IT alignment is at or near the top of every corporation’s list of goals, but successfully realizing appropriate alignment requires a structured, proven framework. Building a comprehensive strategic Governance Plan that is aligned with the organization’s business strategy is essential to ensuring the success of your SharePoint deployment. For any organization seeking to achieve maximum performance, the role of IT has never been more vital.

A Governance Plan is an oft-overlooked process when implementing a SharePoint environment. Without appropriate governance, it is easy to deploy a solution that will become unstable, unsupportable and non-scaleable. It is also an easy way to ensure poor performance and a poor user experience, which results in a low adoption rate.

The Governance Plan is a guidebook that outlines the administration, maintenance and support of the SharePoint environment. It describes how SharePoint will be managed, defines roles and responsibilities, and helps establish rules for appropriate usage.

An item that should top any list to define in the Governance Plan is the roles and responsibilities of the Governance team. This will ensure that you get a holistic view of all of the individual components that must be governed, but also how the system itself will be utilized. This is important in order to define a Governance Plan that has the appropriate balance of policies and rules, but is flexible enough to provide a platform that users will actually use.

The most important role to define is the executive sponsorship. Being able to create a robust governance plan is not good enough. Being able to implement the plan with the appropriate executive support is vital. This will ensure that policies defined will be followed, users will be given appropriate time to learn, and the communication strategy will be endorsed by key executives. With user adoption in mind, this is important so that the users do not feel that it is IT against the user community, but a change in business processes that will make it easier to get to business-critical information and help make day-to-day work easier to accomplish.

To round out the rest of the roles, it is important to select individuals who are familiar with day-to-day operations in their particular groups and have the ability to help make decisions as it pertains to features, functionality and changes required to implement the new technology. These roles will represent the user community and help define the overall plan.

Anthony Guevara is senior solution architect and CIO at SharePoint consulting company EPC Group.