There are essentially two aspects of content governance: one aspect is technologically-enforced and the other is organizationally-enforced.
Governing through technology
Luckily, SharePoint does allow for a significant degree of technologically-enforced content governance:
1. Through the simple application of different levels of privileges for reading contributing to, and editing SharePoint sites and libraries. In SharePoint 2010, these privileges extend to the maintenance of metadata via Term Stores.
2. There are also workflow tools built in to facilitate various review processes prior to publishing content.
3. SharePoint administrators may also apply Information Management Policies for triage-ing content and for retention-scheduling (i.e., the archiving and/or deletion of content based on retention rules).
Needless to say, you should capitalize on these technology tools as much as possible for managing content in SharePoint. This is the easy part of SharePoint governance. Technology can only do so much, however, and the hard part of SharePoint governance is the part that needs to be organizationally-enforced.
At most companies, SharePoint governance falls off the radar screen for this aspect. There are four key content governance questions that information managers need to answer for any content management platform, including SharePoint.
1. Which content sets will be centrally-managed and which ones will be left to the ‘wild, wild west’? Many companies face the SharePoint dilemma of determining which content sets should be formally maintained at the corporate level versus everything else. There is also the question of what is 'social' vs. ‘business’ content; e.g., social tags ('folksonomies') vs. controlled business vocabularies (taxonomies). All of these need to be addressed through your company’s content governance model.
2. Who will be responsible for which types of content? Maybe your content stewards will be centralized, decentralized, or some combination thereof. The answer to this question typically depends on the size of your organization and your answer to question 1. One thing is for sure - you should have content stewards in place.
3. Who will have primary oversight of content governance execution? You will need to decide how changes to the governance model will be determined and applied. It is highly recommended to have a formal, corporate-level, content governance committee (even if it only meets on an ad hoc basis) lead by a senior member of staff with sufficient authority to endorse or make decisions that will impact the whole organization.
4. How will you ensure that the entire company is aware of your governance model? Many SharePoint projects (and IT projects, for that matter) tend to mistakenly skip the first step (end user needs analysis and communication) and the last step (communication and change management) of the project. There is no point having a governance model if all SharePoint users don’t know about it and, more importantly, have not bought into it.
Don’t put the cart before the horse
Although I discussed technologically-enforced governance before organizationally-enforced governance, the latter actually needs to precede the former for successful SharePoint governance. Ideally, a content governance model should be established before you release SharePoint onto your staff. The organizational aspect will determine how you should apply the technology tools in SharePoint to help enforce your governance model, both initially and on an ongoing basis as new sites are provisioned. So, as usual, the technology is a means to an end and not the end in itself. This is a key point to remember about SharePoint and any other CMS.
Think, discuss, decide, and get organized before you act. Good luck and happy governing!