CMS Governance Is Scary… And What to Do About It
Creating and refining content management system (CMS) governance policies can be a daunting task… made worse by fear, perfectionism, and a lack of a proper governance committee structure and communication. Considering all the layers of an Enterprise CMS composable ecosystem, you can see why its perfectly normal to have trepidation when undertaking governance.
Here are some tips to take the fear out of governance and create actionable, enforceable, and long lasting governance policies and standards.
Create a Sustainable Governance Committee
Creating and enforcing policies requires a governance committee consisting of representative individuals across the appropriate roles/business units in your organization as they will both be impacted and involved in creating governance policies.
It is critical to ensure that this committee can be sustained via a tightly managed meeting once a month whose whole purpose is to define and refine policies and standards. Events that have occurred in the past month, such as a failure in a disaster recovery, would be raised and discussed on how to better manage these events in the future.
The actual policies/standards would not be developed in the committee meeting, rather you should assign someone to draft any policy needs and have an intake/approval process.
You can use the template in the Sitecore Governance: How To and a Template Too post to define your governance committee.
Create 10 Policies/Standards Focusing on the Most Painful/Impactful Items
Don’t try to create all your policies and standards in one exhaustive attempt. Rather, focus to the 10 biggest things that impact your CMS environment. If you are able to establish these initial “10 Commandments”, further policy creation becomes easier and you will have likely saved hours upon hours in issues that normally require firefighting, such as managing redirect rules.
The governance template in the Sitecore Governance: How To and a Template Too has guidance on how to create policies and standards.
Keep It Simple Then Refine
The best policies and standards come from a basic initial need and then expand as required (please see the Declaration of Independence… and the current set of U.S. laws) . To that end, start with a simple statement for a policy and then bullets points for the standard. Once this is in place, expand and refine for any gaps.
Communication, Communication, Communication
If you develop policies and no one knows about them, they will never be heard, understood, and enforced. Beyond communicating your policies, and training where appropriate, you need to meet regularly as a Governance Committee and have an escalation plan for issues that arise outside of meeting time. Intake of new policies should be clean and easy to use, to empower those in the organization who see gaps that require policies/standards.
Check out the Sitecore Governance: How To and a Template Too post for a sample Governance Communications Plan.
Centralize in a Wiki and Make It Easy to Find
Where you store your actual governance plan matters. If it is stored in a hard document in a binder on someone’s desk it will likely just create dust. It should be interactive, centralized, and easy to use. To that end, using a Wiki platform in your company intranet (ex. Confluence) is a great way to organize your Governance Committee team member information, agenda for meetings, policies/standards, escalation procedures, and intake form.
The value of a Wiki is that is often offers search, is more “Web friendly” and collaborative, and easier to structure (ex. creating a hierarchy of pages).
Don’t Sacrifice Good for the Sake of Perfect
There is great concern across organizations that all policies/standards have to be perfect when first written. Often case, it is only through multiple iterations that policies/standards reach their final form. Therefore, it is critical to not obsess, rather aim for a C+ in your attempts while focusing on the previously stated 10 most impactful/painful policies/standards that need to be defined. This approach will provide a strong base upon which to build out the remaining policies required to support your CMS environment.