Office 365 and SharePoint 2013: Preparing for Governance

Posted by Errin O'Connor on May, 08, 2015 03:05

Office 365 and SharePoint 2013’s out-of-the-box core end-user features, such as lists and libraries as well as apps, web parts, and the sites and site collections they exist on, will be the most used areas of SharePoint, but using them and deploying them with governance in mind is key to your success.

The policies of how these components operate (are governed) guide your SharePoint user community and its related components. Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 offers end-user capabilities such as these:

  • Collaboration Tools: SharePoint sites facilitate team participation in discussions, shared document collaboration, blogging, building communities, and professional networking.
  • Content Management: The document collaboration features allow for easy checking in and checking out of documents, document version control and recovery of previous versions, enforcement of retention schedules, information management policies, eDiscovery, destruction or information management workflows, and document-level security.
  • Business Intelligence: This enables people to connect to, find, and act on information locked away in line-of-business systems by using a framework to integrate them securely into SharePoint search results, configurable and actionable dashboards, KPIs, reports, apps, mash-up interfaces, and web parts.
  • Search: A feature and overall capability that provides users with the ability to find information that is security trimmed and stored in almost any structured or unstructured repository as well as “people information.” SharePoint 2013’s search includes the previous SharePoint Server 2010 Search capabilities as well as FAST search into once seamless “SharePoint 2013” offering.

In keeping the SharePoint as a Service (SPaaS) / SharePoint as a Platform (SPaaP) strategy in mind, which will grow in size and importance over time and will open up the hybrid SharePoint implementation mind-set, the strategies in the following sections should be strongly taken into consideration and molded around your organization.

Preparing for SharePoint Site and Site Collection Governance

To paint a picture of how to prepare for SharePoint Site and Site Collection governance, EPC Group will walk through a few examples that apply to most organizations. SharePoint sites are usually created for collaboration or content management within the organizational structure or, alternatively, for a particular line of business (LOB) or department.

For example, as determined by the Site Owners, users from other locations may have access to content inside of these sites as well. Types of communication and collaboration in SharePoint include, but are not limited to, the following:

  •          Project sites
  •          Division department sites
  •          Professional networking (communities/My Sites)
  •          Team sites
  •          Content management/records management sites

Local sites may be created under the local SharePoint “root sites” or within the specific line of business or department. Functional area sites may reside below the local SharePoint “root sites.” The sites may be further split out below the functional area by business units.

The sites may also be further split out with approval of the Site Collection Owner below the functional area.

Site collections can facilitate collaboration within groups, within organizations, and between teams.

For example, when a request is granted for a site collection, a governed model should ensure that the requestor chooses or is assigned the user to be the Site Collection Owner and the Site Collection Administrator with the approval of the Farm.

For example, a SharePoint Farm Administrator can assume the role of the Site Collection Administrator.

Also, a Site Collection Administrator may be responsible for, but not limited to the following:

  •          Site Collection security
  •          Site Collection features
  •          Site Collection audits and usage logs
  •          Site creation
  •          List, library, and content type creation outside the scope of default items governed by the Farm Administrators

Site Collections should maintain data storage, quotas, size limitations, and threshold settings in the manner specified by the organization’s SharePoint governance policy.

Preparing Your Organization’s SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 Organizational Support Governance

SharePoint 2013’s governance is developed, monitored, and ultimately enforced by specific roles that can be referred to as the SharePoint “People Organization.” A best practices example of how your organization can implement this People Organization is detailed next.

Office 365 / SharePoint Service Operations Teams

The Office 365 / SharePoint Services Operations (SSO) teams consist of the following “roles” or “groups” of support members.

Office 365 / SharePoint Services Team (SST)

The Office 365 / SharePoint Services Team oversees staff providing SharePoint system administration and multi-level support. The SharePoint Services Team drives the process of aligning the SharePoint Service with evolving business requirements and strategic direction.

The SharePoint Services Team consists of the SharePoint Services Team Manager, SharePoint System Architects, SharePoint Farm Administrators, and Site Collection Administrators. The SharePoint Services Team directs all aspects of the SharePoint Services to ensure an effective and stable service offering in relation to SharePoint.

Farm Administrators

The SharePoint Services Team Farm Administrators manage the operation of the production, QA, and development environments for SharePoint. The SharePoint Services Team controls the SharePoint application and helps execute approved change requests.

The Farm Administrators within the SharePoint Services Team may have the authority of full central administration rights, full SharePoint services rights, and provision security for the site collections, and they assign permissions to the Site Collection Administrator.

The Farm Administrators are essential members of the SharePoint Services Team, and they should frequently collaborate with other Farm Administrators and Site Collection Administrators to resolve problems, to assist with issues, and for knowledge transfer and continuous training.

The Farm Administrators may have the same access to all SharePoint environment instances.

Site Collection Administrators

Site Collection Administrators manage the SharePoint site collections and are part of the SharePoint Services Team with the specific goal of promoting new collaboration tools and other SharePoint applications within their location for the sites they manage to help improve efficiency and increase productivity.

  •          Site Collection Administrators do not, in most cases, have access to the operating system.
  •          The Site Collection Administrator is an integral member of the SharePoint Services Team.

The Site Collection Administrator will also be:

  •          Comfortable working with new SharePoint applications
  •          Able to quickly learn the capabilities of SharePoint tools
  •          Able to demonstrate strong functional knowledge of the tools to others

Possible additional tasks could be delegated such as the following:

  •          Creating subsites within existing sites
  •          Managing security of the SharePoint site with approved Active Directory Groups
  •          Creating new workflows and managing site content

System Administrators

The System Administrators manage the operating systems of all SharePoint Environments (Production, QA, and DEV) and do not always have central administration rights, and they usually do not have administrative access within SharePoint.

The System Administrators follow the procedures for maintenance, backup, recovery, and overall change management set forth by the SharePoint Services Team for the organization.

The System Administrators provide monitoring of the system through:

  •          Usage analysis and tuning
  •          Automatic monitoring and event notifications

The System Administrators perform maintenance on the servers and provide support for hardware and software updates. They provide documentation on the installation and configuration of the system in its environment. Your organization SharePoint platform install and configuration must be documented well enough so that it can be reinstalled and reconfigured to the last known good operating standards.

Database Administrators

The Database Administrators are responsible for installation, configuration, backup, recovery, and monitoring of the SQL Server 2012 databases required by SharePoint. Database Administrators typically do not have central administration rights and have no special administrative access within SharePoint.

The Database Administrators are typically not a member of the SharePoint Services Team but work with the SharePoint Services Team in case of issues such as business continuity exercises, disaster recovery, and content database issues.

EPC Group’s Nationally Recognized Practice Areas

EPC Group leading SharePointOffice 365Infrastructure Design and Business Intelligence Practice areas continue to lead the way in providing our clients with the most up-to-date and relevant information that is tailored to their individual business and functional needs.

Additional “From the Consulting Trenches” strategies and methodologies are covered in EPC Group’s new book, “SharePoint 2013 Field Guide: Advice from the Consulting Trenches” covering not only SharePoint 2013, Office 365 and SharePoint Online but Information Management, ECM\RM and overall compliance strategies in this ever changing world of “Hybrid IT.”

About the Author

Errin O'Connor

With over 25 years of experience in Information Technology and Management Consulting, Errin O’Connor has led hundreds of large-scale enterprise implementations from Business Intelligence, Power BI, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, IT Security, Azure and Hybrid Cloud efforts for over 165 Fortune 500 companies.

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