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Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Importance Of Governance

We used to see this in the old days – can’t document the software because we have to write it first! And of course, the documentation never gets done. In our new development environment with products like SharePoint, the dynamic has changed – but not much.
The ‘buzzword’ here is Governance – best described as “setting the rules” before you deploy. Unfortunately, it seems folks don’t understand the importance of this and like the old developers figure “we’ll do that after we release” – they make the release date but trouble begins almost immediately. Time and time I again, I get called in because their sites, content and security are all over the map – whatever was determined as the starting Information Architecture is usually not recognizable; most often, rebuild is the only option.
So what can you do? When you start looking at a new deployment, don’t skimp on what you need: 1) Establish a good information architecture and stick to it; it can be adjusted over time but if it keeps changing, users will be confused and use will drop off. 2) Develop planning and a team for Governance and actually do it – create the team you need to include stakeholders, techs and end users. If you don’t know how, get help – don’t wing it. With the team, build the actual plan – don’t worry about being too broad (that’s not possible) but make sure it is workable – don’t create rules that will be impossible to follow. 3) Don’t deploy like you have a gun to your head – we all hate to miss dates but if your Governance planning is adequate, you shouldn’t miss the date. That said don’t kill yourself to try to make an unrealistic date as you will make mistakes and overlook things. I usually set the target 2 weeks before it is really due to give some breathing room; alternately I like to deploy quietly, make sure it is working, then do the big release.
Once out there, Governance does not go away – in fact, the team should meet regularly and discuss enabling new options, view 3rd party tools, etc. as well review the current state of the system – are you following the IA? Adjustments needed? Any complaints from users? This effort may seem like a bother but it will ensure a return on the investment.

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