SharePoint – Content Governance Pyramid

I’m often asked about content governance in SharePoint; it is such a broad topic! I deal a lot with content services and content management is a focus area for me. I actually like the way SharePoint manages content and documents I encourage organisations to look to SharePoint for what I call, Controlled Document Management.
I think the days of monolithic EDRMS systems are numbered and SharePoint really commoditises document control (if implemented correctly). SharePoint is often blamed for many short comings but I’ve found that these issues usually relate to how it has been implemented. My advice is “keep it simple” and your users will thank you, as the platform approach of SharePoint (with a simple classification taxonomy) and Office for Document Management is a winner with users.
In relation to content governance in SharePoint, the diagram below depicts the relationship between the types of SharePoint workloads and the governance requirements related to manage each one.

Importance to the organisation

Put simply, the more important the content is to the organisation, the more governance required. It will sit higher in the pyramid and therefore require policies and has strict compliance requirements regarding its lifecycle. Content in the organisational portal will be of higher risk and therefore needs more governance than content residing in a team site. Personal information and social interactions require less governance and therefore are lower on the pyramid (generally speaking).

Content Governance Model Definition Matrix

The following table defines the document management models, their criteria and the definition of each criteria’s possible requirements, supporting the following workloads:

  1. Structured or Organisationally managed.
  2. Managed or Workgroup/Team/Project managed.
  3. Autonomous or Self-managed.
Criteria Organisationally Managed Workgroup Managed Autonomous/Self-Managed
Types Paper records profiled w/reference to physical location, any electronic records or electronic document stored on server. Team or Workgroup relevant electronic documents stored on servers. User relevant electronic documents stored either on servers or offline w/synchronisation back to servers.
Access Control View access for everyone by default, author or content approver settable. View access for everyone by default, workgroup focal point, author or content approver settable. View access for everyone by default, author settable.
Versioning Mandatory Desirable, optional Desirable, optional
Check-in/out Mandatory Desirable, optional Desirable, optional
Metadata Mandatory, centrally managed Mandatory, workgroup managed Desirable, optional
Retention/Disposal/Lifecycle Mandatory, policy-based Desirable, optional, policy based Desirable, optional, policy based
Workflow Mandatory Mandatory Desirable, optional
Information quality Editorial oversight, document controller or SME approval. SME or workgroup manager approval User discretion
Criticality rating Extreme – High High – Medium Low
Auditing Mandatory Desirable, optional Desirable, optional
External distribution Desirable, optional Desirable, optional Not required
Offline capability No Desirable, optional Desirable, optional
Locality Central Distributed, optionally central Distributed
Usual State of document Conclusive, rendition or final version Any state (Draft -> Conclusive) Any state (Draft -> Conclusive)
Life expectancy Long life Ephemeral (short lived) Ephemeral (short lived)

In summary, I am sure many of you may disagree with the framework and I am not precious about being corrected. I see myself as an advocate for fit-for-purpose processes and hopefully this content helps with your content governance issues down-the-track.