ECM Governance – Part One

If you were ever looking for a main cause for the failure of SharePoint implementations, look no further than ECM Governance.  Over the next couple weeks I am going to share some insights I have experienced with governance of enterprise content and what organizations need to do to ensure the successful implementation and use of solutions like SharePoint and OpenText Content Server.

I am a Solution Architect who has been working in SharePoint and OpenText (and integrating the two) for many years.  I have seen many implementations fail and they all stem from the same cause, a lack of governance.  It isn’t just that organizations fail to plan, though that can be part of it, but it really has to do with how the organization prepares for the changes that a new system brings.

There is nothing worse than building a system and just letting everyone do whatever they want with that system.  Not only does it breed anarchy, it guarantees a poor user experience and a failed result.  The failure to plan is why so many organizations have no governance in place; we need to think ahead and decide how we are going to steer people towards proper use of the solution. That steering or guiding of people is known as ‘governance’, which makes sense when you consider the source of the word.

The word governance derives from the Greek verb κυβερνάω kubernáo which means to steer and was used for the first time in a metaphorical sense by Plato. It then passed on to Latin and then to many other languages. (Origin from In a modern sense, governance is the act of governing.  It involves determining where the organization needs to be and the rules that need to be followed in order to get there.

The Hydra

Every organization has its own ideas and reasons for using a system and this driving force is where we need to start when we talk about governance.  This driving force is actually a multi-headed beast, hence the section title.  The reason it is a Hydra has to do with the organization itself: companies are setup into silos based on function and there is no way around it. Engineers will use a system differently from accounting and so on.  In order to figure out the direction the organization needs to take, you are going to need to involve every group that is going to use the system.

Once you have the reasoning behind each groups use of the system, you can begin finding a commonality to their use.  This commonality will define the “Vision” of your governance plan.  It is the core of how the organization will use the solution, while the uniqueness of each group will provide variances that will be used later on in the governance definition process.

If we were building a governance plan, we now would have two sections ready to fill in: the business cases (which summarize your findings from speaking with each group in the organization) and the vision (which defines the direction we need to take the solution.)

Originally posted by David McMillan on Moss Adventures