Category Archives: publishing

Why is the Scottish referendum similar to intranet governance?

Last week the people of Scotland took part in an historic vote to decide on the level of democratic governance they felt best met their requirements.  Did they want to have a full devolved level of governance where they made all their own decisions?  Or did they want to have a framework balancing the right level of central direction or strategic governance while meeting local requirements?

I thought it sounded familiar and I realised how our intranets have a similar approach.  If your intranet is out of touch with what your organisation, users, and publishers need to help them then you haven’t got the balance of governance right.

So, what are the lessons we can draw from this to help how we manage our intranets – whether they are based in Scotland or global?

  1. Keep in touch with everyone involved in how your intranet is managed and used.
  2. Find out what they require and plan how to meet their needs.  No last minute pledges that are not fully thought through!
  3. Have a framework with roles, responsibilities for all levels that can be flexible to meet new priorities.
  4. Make sure your approach to governance is in tune with the culture of your organisation and mood of people using your intranet.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask people what their view is and hold the equivalent to a referendum to find out.

Benefit from finding your content easily

Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in my next few posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Benefit your organisation
  • Improve people’s quality of work

It is vital that all information is easy to find by people who need to use it for their work. The amount of extra effort required by a content owner to publish findable content is minimal. However, the impact can be dramatic for the people who need to use it. It is important your intranet search engine can give content the right priority so people can find it using logical words or phrases.

In my experience intranet search engines have received an undeserved press by people using them to find or rather not able to find the content they need. People’s expectations have risen with their internet experience with little consideration of how Google achieves this. There is a phrase I have heard many times to explain this problem of “garbage in – garbage out” which I can understand.

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people find the right information across your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People using your intranet will save time by finding the information more easily. Having a publishing standard on findability that encourages content owners to use all available tools to help people reinforces this.
  2. For you it is also important you can reinforce the right behaviour with content editors by having mandatory fields for metadata. This supports your guidance that sets out why it is worthwhile adding metadata and the content to your A-Z.
  3. Your organisation can be confident of improving productivity with a good search engine and its scope means there is all published content is searchable and indexed.

Are there other benefits you have found?  Please let me know.

In my next post I will cover secure and private content.

Benefits from up to date content you can rely upon

The problem many organisations find difficult is seeing the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in my next few posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Benefit your organisation
  • Improve people’s quality of work

People must be confident they are using the most up to date information.  They need to clearly see a review date to be assured it is not out of date. Content must be reviewed regularly to comply with your organisation’s Information Retention Policy. As a minimum this will normally be at least once every 12 months by the owner or editor for accredited content and probably less for some content such as news articles. Owners should remove content that is no longer needed and out of date or update it so it remains relevant.

To actively manage and update your intranet content I find that having a ‘last updated date’ showing for each page of content can give people added reassurance that it is.

Benefits

Knowing that content available on your intranet that you use is up to date has three main benefits.

  1. People using your intranet they have confidence in the content available. They can rely on it being up to date and it encourages them to use your intranet more frequently and more extensively with each visit.
  2. You can be reassured it complies with the Information Retention Policy and will be reviewed regularly. Your publishing templates ensure the review dates have to be completed correctly before content can be published.
  3. Your organisation can be confident from a risk management perspective that only content that is up to date, managed and updated is available. Out of date content is removed and either deleted or archived depending on its status.

Are there other benefits you have found?  Please let me know.

In my next post I will cover content needing to be secure.

The benefits from knowing who owns all your intranet content

The problem with many organisations is their difficulty seeing the benefits of publishing standards and why they are needed.  I will remove the barriers by showing the benefits from each publishing standard in my next few posts starting with content ownership.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Benefit your organisation
  • Improve people’s quality of work

If you want people to use your intranet and value how it helps with their work they need to be confident the information they use is clearly owned.  You need to be able to contact an owner if there is a problem with their content quickly.  People need to know who to contact if they need more information or wish to check about anything that has been published. It is vital that you manage all the information consistently and appropriately across your intranet.

Benefits

Knowing who owns each piece of content published across your intranet has three main benefits.

  1. People using your intranet will not be delayed trying to find out who to contact for more information. It also avoids other people being asked if they know who can help with the content with extra time wasted. Having the owner’s details linked to a directory that is automatically being updated gives people confidence they can easily contact the right person.
  2. For you it is also important from a governance view to have a complete picture of who owns what across your intranet. You can easily spot any gaps in ownership and take appropriate action. You can also audit all content and have a contact for any problems identified.
  3. Lastly your organisation can be confident it has removed the risks of intellectual property and sensitive information leaking outside of it because there isn’t any clear ownership for it. This helps reduce the risk of any damage to its brand and reputation.

Are there other benefits you have found?  Please let me know.

In my next post I will cover content being reviewed and up to date.

Your publishing standards toolkit

In my last post ‘Looking under the intranet bonnet‘ I explained how publishing standards are the foundation to a consistent user experience. The problem I find is that most organisations have publishing standards – usability is the most common one – but how they are implemented can be flawed.

I recommend you follow the next steps and use it as part of your publishing standards toolkit.  The other part of your toolkit will be the publishing standards.

  1. Frequently I find there is no agreed scope for the application of publishing standards.  Is it just for news and policies?  What about applications or collaboration tools?  Agree the scope in line with your strategy, action plan, and roles and responsibilities.
  2. Then it is about how these publishing standards should be applied.  There are many different approaches that I recommend depending on their needs.  The main aim is to have a consistent method that improves the publisher and user experience.  It also reassures organisations that content is secure, especially sensitive or personal information, and managed well.
  3. I find organisations do not appreciate the benefits of a well governed intranet or digital workplace until a crisis occurs.  Then you find funding is not a problem and the problem is fixed as quickly as possible!  You need to have some way to measure their impact.
  4. A culture of risk management supported by policies, training, communication and education helps to ensure the value of well-managed information through publishing standards is critical.  This will vary from organisation to organisation but it is essential and cannot be ignored by wistful and over optimistic thinking.

When you have removed these barriers to an improved and more consistent user experience you will be able to apply your publishing standards and, this is real key to success, show the benefits from taking this approach.

In my next post will be on the first publishing standard and the benefits from applying it.

It is not too late to suggest a publishing standard or leave a comment on whether you agree or disagree with the points I have made in this post.

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

 

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.