How much is your digital workplace (and manager) worth?

Do you know how much your digital workplace or intranet is worth to your organisation?  How would start to answer the question? With the global economic climate unlikely to improve greatly, organisations will want to know the full benefits to justify before investing in your plans.

In 2015, intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces.  People are increasingly using different methods to connect whenever they need to.  When they connect it is to find information, use apps, share some news or ask for help with a work problem.

In my last three posts I have covered how this is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your digital workplace a great experience, how you need to find everything to avoid it becoming a barren digital desert, to encourage more frequent use and improve people’s productivity.

There are several steps you can take to improve the chances your plans will be approved.  To demonstrate the benefits your digital workplace you will need to look beyond traditional financial ‘ROI’ to wider benefits that also help your organisation:

  1. Have a strategy, governance framework, and information architecture that shows how you support your organisation.
  2. Demonstrate the full benefits of your plans.  Think about the top priorities and goals your organisation has and align with them.
  3. Find the right methods that can assess the different benefits you identify as possible to achieve.  This can be using surveys, polls, or more expert analysis.
  4. Consider the different ways you can show these benefits to convince your stakeholders.  Make sure you talk their language to help them understand your plans.

If you can complete all of these steps, you will have the best chances to gain the resources you need to implement your plans to transform your intranet into a digital workplace.

It may also help show the value you provide as well.  More on that in a later post!

How you can avoid your digital workplace becoming a barren desert

Do you know where everything is in your digital workplace?  It’s an easy question for me to ask.  However, the answer may be more difficult for you to answer.

In 2015, intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces.  People are increasingly using different methods to connect whenever they need to.  When they connect it is to find information, use apps, share some news or ask for help with a work problem.

In my last two posts I have covered how this is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your digital workplace a great experience, encouraging more frequent use and improving the productivity of people using it for their work.

By combining a clear information architecture with a good governance framework you create a thriving digital workplace, not a barren desert where there is little chance of finding that oasis of vital content you need.

To successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplace where everything may be in the cloud with people accessing it from any device, anywhere and at anytime, you need to consider these steps:

  1. It is critical your governance framework and information architecture are synchronised and have the same scope.  You should have one person with overall responsibility for making sure this happens.  You also need a common understanding of what they both include.  Making this transparent on your digital workplace so other people can see them helps any gaps or overlaps to be spotted quickly and acted upon.
  2. You need to agree what that scope should be.  Is it for accredited content, collaborative content, and applications or only some of these?  Whatever the scope is, you need to communicate it clearly with stakeholders.  You also need it approved so you have the authority, should you need it, to contact anyone operating outside of its scope.
  3. Your governance framework needs to have the roles and responsibilities set out with a hierarchy showing reporting lines for strategic and operational activities.  It also need to include the publishing standards for your content owners, editors and application owners to comply with.  This is essential for a consistently good experience for anyone using your digital workplace.
  4. Your information architecture needs developing to meet the requirements of your organisation.  It should become an overarching structure for all your content and applications. Get these right and you have the ingredients for a consistently good user experience, achieving two aims:
    1. Help people using your digital workplace to quickly find what they need for their work and to be more productive.
    2. Help publishers and app owners to easily find the right place for their accredited and collaborative content, and applications.

Try to avoid a piecemeal approach by implementing only some of these steps.  That can lead to confusion and a poorer experience as people keep adjusting to the changes.  It will also lead to less productive employees and less frequent use of your digital workplace.

That is something you need to avoid by considering how all the steps can be adopted and the full benefits gained for your organisation.  Now, that’s a good message you want to communicate, isn’t it! :)

Is your digital workplace experience good or bad?

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. In 2015 organisations are no longer just talking about ‘digital’.  People are increasingly using different methods to connect whenever they need to.  When they connect it is to find information, use apps, share some news or ask for help with a work problem.

In my last post I recommended you have clear business requirements, the right direction set with a strategy, support from your stakeholders, and measures agreed that can demonstrate the benefits of your approach.

You also need people to have a consistently good experience every time, with every device, from every place to successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplaceWhat can you do make this happen?  I recommend you consider the following:

Within a governance framework you need to implement publishing standards for everything people use across your digital workplace.  People need to be familiar with what they access, no matter what device they use.  This saves time with people not stalling while they check everything before they start using it.

This is easier said than done though!  Firstly, you need to identify your business requirements for your publishing standards.  Once this has been done, you can then develop what publishers need to do to implement each standard.

The difficult bit is getting your publishing standards applied to all your content and apps, whatever device someone is using to access them.  But you have to do this to be consistent.  Without achieving this, people may doubt what they are using because it may look different and the experience vary too much.  For example:

  1. Ownership: Every piece of content and app has an owner who can be contacted for further information.  Think about how you need to show this for each device people may use.
  2. Timeliness: Every piece of content has a review date that gives people confidence they can rely on it being accurate and current.  Again, think about how this can appear for every device.
  3. Findability: Every piece of content and app, in whatever format is needed for each device, is indexed by your search engine so it can be found quickly.  Making sure it is properly tagged by your publishers will also help people find what they need more easily.
  4. Usability: Every piece of content and app should consider mobile users first.  That can be a big change of focus.  More and more, people will use a smartphone or tablet to access what they need.  Test your content and apps with these devices to get the user experience right.
  5. Navigation: Every piece of content and app needs to be linked together so you can quickly move from one to the other.  Menus need to work with every type of device and will need testing before implementation.  You don’t want oasis of content that are disconnected from each other by a digital desert.

You will need to include in your governance framework how you can achieve this.  Publishers will need to be trained on how to use the publishing tools obviously.  For collaboration tools that really should be by following simple guidance because they are very easy to use.

However it must also cover what your publishing standards are, why they need to be implemented and most importantly, how that will be achieved.  You need this for a common platform of knowledge and understanding across your publishing community.

Follow up the training for your publishers by educating them with simple processes to publish content, develop apps, etc., and support their publishing needs with guidance, Frequently Asked Questions, discussion groups.

Taking this approach will help give people a consistently good experience every time, with every device, from every place to successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplace.

 

Is this your ‘once in an intranet career’ opportunity?

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. In 2015 organisations are no longer just talking about ‘digital’.  They are now starting to take steps, sometimes slow and tentatively, towards transforming their online content and apps into something that is better coordinated.  People are also becoming better connected with their digital workplace or intranet whenever they need to be.

While this is great news for intranet practitioners, there is also pressure to make sure you take the right direction and invest in the right technologies, skills, and resources.  This is a ‘once in an intranet career’ opportunity to turn all your long-held dreams into the digital reality you have wished for.  It can also place a great amount of responsibility on you to get it right.

So, what do you need to do?  How can you turn this into your proudest moment in your career rather an underwhelming disappointment?

To successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplace where people can collaborate, have mobile access and apps on demand you need to consider what steps to take.  These should include:

  1. Vision: What does the future look like?  What will your organisation become in the future?  How will your intranet/digital workplace support it?  You need to be able to clearly answer these questions from your senior leaders.
  2. Direction: What is the right direction from your intranet?  How will you get from today’s intranet to the future digital workplace?  You need to be aware what your organisation’s strategic priorities are.  You need to see how your digital workplace can align with and support their achievement.
  3. Requirements: What are your organisation’s requirements?  Have you an existing strategy for your intranet?  You need to identify what exactly your senior leaders – stakeholders – need from you.  You also need to seek support from senior leaders for your plans.
  4. Plan: How are you going to complete your journey from intranet to digital workplace?  You need to be able to work out the resources needed, prioritise your activities, and timescales to achieve everything.
  5. Measure: What is the current position?  How does the transformation compare when it is completed?  You need to demonstrate the changes you have made.  You should measure the full value gained – not just the narrow ROI formula – to show how your organisation benefits from a digital workplace.

For me, these are essential steps to take when transforming your intranet into a digital workplace.  This could be the most important thing you do in your intranet career.

Make sure you research to learn from other transformations, both good and not so good outcomes.  Seek advice from people who have experience or you trust.  If in doubt, seek expertise to help you get it right.

You probably won’t get a second chance if it goes wrong so make sure you prepare thoroughly so you will succeed.

My 2015 predictions

When I first got involved in 1996 with intranets people could only access them from their desktop PCs at their normal place of work.  The pages of content were hosted on a server probably in the same room or building they worked in.  What was on offer was limited to news, policies and some tools e.g. People directory.

Haven’t things changed a lot since then as we move towards 2015!

Intranets are transforming into digital workplaces offering people an amazing choice in information and applications and wider use e.g. you can collaborate with people in different locations, share and rate content and complete processes online.  You can access your intranet or digital workplace from any device e.g. smartphone, tablet and laptop from any place using wi-fi, etc., and at any time with data centres operating 24/7.

What does this mean for 2015?  Here are my predictions.

1. Take the right direction

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces.  You need to make sure you take the right direction and invest in the right technologies, skills, and resources.  In 2015 good digital workplaces will be created because there is a plan supported by a clear strategy.  Your plan, based on agreed business requirements, will have prioritise actions, and stakeholder support.  These are essential to have a digital workplace that supports your organisation.

2. consistently good experience

People will need to access your content and applications from any device, any time and from any place even more in 2015.  Their experience needs to be consistently good every time with publishing standards within a governance framework applied to make this happen to all content and apps.  People will then be familiar with what they access no matter what device they use.  Good publishing standards will mean productivity gains will be achieved as people avoid stalling while they check before they use anything.

3. know where everything is

More organisations will consider moving to the cloud in 2015.  But you need to manage this well to make this successful.  You a good governance framework to manage all the content and applications, with an information architecture that has the same scope and approach.  It’s no good trying to manage your content, etc., if you don’t where it is!  And if you don’t know, how can people find what they need for their work?  Plan the structure of your digital workplace to harmonise with your governance framework before you start.

4. show you are worth it

With the global economic climate unlikely to improve greatly in 2015, organisations will demand greater justification for any improvements you plan.  You need to demonstrate the benefits your digital workplace can provide.  Having a strategy, governance framework, and information architecture will indicate you do support your organisation’s goals.  However, to show the full benefits you will need to look beyond traditional financial ‘ROI’ to wider benefits that also help your organisation.  If you can do this, and you will have the resources you need in 2015.

Have you made any plans?  Good luck and have a great 2015!

It’s time for a change

I have been fortunate to work with and view many sites, intranets, digital workplaces, mobile and collaborative spaces since 1996.  Many technology features and fads aimed at helping people have a good experience have come and gone. However, throughout this time, having a clear strategy with good governance to support your intranet, has consistently been shown to help meet your organisation’s key priorities and add measurable value.

Your strategy sets the direction you need to move in with a clear scope and set of aims to be achieved, aligned with other related strategies and overall strategy for your organisation.

Your governance framework helps your strategy continue in the right direction.  It will show how you manage everything and how everyone can work together. It will cover scope, purpose, roles and responsibilities, publishing standards and support, and resources needed.

The main reason for a strategy and governance framework is the benefits to be gained from applying it well. The time and effort are the same but the impact can vary so you don’t always achieve a consistently good experience.

Measuring all the benefits and showing the value to your organisation of a critical business tool will improve your credibility and help to justify future investment.

With that in mind I have re-designed my site to focus on Strategy; Governance; and Measuring Value.

Please contact me if you want to find out more.

Are you moving to the Cloud?

I recently posted about the challenges organisations face as they move from having online content and tools hosted firmly on their estate to renting space in the cloud.

I believe the way forward is to have a governance framework and information architecture with the same scope to avoid gaps in content being managed or not being found.  Both need to be in harmony and included in any digital strategy.

If you want to join the live breakfast talk in Gothenburg, or online seminar and final panel discussion and Q&A using G+ Hangout, it is on 20 November 8.00AM – 10AM Central European Time.

You can also read these posts about how to move to the Cloud:

  1. Wagon Trains to the Cloud: The most common challenges you are likely to face and how you may overcome these
  2. Pace-Layering the Building Blocks in the Cloud: How Office 365 and SharePoint can play a part in moving to the Cloud
  3. Housekeeping rules within the Habitat: How they can help join up your organisation online using their collaboration tools and features
  4. The Curator – how to cultivate the habitat: Engagement and how sorting and categorisation of artifacts form the curation and cultivation process
  5. Content Governance – life cycle and reach: Governance and how content should be managed in the Cloud