Governance

It’s not about the technology. It’s about the use case

This week, I participated in a REgarding 365 debate about use of org-wide Microsoft Teams. Not surprisingly, the Microsoft Teams versus Yammer question was raised multiple times. Here’s the thing–there are uses for Microsoft Teams (including org-wide teams) and there are uses for Yammer. In the end, it’s not about which tool myself or the other REgarding 365 panelists prefer. The valid questions are:

  • What are your organizational use cases and content needs?
  • What is your company culture?
  • Which technologies best fit your use cases and culture?

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Use cases are practical business needs (aka requirements) that need to be met. Examples of use cases include:

  • Sharing organization-wide HR policy changes
  • Sharing strategy and content updates from the company’s CEO
  • Providing newly-onboarded employees with a resource center for frequently asked questions
  • Enabling employees to instant message, chat, and screen share with their peers
  • Enabling employees to quickly engage with other employees and members of IT on technology support questions

As collaboration strategists, our first job is identifying and documenting the unique use cases for our organization. Next, we need to assess our organizational culture, including: company values and norms; technology adeptness (aka how well our users adopt new technologies); and readiness for change (e.g. do our users welcome change or do they fear it?).

When we view our use cases alongside our company culture, we’ll be able to determine which technologies are best-suited to meet our needs. There is no one-size-fits-all model or one Microsoft 365 capability that wins the day. Let’s look at our organizational use cases and culture and determine what tool works best for our specific needs.

SharePoint hub sites: How do you know when you need one?

As SharePoint enthusiasts, we’ve eagerly anticipated the arrival of hub sites. Hubs provide a new means of logically grouping our SharePoint sites, changing the way many organizations will manage their intranet and information architecture. But the use and management of hub sites also brings up key questions. How should site owners determine when a hub site is necessary? And what processes should organizations put in place to manage the provisioning and use of hub sites? This blog post provides an introduction to hubs and explores key criteria for the evaluation of hub sites.

What are hub sites?

Hub sites enable logical grouping of SharePoint Online sites with a common navigation and branding experience. In a March 2018 Tech Community article, Mark Kashman calls out 4 key elements of hub sites:

  • Cross-site navigation (navigation that spans multiple sites without requiring manual creation for each site)
  • Content rollup (automated aggregation and display of news content from multiple sites)
  • Consistent look and feel (common site theme and branding that drives familiarity and make sites feel connected)
  • Scoped search (ability to search all sites in a hub quickly and easily)

While there is no limit to the number of sites you can associate with a hub site, you cannot associate a single site with more than one hub. (In other words, there is no opportunity to “parent” a site under two different hubs.)

Enterprise governance of hubs

If you work in a large enterprise, be prepared to govern your use of hub sites. While Microsoft hasn’t provided much guidance on what should constitute a hub site, they initially capped the usage of hub sites to 50 per tenant. In August 2018, Microsoft announced they’ll be doubling hub site capacity, enabling a maximum of 100 hubs per tenant. This increase will begin rolling out to Targeted Release customers in September 2018, with worldwide rollout targeted for completion by the end of November.

In order to ensure your hub sites are being leveraged appropriately, I recommend putting key questions and criteria in place to govern what constitutes a hub site. Since sites are elevated to hub site status via Powershell, tenant admins can establish governing principles and/or processes to manage the creation of hub sites. If you are a SharePoint administrator, you will need to determine how hub site promotions will take place. Will you require your site owners to submit request forms for new hub sites? How should they justify whether the hub site is needed? And how much rigor will your enterprise team go through in validating these hub site requests?

To get you started, here are a few hub site questions. The questions are intended to guide site owners through the process of justifying the need for elevating a site to a hub site. You’ll want to modify these questions to suit the specific needs of your organization.

  • Do you need to centrally control the branding theme for multiple SharePoint sites?
  • Do you need to relate multiple disparate sites together with a similar branded look and feel?
  • Do you need a common visual experience for 2 or more sites so users view them as “belonging together”?
  • Do you need to apply the same navigation settings to many different sites?
  • Do you need to update your navigation settings in one location and have it automatically applied to many other sites?
  • Do you need to aggregate news from multiple SharePoint sites into a single aggregate feed for a specific audience of users?
  • Do you need a targeted search function that searches across multiple disparate SharePoint sites quickly and easily?
  • Do you have multiple sites that fall under a logical business area (e.g. Human Resources, Legal, Corporate Communications)?
  • Do you have a functional business reason to link your sites together into a hub site?
  • What value will a hub site provide to your site users?
  • What value will a hub site provide you as a site owner? (In other words, do you have a clear business objective for your hub site?)

You should also consider what operational standards are required for the management of your hub sites. With only 100 hubs to work with, you should consider:

  • Who can approve use of a hub site?
  • Will hub sites be reviewed or audited to ensure they’re still being used? At what interval will auditing take place (e.g. 6 months, annually)?
  • Will you set up thresholds for hub site management (e.g. when you reach a total of 30 hub sites in use, will additional reviews be required?)
  • Will certain key business units (e.g. Corporate Communications, Information Security, etc.) be provided a hub site right away?
  • Should hub sites be “public” by default (e.g. be viewable by all employees)? If not, why not?
  • Will you set up a required minimum number of modern sites that will be joined via a hub? (e.g. you must have a minimum of 5 modern sites to qualify for use of a hub site)

Enterprise governance of hub sites is in its infancy. Most of us are just scratching the surface, trying to determine how much (or how little) governance will actually be required. If you plan to use hub sites, start having open dialogue about hub management now. As you continue learning more about how your site owners (and your organization) engage with hubs, you can build in appropriate governance processes and checkpoints to ensure effective management.

Keynote video: Earning the right to seek executive SharePoint support

I’m starting a new blog post series to share some of my favorite keynote speeches from past conferences/events. First on the list is Michael Sampson’s session Success with SharePoint: Earning the right to seek executive support, which was presented at the 2012 SHARE conference held in Atlanta. Michael did a fantastic job on this presentation–he explains why pleas for executive SharePoint support fail and provides guidance on how to change your approach. Some of my favorite one-liners from the session are:

  • “Success is 90% people, 10% technology.”
  • You have to build credibility with your executives. Stop being the excited teenager.
  • You have to earn the right to talk to your executives about SharePoint.

The formal session abstract and speaker bio are included at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/41731754 w=500&h=280]

Here’s the abstract for this session:

Many IT departments have installed SharePoint and are now wondering how to make the technology deliver business value. A quick answer is often to seek executive support, but before rushing to do so, there are a number of critical disciplines that need to be put in place to earn the right for making this approach.

The keynote will present the roadmap to success with SharePoint, and the role of executive support in transforming SharePoint into a place where great business gets done.

Lessons: – Having the technology available is a common place to start, but you can’t stay there forever – Success with SharePoint involves following a roadmap to success, including vision, governance, engagement, and user adoption – Executives have a role to play in the roadmap to success, but you have to earn the right to seek their support

And here is Michael’s speaker bio:

Michael Sampson is a collaboration strategist. His passion is helping organizations to make collaboration work, when their employees have to work together effectively and efficiency while separated by distance and time. Michael advises end-user organizations in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Europe.  He holds an MCom with first class honors in telecommunications-based IT, from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.  Michael is the author of four books on collaboration strategy—Collaboration Roadmap, User Adoption Strategies, SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration, and Seamless Teamwork.  His blog can be found at http://currents.michaelsampson.net/ and you can follow him on Twitter: @collabguy

Don’t miss your chance to win the Golden Lifeguard Award

If you’re a SharePoint governance pro, you have to check out Axceler’s new Golden Lifeguard Award. The award “honors an individual or a team that has conceived, developed and defined best practices around governance that resulted in a notable increase in security and compliance within their SharePoint environment.”

All award submissions will be evaluated by a team of judges, including myself, Michael Pisarek, Susan Hanley, Ruven Gotz, Veronique Palmer, David Rubinstein and Owen Allen. The winner will be unveiled at a gala event on November 14th at the Tryst nightclub in the Wynn Resort during the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas.

To submit an award nomination, go to: http://info.axceler.com/golden-lifeguard-award/. There is no cost to submit, and you do not have to be an Axceler customer to participate.

The nomination deadline is October 18, 2012.