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Governance – The Taxonomy Dilemma

Posted by Andy Campbell on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 @ 14:10 PM

We just finished blowing up a client's site taxonomy and reassembling it. Like many clients new to SharePoint, they couldn't really understand the need for taxonomy planning before actually working in the SharePoint environment. This sets up a tough dilemma for SharePoint governance. It is very difficult to get a busy client to sit still long enough to do a thorough job of mid-to-long term taxonomy planning. Moreover, a site location may make sense early in the process, and need to be changed as the SharePoint environment matures. In our case, we had to totally re-shuffle the site deck, moving a variety of sub sites from site collection to site collection. There were no tools (that we were aware of) that made this easy. Our recommendation is that you not try to force busy end-users to spend a lot of time figuring out what a lasting taxonomy will be, down to the site/sub site level. We've found that working with these users to define what a site collection is, what the implications are for early decisions, and nailing down a solid site collection taxonomy at the outset is a smart way to go. At the same time, we use a core design team (CDT) staffed by users to make taxonomy decisions as site requests come up. Will this guarantee you that you won't have to reshuffle the deck after things have been up and running for several months? Not necessarily – but it will minimize the odds of that happening.

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Topics: sharepoint best practices, sharepoint deployment, user adoption strategy, governance, SharePoint implementation, knowledge management, knowledge transfer, knowledge Sharing, technology implementation, SharePoint solutions, SharePoint Services, site administrators, site collections, core design team, end-users, site planning, support taxonomy

Controlled SharePoint Growth

Posted by Andy Campbell on Mon, Oct 13, 2008 @ 14:10 PM

SharePoint Governance

If your SharePoint program has a good technical foundation (sound architecture), and things get off to a good start, it will grow like kudzu unless you've thought about how you want to guide the growth. You want growth in a SharePoint program; you want people enthusiastic about a platform that gives them some power over their own collaboration. You just don't want uncontrolled growth, because pretty soon you'll have people you've never heard of opening up their own SharePoint site trees on your servers, and ultimately an overgrown SharePoint environment will collapse under its own complexity.

There are probably many solutions to this I haven't thought of. The one we've discovered works pretty well for a SharePoint environment of 38,000 users is the use of site stewards (call them whatever you like: administrators, facilitators, owners, etc.) They are critical at the site collection level, and they have the responsibility and wherewithal to guide the growth and use of their site collection. This is done by cooperating with site administrators, saying who can open new sites, watching site content for relevance, and tracking site activity. We prepare these people to succeed by training them and working to make sure they get credit for their work.

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Topics: collaborative technology, user adoption strategy, governance, Collaboration, User Adoption, knowledge transfer, knowledge Sharing, collaboration technology, change management, control, growth, Guidance SharePoint, site administrators, site collections, site content training

SharePoint Governance

Posted by Andy Campbell on Thu, Oct 9, 2008 @ 14:10 PM

At some point in the life-cycle of a SharePoint program the issue of governance is going to come up. Because we've implemented SharePoint programs that run from 38,000 users to 10 users, and in environments that include classified data, we've seen many aspects of governance. Part of the challenge is the definition of governance itself. It can include: content management, access control, taxonomy, configuration, site design, document management, records management, site life-cycle management, site ownership, site security, and the list goes on. The really tough part is to find an approach to governance that encourages creativity, site use, site maintenance, and user enthusiasm, while building a SharePoint environment that is sustainable and scalable. For instance, you can introduce a couple of simple SharePoint roles early in the process to help ensure success – but you probably won't have much success arguing for a rigorous taxonomy early on.

It is also often difficult to get clients who are new to SharePoint, and excited about its possibilities, to take the time to consider governance issues. It is also true that until you have some client-created content in the SharePoint environment, you don't have the "grist" to work with. The key here is to know when to introduce basic governance principles. If you are too late, the sites proliferate into a structure that can collapse under its own weight and complexity. If you are too soon, you can stifle the enthusiasm and excitement needed to get the SharePoint program off the ground. Next: Thinking About Your SharePoint Roles.

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Topics: sharepoint moss, user adoption strategy, governance, SharePoint implementation, Collaboration, User Adoption, best practices, taxonomy, government Intelligence community

On the power of "s"

Posted by Lindsay O'Bannon on Fri, Oct 3, 2008 @ 11:10 AM

By Benjamin Hartley, October 3, 2008

Cloud computing solutions like SharePoint are a powerful way to energize your workplace. You can share documents, manage projects, schedule meetings – even hold the actual meetings! – from anywhere, whether at your desk at work or in a coffee shop in Paris. But have you ever thought about the risks involved with moving all that data online? Is it secure?

Imagine eating dinner with your spouse in a crowded restaurant. You start discussing something personal – maybe something about the state of your mortgage. This is pretty important stuff, and you know you shouldn't talk about it in a restaurant. Somebody could be listening. Maybe your server, maybe the people at the table next to yours. Or, worst of all, what if there's someone listening who actually means you harm? If you're sensible, you won't want to have that discussion in a restaurant. You'll go home and talk about it in private.

Unfortunately, the internet doesn't provide that option. You're always going to be in that crowded restaurant. There is always a server listening to you. There are most definitely people sitting next to you, and they are listening in. And, whereas in a restaurant there just might be one would-be thief lurking in the shadows, on the internet there are tens of thousands actively trying to steal from you. Oh, and you won't just be talking in broad terms, no. On the internet, you're communicating with exact and damaging precision: your actual bank account number, the password to your company email, or maybe a spreadsheet with sensitive client data. It's all right there, and they are listening. Obviously, this exposes you to considerable risk. What can you do to protect yourself?

You can be protected with one simple letter – an "s". An "s"? You've seen it. Maybe you were trying to log in to your company's webmail interface. You typed in the address and… got an error message. Wait, why? Oh, right… you left off the "s" and typed http:// when you should have typed https:// . Happens to everyone. But what does that "s" mean?

That "s" stands for "secure". It means that your communication is going over SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer. Secure Sockets Layer is a technology which allows secure communication over the internet using encryption. Encryption uses special techniques which make your data unreadable to anyone but your intended recipient. Going back to our restaurant analogy, imagine if you and your spouse, whenever talking about anything important, spoke in a language which only the two of you understood – anyone could listen, but nobody would be able to understand. Encryption works like that, creating a special language which only you and your intended recipient can understand.

When using cloud computing, it's crucial to be protected with encryption. Instead of just sending passwords and emails, cloud computing involves regularly sending whole documents, timeline information, and every other important piece of business data one can imagine. Obviously, this entails both huge advantages and major risks. Fortunately, collaborative computing platforms such as SharePoint were designed with this in mind. The IIS platform on which SharePoint runs is able to implement https quickly and easily. Of course, the end user doesn't need to know how to do that – just to be aware that it's there and why it's important. That one little letter is incredibly important and provides so much peace of mind.

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Topics: collaborative technology, sharepoint moss, Cloud Computing, Microsoft SharePoint technology, Security, collaboration technology, SharePoint solutions, SharePoint Services, Encryption, SSL