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Creating a SharePoint Intranet Governance Plan



An intranet without a governance plan it is like a virtual Wild West, a place where lawlessness rules the land and the whiskey is poor quality.

A little heavy on hyperbole, perhaps, but it’s true that one of the biggest mistakes people make with SharePoint is turning it over to end-users without any delegation of responsibilities.

An intranet should operate like a finely tuned machine, giving people just enough power and control to enhance productivity, but when too many people have equal permissions and start experimenting with settings that impact everyone else, you will quickly end up with a confusing mess.

But there’s a new sheriff in town. And things are about to change.

Who Is In Charge Around Here?

Before establishing a hierarchy of permissions, you must have a clear vision of how your platform is going to help the organization. This is where a lot of companies go wrong right out of the gate. They move straight into implementation before deciding how SharePoint is going to help them achieve their goals. Do yourself a favor. Invest the time into planning your intranet before deployment, then you can embark on a governance plan that makes sense.

Types of Governance

There are three common ways to approach governance, each of which are influenced by the size and complexity of the organization.

Decentralized – The portal has no clearly defined owner, and everyone has free reign to do what they want.

Central Ownership – In this arrangement, one person or group administers everything.

Collaborative – The platform is managed by a committee that shares the responsibilities of governance.

The Collaborative Approach


The collaborative model is the most common path to governance for medium and large enterprises, usually comprised of stakeholders from various departments. These might include representatives from Sales and Marketing, IT, Communications, Customer Service, and HR. Each representative should have some authority and decision making responsibilities within the company, although we advise against stacking the team with senior managers only.

Most committees have as many as ten people who represent the concerns and needs of their colleagues, as well as management priorities, and meet every six months or so to discuss the policies, standards, goals, and overall direction of the intranet.

Defining Roles and Permissions 

The people in your planning committee will likely have the most permissions in the platform, which coincide with their duties within the organization, but what about everyone else?

A good place to start is to create a document that outlines the roles fulfilled by different groups throughout the company and what they are responsible for. For instance, a section about sales representatives might highlight the following duties:

  • Entering quarterly sales projections
  • Logging appointments with customers and new prospects
  • Entering orders
  • Maintaining client information in CRM

These responsibilities will determine the permissions sales reps will have in the intranet, rules that allow them to perform at a higher level while also limiting access to functions that don’t pertain to their work.

Remember, a governance plan doesn’t need to be complex – it needs to be useful. There’s no point in creating a massive document no one bothers to read. Instead, you can ensure its usefulness by staying focused on the roles people have now and the ones you need for future growth. For instance, you may not have a full time project manager yet, but you may need such a role for a thriving intranet. A few team members can help fulfil these tasks until you can bring someone on to manage them permanently.

Laying the initial ground rules is the hard part, but as priorities change, the plan should change with them, evolving into a new set of rules that stay aligned with the direction your teams are going in, while making sure your infrastructure is protected by clearly defined roles and responsibilities.  


Expert Insights from the Aerie Team

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