Category Archives: plan

How to manage your intranet

After you have developed a clear intranet strategy as explained in my post ‘How to develop an intranet strategy‘ you then need to follow this with an implementation plan, publishing standards and a governance framework.

While every intranet is different there are some common factors that need to be considered so your intranet supports your business requirements:

  1. The size of your organisation will affect how you manage your intranet.  If it is based in one location and you know everyone by their first name then it is likely you can manage your intranet on your own.  If it has many thousands of people in many locations you will need a different approach and involve other people to help you manage your intranet.
  2. The type of organisation will affect how you manage your intranet.  Is it streamlined on administration, informal decision-making?  Or is it more formalised, committee driven, when making decisions on how publishing standards and intranet roles and responsibilities?
  3. The culture of your organisation will affect how you manage your intranet.  Is it a very top down, command and control, culture with feedback discouraged?  Or is it more open, democratic and consensual?  Whether it is either or a mix of both will influence your approach to managing your intranet.

My first-hand experience and from working with clients is that intranets can be managed well no matter what size, type or culture your organisation has.  It is how you approach this which is the critical success factor!

You can out more information on how to manage your intranet to help you.

A recipe for managing your intranet

There are many ingredients that go into your recipe for how you can manage your intranet well.  Few organisations are excellent with how they manage their intranet.  Even fewer are prepared for their intranets to transform into digital workplaces and take advantage of the benefits on offer.

It is no good looking at a menu for managing an intranet and choosing a few items from the menu that are easy to do.  If you are expecting by doing this people using your intranet will get an improved, consistent, experience you will be sadly disappointed.  If only it is that simple! :)

From first-hand experience as the BT Intranet manager and from the wider view when consulting helping clients with the right approach for their intranet this is my recipe to successfully manage your intranet.

Starters, entree or first course

  1. Have a set of business requirements: your business strategy, values and priorities will help you
  2. Have a set of user requirements: satisfaction surveys, online polls, feedback will be good indicators
  3. Know who your stakeholders are: the senior managers who will champion and support you

Main course

  1. Develop your intranet strategy: scope and align it with your business strategy
  2. Set a few key priorities: what will benefit your business most
  3. Create your governance hierarchy: roles, responsibilities, reporting lines
  4. Define your publishing standards: base them on business, legal and user requirements
  5. Design your information architecture: where people using your intranet expect to find content, etc.

Afters, Dessert or sweets

  1. Measure the benefits: Track your progress with your project plan
  2. User satisfaction: Survey people to assess any change in their views
  3. User engagement: Analyse your statistics for changes in usage

Following this recipe should give you a dynamic intranet, engaging content with plenty of energy for future improvements!  Why not give it a try or would you add any side dishes or change the menu? :)

SharePoint: what does good look like?

A little while ago I asked ‘Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad?‘.  I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Building on this theme I will be presented the keynote address at IntraTeam’s event in Gothenburg on 4 December ‘SharePoint: What does good look like for?’.

I will cover how your approach is critical to achieving a good SharePoint experience – for you as well as for people using it – with the need for a strategy that sets the right direction and a governance framework to help you keep moving in that direction every day.

I will also be showing examples of what I believe good looks like with SharePoint.  I can’t share all of these publicly with you I’m afraid – you will have to be at the event to see all the examples – but I can share some here.  I hope you find them useful along with my steps to a good SharePoint experience.

If you need any further information or help with SharePoint please get in touch.

Selling the idea of mobile

I have the great privilege of delivering the keynote address on 13 November at the IntraTeam Event in Stockholm.  I will be showing delegates how to sell the idea of mobile to senior executives with examples of how a good experience along with a great plan can convince decision makers in your organisation.

This builds on previous posts on mobile which you may have missed before over the past year.  I have shared my presentation here for you to find out more mobile.

I am looking forward to meeting some old friends as well as make new friends during this conference.  If you can’t make the conference then you can follow on Twitter #IES13 to find out what is happening.

If you can’t make the conference but would like to meet up with me please contact me as I have some limited free time on 12 – 14 November while I am in Stockholm.

 

Selling the idea of mobile to senior execs

I was asked recently “How do you sell the idea of mobile to senior executives so they ‘get it’?”  Good question!  My experiences with mobile have shown me there are four questions you need to be answer when you need to promote the idea of mobile with senior managers and show the benefits a good mobile experience can bring.  They are:

Who are your stakeholders?

You know you need to gain sponsorship and support for your ideas with mobile.  But who are the right senior executives to be your key stakeholders?  You need to identify the senior people who:

  • Will be affected most by your ideas for mobile
  • Will be most influential in your ideas being adopted

They may not be the most obvious person so think carefully about who you need to build a relationship with so they understand what you want to do and what their role will be.

Without their ‘buy-in’ your ideas for mobile will go nowhere fast and, sadly for you, will probably just stay as ideas.

What is your strategy?

Have a proposal you can use as a basis for any conversation with  your stakeholders.  This needs to be some form of a strategy that sets out:

  • What you are aiming to do e.g. reduce time taken to solve problems
  • Why you believe this is needed e.g. improved productivity
  • What the scope of your strategy is e.g. apps, collaborating tools, governance
  • What are your priorities e.g first phase connectivity, second phase apps development
  • When will it be implemented e.g. 3 months for phase 1

You need to have this ready to show people and be able to answer questions about how it affects your organisation, stakeholders, and people who need to use mobiles or need to be more mobile in how they work.

What are the benefits?

You need to show what the likely benefits of people using mobiles and being more mobile can bring to your organisation.  Any benefits that show on the bottom line will be taken more seriously.  You need to consider:

  • Reduced office space needed as people work more from different places e.g. home, local hub, while travelling
  • Increased productivity as people don’t have to wait until they are using a PC in an office to act on requests or ask for help
  • Reduced travel costs as people share online, on calls, on video using their mobiles any work problems they need help with
  • More engaged people with flexibility to balance their personal life with work commitments and reduce stress

Some of these are obvious savings but can be harder to prove.  Your approach needs to show how you would measure these as well as indicate the benefits that can be made.

How will you implement it?

Make sure you have thought through how you can going to turn your idea for mobile into reality.  Don’t be so aspirational that senior execs can see it could be unrealistic and lose it and your credibility.  But it needs to inspire people by showing it can be done and justify their sponsorship by:

  • Getting approval and funding for it
  • Deciding who will lead the project and accept who makes the decisions
  • Having regular reviews of progress made
  • Identifying resources available to make it happen

Don’t fall over at the last hurdle by not having a plan showing how you can implement your idea for mobile.  It may show a lack of confidence in your abilities to make this happen.

You can find more information about mobile or contact me for advice.

Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

Many people have asked me if I think SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?  It’s a great question to ask but it is harder to give the right answer based on my experiences with SharePoint creating strategies, leading project teams, implementing  governance frameworks or just using the many features.

I have seen with each SharePoint version – 2003 to 2013 – how some new features help but other features can hinder how an organisation needs to use it….but one thing is clear, Microsoft don’t package up ‘good’ or ‘bad’ versions of SharePoint.

I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Here are five factors that can help you decide if SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’:

Strategy

It is important you have a strategy for your intranet or digital workplace that SharePoint can be shown will help to achieve. A strategy helps set the direction you are moving in.  It helps identify key priorities you need to achieve to help your organisation.  Timescales also help to manage expectations and show what is practical from what is aspirational.

You should not just have a SharePoint strategy.  That can lead to you delivering technology solutions that don’t meet the aims of your organisation or cover wider aspects of cultural change.  Your strategy must not be based on SharePoint: it should be wider and align with your organisation’s overall strategy and related areas e.g. IT, Comms, HR, etc. and measure the benefits.

Governance

You need to have a governance framework that underpins your strategy in the long and short term.  This means having clear roles and responsibilities, linking these together into a hierarchy with publishing standards, training and processes for new content editors.

Without a governance framework people could be unclear on the purpose of each SharePoint tool e.g. MySite, TeamSite, and how is the best and most appropriate way to use them.  Without a governance framework there can be chaos and a digital mess that can be very difficult to untangle and gain any benefit from for a long time.

Planning

Have a clear plan for why you need to use SharePoint, what you need to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and when you need to complete each phase by.  This helps you to see what is the best approach and prioritise the way you introduce SharePoint to people in your organisation.

If you are planning to replace many existing online tools e.g content and document management systems and/or collaborative tools it is critical that you consider the impact that actions taken in an earlier phase could have knock-on effects during a later phase (which maybe 1-2 years ahead) e.g. permissions, SharePoint Designer.

Without any plan the consequences for your organisation and people’s online experience could be disastrous.  SharePoint is a very powerful tool and needs to be managed carefully!

education

You need to have a strong communication and training approach to anyone who will be touched by SharePoint whether that is your CEO, content editor or casual user or contributor.

People publishing and using SharePoint information need to appreciate that it is not all the same in its value (something I will be writing about in the future) e.g. a policy is unlikely to change frequently and be inaccurate but an opinion expressed in a discussion group may be inaccurate, incomplete, change next day.

People need to understand the differences in the information they use and behave accordingly in their judgement and actions based on how much value they place on it.

SharePoint is more than a change of technology, it can change business policies, processes and how people behave when they have a problem or want to share some helpful information.

business need

I have heard how IT have approached the business saying “we have this free tool option on top of X product that we’ve bought which we’re going to use for Y purpose”.  It’s a natural reaction to test out something for free but many organisations have found it doesn’t work out the way it is planned.

Firstly, you need to make sure you have a business problem that SharePoint is a good (note I didn’t say the best) technology solution to solve.  Sometimes I have seen the introduction of SharePoint create problems that didn’t exist before.

Make sure you involve people who will be affected by any changes you plan to make as early as possible who can also test these to see if they do help as you expect SharePoint to and feedback any issues to be acted upon before it is launched.

Your organisation needs to be clear on what the problems and their root causes are before considering whether technology, and if so, which solution e.g. SharePoint can best help resolve the problem.

summary

I hope this can help you to appreciate there are factors that influence why people feel SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ apart from the technology itself.  It is more likely to be how you have approached and implemented SharePoint rather than the tools and features people can use that affects your view when you think about it more deeply.

Please leave a comment with your views and contact me if I can help in any way.

Include mobile in your internal comms strategy

To coincide with my last post ‘Why you need a mobile strategy‘ in my current series on the mobile workspace, I was interviewed by the Journal of Internal Communication for an article about the potential of mobile devices when developing internal communications strategies.  I gave my views on the importance of people using mobile devices to be communicated with and to communicate and collaborate with other people while away from their normal place of work.

People have always been outside of the office space however, mobile technology now enables you to get messages out to them quickly – something that wasn’t possible in the past.  This doesn’t only affect remote workers or employees who travel a lot: work is increasingly shifting towards mobile devices.

The traditional situation where employees were using a desktop and ‘consuming’ communications during specific hours of the day is over.  Increasingly, they will want to share things anytime, anywhere, and to be updated instantaneously.  So there’s a whole new audience out there that internal communicators need to get to know.

You can read ‘The benefits of incorporating mobile devices into your strategy’ in full for free here.

From my time working in BT and with clients such as Centrica, internal communicators sometimes feel left behind or threatened by it.  Actually I believe it is the opposite!  This is a great opportunity for internal communicators to take a more strategic, value-add, position and plan how to take full advantage of the benefits this new way of working technology is offering.

If you want more information or advice please get in touch.

Who should not own the Digital Workplace?

In my last post I asked ‘Who should own the Digital Workplace?’.  From my experience one function that I feel should not own the digital workplace is Internal Communications.

Communicators’ first priority is to communicate.  Their first reaction to collaboration between employees using blogs is to increase the frequency of communications and their prominence on the intranet.

But digital workplaces are used by employees primarily to do things or find information or people, not to read communications.  They still do read communications but it is not their main purpose or first priority.

This is a dilemma that communications will need to resolve as they find a new role that continues to add value to the organisation that is more strategic.  It is NOT a good approach to seek to own the digital workplace from the view of communications being its main purpose.  It isn’t.

While communications still has a key role, increasingly it is human resources, knowledge management and business functions that are largely affected by or have a high influence on how the digital workplace is created that are increasingly involved.

A group of senior representatives who are stakeholders in the digital workplace should form something like a digital board, responsible for strategy, high-level decisions, and priorities for collaboration, communications, tools, and mobile use.

This group should have cross-organisational recognition and support that needs to be seen to be acting in their interests.  A clear strategy and prioritised action plan for the short term with owners and timescales will achieve that.

But there still needs to be a leader of the digital board whose authority is accepted.  The obvious choice would be the CEO of the organisation.  However the reality is the CEO probably won’t have enough time to focus on leading the digital board.

The next best solution is for the CEO to nominate someone or, if not possible, for there to be a senior person who is naturally seen as the ideal candidate by other digital board representatives.  The main criteria are someone whose finger is on the pulse of the organisation, is involved and aware of the key decisions being taken, and has the respect of everyone involved.

It is essential to have the right people in place who own the digital workplace strategy and future direction it will take that will benefit both the organisation and everyone working in it.

Am I unfair in my views on internal communications?

Who do you believe are the best people and functions to own the digital workplace?

Maybe this is the best way to rebuild SharePoint 2010 content?

In my last post I talked about the second of three approaches to rebuilding your content from your existing publishing tool in to SharePoint 2010.

For each approach it is the conflict between minimising the impact on performance of the business with the extra cost of contractors while retaining the knowledge and experience of using SharePoint 2010.  There isn’t just one answer and it can be a difficult choice to get right.

Using contractors to rebuild

My last approach covers your organisation hiring external contractors with SharePoint 2010 knowledge and expertise to rebuild your content.  Contractors should be able to rebuild all types of content, whether simple or complex, without need for training.

It minimises the involvement of your content editors with rebuilding of content to focus on their business activities.  It gives you flexibility on when you train your content editors to be able to update and create content, either during or after the rebuild has been completed.

You can also start your rebuild at short notice providing your contractors are available.

Benefits

Your organisation can save the costs and effort of training content editors before the rebuild until much later.  The impact on operational performance is minimised.

All your content is rebuilt by contractors skilled in SharePoint 2010.  You may use some of the contractors on a permanent basis to re-train your content editors and to continue offering expert advice and guidance.  Your contractors can be your ‘Super Users’.

You have the flexibility to increase or reduce the time taken to rebuild all your content by hiring more or less contractors.

Drawbacks

Hiring external contractors with SharePoint 2010 experience will increase the costs of your organisation’s rebuild.  Your content editors will not be so easily able to develop their knowledge by not rebuilding their content and learning from this experience.

It may be difficult to hire the right number of contractors with the skills and experience for the funding you have or within your timeframe.

Contractors have to learn the context and background to why content is published in the way chosen by your organisation.  Your editors may save time not rebuilding their content but they will still need to explain what is needed to be done and why to contractors as well as checking and auditing what has been rebuilt before it can be published.

Summary

By assessing each of these approaches you can help to choose which will best suit what your organisation needs.  You can factor in funding, timescales, editors’ skills and experience, when deciding what to do.

I have been directly involved in several SharePoint 2010 content rebuilds.  If you need any more help please contact me.

What is the right SharePoint 2010 training approach?

Have you decided what is the right approach to review and rebuild your content in SharePoint 2010?

I will post about the different approaches organisations can take towards who is best placed to rebuilding the existing content in SharePoint 2010 in my next few posts.  This builds on my other SharePoint 2010 posts.

Firstly, I want to set out what content editors need training for.  This usually happens when you are implementing SharePoint 2010.  You may already be using an earlier version of SharePoint or different publishing tool.  However it can be used as ‘business as usual’ when you have new content editors who replace existing publishers.

I’m not talking about the training content here.  There are many good training courses – both online and face to face – that can help you with that need.  I’m also leaving aside the ‘super users’ who have administrative rights for site collections, etc., and just focusing on the vast majority of people who need to publish content.

Content editor training

This training should be ‘just in time’ so content editors can start using it immediately.  The longer there is a delay between when you have been trained and you start using it, the greater the risk you will do something wrong or differently because you have forgotten.

Where it is a straight forward and simple activity online training can meet this learning need.  However for more complex activities face to face training may be the best way.

A good tip is to reinforce any face to face training with short online videos or podcasts that ‘show and tell’ how to d it the best way.  Use the test of ‘Is it easier to go through the online training module than to contact someone for help and advice.

Content rebuild

Content editors need to first review their existing content.  Is it still relevant?  Does it need to be re-written?  The aim is to only have the content that is still needed.  Most migrations find a very high percentage of content is deleted for various reasons when reviewed.  That content should be updated for accuracy, tone of voice, and any change of context e.g. to fit with any other content in another web part that could be merged.

The content rebuild should be the first task after your training.  You need to have all your content ready before you can link it together.

Content linking and styling

Once all the content has been rebuilt you can restore the links and fix any broken links as the content will have entirely new addresses (URLs).  Then you review each page to ensure that it is styled and written correctly.

Content structure and navigation

The final stage will be checks on the intranet homepages/portals, global and site navigation menus, that any content needs to be ready for launch.

My next post will cover the first approach you can consider for how you rebuild your content.