Many times in my career individuals have told me that I give too much away for free.  I always respond with “Is there really such a thing?”  Of course I know there is but it’s also one of those things that screams out to me saying we have to be able to find a way to use this to be able help others.  That’s when I figured out that by giving something away for free, ultimately the client or individual ends up in a much better place which supports my life long goal, helping others succeed.  To me and my team at Focal Point Solutions, governance is that area!  Don’t get me wrong, the company does charge for governance projects but the majority of them do not start out that way.  I know, I know you’re all saying “WHAT?” right about now…right?

Each day we deal with a lot of SharePoint clients and their needs; they are always asking “What’s next?” or “What can we do better?”  What we don’t hear is “SharePoint is running awesome so let’s focus on some Governance!”  That would be nice, right?  To us that would be a perfect world, but as we all know, that is a lot to ask for.  However, we have ways to get clients interested in governance that you would never expect or imagine.  Most clients are totally blindsided by the fact that they never even gave it a second thought and yes they end up with a full-fledged GOVERNANCE PLAN!! So how do we do it? Read on!

In all new SharePoint projects (whether brand new installs, or upgrades), we always incorporate the effort to build a governance plan into our statement of work.  No surprise on this point right?  Of course as the statement of work is reviewed, numbers are haggled over and then phases of the project are decided on, it is noted that the governance piece has totally dropped out of the picture.  We of course notice and mention it numerous times until the client admits that the main goal is getting SharePoint up and we will come back to governance later.  The team and I are at the point where we recognize “the look” and we could quote what the client is about to say word-for-word.  We’re not saying it’s a bad thing that the client has made the decision as they are making; it’s a decision based on the knowledge and instruction of management above them. Convincing them to put governance back in at this point would mean that a lot of walls that would need to come down.  The decision to be made at this point is, how far do you push the discussion?  Our rule of thumb is, if the individual you are working with is wavering on the topic you have room to push, however if they are firm then you leave it as is and you move to Plan B.  What is Plan B you ask?  Read on and you will find out!

Once the statement of work has been signed off and you have arrived for your “Kick Off” meeting it is now your turn to kick in Plan B.  Plan B is putting governance on the table but without making it a “priority”.   How we do that is, as we’re wrapping up the meeting and chit chatting about the “commonalities” you have discovered during the meeting or some funny comment that was made or whatever you can mix it in with, state “Oh hey by the way, even though governance was left out I want to make sure you still have the baseline in mind as we continue forward”.  Slide across a printed out copy of a template of a governance document and then follow-up stating you can send over an electronic copy if they’d like.  Then just say it will help make sure things don’t get too out of control so that back-tracking, extra hours, etc. can be avoided.  In our experience anyone from IT and the stakeholder will ALWAYS say “That’s great, please do!!”  Once they do that, you have just gotten you’re “in”.  I know you just totally made an extremely non-believing face at this blog article but it’s the truth: We’ve never had anyone turn it down yet.

Next step…within a week or so (sometimes sooner), one of us receives an email or phone call saying “I’ve been reading this template!”  Then we hear: I get it now and I have some questions; can we setup a call or maybe a lunch so we can discuss because there are some things I want to make sure we get squared away before we start the build or begin the upgrade.  We schedule the meeting right then and there and ensure the client then gets what they need.  Typically what we find is that governance doesn’t always end up on a formal statement of work with its own budget, but they will use their “Support” or “Maintenance” bucket hours for it.  We have been doing more and more “reviews” of governance documents in the last year than I could have ever imagined.  So, the next time someone says we give too much away for free I’ll point them to this blog.

Original Post:  http://www.infogovcon.com/connect/blog/entry/give-a-little-get-a-lot-use-plan-b