Let’s take the Ford Mustang metaphor from the opening post. I get my 2013 Mustang, and it’s shiny and beautiful.
I then welcome my three children into it, and let them have their way. We go to McDonald’s, they get Happy Meals. I assume they know not to make a mess, so I leave them in my new car as I run into the store (no I don’t really, that’s not safe, but for the sake of the example). I come back a little later and much to my surprise, my car is a mess! French fries on the floor, wedged between the leather seats, ketchup smeared on the windows, salty finger prints on my dash and stereo, chocolate milk in the carpet, apple juice splashed on the ceiling… a complete mess.
I’m too busy to clean it out, I have other projects around the house I need to take care of. A week goes by, things really settle in, a nice odor forms and now no one wants to drive in my new Mustang, even the kids who made the mess! Should I call up Ford and scream at them, tweet hatred and complain about their sucky car?
If this rings a bell for you and your SharePoint implementation, there’s still hope. Depending on how long the milk was soaking in the carpet, you may have some heavy cleaning to do, but it’s possible! This by far is one of the most common issues I’ve come across.
Define a plan.
First thing you’ll want to do is reorganize things virtually, make a plan. Ignore what SharePoint is doing now and layout the perfect environment. Using Excel or your app of preference, layout the ideal topology: sites and sub sites, libraries, folders and files. Include metadata, if you’re using it, permission and navigation considerations. Define what the perfect world will look like. Who has access to what, where, and how much access should they have?
Here’s a basic example. Starting with something like this can help get the wheels spinning.
Once buckets are defined, people can select where things should go. You’ll see Secure sites in there. These are the private department specific work spaces and the goal there is to farm out what the secure site would look like to that department. Provide them this basic template and have them define what they want to see.
Governance, the art of governing what your users can do, might be a scary word, and is by far the largest challenge with information management (regardless of SharePoint, governance is an issue across the board, more on Joel Oleson’s blog), but it’s critical for a successful SharePoint deployment.
Taking the same document we had above, let’s add a few more columns to include basic governance. Who can access what bucket:
Pretty straight forward. There are many methods of defining governance and taxonomy, I find starting in Excel is fastest and easiest.
Microsoft’s site has a lot more on governance: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/ff800826.aspx. Go ahead and search for ‘sharepoint governance‘ and you’ll find some great articles by others.
Still not convinced governance is necessary? Check out my other post on governance.
It’s okay to have a growing document defining your governance. Clearly defining your buckets is a great first step, but applying permissions to each bucket and site will help keep sites clean. Once you have a clear, or clearer, plan on your permissions, execute it!
Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up!
Pull in a few key players to assist. Giving them ownership of their own data will reduce your load as well as give more users buy-in (aka user adoption). Use the plan you defined and slowly begin to move data around, reformatting sites and libraries. SLOWLY.
Don’t spend a weekend and bust it all out. Monday will be chaotic as your users panic, scouring through your nice new layout cursing SharePoint. Go slow, let everyone know what you’re doing. Get your users involved in cleaning up their sites and libraries. Assign owners to reorganizing their sites and libraries.
Consider a 3rd party tool like ControlPoint from Axceler (why?) . Their solution makes moving entire lists and libraries a snap. There are other solutions out there, I’ve only used (and subsequently fallen in love with) ControlPoint.
As you clean up, it is now:
Time to govern.
SharePoint is a large application, it can do a whole lot, real easy. As a result, some SharePoint implementations suffer from having too many people mucking around with too many features (remember letting my kids run wild in my Mustang? A complete mess.). I have seen implementations where whenever a user felt like it, a new list was born, a new library created, sub sites abound, pages were rearranged with new web parts and views on a whim. It can become a collective junk drawer. This drove the end users, the consumers of the information, NUTS. Everything is everywhere and is hard to find and manage.
In your document, you began to define groups and their level of permission to sites, libraries and lists. Begin to apply those changes as you’re building it out. For starters, change permissions on the HR site so all users have read only access. That will immediately stop a bulk of your users from messing with your changes as you go. When you create or manage libraries, update permissions accordingly.
Make sure to review the previously mentioned Microsoft site for more on governance. Do it right, the first time, it’s worth every little bit of effort.
You can always have some fun (the only way us IT people know how).
Clean out the site owners group and site collection administrators list, leaving yourself of course. See who screams “I can’t create another list!”. That’ll help you identify who’s making the mess and give you a start to discuss and help guide them in doing it right (per your governance).
If you hit a library that you’re unsure about, I’d bet that has become the junk drawer. See who cares it’s missing by removing all permissions (except your own of course). I’ve done this a few times, and those libraries will site dormant for 6-9 months until the customer says, “fine, we don’t need it, trash it”.
Til next week, Happy SharePointing!