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You've got a SharePoint governance plan -- now what?

Learn how to sell management on the benefits of your SharePoint governance plan so you can put it into action.

You have worked hard to create the perfect SharePoint governance plan for your organization. The only thing left to do now is to sell your management team on the plan. But how do you do it?

It really depends on how accommodating management is. Some managers I’ve had will sign off on just about anything that I put in front of them, while other managers tend to shoot down any proposal that they did not come up with themselves. If your boss is one of the naysayers, then use these techniques to get your governance plan approved:

Remember why you created the plan. If the plan is designed to reduce help desk calls, then say so. If you created a governance plan as a way of adhering to regulatory requirements, then tell your boss up front. Any reasonable manager should accept regulatory compliance as a perfectly valid reason for adopting the governance plan.

In any case, creating a governance plan involves a lot of work. There was some compelling factor that drove you to put all of that work into creating a governance plan, and you need to convey that reason to management as clearly as possible.

Build a business case for governance. At the end of the day, a manager’s job is to keep his or her superiors happy. This usually means taking steps to ensure the organization’s continued financial well-being. Keeping that in mind, one of the best ways to win over your manager is to create a solid business case that justifies your governance plan.

For example, suppose that your governance plan is designed to reduce help desk calls by limiting the number of users who are allowed to perform certain tasks within SharePoint. A plan like that may not be popular at first, but you might be able to win management support by showing how much money it will save.

To calculate cost savings, figure out how many help desk calls could be eliminated and what the average cost is for each help desk call. After documenting your process, present your bosses with an estimate of how much money your governance plan will save the company.

That said, it can be a little bit tricky to determine your plan’s cost savings. But figuring out how many help desk calls might be eliminated should be relatively easy. You can look at the recent help desk records and see how many calls were related to the issues that you are trying to resolve.

Determining the cost of a help desk call is a little more difficult. The Internet is filled with estimates, ranging from about $25 on up to well over $100. These estimates typically take into account the caller’s lost productivity and the amount of time that it takes the help desk staff to resolve the problem.

Some estimates also take into consideration the number of other people who are waiting for help while the help desk staff is solving the current issue. If you use these types of figures to determine the average cost of a help desk call, you may be able to show that your governance plan will not only reduce the volume of help desk calls -- thereby reducing costs -- but also decrease the average cost of a help desk call because fewer people will be waiting for help at any given time.

Before you go through all of that work, though, ask around and find out if someone in your organization has already estimated the cost of a help desk call. If that’s so, then you’re in luck. Using well established figures that are already accepted as accurate will give your case more credibility.

Play the expert card. I once had a manager who would shoot down proposals without even looking at them. If you have a manager who is the same way, you may have to get tough by playing the expert card. In other words, you could say something like this: “The governance plan was developed by a team of 10 experts over the course of three months. Is it fair to dismiss the plan after glancing over it for just five minutes?”

One thing to remember is to be careful using this technique because it could wound your boss’s ego, and you never know what the reaction might be.

Be willing to compromise. Perhaps the most important thing to remember when trying to win support for your governance plan is that adoption does not have to be an all-or-nothing deal. If management does not like the plan, ask them what specifically they don’t like about it. You can then work on a compromise that will achieve your goals while also addressing management’s concerns.

The nice thing about this approach is that it won’t usually require you to create a new governance plan from scratch. If you can get management to admit that only certain portions of the plan are problematic, then you have essentially won approval for all of the other parts of your plan. All you have to do is work on the areas in which management has expressed concern until you can reach agreement.

Brien Posey is a seven-time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Before becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien worked as a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

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