Tag Archives: bt intranet

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.

How to develop an intranet strategy

Intranet strategies can vary from one type of organisation to another.   I have found from working with clients there are several common reasons why this is so:
  1. Size: A small start-up company with a close-knit team will have a different approach to a global organisation with over 100,000 employees in many locations.
  2. Type: What makes sense for a large manufacturing company won’t necessarily work for a government body or a small business.
  3. Purpose: What is different about your organisation? What is its purpose e.g. online marketing company, charity or public sector?
  4. Complexity: A global based organisation in different time zones with many activities compared with a small team who know each other by their first names.
  5. Culture: Is it a command and control approach or a more transparent, collaborative, open to criticism way that your organisation adopts?
There are some key principles which you can apply to help you create a great intranet strategy, no matter what organisation you are in.  Find out more information about how to develop an intranet strategy.

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!

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.

Managing the risks from mobile

Recently I have talked a lot about mobile ranging from selling the idea to senior people, creating a great mobile experience, how to develop a strategy to what are good governance principles.
Some organisations are starting to realise the potential of mobile working can help employee’s productivity, engagement, and their work/life balance.  But the reality is a lot of organisations aren’t there yet.  Most will provide a poor user experience and be reluctant to invest time and money developing a rich mobile user experience.
Security and risk are concerns that often create the barriers to further mobile integration.  How can you overcome these barriers?
In this post I will cover how your organisation can provide useful functionality for your employees while still mitigating or addressing the following risks:

Fear of the unknown

There may still a perception by some people in Legal, Security, and Regulatory parts of your organisation that because they don’t fully understand how increased use of mobile devices to access tools and information or share knowledge and problems can help it must be ‘bad’.
The best way to handle this approach is to research what other organisations have done with mobile.  You should focus on:
  1. Successful examples of adoption
  2. Competitors with your organisation who are ahead of you
  3. Lessons to learn where mobile hasn’t worked
  4. Prepare how and what you are going to share
  5. Identify the right stakeholders

authenticating

People who do not fully understand why you authenticate can be over cautious and create many layers of authentication.  The ‘just in case’ approach will just strangle the use by mobile devices of the apps and content you need to use to help you with your work.

Why would you use your mobile to access something online that takes just a few seconds if you have to enter usernames and passwords several times before you can get to it that takes several minutes?  It’s just not going to happen.  You need to explain:

  1. What people are being asked to authenticate for e.g. use apps
  2. Why authentication is needed e.g. protect intellectual property
  3. How authentication can have maximum effect for minimal impact with ‘smart’ authenticating used only when needed and not duplicating at every level; different levels of authentication based on type of content or app to be used
  4. Building security into your mobile device so your authentication feeds through to the content and apps to be accessed if possible
  5. BYOD – is personal mobile devices the best way or should you stick with company mobile devices?

business continuity

Your organisation needs to be resilient and always able to survive whatever potential crisis it may face.  This means supporting your employees wherever and whenever they are using their mobile devices.  By having people in many locations your business is more resilient to these unforeseen events when they happen.  Mobile can help by:

  1. Removing the ‘single point of failure’ problem with office based people all in one location
  2. Accelerating the recovery time from a ‘crisis’ to provide service to customers especially if face to face visits are needed e.g. employees with mobiles in different locations
  3. Showing better value made in infrastructure and data centres investment with availability 24/7 for when mobile workers need to use it
Addressing these concerns with your key stakeholders will help you remove the barriers preventing you from giving your mobile users the functionality and good experience needed to help with their work.

It’s March…so it must be IntraTeam 2013

Like when the crocuses and snowdrops are followed by daffodils flowering in spring, the IntraTeam conferences in Copenhagen is a key part of my intranet calendar in March.  This will be my third time at this conference but my first purely as a delegate and not as a speaker.  I’m really looking forward to absorbing the knowledge to be gained, networking with existing friends while making new ones, and feeling the pulse of where intranets and digital workplaces are going next!

So, what does IntraTeam 2013 have in store for us from 5 -7 March?  Well it has its own Twitter hashtag #iec13 so please follow that if you haven’t already.

To start with on 5 March there is a full day of workshops covering the digital workplace, mobile video, transforming intranets, and HR portal.  Quite a variety to choose from.

That sets us up nicely for the main course on 6 and 7 March with the main speaker sessions.  Starting with Jane McConnell and her Digital Workplace Trends 2013, we move on over the two days to cover corporate intranets, gamification, storytelling, social video, mobile intranet, search and much, much, more!

For dessert we have the legendary networking dinners where Kurt Kragh Sørensen, Owner, IntraTeam A/S @IntraTeam plays host to a great experience of fun, laughter, and great conversation on intranets.

It’s giving me quite an appetite before I have even arrived!

This conference will give you ideas on how to communicate, share knowledge and create value with your intranet, SharePoint solution and enterprise search.

It’s a great opportunity not to be missed.

Help with intranets, digital workplaces, collaboration and SharePoint

Thinking about what is the best way to implement SharePoint 2010?

Are you looking for good examples of managing intranets?

Are you planning how to transform your digital workplace?

Maybe you want to use collaboration tools to increase employee engagement?

Now you can find helpful information on all these areas in one site.  It combines my first-hand experience managing BT’s intranet with my knowledge and help improving other intranets to show how you can improve your intranets and digital workplaces.

If I can help you further please contact me whenever you want to.