Information management and governance in SharePoint

Summary: Learn how to plan effective information architecture to ensure that your SharePoint solution meets your business needs.

How will you govern the information in your organization, such as documents, lists, websites, and webpages? How do you maximize the information's usability and manageability? Who has access to what information? How are you making information available internally and externally, and to whom?

What is information architecture?

Information architecture determines how the information in that site or solution—its webpages, documents, lists, and data—is organized and presented to the site's users. Information architecture is often recorded as a hierarchical list of content, search keywords, data types, and other concepts.

Assess your organization's information architecture to make it as efficient as possible: A comprehensive assessment of your organization's information architecture can help you identify efficiencies, such as the following:

  • Use metadata to make it easier to search for and compare related data or content.

  • Manage versions and records to ensure that you can tell which is the authoritative version of a document.

  • Catalog and store information properly so decision-makers can find and rely on the right data.

  • Design navigation and present information so that users can find important sites and information.

  • Integrate your information architecture with your environment's search strategy, so your users can find the right information. Information architecture includes the wireframe and site map, search and navigation, managed metadata tags, and content types.

  • Define a publishing strategy: distribute authoring tasks and use cross-site publishing to control the design of the site and display of the content.

Good information architecture supports the following goals:

  • Manageable Can the IT team effectively implement and manage the information?

  • Meets requirements Does the information architecture meet regulatory requirements, privacy needs, and security goals?

  • Increases business effectiveness Does the architecture add to your organization's effectiveness?

Questions to ask when you design a site or solution:

Question More information
How will data be presented?
Plan for business intelligence in SharePoint 2013
How will site users navigate?
Overview of site navigation in SharePoint Server
How will search be configured and optimized?
Overview of search architecture in SharePoint Server
How can you organize content so that searches return useful results?
Best practices for organizing content for search in SharePoint Server
What types of content will live on sites?
Plan content types and workflows in SharePoint 2013 and Plan for Internet, intranet, and extranet publishing sites in SharePoint Server
How will content be tagged and how will metadata be managed?
Plan for managed metadata in SharePoint Server
Does any of the content on the sites have unique security needs?
Permissions planning for sites and content in SharePoint Server
What is the authoritative source for terms?
Plan terms and term sets in SharePoint Server 2013
How will information be targeted at specific audiences?
Audience and content targeting planning (SharePoint Server 2010)
Do you need to have language-specific or product-specific versions of your sites?
Variations overview in SharePoint Server
Who will write content for the site and what method will you use to publish it?
Overview of publishing to Internet, intranet, and extranet sites in SharePoint Server

Information access

Be sure to consider access to content when you design your solution and sites. This overlaps with IT governance as you consider your entire environment. Ask these questions:

Information management: permissions and audiences

Question More information
How do I structure permission in a site?
Overview of site permissions in SharePoint 2013
How do I target content to a specific audience?
Audience and content targeting planning (SharePoint Server 2010)
Should I use Information Rights Management (IRM) to protect content?
Plan Information Rights Management (SharePoint Server 2010)

IT governance: access

Question More information
How do I make this content available to external users?
SharePoint Server design samples: Corporate portal and extranet sites
How do I make sure that only people who need access have it?
Security and permissions (SharePoint 2013)

Information management tools

Govern your information by using tools for information management, including:

Tool More information
Use workflows and approvals for Document Centers and site pages—wherever official documentation is stored.
Plan content types and workflows in SharePoint 2013
Use approval for published websites to control pages.
Plan for Internet, intranet, and extranet publishing sites in SharePoint Server and Plan content types and workflows in SharePoint 2013
Use version history and version control to maintain a history and master document.
Plan document versioning, content approval, and check-out controls in SharePoint 2013
Manage libraries by using the Content Organizer.
Configure the Content Organizer to route documents
Use site policies to manage site collection life cycles.
Overview of site policies in SharePoint Server
Use Information Rights Management and auditing to secure and audit important corporate assets and any sites that contain sensitive information.
Apply Information Rights Management to a list or library and Configure audit settings for a site collection

Determine the rules or policies that you need for the following types of items: pages, lists, documents, records, rich assets, blogs and wikis, feeds, anonymous comments, anonymous access, terms and term sets, and external data (Business Connectivity Services).

As a good information management practice, consider the balance among the following factors:

  • Availability Content needs to be available when users need it and where they can get to it.

  • Access Consider who has access to the content. If it should be secure, is it?

  • Redundancy Shared copies reduce redundancy and provide one version of a document.

Consider your priorities for different content by thinking through questions like these:

  • Which of these factors is the highest priority for each type of content?

  • Is availability more important than access?

  • Is access more important than redundancy?

  • What would make it so difficult for users that they would be tempted to use a different solution?

  • What trade-offs are possible or desirable?

Resources for planning information architecture

The following table presents resources that are available to help information architects plan the information architecture of your SharePoint solution.

Information architecture resources

To plan … See …
The structure of sites and subsites
Plan sites and site collections in SharePoint Server
Document libraries
Plan document libraries in SharePoint 2013
Navigation
Overview of managed navigation in SharePoint Server
Overview of site navigation in SharePoint Server
Metadata
Plan managed metadata (OLD)
Search
Plan search in SharePoint Server
Content expiration
Plan for information management policy in SharePoint Server
Publishing and managing pages
Plan for Internet, intranet, and extranet publishing sites in SharePoint Server
Templates
Site Types: WebTemplates and Site Definitions
Content approval
Plan document versioning, content approval, and check-out controls in SharePoint 2013
Plan content approval and scheduling
Information management policies
Plan for information management policy in SharePoint Server
Social computing
Plan for My Sites in SharePoint Server
Plan for OneDrive for Business in SharePoint Server