If your organization is transitioning to the SharePoint 2013 platform to manage your content, workflow, collaboration and internal networking processes, then you’re going to need an advanced information governance strategy. SharePoint is an excellent tool, but the platform doesn’t come ready to suit every enterprise’s needs “straight out of the box,” so to speak. When planning your information governance strategy with SharePoint 2013, your team will need to consider such elements as content models, definitions of content types, integration of search functions, managed administration, metadata schemes, the structure of sites and site collection and taxonomy management. This probably sounds like a lot of factors to consider and a slew of strategies to implement, and it is, but if you and your team start off right and complete these five steps, it will be as seamless (and painless) as possible.

1. Assess Your Information Foundation

Unless you are a brand new organization, chances are you will have some foundations of information architecture already in place, which your team will need to understand completely before beginning to create a new set of strategies to manage this information. Perhaps you just need to integrate some new functionalities into your current architecture, or maybe your company is completely restructuring its information architecture. In any case, there will undoubtedly be files, folder, business applications and intranets that need to be combined, migrated and in some cases deleted. The focus of this first step is getting a grasp on what you have, and determining what to do with it after getting feedback from the people who actually use this content.

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2. Determine Who Will Be Involved

There are many people who need to be involved in creating your new information governance strategy with SharePoint, and as your team moves into this next step, it should become clear who the key players are and what their roles and responsibilities will be. The needs of the business users at every level must be taken into consideration, for starters, because they are the ones who will be using this system day in and day out. Even the strongest opponents to this new transition can serve as powerful allies, because they provide a chance to address the concerns that many others might be afraid to voice. Of course, records managers and compliance specialists must also be heavily involved in this transition, as well as any information architects and other specialists who were involved in designing your current system. You may also have a SharePoint 2013 consultant on board during the transition to help develop this new information governance strategy.

3. Evaluate Your Firm’s Content Flow

Every organization has a certain way in which their content flows, whether it’s structured and organized or not. Content is created, used, managed and deleted somehow, and it’s important to understand all these processes as your team develops a new information governance strategy. Perhaps there are some current processes that work and that should be incorporated into the new system. On the other hand, there are undoubtedly some processes that aren’t working, and some that are missing altogether. These must all be considered carefully in order to create a functional system that works for the needs of each department and for the organization as a whole.

4. The Real Planning Begins

With all the content, people and workflow structures taken into account, it’s time to get down to planning. In cases where a small organization is creating a new information governance strategy, or where an organization is starting from scratch, it should be fairly simple to implement a new system and develop additional strategies during the maintenance phase. For larger organizations with complicated information architectures, implementing a new information governance strategy may be more difficult. A lot of careful planning and analysis will need to take place, and perhaps a test run to see if this new set of strategies, policies, procedures and methods will work for your organization’s needs. A lot of adjustments will likely need to be made.

5. Expect to Make Modifications

Once your new SharePoint 2013 information governance strategy has been tested and implemented, your team’s work will still not be done, unless you are miraculously lucky and everything works perfectly from day one. People will need to be trained, and some will have more complex changes to adjust to than others. Communication will need to be a central focus of this step, to ensure that everyone is on board, aware of what this transition entails and adhering to the new strategies with confidence. It’s important to be ready for changes and adjustments to the new system and set of strategies during this phase. Being flexible and ready to make modifications as you maintain this new system and set of strategies will ensure the best possible environment for success with the SharePoint 2013 platform.

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