Tag Archives: content

Valuing information tip 4: finding it more easily

In this series of posts ‘Showing the value of your information’ I help you with tips and advice.  So far I have covered owning content, accredited content and collaborative content.  I now want to cover findability of your content.

By findability I mean how you can make it easier for people to find the information you publish and manage.  Making that difference will show that your content is more valued by anyone finding it.

Headings

Think about the title of your content.  What words or phrases will people be searching for? For your content to be high in the search results you need your title to be clear and meaningful to your intended audience.  Any tags or metadata you add should help people understand your content when they find it.  The aim is to help people find your content more easily and not need extra time and effort to do this.  The sad truth is people rarely do this.

For example the title ‘Is SharePoint good or bad?‘ is clearer compared with ‘Is some Microsoft technology better or worse than average when compared with other publishing tools?’.

jargon

Avoid using jargon such as abbreviations or abridged versions of a word.  Always use the terms most people are familiar with and will recognise when they are searching for your content.

For example when I used to work in BT (a technology company) the term ‘broadband’ was also known as ‘DSL’ by technical people or ‘BT Infinity’ and other product names by Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service people.  Broadband was the common term that was recognised by everyone with other terms associated with it rather than used instead of it.

keywords

Think about the keywords you will be using which best cover the content you will publish.  Use these keywords in your content to help your search engine pick up on them (search engine optimisation – SEO).  The keywords should also be used most frequently by people to find your content.  The more frequently you use a standard term rather than variations of that term, the more likely your content will be ranked higher in the search results.

For example if instead of using the term ‘intranet’ you also used variations such as online environment, content management, accredited content, digital workplace, or inside the firewall, it will not have the same impact or findability (It will also be very confusing and possibly inaccurate too but you get the point I am making!).

So, using these tips helps people to find your content and by doing this add to its value because of the extra thought and effort you have made when publishing it.

Valuing information tip 2: can you rely on your content ?

What is it you can do for people to realise your content is of value, it is useful, reliable, and authoritative?  In my previous posts in the series of ‘Showing the value of your information’ I help you to show to people how valuable it is.

Making sure your content is up to date so people using it can rely on it is vital to showing its value to everyone. There are two main types of content: accredited and collaborative.  I will start with accredited in this post and cover collaborative in a future post.

Accredited content

Accredited content is authoritative and reliable.  People will use it with confidence, knowing it is current and relevant.  It is usually information that has a large audience.  A limited number of people can edit the information with access controlled by permissions.  Usually one person will have clear ownership.

Accredited content normally meets all of your publishing standards.  Here are some features which help show people it is of value:

  • Review date shown to reassure you the content is current and can be relied upon
  • Last updated date to show it is actively being managed too
  • Comply with your organisation’s Information Retention Policy
  • Remove content that is no longer relevant or accurate

How to show its value

When a policy is no longer needed the normal method is to remove it so people are no longer using something which is out of date and not relevant.  The best approach is to replace the content with an explanation of what has happened and a link to the most relevant content people should now use.

This shows the content was valued by the care taken to remove it, explain what has happened and help people find related information which will help them.  This also helps the related information to retain its value because of this approach.

Valuing information tip 1: Show who owns your content

In my post ‘Showing the value of your information’ I wanted to help you to show to people using your information how valuable it is.  I asked ‘What is it you can do for people to realise your content is of value, it is useful, reliable, and authoritative?’ and what pitfalls should you avoid.

I want to show you how knowing who owns your content can help people realise how valuable it can be.  When I was the BT Intranet manager there was a publishing standard which made it mandatory for all accredited content e.g. news article, company policy to show on every page who the owner was.

The smart part was to also link to the content owner’s contact details in the Directory, which were automatically updated, so you could easily choose the best way to contact the owner to seek further information or clarify anything.

If you don’t show the owner or editor of the content how can anyone feel they can rely on it.

For collaborative content e.g discussion groups, it isn’t so easy to show the owner.  However it is possible to show who owns the community and any comments should have an owner that ideally is linked to their contact details.  This allows for some communication to continue directly with the owner if more appropriate.

I don’t recommend anonymous postings to blog, micro blogging, or forums.  If you have a comment to make you should feel confident that it will be accepted in the right spirit as long as it meets the terms and conditions e.g. no abusive content.  The culture of your organisation should encourage sharing of ideas and problems and a mature debate on how to move forward with each one.

Lastly you need to have a good governance framework which covers roles and responsibilities for publishing and managing content.  A publishing standard on how you show you own content will help too.  Having a template for entering your details helps and a process for reminding when the content needs reviewing is essential.

Showing the value of your information

I want to help you to show to people using your information how valuable it is.  Information should be something that can be used to help you with your work and be useful to you.

What is it you can do for people to realise your content is of value, it is useful, reliable, and authoritative?  What pitfalls should you avoid so people avoid your information!

It always surprises me when I see other intranets and digital workplaces how poor the management of their information is shown to people who need to use it.  Most of this is down to poor governance but there are other factors that come into play and show people the content is not valued.

There are also good examples of best practice shown with other intranets and digital workplaces which should be shared and adopted more widely.

As people use an increasing variety of ways to find and use information e.g. laptop, tables, smartphone, and the type of information grows e.g  company policy, news article, blog post or discussion thread comment they still need answers to some basic questions:

  1. Why should I use this information?
  2. How can I rely on it for my work?
  3. Who can help me further?
  4. Can it help others?
  5. Will it change in future?

In future posts I will give you tips on what to do/not to do to help you to show how valuable your information is to people who want to use it.  A lot of these will be very simple and obvious steps you should take.

Please leave me a comment with any good examples or gripes you have over problems you experience with information.  I am not the font of all knowledge on this subject and would love to help you to help others. :)

 

How to be more productive in a digital workplace

OK, so you now have a digital workplace strategy showing the direction you need to move in; a governance framwework to show who is responsible for what with standards, etc, to give you a fantastic online experience; policies and values that encourage you to use a digital workplace and benefit from them.

Now I will show how you can be more productive using a digital workplace:

Usability

It is critical that the time you use in a digital workplace is not wasted.  That means having clearly labeled information, direct route to the information, able to use the information whatever device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) you have, and be able to edit the information as well as read it.

And it’s not just information, you need to find people who can help you or you want to share some knowledge with.  Having an easy to use people finder helps as well as finding collaborative content in discussion groups with other people with similar needs or interest.

Finally if you are mobile your time is limited.  You need fast access to apps and services you need to use e.g. booking travel, hotel room, invites for meetings, hire care.  The list is long but you need to get to each task in a short time and complete each task quickly.

IT capability

You need to have the right tools and access to gain the full benefits from a digital workplace.  Your organisation needs to fund and provide laptops, smartphones, tablets as well as an internet connection and monitor screens for homeworking.  Having the right choice of devices means you can always use the digital workplace whenever you need to – checking people finder, completing tasks, sharing information.  This means you can be more productive and aim for a better work/life balance.  No more waiting to get to an office before you can do your work.  And with the right device you can do your work better, maybe faster too.

You need reliable access to your digital workplace when you need it.  If your organisation gets it wrong then you probably won’t use the digital workplace so much.  Your IT network needs to be reliable for speed and availability.  If it is frequently down for a hour or so you won’t trust it and become reluctant to use it.  If it is slow then you will vote with your feet and stay in a physical office where you can contact people and work better.

Security

You must be confident you have secure access to your digital workplace.  Your organisation needs to be confident it will not be abused by anyone away from their physical workplaces.  For example if you want to check your pay record online you want 100% confidence only you can do this.  Likewise if you need to access sensitive information online the organisation also needs 100% reassurance only those with the right permissions, like you, can use it.

To be fully productive you need to use these services with confidence about how secure they are in a digital workplace.

Involvement

Your organisation needs to develop and have available the things you need to do your work.  Research will be needed before your digital workplace can be used.  You should be involved and asked questions like:

  • What is the information you need?
  • What applications do you need for your work?
  • What collaborative tools do you to share?
  • Will any device work in your digital workplace?

All of these need to be addressed before you need them.  It may take your organisation time, effort, and money to research fully what is needed.  However it will be seen as an investment in the months afterwards when you start using your digital workplace because it helps you to be more productive.

Please contact me if you need my help or leave a comment on this post.  My next post will cover how the weather can help your digital workplace.

How to govern a digital workplace

In my last post on the digital workplace I talked about how you need a strategy to help you create a great digital workplace.  Remember you’re not just doing this for the sake of it!  Your aim is to demonstrate how it will support your organisation’s strategy and key priorities.

Once you have your strategy agreed you need to build a governance framework to help you to implement and manage your digital workplace.  It is important all your digital workplace is managed to give the maximum benefit to your organisation, individuals and collectively, everyone.  The right level of governance needed will balance the rewards to be gained while avoiding any risks.  That doesn’t come naturally but through you establishing a good governance model.

The aim is to create a great online user experience that encourages people to feel comfortable shifting their how and where they work to a digital workplace.  To do that you need a governance framework that includes:

Ownership

You need to have a governance hierarchy that starts at the top with who is responsible for the digital workplace and flows through to who uses the it to publish, collaborate, complete tasks or just view content.

Who is responsible for developing the strategy, implementing the digital workplace and managing it?  It is difficult for one person to have the knowledge, experience, and authority needed for so many key roles and activities.  Neither is it best for it to be one person.

The best solution is to have a steering group with senior managers from key parts of the business most affected by or have most influence on your digital workplace.  These senior managers should have decision-making authority not someone who has to refer back to his/her line manager and delay matters.

There may be dedicated roles for people responsible for collaboration, ways of working, etc., but they should ultimately report in to the steering group.  You need to avoid competing groups of people implementing conflicting standards, designs, and ways to use the digital workplace.  That gives a confusing and poor experience for anyone using it.

Consistency

You really need a consistent level of governance across your digital workplace.  By consistent I don’t mean the same but what everyone should expect.

People who publish in the digital workplace accredited types of content (policies, news, etc.) need a more rigorous approach is needed than for collaborative content where opinions and views change and require a lighter touch of governance.

People using the digital workplace to view content, complete tasks or share knowledge with each other, expect its look and feel to be similar.  Tools can have minimal branding without great costs or customising.  Features need to encourage you to use them more such as help links, contact points, with easily laid out and functional designs.

Integrating the different parts of the digital workplace is needed so they are seen as being connected and encourage you to use it more and feel comfortable.

Standards

One way to gain consistency is to have standards based on the needs of the organisation, regulation, legal and users.  These can be applied appropriately across the digital workplace depending on their use.  For accredited content (policies and procedures) you will apply all or most standards.  For applications e.g. HR processes, it’s probable that most will apply too.  But for collaborative content e.g. opinions, you will apply a lighter touch.

Alternatively you can create standards that only apply to certain information and applications to meet the purpose people need to use it for.

The aim has to be about getting the balance right.  You don’t have to be too restrictive and stifle innovation and collaboration.  But you can’t to be too loose and inconsistent and risk sensitive information leaking out.  It’s not easy but the right balance is critical.

Integrity

For me, this is the critical goal to aim for.  Are you confident using the information and tools in your digital workplace?  Does it encourage you to use the digital workplace more?

The answer has to be ‘YES!’ to these questions. Having the right governance framework with standards consistently applied and clear roles and responsibilities are vital to a successful digital workplace.

Please contact me if you need my help or leave a comment on this post.  My next post will cover how your digital workplace can engage people more with your organisation.

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.