Category Archives: value

Looking under the intranet bonnet

When you buy a brand new car, what is it that impresses you first?  Is it the colour?  Maybe the shape?  Or the style of the interior?  That is what a new intranet can be like; a good design, nice graphics and maybe some dynamic images that catch your eye.

However, what will most likely make you decide to buy is what is under the bonnet.  How reliable is your car?  How comfortable is it for you as the driver or passenger?  How economical will it be to run?  Again, this is what an intranet can be like.

Have you compared a brand new car with a recently launched or re-launched intranet?  There are many similar features you need to consider.  Like a car, you want an intranet that will:

  • perform well every time and be reliable
  • give a great experience and meet or exceed expectations
  • be easy to use with no training needed
  • need minimal maintenance with just routine services
  • give great value for the investment made

People love to see a well-designed site and to use a well-structured intranet but it is the content and applications that are contained within them that will keep people coming back repeatedly to use it. That means people are confident in the integrity and reliability of what they use. How can you achieve that? Using publishing standards that are part of a wider governance framework can make a critical difference.

Publishing standards are the foundation to base your intranet’s user experience on. These standards meet a variety of requirements. They apply to different types of content and tools. If your intranet transforms into a digital workplace applying standards appropriately is critical to maintain that consistency that encourages people to use it.

Over the next few posts, I want to cover these publishing standards.  Please leave me a comment for any you especially want me to cover.

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?

 

Improve collaboration to increase employee engagement

This week I will be running a workshop on mobile collaboration at the World Class Mobile and Social-Enabled Enterprises event on 5 and 6 June in Frankfurt, Germany.  While I will be focusing on how to make it easier to collaborate while mobile, this post covers the wider area of collaborating online.  Most importantly how it can increase employee engagement and how that benefits an organisation.

Many people are now very savvy about how they use the internet to share knowledge, build up contacts, help solve a problem.  This especially can apply to new recruits who choose your organisation to work for.

There are four factors you need to consider when improving how people collaborate online that can increase employee engagement:

  • Easy to use tools: remove any barrier that may prevent people using these tools.  If there is one, people tend to use it as a reason not to use it!
  • Improve the culture: make it easy for people to share problems and want to share their knowledge and be recognised for doing this.
  • Change how people work: empower people and allow them to collaborate when they need to – this means considering mobile and remote working rather than always working at one place.
  • The bottom line: be able to measure the benefits to your organisation – increased sales, more productivity, higher customer service.

My first-hand experience at BT and from working with clients is you can increase employee engagement because people want to work for an organisation that values collaboration.  It is your approach which is critical!

You can out more information on how to improve collaboration to increase employee engagement to help you

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

 

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.

Chaotic or consistent: What is your intranet experience?

I recently wrote a guest post on how you can change a chaotic intranet experience into a more consistent and better experience.  I showed how a governance framework that has roles, responsibilities, and publishing standards that are implemented smartly can encourage people to use the tools and information more frequently and deeply with consistent design, features and structure.

You can read ‘Chaotic or consistent: What is your intranet experience?’ here.

Strengthen employee engagement while working remotely

Happy New Year to you!  I hope you had a relaxing break and have recharged your batteries for 2014.

I was recently asked by Simply Communicate to follow up my 2014 predictions with one for internal communications.  Here it is:

Organisations increasingly face the challenge of how to strengthen employee engagement while their workforce increasingly work from remote locations or while mobile. There is a great opportunity for internal communications to take a leading role with developing a plan that addresses these challenges with greater use of communications channels.

What is different now from previous years is the range of tools and know-how which can be used to successfully have engaged and mobile employees. The key to this will be the rich experience employees will have online as they are able to read communications when they need to, where they need to, and be able to share, feedback, rate the value of the messages with other people who share a similar interest.

An example of this could be combining collaboration tools with traditional online communication channels will help provide that rich experience so a key company announcement video, CEO blog post and detailed background information available is strengthened by a discussion forum managed by internal comms to continue the conversation with quick polls on the awareness and understanding of key messages.

It is how it is implemented and how it is managed within a wider governance framework will help decide how successful it will be. Good luck with whatever you do in 2014!

Read about more 2014 internal communication predictions from simple communicate.

My 2014 predictions

I reviewed my predictions for 2013 and believe they are happening more as we move towards 2014.  So what has 2014 got in store for us?  Here are my five predictions:

Cloud

Organisations will more seriously consider what approach will best meet their requirements.  Factors that will need to be considered before a final decision is made are:

  • How much will it save compared with the costs of keeping it within the firewall?
  • Will you have better business resilience?  Will it remove the single point of failure problem?
  • What will be the levels of service?
  • Who do you trust with your data?
  • Will your content be secure?

Mobile

I know a lot has been said about mobile and how it is driving the transformation of intranets towards digital workplaces.  But how many employees still only use their smartphones for emails and texts?  Organisations need to get serious about realising the benefits and consider:

  • Increased productivity by people able to find information, complete tasks, share problems and knowledge when they need to without delay
  • Save accommodation costs and reduced dedicated workspace so people share as and when they need it
  • Support new ways of working with distributed teams and managers enabling and facilitating rather than controlling or limiting activity
  • Fear of the unknown is not a good business reason to stop employees using mobiles for their work
  • Bring your own device is a solvable problem when everyone wants to reach agreement over intellectual property, security and building trust and behaving sensibly

Collaboration

I am starting to see real examples of collaboration which showing through on business’ bottom line and getting the attention of senior manager.  This will bring benefits as it is taking more seriously and investment decisions are easier but the pressure to continue delivering larger savings will also increase.  Examples include:

  • Project teams sharing and creating online documentation without having to meet face to face or email each other
  • Solving problems more quickly using tools to find people with similar skills and experience
  • Sharing knowledge that helps others to solve problem and the organisation’s culture increasingly supporting this way of working

governance

Organisations are realising, especially if they are implementing SharePoint, that all the areas where content is published need to be managed.  The problems of gaps in information managed and risks it can create are being recognised more.  More robust frameworks are being developed and used.  Examples include:

  • Different types of content such as accredited e.g. policies, news articles, and collaborative e.g. comment in discussion group, blog post are being accepted
  • All the different areas for content are being joined up e.g. content management, document management, project spaces, and news.
  • A hierarchy which sets out roles and responsibilities help identify overlaps and gaps in managing information
  • Publishing standards are being applied in smarter ways taking less time and effort with digital workplace teams

Value

As intranets are transforming from their original purpose as communications tools towards digital workplaces that are critical business tools that people in that organisation increasingly need to rely on for their work, so their value is increasing and the need to measure that value.  Examples are:

  • Productivity savings are accepted in principle now even if the amount is not agreed by everyone
  • The impact on property usage and type is becoming more linked to new ways of working
  • The value an organisation places on a person’s digital assets e.g. knowledge in documents is starting to match that of any physical assets e.g. computer
  • Business resilience is critical to organisations and along with plans to use the cloud are plans to benefit from a more distributed workforce that no longer has to be in just one location

This is my last post of 2013.  I hope anyone reading this has had a great 2013, will have a relaxing break over the Christmas period, and be hoping for more success in 2014!

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.

 

BT field-based workers use the digital workplace

I read Jane McConnell’s latest blog post ‘Floor-field workforce: the forgotten people?‘ with great interest.  I agree with Jane that office workers are currently the main focus for digital workplace transformations.  But there are some enterprises who lead the game for field-based workers.

It reminded me of when I was the BT intranet manager.  BT had employees who worked mainly from offices or while mobile or remotely from home or local hubs. I was involved in a project to give everyone, including field-based workers, access to BT’s intranet and developing digital workplace.  The project was seen as key to BT’s overall transformation as a business and was closely linked to wider strategic business priorities that included, higher customer service, improved employee productivity, and reduced office and travel costs.

The hardest part of this transformation was equipping all the field-based engineers who visited customers at their homes or places of work.  At the time BT had around 30,000 field engineers spread across the whole of the UK.  Some places were very remote and customers in difficult places to get to.  But this was not just a change of technology project.  It would bring about a huge change in how engineers worked and behaved with other team members, manager, everyone in BT and most importantly their customers.

Equipping every engineer with a laptop or smartphone with access to the digital workplace to upload and download customer progress reports and next job was expensive and technically complex.  The time needed to plan, test and implement for so many people didn’t encourage senior managers to commit easily to this project when quick results counted.  Because of these factors – cost, complexity, time to roll out – BT’s field engineers were the last group to be connected to the digital workplace.

To answer Jane’s point, the field-based engineers were not forgotten in BT but prioritised with everyone else because it wasn’t easy, quick, or cheap to achieve or for business benefits to be realised.

Before the transformation engineers would meet at the start of each day at one location to be given their work by their manager and to plan their routes from there to the each customer’s home or place of work.  They shared knowledge with their team members over a cup of tea before they started on traffic problems, technical tips, new products coming soon, etc.  Any news was given by their manager before they left for their first visit either individually or if appropriate together in an informal meeting.

After the transformation field-based engineers downloaded their first job (not their day’s work schedule) at home using their laptop and free broadband  connection to the online work tool in the digital workplace.  Travel was straight from their home to their first customer saving time and costs – there was no visit to their usual location at the start of each day.  When each customer’s visit was successfully completed the engineer uploaded this outcome to the online tool and be informed of the next customer to visit and what the work involved.  At the end of each day the engineers go home.  They were able to use the digital workplace to read the latest information about BT the same as everyone else.

As I said earlier it wasn’t just a technology project but more about changes to working practices which had been the same for decades.  It was very difficult for everything and everyone to benefit when this amount of change is made.  There have been many benefits but some drawbacks.

The biggest benefits were increased productivity with engineers able to go to their first customer visit straight from home.  The digital workplace was resilient and always available so the online tool could be trusted 24/7 to accept and provide work updates.  Customer service also improved with more flexibility in times for customer visits and quicker changes to work schedules.  Less buildings were needed with home starts with huge savings in costs.

Culturally for the first time in a long while field-based engineers felt part of the same BT team again.  Access to information and news on the digital workplace helped to remove a perception that they were missing out on important information affecting them.

But there were some drawbacks.  Engineers didn’t like the isolation.  It meant they did not see their team members for days sometimes and their manager less frequently.  Many found it hard to adjust to the new approach and considered leaving risking a huge loss of knowledge from BT.

BT has tried with limited success to replace the face-to-face sharing of knowledge with technology.  The limited time and lack of contact did not encourage a huge takeup with its impact on unsolved problems.  In my view tools like Yammer and Jive can supplement some face-to-face contact but they can’t completely replace the absence of it.

The inability to decide how to schedule their work brought a sense of disengagement and lack of empowerment that affected their job satisfaction if it did increase productivity.  A slow burning issue that needs to be resolved.

To again answer Jane’s point, the field-based engineers were connected with the digital workplace but it is not technology changes which are the biggest challenge but the human changes that need most attention.