 now has support for storing templates in a SharePoint repository. Use AD group policies to populate 'File > Save As' and to lock down storage locations such as file shares and local disk.

List & Library Definition Governance

The governance plan must specify policies for managing content in lists and libraries. It is strongly recommended to use only lists based on site content types, rather than directly customizing list definitions. Enforcement of consistent classification and information management policies depends on using site content types.

• List content
    o Use only a few content types per list
    o Content types in a list must be cohesive
    o Prefer list views over "dumb" folders
    o Use SharePoint 2010 folders when appropriate
• List permissions
    o Prefer using inherited permissions
    o Avoid user item level permissions
• Enforce content management policies using
    o Versioning, check-in/out, workflows / event receivers
• Information Rights Management (IRM)
    o Policies for document access and usage restrictions
    o Applies IRM policies when document is downloaded from library
    o Enable by installing Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS)
• Information management policies
    o Prefer implementing IM policies on content types rather than on lists or libraries

Note that some of the new SharePoint 2010 features work only for document libraries, such as the Unique Document ID, Document Set and Content Organizer features.

Permissions Governance

The governance plan must specify policies for how to manage access to sites and information assets, including which permissions users and groups have. All experience shows that simple permission policies are more secure. The more intricate and fine-grained permissions assignments you have, the harder it is to know who has access to what – and the more likely it is that there will be information security breaches exposing confidential information.

• Use SP groups to manage user group memberships
• Build your SP groups from AD security groups
    o Management of AD group members is typically a bottleneck, thus avoid it
• Do not assign permissions to single users, always assign to SP groups
• Prefer inherited groups (role assignments)
• Prefer inherited permission levels (role definitions)
• Use unique permissions at site level (favored) or list/library level only when absolutely required
• Avoid assigning item level permissions
• Site-collections are preferred security management boundaries

The visibility into what a user has access to has improved a bit in SharePoint 2010, so has the usage reporting capabilities. Still, 3rd-party tools such as LigthningTools DeliverPoint or Axceler ControlPoint might be required for professional permissions management beyond the built-in SharePoint 2010 Permissions Tool.

Search Governance

The governance plan must specify policies for driving findability through indexing and search. The Information Architecture analysis defines the information taxonomy and organization blueprint realized in a SharePoint site structure capable of storing and managing your content. The site structure combined with content types enables findability through consistent classification and tagging of content.

• Ensure ease of adding information assets to correct location
    o Users should not have to enter a lot of required metadata
    o Users should not have to browse/navigate extensively to store content
    o Task context should deduce location, e.g. CRM client document store
• Metadata tagging through content types for all findable assets
• Use content type retention policies to prevent irrelevant, outdated search results
• Use search scopes to provide search context: people, tasks, articles, project, archive, etc.
• Use faceted search (refinement panel)
• Ensure and enforce information isolation
    o Farm design must prevent configuration mistakes from exposing confidential information by accident
    o Use separate service application groups or even separate shared services farms

The most valuable search is the one that connects a user to other people, as people are often the best sources of information and knowledge, especially tacit knowledge – know-how relating to new better business performance or to novel information that generate flow of new knowledge – in short, that ignites innovation. A former CEO of Hewlett Packard famously observed: "If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable".

Findability is more than just search capabilities, it also includes the SharePoint 2010 social computing features such as “Tags & Notes” for tagging and social bookmarking. Tag clouds, metadata-based navigation and filtering, and even the My Site activity feed are all enablers of driving findability.

Note how I say "driving findability"; findability is not something you just enable, you have to actively manage and adapt the Search Service application settings according to your business needs. Just enabling search is just as bad as not managing your user's expectations for what to expect from enterprise search.

All parts of this mini-series:
Part I - SharePoint Governance - Eating an Elephant
Part II - Start with Simple Governance
Part III - Minimal Governance Plan (this post)

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