How to Get Business to Take Ownership of SharePoint

For the first time in 5 and a half years, I heard a SharePoint IT Project Manager say that SharePoint should be owned by business.  What a refreshing conversation! He is one of the very few IT people that really do get how this platform should be run.  His hands are however very tied by legacy management issues that have had long term implications for the platform.

One of his main woes was how to get business to take ownership of SharePoint. To date, they have failed with this and don’t know how to turn the tide.  It’s not often we get to hear stories like this, usually it’s business trying to get IT to let go; so here are some tips on how to get business to take the reins :

First, look at service you are offering to business.  What is the entry point for business into SharePoint via IT?  Do they have to complete endless change requests that take days or weeks to action – in triplicate?  Is the process to get anything done in SharePoint fraught with red tape?  The nature of SharePoint is extremely quick changes in a production environment.  Telling users they have to log change requests to change a column is not viable.  How easy is for them to request a new site collection?  Traditional IT helpdesks do not work in the SharePoint space.  You need an alternative, (very easily built on SharePoint out of box).

Second, is the platform stable and large?  Are there daily (tested) backups? Proper DR?  Enough space for document storage – especially if the plan is to replace file shares with SharePoint?  Is it fast?  If users are constantly running out of space and SharePoint is slow and hangs, they won’t use it.  How easy is it to request more space?  Are you managing that space effectively on the back-end to ensure speed on the front-end?

Next, is there a strategic direction for the platform?  What is the positioning of SharePoint, is it documented and communicated?  What do you want it to achieve in the organisation?  What do you want business to achieve with it? What culture changes would you like to see happen as a result?

Do you have a training plan and support path?  If you want business to take ownership, you have to train them to do that.  If you want them to use the platform in a certain way, you have to train them.  If you want them to build their own solutions, you have to train them.  Once they start building their own sites, do you have a dedicated helpdesk that can assist them with queries quickly without having to log a change request? What type of support do you have in place for them?  Do you have a fast-track program for the business users that have a flair for SharePoint and want to go all the way?  Do you have dedicated SharePoint support staff to keep the service running?

Have you initiated a governance forum?  You need to take the initiative and start a forum that involves the key business people from each area.  Host it in the beginning, then let them take it over.  There must always be representation from both business and IT at this forum, and it must have open channels of communication between the two.  The future of the platform and all issues must be decided and actioned by the governance forum.

Are you flexible and open to change?  You might have set up the platform and activated some services; but as business starts using it, they will require additional features activated.  Their needs will mature as their experience grows.  Are you willing to let go more, and able to support the features they require?  You need to stay ahead of the curve and learn the functionality before business does, so you can support them properly.  You need to be able to advise them correctly on their needs as they may not understand the implications of what they’re requesting.

Have you been engaging business from the beginning?  Or did you do everything behind the scenes then just threw SharePoint at them and expected them to embrace it?  It is important to have been engaging them from the beginning, or expect a lot of resistance.  Ask them what they want, show them what’s possible, ask for their opinion.  Grow with them.

Communication and past experiences?  Did you have a previous version of SharePoint that everybody hated?  Do users mistrust the platform now?  You will need to do a massive marketing and communication drive to change that perception.  Admit where you went wrong, explain what you’ve done to prevent that in future, ask for patience while you get things right, and communicate when you do get it right.  Play open cards with business, establish trust and be patient.

Once you have addressed all these issues, you will be in a much stronger position to ask business to take ownership, and empower them to do so.  Get your house in order to meet them half way, then be flexible in future.  Everyone on the planet is still learning how to do SharePoint right, mistakes will be made.  Learn together, keep communication channels open, and be kind to each other.  Next, read this post on what attributes the business owner should have.  Yes, business should own SharePoint, but business and IT need to work together for it to be truly successful.


  1. I feel your frustration, I really do. The subject of effective user adoption is a very intricate and indepth one. We could talk about it for a month and still not get it 100% right. There are so many dependencies and nuances and if you get one wrong it has a snowball effect on the whole food chain. Getting IT to dictate how SharePoint should be used is a sure way to have it fail.


  2. Business wants file-share because file-share builds on the software skills end users have in hand. Change is fine, but change that requires end users to learn an IT-imposed vision of how file-share should work puts IT on the line for owning the IT monstrosity. Whining about recalcitrant end users rejecting “change” misses the point of who is responsible for “support” and who is responsible for “revenue generation”.

    How do you warm up to sharepoint when the manual is a three-volume, 600 page document?


  3. […] How to Get Business to Take Ownership of SharePoint (Views from Veronique)For the first time in 5 and a half years, I heard a SharePoint IT Project Manager say that SharePoint should be owned by business.  What a refreshing conversation! He is one of the very few IT people that really do get how this platform should be run.  His hands are however very tied by legacy management issues that have had long term implications for the platform. […]


  4. Yup, the good old fileshare is hard to let go I’m afraid. 🙂 But it can be done. Check out these two blog posts below on the advantages of moving to SharePoint using metadata. It’s about showing business value then breaking old habits and forming new ones. It does take time, but it can be done. Build a working model yourself and demo it to them – or just build it and implement it and don’t use the word SharePoint. Call it the document management system or something. Find one person that gets excited about this, there will be one – and start there. Adoption is a one day / one person at a time thing.


  5. A very good post! Indeed, what about organisations where people don’t want to change? Where IT says, ok, let us move to SharePoint, but business still wants the good old fileshare ?

    How can we warm up the different departments to take SharePoint in and let them in charge of their site(s) ?


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