It’s hard to remember to review content to make sure it’s up-to-date. It’s tough to go back to old pages and check that links still work. It’s not in our nature to re-read site owner guidelines before creating a new site.
This is why so many SharePoint intranets get stale, outdated and poorly used over time. If your intranet governance is a document on your hard drive or a notebook collecting dust on a shelf, your intranet will suffer decline. Intranet governance must be a process that’s alive every day.
SharePoint, like many other platforms, can do some of this work for you. So, lean on SharePoint to do the thinking for you, your site managers, and content owners. Embed as many of your governance actions in SharePoint itself as possible to ensure your governance intentions see follow-through.
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
There must be some sort of action within SharePoint for it to know what to prompt. It goes like this (see Figure 1):
This means you can’t embed governance process elements that depend on human intervention: for example, deciding whether or not a new Web Part is a good one to use. Embedding governance actions depends on actions that SharePoint can act on decisively.
Embedded Governance Starters
All of these ideas can be implemented in SharePoint. Some are pretty much out-of-the-box, while others require some custom work. None are particularly difficult to implement.
- Reminders about policy and guidelines before “creating”: Prompt a pop-up when site managers create new things such as sub sites (see Figure 2) or blog sites. In that pop-up, you can link them to your intranet policy, related guidelines on moderation, site reviews and audits, standards, and even toolkits that help them with management. This at least gives them an opportunity to stay informed.
- Prompt reviews of content: This is perhaps the easiest. Within the properties of a file or page it’s possible to include an expiration date, upon which the owner receives notification of the review requirement. Some take this one step further by causing the file or page to go dark until the review is completed. If you hear grumbles about the missing content, escalate the review. If you hear nothing, the content probably wasn’t valuable to users.
- Caution on deletion of files tagged with certain tags or content types: When we use SharePoint as both a workspace and a publishing space, it’s easy to accidentally delete items that shouldn’t be deleted (see Figure 3). Sometimes a simple warning serves to avoid inadvertent deletions.
- Prompt site audits: We recommend having site owners audit each other’s sites. The easiest way to do this is to associate a workflow with your audit form in a list. Assign the form to a site owner with a deadline. Once completed, the audit should be published so every owner can see and learn from results.
- Review and analysis of site reporting: Reviewing site analytics can help a site manager make improvements. They won’t know what to improve if they don’t read the analytics. Prompt SharePoint to send notifications to site owners when their weekly/monthly analytics are available. Link them directly to their report and require an online brief assessment to be completed and sent to the overall intranet lead.
- Track site owners who leave the company: When a site owner leaves the company, SharePoint can flag the removal of the individual from Active Directory. While you might not automate assignment to a new owner, this enables the overall intranet lead to get to work finding a replacement owners.
There are many other governance actions that can be embedded in SharePoint. Your organization is unique. Figure out which actions you want SharePoint to pay attention to. Work through the processes methodically and you’ll have better content and happier users as a result.