Category Archives: best practice

Who has the best intranet team?

What is the purpose of your intranet team? 

How many people should you have in your intranet team? 

What should their roles be? 

How much money should your team have to improve your intranet? 

What is the right level of support from your senior managers?

All of these questions I used to ask when I was the BT Intranet manager and since I left BT I have found clients who also ask me the same type of questions about their intranet team.  Intranet teams mean different things depending on who is asked.  How do you define an intranet team? It is the importance your organisation gives to your intranet and the resources it gives that normally decide your chances of succeeding.

Luckily we have Uju is studying for a MSc in Information System Management & Innovation at Warwick Business School to help find the answers.  She is working with Professor John Baptista and in partnership with ClearBox Consulting.

Uju is researching intranet teams and how they are organised in various organisations within various industries. Factors to be considered include team structure, budget, geographical distribution, organisation size, industry, intranet usage etc. She is researching these topics using a survey and in-depth interviews. She will compare the results with relevant literature and best practice.

Can you please find a few minutes to help by completing Uju’s survey?  She will share the results with everyone who complete the survey at end of the research period.

Thank you in advance for your help from Uju and me. :D

Why sites keep you coming back for more

The sites I use most frequently for the latest news or to order something I want to buy or to help me with a problem e.g. travel directions are not unique sites. There are alternative sites I could choose to use but I don’t. I keep using the same ones. Why is that?

Firstly the site I keep using obviously meets my needs but if we take news sites as an example there are many that provide the latest news. It is not just that it provides me with news, there are other reasons why. A new design may be compelling for the first time and new features may also encourage me but to keep me coming back again and again it needs something more.

It is more likely to be the consistency in the look and feel; navigation to help me find related content quickly; help when I need to find out more e.g. contact the content owner so I am confident that I can rely on what I read as being accurate and up to date. In other words it is a place that is well-managed and applies some form of governance to give me a consistently good experience whenever I use it. That is what keeps me coming back for more.

When I think of some of the great internet sites I use like Amazon, Wikipedia, BBC News, it is because they also have a great governance framework which is the foundation to giving me a great experience every time I visit them. Without it these sites would miss something which would sooner or later make me try an alternative.

The same analogy that I have applied to a web site will also apply to any mobile app, intranet, digital workplace or collaboration tool. The size and complexity of the online space being managed is irrelevant. The same principles of governance will always apply. Those which are well-managed will be used more because they give a more consistent user experience and can be relied upon more to provide whatever you need.

Since 1996 when I first started my journey with intranets, collaboration tools, digital workplaces and mobile workspaces I have appreciated how important it is to have a governance framework that supports its purpose. It can be the crucial factor that causes a quicker adoption, increased usage and higher satisfaction with people to help with their work.

Turn company jargon into a knowledge gold mine

I have worked with many clients to improve their intranets.  I find that each client has its own language and specific terms that are known by more general terms with intranet professionals.

This can be an abbreviation, acronym, or term used within parts or the whole organisation.  While it may help conversations online within an organisation it can often be a barrier to other people not familiar with these terms.

I call this jargon.  The risk is people don’t ask every time they hear company jargon and take an educated guess what it actually means.  Sometimes this is right and helps build up future understanding but many other times it will slow progress or even cause mistakes to happen.

The more jargon used, the harder it is to understand what is meant, and can lead to projects overrunning, costing more, or having a poorer outcome than expected.  Some of these costs will show through to the bottom line.

What I don’t understand is why more organisations don’t recognise this and do something about it.  Creating a corporate wiki that is open to every employee to create and edit is a quick, cheap and easy way to turn company jargon into a goldmine of knowledge.

Publishing all the jargon – acronyms, shortcuts, abbreviations – as items in a corporate wiki helps people to understand more easily and quickly what they are.  It also helps to prevent mistakes being made and time wasted through misunderstandings.

It will also be a wonderful tool for any newbies being inducted into the organisation’s approach, culture and ways or working.

Why not turn all that company jargon into a knowledge goldmine and create a wiki that can contain them for every employee to view, add or edit to?

 

How to succeed with mobile collaboration

On day 2 of the WCMS14 conference I ran a workshop about mobile collaboration. People can help each other or can ask for help to collaborate. Having mobile access means you can do this whenever you need to and not have to wait any more. To achieve this there are four areas to focus on:

  1. Make it easy
  2. Manage it smartly
  3. Technology has to meet business needs
  4. Involve people with mobiles

1. Make it easy

The main point is to create an overall consistent experience for people whatever device they use. With more mobile devices than traditional PCs being sold now, organisations should put the need of mobile people first.
By removing the barriers, mobile users don’t need extra logins to be able to collaborate online. It should also be possible to collaborate while offline and the tool synchronise and update automatically.
Research with mobile users what they need most to help them collaborate online, what experience it needs to be and identify tools with the best adoption rates and understand why.

Manage it smartly

It is important that any governance is built to help people collaborate while mobile and not hinder this aim. By extending existing publishing standards to cover mobile use appropriately you continue with one governance framework. The same applies to roles and responsibilities for content and app owners as well as intranet managers.
The findability of content is critical. Having one search engine that covers all the information architecture helps to achieve this. The decision over whether you have one version of the content or app which is responsive to different designs or different versions for each size screen will depend on the information architecture you develop and on security needs.
How long is it before information become knowledge? Your answer to that will decide whether all your collaborative content stays online and is searchable or is archived after a period of time or inactivity or removed permanently. There are no right or wrong answers but you do have to decide what is best for your organisation.

Technology has to meet business needs

Make sure you have the right solution for the right business requirements. This means being very clear what you need before you start to research the technology that can meet your business needs. It will probably also mean you don’t choose the top solution, partly due to the costs, but also because it provides features and functions that you have no immediate or foreseeable need for.
Any technology for mobile collaboration bought or developed needs to be configurable and shown to work with existing systems and platforms.
You need to consider how many operating systems your organisation will support for the different mobile devices used for mobile collaboration. This needs to cover the issue of BYOD. A balance needs to be struck which may be something like x number of operating systems will be guaranteed to give a good mobile user experience and support y mobile devices. You can choose other mobile devices but you should not expect to be guaranteed a good mobile experience.

Involve people with mobiles

You should not assume what collaboration tools people with mobile devices need. You need to research their needs not just make something accessible from a mobile device and say the experience is good enough.
Involve people at the earliest stage of developing the user experience. As soon as the development is good enough for basic use it should be thrown open to mobile users to test out. They can feedback any problems or improvements that will help them to collaborate better to be acted upon.
A perpetual beta development status can be adopted for the mobile collaboration tools to avoid long delays in improvements, the need for major re-launches. Small, incremental, changes can be made quickly based on clear feedback and involvement from mobile users.
Lastly the testing can be a formal User Acceptance testing approach or more informal and open to anyone with a mobile device to use at any time. The process needs to be transparent and a playground/sandpit available where all development can be tested out. This may need IT to change its approach!

Summary

  1. Remove barriers that prevent adoption
  2. Have one governance framework
  3. Right mobile collaboration tools that meet needs
  4. Involve people who use mobile

 

Mobile collaborating: easier said than done!

In one week I will be participating at the World Class Mobile and Social-Enabled Enterprises event on 5 and 6 June in Frankfurt, Germany.

If you are thinking of coming to one of the best mobile events in 2014 please use this code WCMSSPEAKYOURLASTNAME in the special requirements section on the registration form.

I will be running a workshop on mobile collaboration.  I intend to cover the barriers you can face that can prevent people being able to easily collaborate whenever they need to.

I will also show how you can either prevent these barriers or take action to overcome them and still succeed with mobile collaboration.

I hope you will join me!

 

Getting the full value out of SharePoint

I recently posted on how you create a strategy that helps you to implement SharePoint successfully.  I then posted on how you to develop the right level of governance to manage SharePoint well.  But how do you gain the full benefits that SharePoint offers?  And how should you be measure it?

There are three areas you should prioritise:

  1. Productivity improvements: time saved solving problems using SharePoint instead of meeting in person to do this.  There are the costs of travelling avoided too.
  2. Savings in hardware, support costs and licences from moving content and tools on existing technology to SharePoint.
  3. Business intelligence can lead to opportunities to increase revenue through quicker responses to sales leads and customer service problems.

You may have other areas.  The key is to understand what business benefits you could gain from using SharePoint.

My first-hand experience at BT and from working with clients is that you benefit from using SharePoint.  It is your approach which is critical!

You can out more information on how to measure the full value of SharePoint to help you

 

Is your governance good enough for SharePoint?

I have written many blog posts on SharePoint based on my first-hand experience from developing strategies through to the full implementation of features such as TeamSites, MyProfile, etc.

One of the most common requests I get from clients is “How is the best way to manage their intranet while using SharePoint?”  This question is asked because SharePoint is a ‘big beast’ and needs a more rigorous and broad governance framework that is good enough for the challenge.

Your approach needs to consider:

  • Restricting use: stopping some features from being used e.g. SharePoint Designer
  • Encouraging best practice: making sure guidance and training are available
  • Preventing problems: checking content before it is published

Each of these approaches can support your governance strategy for
SharePoint.  The key is to understand what you need to use SharePoint for most of all.

My first-hand experience at BT and from working with clients is that well planned and managed governance is good enough to gain the benefits from using SharePoint.  It is how you approach this which is the critical success factor!

You can out more information on how to build good SharePoint governance to help you.

Go on! Inspire other intranet professionals…

Have you recently worked hard making some improvements to your intranet?  Did you get recognised within your organisation for your efforts?  Are people using your intranet giving great feedback about the changes?  If you answered “Yes” to these questions then you should consider sharing your intranet with other professionals to help inspire them!

The Intranet Innovation Awards are the premier awards for intranet professionals. Drawing on the best of intranet work around the world, these awards are unique in their recognition of individual improvements, and not intranets as a whole. Winning intranet professionals obtain widespread visibility, a magnificent glass trophy, and more support within their own organisations.

Now is the time to get your entry in, for your chance to win a lovely glass trophy. The closing date is Friday 6 June 2014.

It is easy to enter, doesn’t require much effort, when you complete the entry form.  Check it out, gain that critical external recognition and inspire other intranet professional!

Is your intranet legal?

I recently wrote about how you should manage your intranet.  A governance framework based on your business requirements is a good approach to take to achieve a well-managed intranet.

Part of your business requirements will need your organisation to comply any laws that apply in any country you operate in.  A strong governance framework will help avoid the risks of non-compliance with all legal requirements in the most effective way.  It is better to look at the bigger picture and be consistent rather than have a local, fragmented, approach.

Factors you need to consider are:

  1. The impact on your organisation’s brand and reputation if it is non-compliant with a legal requirement.  Is it really a risk worth taking?  Can you foresee all the fallout from the publicity?
  2. It is not something you should just pay ‘lip service’ to.  You need to be serious about meeting not just the letter of the law but the spirit of it too.  It can have many positive benefits if approached in the right manner rather than seen as inconvenient and a hindrance.
  3. Living the values of your organisation by being able to demonstrate that employees are respected by your intranet complying with all legal requirements.  This may also encourage people to join your organisation rather than a competitor.

My first-hand experience and from working with clients is that intranets that are  legally compliant by using best practice examples have a positive impact on your organisation and your intranet role.  It is how you approach this which is the critical success factor!

You can out more information to help your intranet avoid the legal risks.

Why you should go to Intranatverk 2014

Are you going to one of the best conferences in Sweden for 2014?  I’m talking about Intranatverk 2014 of course!

Intranätverk is an intranet conference for those of you who want more than presentations.  You will help to create an engaging, fun and participating conference, where everyone can learn from each other.

Intranätverk 2014 takes place, 20-22 May, 2014 in Gothenburg, Sweden at Folkets Hus Konferens.

  • 20 May is swedish intranet day, all presentations in Swedish.
  • 21 May is the international intranet day and the presentations will be in English.
  • 22 May is the workshop day, with workshops by Tony Byrne and Martin White.

Intranätverk in numbers:

The delegates will be intranet managers, editors, architects, communication as well as digital managers and IT specialists from the business side.

The conference is arranged because there is a need to network, listen, learn and share knowledge amongst intranet professionals.  There is also a lack of really good intranet related conferences in Sweden, where you can learn and share experiences.

This conference is founded and organised by Kristian Norling.  Kristian has been working with intranets since 2001 (almost as long as me!) and over the years he has experienced and participated in a lot of great conferences.  This knowledge and experience, together with your knowledge and experience and that of all the participants and speakers, will make Intranätverk 2014 even better than in 2013.

Sadly I won’t be able to make it this year but last year at Intranetverk 2013 I had the privilege to:

  • participate as a delegate listening to other great speakers on subjects including intranets, mobile, and SharePoint 2013
  • present on the benefits of a digital workplace
  • help delegates with a governance workshop

It was a great conference and I am sure Intranätverk 2014 will be one you should not miss.