A simple and by-the-book project governance strategy for a global Office 365 and intranet rollout at Project Concern International.


“With proper governance, life will improve for all.”

Benigno Aquino III, b. February 8, 1960. President of the Philippines, June 2010- June 2016.


About a year ago, our organization embarked on an Office 365 enterprise initiative spanning three US offices and eleven additional offices around the globe. The program involved the deployment of our Intranet, Skype for Business, OneDrive, Sharepoint, and Active Directory with content migration, email migration and workflow automation. The goal is to increase our employees’ productivity through improving findability and enhancing enterprise- wide collaboration. 

Strong governance is known to be one of the key success factors for a program of this magnitude. After all, governance is about producing desired outcomes through driving desirable behavior. As highlighted by Peter Weill and Jeanne Ross in their excellent book, IT Governance, the key for establishing any IT governance framework is to answer the following three questions:

  1. What decisions need to be made?
  2. Who makes those decisions?
  3. How are these decisions made?

 While these three questions are quite simple, they can be hard to answer for an Office 365 and Intranet deployment initiative where many decisions are not IT specific. 

IT Governance Structure for the Intranet Project

Working along the IT and business teams, we developed the following list of the decisions that needed to be made, and who should be making them (questions 1 and 2 above). There are five key decisions that that are non-technical and outside of the traditional project management decisions (e.g., cost, timeline, deliverables, etc.).


  1. Information architecture is "the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability." (Source: Wikipedia) This is clearly a set of decisions that require experts to explain the concept, propose designs and make recommendations. In our case, these decisions are being made by our marketing and communications (“Marcom”) team, who is also responsible for the management of our website. 
  1. Taxonomy is "the practice and science of classification." (Source: Wikipedia) Taxonomy supports our findability goal and involves the creation of a list of key words that are used for labeling content that is used by the search engine. It also makes it easy to narrow down content selection and navigation.

    In our case, the internal knowledge management lead is responsible for managing this decision. We also looked into buying ready-made taxonomies, but it was costly and still required editing to work with our specific business model.
  1. The user design experience is crucial to driving user acceptance of the Intranet. It involves developing wireframes and mockups to mimic the user experience and navigation. It also involves designing the so called “skin” of the Intranet, the colors, fonts, logos. I.e., the branding of the Intranet. This effort is led by our Marcom team as well. 
  1. Post-launch governance. This is rather unusual because we are talking about establishing a governance to create another governance. But yes, this is exactly what needs to be done here. Once the Intranet and O365 are in production, they need to be governed to produce the desired outcomes. Questions such as who gets to publish what content, where, and how, need to be answered to create a post-production governance of the Intranet. 
  1. Content migration addresses decisions on what gets migrated, where to, how, and in what format. Many times, old content still exists on network drives or other fragmented locations such as Google Docs or Dropbox. Therefore, inventory and cleansing processes are required, followed by a structured effort to move the content into the desired new locations and format. Obviously, the content migration decisions are laborious and require all business units to be involved. This effort is led by our knowledge management person.

How Decisions Get Made

To complete our governance setup, we needed to answer the Weill and Ross’s third governance question: how are these decisions made?

There are many governance architypes structures such as business or IT monopoly, duopoly, federal, etc. Also, there are different decision-making cultures such as collaborative, consensus or command-and-control driven that can be considered when establishing a governance. 

Given the decentralized nature of our organization and the collaborative decision making culture, we opted for a decentralized and a committee-based approach. We created a committee for each of the five decisions and granted the committees the rights to make the relevant decisions.

Small impact decisions are made within each committee, but larger more impactful decisions are shared with a larger governance body that we call the Intranet Champions. The Champions team is composed of the members of all five committees. This allows for specialized, informed and relatively fast decision making process. For larger impact decisions, such as long-term Intranet Governance, the specialized committee makes recommendations to the executive sponsor and the executive sponsor ratifies the recommendations. 

While “improving life for all” is a tall order, strong governance using the above framework can play a significant role in achieving the desired outcome of an O365 program, which is to improve employee productivity.


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