What is governance in SharePoint 2013?


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2013

Topic Last Modified: 2018-01-27

Summary: Learn about governance as an essential part of a successful SharePoint deployment and the various components of an organizational governance plan.

Governance is the set of policies, roles, responsibilities, and processes that control how an organization's business divisions and IT teams work together to achieve its goals. Every organization has unique needs and goals that influence its approach to governance. Larger organizations will probably require more—and more detailed—governance than smaller organizations. A good governance plan can:

  • Streamline the deployment of products and technologies, such as SharePoint Server 2013.

  • Help keep your organization’s system secure and compliant.

  • Help ensure the best return on your investment in technology.


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This article is part of a set of articles about governance. The following articles describe other aspects of governance:

The What is governance? poster gives a summary of this content. Download the PDF version or Visio version.

Governance for SharePoint Server 2013 includes three major areas, each of which is equally important: IT governance, information management, and application management.

Image showing a circle broken into segments for each governance area.

Chart showing equal amounts for three areas of governance: IT governance, information management, and application management

Different types of sites require different governance policies. This is because different sites have different requirements, which reflect their importance to the organization. Published sites have tighter governance over information and application management than team sites and personal sites (My Sites).

Generally, the larger the number of people who get information from a particular type of site, the more tightly it is governed, and vice versa. This is shown in the following graph. For example, if your intranet home page is available for everyone in your organization, it’s generally much more tightly governed than the site for the accounting department, which is more tightly governed than most group or team sites, and so on. Personal sites are generally the least governed types of sites.

Graph showing how, typically, the amount of governance increases with the number of people who rely on a site.

Graph of how governance levels change per type

Your governance policies should support your organization’s goals and be kept up-to-date as your organization’s needs change. We recommend that you create a team from various disciplines across your organization to develop and maintain these policies. Include people from as many of the following roles as possible:


Role Responsibility

Executive stakeholders

Key executives should define the overall goals of the governance committee and periodically evaluate the success of the implemented practices and policies.

Financial stakeholders

Financial officers should make sure that governance rules and processes help increase the return on your organization’s investment in SharePoint products.

Business division leaders

Business leaders represent the teams that do the primary work of the enterprise and drive the architectural and functional requirements of the deployment. They work with information architects to structure the information architecture and taxonomy standards. Business leaders also work with IT leaders to create service-level agreements and other support policies.

IT managers

IT managers help develop their service offerings and determine how to achieve their IT responsibilities (for example, improving security and maintaining reliability) while supporting the features required by the business teams.

Software development leaders

Software development leaders help determine which customization tools are approved, how to verify code security, and ensure code-related best practices.

Technical specialists

Technical specialists design, build, and run IT services and solutions.


Instructional experts should develop a training plan for your organization.

Influential information workers

The members of your organization who do the day-to-day work should help ensure that the services and information architecture meet their needs.

Information architects or taxonomists

Members of these groups design information systems and taxonomies. Based on their analysis of the information needs of the audience, they develop plans that support organizational objectives and define site architecture and navigation.

Compliance officers

Governance includes making sure that an organization meets its regulatory and legal requirements and manages its corporate knowledge. If your organization has roles that are responsible for compliance or legal oversight, include representatives from those disciplines in your governance team.

Your organization might not have all of these roles, or it might use a different name for some of these roles.

Great training, good resources, and effective search are keys to user adoption. We recommend you provide the employees of your organization with the following:


Provide Why?

Training for the products and services

Training and education about SharePoint in your governance plan helps drive adoption and reduce support costs.

Education about your governance policies

Training your user community appropriately increases compliance with your policies, increases satisfaction with your services, and reduces support costs.

Content to support your services and policies

Having good quality resources and information available helps your users find the answers when they have questions about a service, process, or policy.

A good search infrastructure

Having a good search infrastructure helps your users find what they need when they need it.

An effective governance plan anticipates the needs and goals of your organization's business divisions and IT teams. Because every enterprise is unique, we recommend that you tailor a governance plan to your environment by using the following steps.

  1. Determine initial principles and goals.   The governance committee should develop a governance vision, policies, and standards that can be measured to track compliance and to quantify the benefit to your organization. For example, your plan should identify service delivery requirements for both technical and business aspects of your SharePoint deployment.

  2. Classify your business information.   Organize your information according to an existing taxonomy, or create a custom taxonomy that includes all the information that supports your business solution. After your information is organized, design an information architecture to manage it. Then, determine the most appropriate IT services to support it.

  3. Develop an education strategy.   The human element is, after the governance plan, the most important ingredient in the success or failure of a SharePoint deployment. A comprehensive training plan should show how to use SharePoint according to the standards and practices that you are implementing and explain why those standards and practices are important. Your plan should cover the kinds of training required for specific user groups and describe appropriate training tools. For example, your IT department might maintain a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page about its SharePoint service offerings, or your business division might provide online training that shows how to set up and use a new document management process.

  4. Develop an ongoing plan.   Successful governance is ongoing. The governance committee should meet regularly to review new requirements in the governance plan, reevaluate and adjust governance principles, and resolve conflicts among business divisions for IT resources. The committee should provide regular reports to its executive sponsors to promote accountability and to help enforce compliance across your organization. Although this process seems complicated, its goals are to increase the return on your investment in SharePoint, take full advantage of the usefulness of your SharePoint solution, and improve the productivity of your organization.