Every intranet struggles to keep content up to date and the overall site well managed. Intranet teams have also learned the hard way that ‘trying to get everything perfect’ ultimately leads to frustration and failed governance.
While these challenges are universal, there are also governance considerations that are driven by the nature and shape of the technology platform that the intranet sits on. SharePoint Modern takes a fresh approach to the way information is published and managed, with dozens (or hundreds!) of separate ‘communication sites’ that sit alongside each other in a flat structure. Navigation then ‘sits on top’, providing access points into the landscape of sites (the article Separate navigation and structure in SharePoint Modern explores this further).
Thankfully there is a practical way to address governance in SharePoint Modern, by taking a graduated approach that addresses each element of the platform separately, while bringing them together into a coherent overall governance structure.
Drawing on governance fundamentals
The Intranet Operating Model developed by Step Two provides a robust foundation for intranet governance that’s applicable across all technology platforms. In addition to covering the typical governance elements of standards and policies, it also addresses the day-to-day management of sites.
One of the concepts it draws upon is the idea of graduated governance, which recognises that not all intranet content needs to be of equal quality. So instead of applying the same rigours of governance to the whole intranet, governance should be progressively ‘loosened’, as you head down and out into the intranet.
This can be formalised into a graduated structure that applies tight governance to key intranet elements, then defining separate levels of the site with their own governance standards. In this way, limited intranet resources can be allocated to greatest effect.
Applying graduated governance to SharePoint Modern
In practice, taking a graduated approach to governing SharePoint Modern intranets involves addressing three separate tiers.
|Tier||Level of governance||SharePoint Modern elements|
|Tier 1||High||The global menu in the app bar should be managed centrally, and carefully user-tested to ensure it’s effective. The top menu on the SharePoint home site should also be centrally crafted and curated. The intranet homepage should be directly owned by the intranet team, to ensure that the right mix of elements are included and managed.|
|Tier 2||Medium||Business areas can create new sites as needed, with an approval workflow to ensure that necessary governance information is captured, and avoid duplication of existing resources. SharePoint Modern also provides a growing number of features that allow content and news to given wider visibility. This includes marking news sources as ‘organizational’ and promoting individual news stories. Business areas should have the ability to appropriately use these features, in coordination with the central intranet team.|
|Tier 3||Low||The flat structure of SharePoint Modern means that each business area typically gets its own communication site, and they should largely have the freedom to use these sites as they see fit. Features such as page and site templates can help to guide the creation of these sites, noting that in SharePoint templates provide a starting point rather than the ability to truly lock things down. An effective intranet authoring community can build intranet expertise in the business, and automated review dates should be established to help ensure that content is kept up to date.|
Governance in practice
There’s clearly a lot more to SharePoint Modern governance than is listed in the table above, but it should give an idea of how a graduated approach can be taken that reflects the shape and capabilities of the technology platform.
As part of our consulting services, we help establish intranet governance. Using the Intranet Operating Model as the overall framework, the module on graduated governance dives into the details and specifics of each situation.
Working with the intranet team and key stakeholders, we build consensus on how the intranet will be managed, and how the features of the platform will be utilised. This allows best practice governance to be drawn upon, while recognising that SharePoint Modern offers some new approaches (and fresh challenges) when establishing an intranet.
Reach out if you’d like to get assistance in establishing effective governance for your SharePoint Modern intranet.