One of the biggest complaints about enterprise intranet solutions such as SharePoint is how easily sites proliferate. This is only true if you have no governance established to control site proliferation.

Governance over site creation should be two-tiered:

  1. Specify which types of parent sites are controlled
  2. Among the parent sites, specify in which ones will you control child site creation

Site Types

The first question is what types of sites do you use? We typically see a need for these basic site types, regardless of the platform you use:

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* I’m an advocate of tight control at the parent-site level for all types of sites. This enables you to monitor duplication; sometimes politics drive duplication, which is bad for organizational culture and productivity. The place to open it up is at the child-site level. Some argue that communities should have free reign; this only works if your other areas are managed effectively so teams, projects and departments don’t start using communities to over come problems in the other areas.

10 Gateway Questions

Too much governance can be onerous. Not enough can be a disaster. I have one client that put no controls on their new SharePoint and in just a few short months saw team sites proliferate into the hundreds. No doubt some of these deliver actual value, but many are duplicative or already abandoned.

A simple online form forces site owners to think strategically about the desired site, along with driving owner accountability. These 10 questions are a great start:

  1. Who is the site for?
  2. What purpose would the site serve?
  3. Did you search to see if a similar site is already available? Did you find a similar site? Why won’t an existing site meet the need?
  4. What special site requirements exist? (check all that apply)
    • Restricted access to a particular team or group
    • Extended access to outside-firewall users (e.g., vendors, spouses)
    • Collaboration tools (e.g., discussion threads, status updates, etc.)
    • Integration with other software tools (e.g., Oracle, SAP, Kronos, etc.)
    • Transactional tools (e.g., interactive forms, task completion)
  5. Who will own this site?
  6. Who is the executive champion for this site?
  7. What budget/resources are available to support and evolve the site?
  8. How do you intend to integrate this site with other existing/related sites, communication channels and resources?
  9. How will you measure success?
  10. How do you intend to title/name the site?

These questions get you a long way toward making better decisions about which sites get created. Plus, they aren’t too time-consuming for a prospective owner to complete. Prompting the submitter to search for similar sites is a good way to curb unnecessary site creation.

Child-Site Management

Here are two tips that could save your child sites from getting out of control:

  1. When an owner clicks to “Create” a site, show a warning window that reminds them of policy, standards and guidelines for site owners. Include reminders to review old sites, archive any no longer in use, and review active sites to confirm nothing like the desired new site already exists.
  2. Set an automatic review for child sites so the owner receives an email from SharePoint requesting a review of individual sites to ensure validity. After some time passes with no response, the request can be elevated to the owner’s boss. Some organizations would archive the site after time passes with no response from the boss; it gets people’s attention if the site is valuable.

If you are interested in learning more about intranets, their governance and social technology use inside organizations, I’ll be teaching at two upcoming events:

Do you have a great case study or story to tell? Submit your presentation to the IABC 2016 World Conference call for presentations. It closes September 30, so get on it!