Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Questions regarding Minerva permission setting and site architecture

A colleague wrote to me today and asked for ideas to set permission for Minerva (ERM's knowledge sharing platform run on Sharepoint 2007). One of the things she was interested in learning more about was how the hierarchies are structured. I like to share the questions and my answers here.

The two questions are:

1. How do you assign user permissions, do you categorise users into groups and then assign blanket permissions and then individual permissions to those users who have more privileges?

My response is that you can do both. You can assign users to Active Directory group and then apply group blanket permission. Or you can allow users to join each site as individual member. You can give additional people additional rights to do more with the site. You have to think through the governance process and what you really need to make a decision on permission. In ERM, we started using Active Directory (AD) Group, but later move on to managing members individually, because our site managers want to have the flexibility to add/delete members themselves. Using AD will need to involve IT team and reduce the flexibility.

The core team defines the right a site manager has. Then, within that boundary, each site permission is managed by the site manager. We try to avoid giving out multiple levels of permission, because this will make the management of permission too complex – and you will soon forget who gets what right quickly. In the spirit of knowledge sharing, in most cases, we give 2 levels of permission, higher permission for site manager and another permission level for all site members.

2. Are the hierarchical structures of Minerva driven from a source system? Have you lifted these structures from this source and applied the directly to SharePoint?

My response is that we do not do this by default within ERM, especially how you structure your business does not necessarily mean how your users/employees look for information. The overall information architecture of the intranet is driven by a combination of 3 factors: current business priorities; user needs (based on indepth user studies) and business hierarchical structure. The art is to find a balance with the users' information needs in mind.