A relentless question that causes untold war in the SharePoint world.
This is what happens when you fight about ownership :
- Months if not years wasted in getting the platform moving and nothing gets done.
- Because nothing gets done, there’s no direction and management of the platform.
- When there’s no management and direction, neither IT nor business know how to support or scale it.
- When there’s no management, direction, support or scalability, business runs off and buys their own servers and starts their own service.
- Users left on the official environment start hating SharePoint because of the lack of support.
- When users start hating SharePoint, they stop using it.
- SharePoint becomes a white elephant.
- There are multiple installations of SharePoint in the company.
- Thousands of Dollars are wasted on multiple environments that may not be managed properly.
- Even more money is wasted on different branding ideas, too much custom development and ineffective training.
- Disparate sources of content being stored all over the show skewing management information / reporting.
- Duplication of effort because you aren’t surfacing people and content from one source.
- Mixed messages sent resulting in users ducking and diving a system they know they can manipulate because of the lack of leadership.
This is what happens when you don’t fight about ownership :
- There is a strategic vision and mission for the platform.
- There is an operational owner that has the ability to change the face of the company forever.
- There are one set of rules that everyone abides by.
- There is one authorised, production environment that provides a single view of the truth.
- Training is managed and centralised, motivating the user base to embrace the tools they have in the direction you need them to.
- One message is sent and a strong process in place for ongoing support.
- One budget to finance training, third party tools and staff resulting in a well managed platform.
- The buck stops here.
So who owns SharePoint?
IT has owned software in the past – but SharePoint is not like other products! You can think of SharePoint like Facebook, Google Docs, Dropbox, WordPress, Twitpic etc – you own the stuff you put into those services, but you don’t have anything to do with the infrastructure on which it is built. That is managed and owned by IT. All governance around using the services is automated and those are the parametres in which you work. They don’t tell you who can access your stuff, how long you need to store it, how you store it, what it looks like – you get to decide that all yourself. IT doesn’t (and shouldn’t) really care about that.
It’s IT’s job to keep the infrastructure up and running. It’s business’s job to manage the content. IT needs to manage the performance and scalability of the service, and automate all the governance around it and thereafter, hand it over to business. IT needs to make sure a special helpdesk is in place for quick turn around times on SharePoint support calls.
Business needs to decide what rules manage all the content to be stored on SharePoint. They need to decide who can access what and how. They need to decide what type of training is required by their audiences. They need to communicate with the entire user base on best practices, governance rules, changes to the platform, tips and tricks, and error resolution. They need to log calls with IT for any major issues or errors on the platform.
Attributes / powers of the SharePoint owner :
- The person who owns SharePoint should sit in business.
- That person needs to understand how the company fits together and communicates.
- That person should be a hands on, operational, fairly tech savvy that is the interface between business and IT.
- That person needs to understand what SharePoint can do out of box across the board so as to be able to approve or decline any custom development. (This can be learnt by a business person).
- That person must be authorised to make decisions about the platform that must be adhered to by both business and IT.
- That person must be accountable for the decisions they make.
- That person must have strong management skills and not be caught up in constant office politics.
- That person needs to have signing powers and hire/fire powers.
- That person needs to be mandated to put a dedicated SharePoint team together.
- That person needs a dedicated budget to finance all training and third party tools that could potentially improve the user experience on the platform; as well as future staff requirements.
- That person heads the Governance Forum and has final say on all issues.
- That person is recognised by the CIO and CEO and has a voice in management meetings.
- That person has superior communication skills.
- That person can see the bigger picture.
Where does this person sit?
It doesn’t matter – as long as they have the above attributes, they could be in any department; Marketing, Communications, HR, Finance, Admin, whatever. SharePoint is a platform that tends to not fall into the traditional corporate structure, but floats over all of it. Corporate structures need to be adapted in many cases to accommodate this platform. It’s not just about the technology – SharePoint has the ability to change the way people / company thinks, communicates, collaborates and networks. It can change how companies operate forever. It will grow into a huge internal competency that spans every division in the company. It will not easily fall into the usual structure.
Business and IT need to work together to manage SharePoint. They do need each other and there needs to be open channels of communication at all times for a successful implementation.
Check out some job descriptions to see how very different the tasks are between business and IT.
Please, stop fighting and just get the job done. If the current ownership isn’t or doesn’t work out, change it. If you are the person holding up the platform, step down and let the people that do want to take ownership take charge. It’s important to have an owner that actually wants the job.