Whether you are new to SharePoint or are a seasoned veteran, you have undoubtedly come across this topic of governance. What is governance exactly? With regards to SharePoint, it is a defined and enforced compliance policy that serves as an operations manual for your IT department.

You will use this policy to manage the production and growth of your SharePoint environment. It may not seem all that necessary at first, but as you open up your environment to your users, the need for organization and structure quickly becomes apparent.

Without such a policy, your deployment can easily turn into an administrative nightmare. Yet many organizations fail to take heed of such a warning. Do not make this costly mistake. In this article, I will provide you with a couple of items to keep in mind as you begin putting your governance plan together.

Unfortunately, when it comes to governance, there is no cookie-cutter template for you to follow. Organizations vary with how they are structured, the number and types of users they employ, and how their users perform their day-to-day activities. As such, your policy will be unique and should reflect the needs and goals of your company.

A successful governance plan will find the right balance between the rights and permissions you give to your users, and the security and compliance policies that have been put in place by your management team. Keep in mind that it may take a few attempts to find the perfect balance.

Another major factor to consider when creating your governance plan is the size of your organization. As a general rule, the larger the organization, the more specific you will need to be when defining your policies and procedures. For example, in a smaller company of 50 users, the process to manage site creation could be as simple as e-mailing the IT department and requesting a site. In a larger company of thousands of users, this same general policy would be impossible. You would need to create a specific process such as a custom workflow that manages requests or approvals, and that automates site creation based on user-defined field values.

The last thing I will mention is that you should prepare for policies and procedures within your governance plan to change. Businesses constantly change. Whether it’s a new executive, a new department or branch, or simply a new and better way of doing things, things will change. It is a good idea to schedule monthly meetings to review current policies and see if there is a need for revision.

Chris Caravajal is a SharePoint Technologies Consultant, and he manages the Help Desk and Remote Support services for SharePoint911.