Wow! Just wow! I was reading this post by Paul J. Swider, and I kept waiting for the punch line that never came.
I have a great deal of respect for Paul – I have seen him speak, and follow his posts and tweets regularly. While this presents an interesting counterpoint to conventional thinking around governance, I am afraid he lost me on this one.
First off, lets look at the comparison to Y2K. Is he saying that no one should have invested in fixing Y2K issues, and that no systems would have failed if nothing had been fix? That seems to be what he is saying, since he is comparing Governance to that, and obviously governance is only good if it does not cost anything.
Then there is this statement:
“Many companies haven’t had governance and compliance features in place for there information systems for years. This has been true since I started working with software in the early 90’s”
This is like saying “for many years, most companies did not have software development processes”, and using this as justification that no investment should be made in such processes. Ditto for QA, or project management. We survived without much investment in any of these silly processes.
Just because lots of organizations are using SharePoint and do not have governance, does not mean that they are doing so effectively or the best way they can. It is also still too early in SharePoint’s lifetime to truly assess the long term costs of doing it wrong.
Finally, lets look at
“Most CIO’s and managers I speak with are tired of hearing about soft dollar calculations and want hard dollar cost savings immediately, after all these are complex and challenging fiscal situations they are managing.”
It is true that most CIOs and managers are being pressured into short-sighted approaches to many things. That does not mean that they should abandon meaningful and appropriate processes just because times are tough.
(would you suggest abandoning corporate governance and controls because money was tight? oh wait, I think many on Wall Street did)
Paul’s example needing a new purchase process to respond to funding cutbacks is a good one, and provides a good segue to what I see as a more positive takeaway from this discussion, which is the appropriate use of process.
Through much of my career, I have been involved heavily in process – whether software development, QA, test engineering, innovation, or otherwise. For many years, I worked on military and aerospace projects, which are noted for extremely heavy processes. What I learned from all of that was that you can invest in all the process in the world, and still fail miserably. And even when you succeed, the overhead involved in such processes makes them untenable.
This has led me to what I have referred to previously as just enough process (I know I am not the first to use the term). The software development process must match the context – the type of organization, the type of solution, the potential impact of failures of the system, the potential lifetime of the system, etc. A software development process appropriate for a social networking web app is hardly acceptable for medical devices.
The same is true of SharePoint governance. Cookie cutter approaches will not do. Off-the-shelf consulting processes will not do. This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.
Rather than encouraging the total abandonment of governance processes, or treating governance as a “nice to have” luxury that you do away with in favour of short-term perceived cost savings, it is far more appropriate to encourage clients to find the level and type of governance process which suits their situation.
After all, isn’t that what a good consultant does? Helps the client find the solution that is right for them, rather than applying the same solution to all clients?