Category Archives: strategy

What are the benefits of good governance?

This is the first post in a series of posts helpng you to find out what the benefits of good governance.

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. Organisations are no longer just talking about ‘digital’. They are now starting to take steps, sometimes slowly and tentatively, towards transforming their online content and apps into something that is better coordinated. People are connecting better now with their digital workplace or intranet whenever and wherever they need to be. This is helping them to be more productive and effective at work.

While this is great news for you, there is also pressure to make the right decisions. You need to choose the right direction and invest in the right technologies, skills, and resources. This could be called your ‘once in a 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 the proudest moment in your career rather an underwhelming disappointment? For your intranet to transform successfully into that wider digital workplace where people can collaborate, have mobile access and apps on demand, you need to consider what steps to take.

In my next post I will start to explain how a strategy supported by governance will give you the strong foundation you need to improve your intranet. The strategy for the intranet will set the direction to help people to be more productive and e ective with their work. Your governance framework will keep you moving in the direction you have set for your strategy. It will support it by giving people the consistency they require.

Combined, these will encourage people to use the intranet more. They will be confident with the integrity of the content and applications that help them. To achieve this, your intranet needs to become (or remain) a critical business tool that supports your organisation’s key priorities. It has to benefit the people who access it for their work whenever and wherever they need to.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersIf you can’t wait for my next post, you can find out now about how to develop the right strategy and governance framework.  For practical best-practice examples try my book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.

A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.

How to make a great start to 2016!

The start of a new year gives you the chance to make a fresh approach.  One area you may consider is improving how you manage your intranet, digital workplace, collaboration tool or site.

Have you a clear strategy that is aligned with other business area or function strategies?  Is it supported by a strong governance framework?  Most importantly, do people have a consistently good experience?

I have found having these helps people to be more productive and effective.  A consistently good overall experience helps achieve these benefits.  People need this every time they go online.  Whatever they want to do, they need to be able to rely on it.  It needs to give them confidence that it will always meet their requirements.

This benefits their organisation too.  People use it more frequently.  They are confident they can easily find what they need.  They know they can rely on the integrity of the information and applications.  Most importantly, it will help them with their work.  Organisations recognise it supports their business requirements.  They are viewed as valuable, even business critical, in achieving their strategic goals.

How do you achieve this consistently good experience?  Is it using a publishing technology?  Is it the visual design?  Is it the access people have?  It may well be that some or all of these do contribute to this.

However, having a clear strategy aligned with your organisation’s strategy, supported by a strong governance framework definitely helps.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersBased on 20 years experience, I have written for you ‘Digital success or digital failure?‘.  It is a practical, experience-based approach to growing and managing a successful intranet, digital workplace, collaboration tool or site.

Every approach is based on my experience with many practical examples, strategic guidance and quick tips to help you plan or turnaround an unloved intranet, digital workplace, collaboration tool or site.

Buy a copy of my book and keep it by your side so you can refer to it whenever and wherever you need to!

What is the right governance for a digital workplace?

My recent posts ‘What exactly is a digital workplace?‘ and ‘What is the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet?‘ generated some good discussions on Twitter and LinkedIn.  I want to stay with the digital workplace theme for my last post of 2015 and bring in how you manage it.

What is the right governance model for a digital workplace?  We know that a digital workplace is different from an intranet, even an advanced intranet, so how does that affect the way it is managed?

Maybe even more importantly is how you manage the transformation from an intranet to a digital workplace so you gain all the benefits and none of the drawbacks as it happens.

Who develops and implements the strategy?

Digital workplace principles need to be put into your own organisational context.  A group of senior stakeholders, representing key business areas and functions across the organisation, can steer your digital workplace strategy.  This enables a fuller, more complete picture of what is needed, the right direction to set, and who should lead, to be agreed and accepted.

What should everyone expect from a digital workplace?

Everyone should gain from a digital workplace although they will have different expectations depending on their roles and responsibilities.  This can vary from being more productive because all the applications and information are now accessible through to finding news and discussions with people who can help you solve work problems online.

Being able to connect whenever and wherever you need to from whatever device you have also reduces stress, avoids delays and improve your quality of working life.

What standards are needed for a digital workplace?

A governance framework is needed with publishing standards forming a key part.  Standards are needed for:

  • Legal requirements: accessibility, personal information available
  • Business requirements: usability, design, navigation, findability, ownership and information retention
  • Employee needs: terms and conditions that encourage people to want to work in a digital workplace
  • Security needs: confidential information protected, permissions model adopted
  • Technical support: platform functionality, server support, agreed levels of service.

Gaining confidence working in a digital workplace

Anyone who plans to work remotely, especially if they are the first person in that team, wants to have the same or better experience than where they currently work.  You gain confidence when the information and tools you need for work are always available to use.  You feel confident that your personal information is there for you (and only you) to use still.  You don’t feel any discrimination because you are working remotely from your manager, team, customers and other employees.

Only through consistently good experiences like this will it happen.

More informationBook cover - Digital success or digital disasters

For more information on how to develop the right strategy or governance framework I offer some great, practical advice, to help you in my book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  You can try it first by reading the introductory chapter to find out more.

Intranet governance book – print edition

When I first started as an intranet manager, many years ago, I didn’t know where to find good practices or guidance. Blogs came along that shared people’s experiences and, over time, accepted approaches used. Social media has brought many intranet managers together in a loosely coupled network, which is different to a decade ago when organisations had a vacuum around them, denying external conversation.

This networking is good and valuable, because you don’t always want to search and wade through off-topic pages. Just like in the workplace, you often want to ask someone. Your personal network extends the knowledge available to you, even more so than Google.

But still, people wonder where to start, how to learn about the different ways of approaching intranet management and improvement. There are only so many questions you can ask on LinkedIn and only so many slightly irrelevant blog posts you can tolerate!

When I was an intranet manager, I felt I needed a practical guide to intranets that I could always have by my side to help me. Something that was based on first-hand experience so I could easily learn from it and how it related to my intranet.

It’s here that I trust my book on intranet (and website) governance fills a need; ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’ is now available in print (paperback) for delivery worldwide. When you order the printed book, the ebook is sent to you immediately. So there’s virtually no waiting.

As I’ve written my book from my hands-on experience within large organisations, and from my recent work with a wide variety of companies, I hope ‘Digital success’ will stand the test of time and be a valuable reference for you. It’s a ‘business book’ that should help organisations of every size, but I also hope it’s of interest to individual practitioners and ‘lone intranet managers’.

Following the guidance given in this book, based on best-practice examples, you can make the right decisions more easily. You will be more confident the decision you make will achieve the improvements you want. Make your life easier and your intranet better by keeping this book with you to help lead the way!

“A practical, systematic, approach to intranet governance. Every intranet manager would find value in going through this with their team.”
Sam Marshall, ClearBox Consulting

Right requirements + right approach = right technology

It can be daunting when faced with the chance to improve your intranet or digital workplace by updating or replacing the technology you use.

I had mixed feelings when I was an intranet manager: good that I could make a difference; bad when thinking how I need to make the right decision!

Here are some steps I recommend you take to make sure you have a good outcome.

business requirements

Make sure you have a complete a set of business requirements.  The better informed you are on what your organisation will require, the more likely you are to meet their needs.

Check with stakeholders what they need.  What are their biggest pain points?  What works well and they want more of?

Present the business requirements in a way that helps everyone to understand what is needed.  This helps avoid misunderstandings and delays.

Budget

You now have the business requirements.  From these you need to build your business case.  This needs to show what the improvements will be.  More importantly, you need to demonstrate the benefits – how much and how quickly – to be gained.

How much money is available?  Is there a time limit for when the money has to be spent?  Who needs to approve your business case?

You need to gain approval and understand what the conditions are that you need to achieve.

Working with it

You have the budget and the business requirements now.  The next stage is to work with your IT partners to find the best technical solution. It is usual for your priorities to differ from IT.

You may want the best technical solution; IT want a solution that fits with their technical skills and experience.  You may want to stagger the changes so people can accept the changes gradually; IT may want a ‘big bang’ approach because they need to reduce their costs supporting existing technologies quickly.

Proper engagement, clear understanding, agreed priorities and roles and responsibilities help to avoid different approaches becoming huge barriers that prevent progress being made.

Only when you have reached this stage can you use the budget and requirements to assess the possible technical solutions that could help.

Testing

You now have agreed which technical solutions you need to investigate further.  This leads to the next stage of testing.  You need to be shown how each solution can meet your business requirements.  The best way is to test it on your own digital environment.

Agree with the provider of the technical solution what you require and for how long.  Develop your business requirements into user stories or journeys that replicate typical examples of how people use your intranet.

Have criteria to show the results and understand the differences between each new technical solution.  If you are only testing one then compare it with your existing technology you use.

Outcome

You now have assessed the technical solution(s) by testing the business requirements.  You have a winner that demonstrates it can improve how people use the intranet or digital workplace.

But can you afford it?  The costs may restrict your choice.  Maybe the second best solution is far more affordable and best for your organisation?  Decide on the solution that will gain you the most benefits.

Next agree how it will be implemented.  What is the top priority?  Understand timescales.

Most importantly, have a governance framework and information architecture that supports your strategy before you start implementing your new technical solution.  Without these success will be more difficult to achieve!

more information

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.

Great intranets need the right governance to succeed

For anyone who reads my posts, you will know I call myself the Intranet Pioneer.  Recently I met a friend and digital consultant who jokingly referred to me as the “Intranet Guv’nor” because of my book about governance ‘Digital success or digital disaster ‘ that helps show people how to manage their intranets and other digital spaces better.

While I appreciated the joke, it did make me think about the meaning of governance.  Depending on who you ask, you will get a different response on what they think it is.  Sometimes it even creates a sense of fear!  People think it is ‘bad’ because it will stop you doing ‘good things’ online.

What do I mean by governance?  It is a word which has been described in different ways by many people with lots of diagrams and flow charts.  However, the problem is not what governance is for – it is how you apply it online. So let me be very clear here.  Governance is good and can be easy to apply well within an overall framework.

A governance framework covers:

  • The roles and responsibilities for different participants in your organisation (intranet manager, stakeholders, publishers and users)
  • The standards and processes for making decisions and through which objectives are set for all information and applications
  • Monitoring the actions, policies and decisions of intranet publishers and users

I have found the best intranets help people to be more productive and effective.  A consistently good overall experience helps achieve these benefits. People need this every time they use your intranet.

Whatever people want to do, they need to be able to rely on your intranet delivering it.  It needs to give them confidence that it will always meet their requirements.  Without this, people will be less productive and effective with their work.

This benefits their organisation too. People use their intranet more frequently.  They are confident they can easily find what they need.  They know they can rely on the integrity of the information and applications.

It is having a strong governance framework supports an intranet or digital strategy, aligned with the organisation’s strategy.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid this conflict sinister underwebs from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.

Do your intranet and internal comms approaches clash?

Whatever the strategy for your intranet is, it needs to align with your organisation’s overall strategy.  It must clearly show how it supports and will help your organisation to deliver its strategic priorities.

You should also consider how it aligns with other strategies that support different business areas and functions.  It is important to know the direction they are taking and if they support or conflict with your intranet strategy.  One of the most common business functions relevant to your strategy and plans will be Internal Communications.

In some cases, the intranet strategy is part of the internal communications strategy. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, your intranet is more than a communications tool.  It has a much wider strategic role that includes operational information, business processes and tools to share knowledge.

There is normally agreement and minimal conflict between each strategy.  However, there are two areas with the highest risk of conflict between the approaches for the Intranet and Internal Comms.

News

Sometimes Internal Comms’ focus on news to the virtual exclusion of any other information.  There are probably several places on the intranet where people read the news: corporate homepage, each business area and function site, senior leader’s pages, etc., as well as news feeds or discussion groups.

But they don’t want to find the same news article or angle on that news wherever and whenever they go to these sites.  When people reach a saturation point they will be turned off by the amount of news that is the same.  People feel bombarded by news and will switch off rather than feel engaged and interested.

I have not found one survey that showed reading the news as the most effective use of an intranet in helping people with their work.

You need to find the right balance so people see the right amount of news in the right places at the right times.  Less is more.  Make sure the news is only in specific places and relevant to each audience.

homepage

The other area of concern is the amount of space news takes up on your corporate intranet portal or Homepage compared with business tools, operational information and ways to share ideas and problems.  Too often I find a mismatch.

The majority of people emphasise how important business tools, information and sharing are but the majority of space is taken up with news, particularly images.  While not directly a strategic or governance issue, it does contribute to the overall user experience if the Homepage does not meet people’s needs.

Ultimately, this can affect people’s overall effectiveness and productivity.  That risks a conflict with Internal Comms narrower approach to the intranet as a good communications tool rather than it being a great business tool as well.

Get the balance right so you provide what people need.  Test out with people who use the Homepage to find out what helps them with their work, then provide it.  That will probably be less news than exists but will likely mean the remaining news will be viewed more because it matches people’s needs.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid this conflict sinister underwebs from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.