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Cloud Governance Basics for Office 365

Published: 5/4/2018 Author: Ben Cox

Microsoft Office 365 has many organizations excited about cloud computing. The promise of more features and less day-to-day management of infrastructure is appealing. But, before we “set-it and forget it”, we must consider the importance of governance and establish policies that ensure that users are in compliance and using Office 365 services in accordance to the guidelines that have been established by the organization.

If your organization has recently migrated to Office 365, or is planning to move to the cloud, it’s important to note that the legacy governance policies will not account for the significant changes that must be addressed when an organization goes to the cloud.

This blog explains a little about the complexities of cloud governance and emphasizes the importance of making sure the platform is being managed appropriately while mitigating risks and ensuring that the right permissions are extended to both internal and external users.

Understanding Governance

Governance is an important consideration for organizations because without it, organizations risk confidential information being compromised, users having challenges in accessing assets, and an overall inefficient approach to managing content.
Governance helps define the responsibilities and processes to ensure that an IT platform is being managed appropriately. Governance is in place to make sure content is organized and managed in a specific way and that applications are being used as the organization intended. Good governance policies are effective in helping organizations define who is accountable for what, express how content will be stored, establish permissions, and provide an organization with a set of guidelines for document retention.

What You Need To Know About Cloud Governance

If you are new to Office 365, let us point out that you are not alone when you discover features that weren’t there yesterday. No, you have not lost your mind! Microsoft is constantly making new features available. Because of this, you have to actively prepare and establish a training plan for new features. Establish guidelines for what features your organization will use and what features will either be restricted, disabled, or limited to specific users. Office 365 allows organizations to use the features and applications they want… while disabling the features and applications that they want to be prohibited.

Don’t be consumed by the “Consumption-Model”

Office 365 is subscription-based and it’s quite different than buying an on-premises licensing agreement. The number of licenses you use can fluctuate; you will only want to pay for the applications that the users are actively using. Thankfully, Office 365 makes it easy to add or remove users. To help manage costs, organizations must be diligent in removing inactive accounts to manage their Office 365 spend.

Outside Looking In

When Office 365 was released, a feature in high demand was external sharing. Now, many applications in Office 365 allow users to share content with external audiences. It is critical that organizations establish permission levels and controls to mitigate risks. Organizations must have governance in place to manage what is being shared outside the organization and know who is sharing it!

SharePoint Governance Best Practices

Many organizations are attracted to the fact that they can manage “less” when they move to Office 365. For the most part, this is true, however, what the organization has to manage will change considerably. Understanding and defining compliance in the cloud is an important piece of cloud governance.


Here are a few other things you must consider:

Solid Site Governance

One of the worst mistakes you can make with SharePoint Online is allowing everyone to upload content and build sites. SharePoint offers organizations the opportunity to better organize content, but without governance, SharePoint can run off the rails. We advise clients to establish a process to ensure sites and new libraries aren’t set up without proper permissions. It is critical that users respect the information architecture to ensure that information is not duplicated, tagged inaccurately and that the structure of the SharePoint environment is not compromised.

“Sun-setting” Content

Keeping content relevant and up-to-date is critical in garnering support for SharePoint Online. If SharePoint is your organization's primary collaboration space, then it’s important that old content is deleted in accordance with retention policies or moved to a less costly repository.

Users often complain about content being stored on network drives that are inaccurate or out of date.

Establishing policies to ensure that “old” content is managed appropriately is important.

Managing Users, Content, and External Sharing

Governance policies are critical in establishing where content is stored, who has permission to read-write-and-edit the content, and most importantly whether or not the user can share the content externally. We recommend that clients regularly audit content stored in SharePoint and make sure that the content that is being shared externally is permitted.

Since Office 365 applications allow users to share externally, it’s important to apply governance policy to know what is being shared and with whom.

Kiefer Consulting Can Help

The cloud allows your team to shed some responsibility and redirect the management of infrastructure to Microsoft. But, now is the time to redirect that energy and focus on developing policies and cloud governance. Office 365 has a lot of potential, but without the right policies, it has the potential to not meet the needs of your users.

This may sound overwhelming, but if you understand the importance of cloud governance, Kiefer Consulting can provide your organization with the support you might need to develop a practical governance plan that will work for your organization. Our team has the expertise in SharePoint and Office 365 to help your organization create a viable governance plan and help you in identifying things that need to be assessed, audited, and monitored. Kiefer can help you get more out of your investment in Office 365 and SharePoint while helping you establish a cloud governance plan.

If you have questions or would like to connect with our experts, please reach out. We look forward to speaking with you! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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