Monday, December 28, 2009

Governance: Capability Driven, Not Platform Driven

Although I have no survey or poll results to support this; I believe that the SharePoint community as a whole is putting more weight on the topic of governance as time moves forward. I am basing this on the number of blog posts, conference presentations, third party products, and research available on the Web. Microsoft even has made a SharePoint governance plan template (SharePoint Products and Technologies Governance Plan) available for download.

I have mixed emotions about some of the messaging in the community. I think the topic of governance has become so SharePoint-centered that the original intent of governance becomes lost. Taking a few steps back, I thought I might weigh-in on the subject.

When push comes to shove, SharePoint is simply a platform, a means to an end. It is a tool to facilitate a capability. If that capability happens to be information management, then SharePoint is providing the technical functionality required to make managing information better.

My take on governance planning is that an organization should first address the capability (e.g. information management) as a whole, and then develop a plan for it. Once that overarching effort is in motion, it should branch off into defining the policies, processes, and measures specifically addressing SharePoint.

The flaw I see in creating a governance plan starting with SharePoint platform is that too many questions and risks about the overall initiative of providing that information management capability exist. This flaw may be a symptom or an indicator of larger ailments in the organization such as a lack of clarity or a lack of sponsorship (or a lack of clarity within its sponsorship). The way I see it, if an executive management team is willing to embrace the idea of using the SharePoint platform, then it ought to be willing to accept and embrace the larger initiatives at hand; which is where governance should originate.

In conclusion, I think that in order to maintain long term credibility with the subject of governance planning, we in the SharePoint community should share more ideas about how to integrate SharePoint governance into existing corporate governance as well as how to properly originate governance where it does not already exist. And, in order to do this I think it requires stepping out of the world of SharePoint and taking a wholistic view of the organization and understanding the fundamental policies and processes at play, as well as understanding what is the underlying intent and purpose for which SharePoint is being deployed.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Favorite Windows 7 Feature

For me, the most valuable enhancements to usability affect the basic things that I do the most often. This includes browsing folders and opening files. And, although, I do like to keep twelve or more windows open at one time, I do not like clutter.

For this reason, my favorite Windows 7 feature is the ability to right click on an open application and then click a shortcut to open another instance of that application.

2009 SQL Server Magazine Best SharePoint Product

I thought it might be interesting to note the SQL Server Magazine, 2009 Best SharePoint Product awards. Here they are:

2009 SQL Server Magazine Best SharePoint Product

Editor's Best

Gold: ControlPoint for SharePoint, Axceler, www.axceler.com
Silver: Professional Archive Manager, Metalogix,
Bronze: NearPoint for SharePoint, Mimosa Systems,

Community Choice

Gold: Site Administrator for SharePoint, Quest Software, http://www.quest.com/
Silver: Colligo Contributor Pro, Colligo Networks,
Bronze: CorasWorks Workplace Sutie 10, CorasWorks,


2009 SQL Server Magazine (2008, December). 2009 SQL Server Magazine Editor's Best and Community Choice Awards. SQL Server Magazine, pp. 12-19.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Error: SQL Server Maintenance Plan, Database Backup Job


When executing a SQL Server maintenance plan, having a database backup job, an error occurs. The issue is that the SQL Server Agent service account does not have access to the backup folder. This happens more frequently on backup folders which exist on a separate server, such as a backup server.

1. First, navigate to SQL Server Management Studio > Maintenance Plans > Right click on maintenance plan > View History.

You might see something like this in the history:

"Action: Execute maintenance plan (full backup of all SQL databases). ErrorMessage: Execution failed: See the maintenance plan and SQL Server Agent job history for details. Additional Information: Job 'Backup SQL' failed. (SqlManagerUI)"

2. Next, navigate to the history log for the SQL Server Agent job:

SQL Server Management Studio > SQL Server Agent > Jobs > Right click on job > View History > Highlight the error > Click Export > Export a log file > Open the log file in a text editor

...and you might see entries like this:

"Reason for failure: " failed with the following error: "Cannot open backup device 'backup device name'. "
"Error information: Operating system error 5(Access is denied.)."


The solution to this is to configure the appropriate access for the SQL Server Agent service account on the folder security access control list and the folder sharing access control list.

However, the catch here is that you may need to add the service account directly to the access control list, as opposed to an AD group in which the user account belongs. In fact, I tested this by doing the steps below.

1. Deleted the maintenance plan and created it again.

2. Added the backup folder location, and clicked Next.

This brought up an error:

"Maintenance Plan Wizard: The Database Engine service could not resolve the specified folder location. Either the location does not exist, or the current login account does not have access to it. Verify that the folder exists, and that the login account has permissions on it."

3. Added the SQL Server Agent service account directly to the backup folder's access control lists for folder security and folder sharing. After doing this, the creation of the maintenance plan was successful.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I Respectfully Disagree

As I was searching for some references for a risk management white paper that I am writing, I stumbled upon an old PowerPoint on the Web titled, "Risk Management and ROI: The IT Leadership Financial Conversation." It was created by Peter G. W. Keen of Delft University in Sepetember 2004. This PowerPoint was used to educate an IT Leadership community attending a CIO summit.

As I looked through the PowerPoint for some insight to use in my paper, I started finding statements such as:

"ROI from IT: There is none. There never will be." (Keen, 2004)
"ROMI not ROI: Return on Minimized Investment" (Keen, 2004)
"80% of IT costs are hidden below the surface - and a navigation threat" (Keen, 2004)

The more slides I viewed, the more I realized that I completely disagree with the intent of the message; essentially to encourage CIOs to view IT as a business liability which needs to be tightly controlled and driven primarily by its cost drivers.

I disagree because I think a better approach for CIOs to take is to understand the purpose of the technologies their teams are evaluating, understand the costs and benefits, and choose projects which support the objectives of the organization. Managing cost should be part of the decision making process, but it should not be the primary driver. When cost is measured, all aspects of cost should be included. And, the financial benefits of the project should also be measured and included.

The objective of Information Technology is to facilitate two very important capabilities for today's businesses:

1. Revenue generation
2. Business productivity (process efficiency)

Most leaders in the IT space generally understand the financial benefits of the IT projects they choose to pursue, but perhaps the IT industry as a whole generally does not place enough emphasis on methodologies and practices for measuring and translating these back to the financial statement. This would require more focus, analysis, calculation, and validation.

To be clear, I am not saying that all IT projects are sensible and they should be done blindly. However, what I am saying is that it is incorrect to characterize IT as a business function that shows no return on investment.

If you deploy a technology that allows people to attend meetings over the Web instead of traveling to another location, then your costs are those which are required to implement and maintain the technology while your savings are those which you do not spend to travel? Both sides of equation need to be considered, not just cost.

I also disagree with the claim that 80% of IT costs are hidden. I believe that if budgeting is done properly, most IT costs are completely visible and manageable. There are always some unforeseen costs with IT, but by learning from past experiences, it becomes possible to anticipate these variations.

In summary, I disagree with the PowerPoint. Information Technology can have a positive ROI, and costs can be manageable and predictable. I think the real problem is some organizations just don't know how to measure these things effectively.

Keen, P. (2004). The IT Leadership Financial Conversation. Retrieved December 5, 2009 from www.peterkeen.com/presentations/IT%20Risk%20Management.ppt.

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