Tag Archives: content

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.

What is the right SharePoint 2010 training approach?

Have you decided what is the right approach to review and rebuild your content in SharePoint 2010?

I will post about the different approaches organisations can take towards who is best placed to rebuilding the existing content in SharePoint 2010 in my next few posts.  This builds on my other SharePoint 2010 posts.

Firstly, I want to set out what content editors need training for.  This usually happens when you are implementing SharePoint 2010.  You may already be using an earlier version of SharePoint or different publishing tool.  However it can be used as ‘business as usual’ when you have new content editors who replace existing publishers.

I’m not talking about the training content here.  There are many good training courses – both online and face to face – that can help you with that need.  I’m also leaving aside the ‘super users’ who have administrative rights for site collections, etc., and just focusing on the vast majority of people who need to publish content.

Content editor training

This training should be ‘just in time’ so content editors can start using it immediately.  The longer there is a delay between when you have been trained and you start using it, the greater the risk you will do something wrong or differently because you have forgotten.

Where it is a straight forward and simple activity online training can meet this learning need.  However for more complex activities face to face training may be the best way.

A good tip is to reinforce any face to face training with short online videos or podcasts that ‘show and tell’ how to d it the best way.  Use the test of ‘Is it easier to go through the online training module than to contact someone for help and advice.

Content rebuild

Content editors need to first review their existing content.  Is it still relevant?  Does it need to be re-written?  The aim is to only have the content that is still needed.  Most migrations find a very high percentage of content is deleted for various reasons when reviewed.  That content should be updated for accuracy, tone of voice, and any change of context e.g. to fit with any other content in another web part that could be merged.

The content rebuild should be the first task after your training.  You need to have all your content ready before you can link it together.

Content linking and styling

Once all the content has been rebuilt you can restore the links and fix any broken links as the content will have entirely new addresses (URLs).  Then you review each page to ensure that it is styled and written correctly.

Content structure and navigation

The final stage will be checks on the intranet homepages/portals, global and site navigation menus, that any content needs to be ready for launch.

My next post will cover the first approach you can consider for how you rebuild your content.

How to get your business ready for SharePoint 2010 – the publisher experience

SharePoint 2010 gives you the opportunity to upgrade your technology to meet the current and future needs of your business’ intranet.   It also enables other changes to improve business effectiveness to be made at the same time.  In my last post I gave some tips on the user experience your business needs so it is ready to use SharePoint 2010.  This post covers the publishing experience.

Publisher experience

  • All site collection administrators, site administrators, and publishers need to be trained before they start using SharePoint 2010.  The training should be a blend of face to face and online modular training depending on its complexity.
  • The look and feel should be consistent – either ‘out of the box’ or corporate branding -  so it is familiar to all publishers.  It also cover the intranet standards – why as well as what they are – and need people to show they understand and will comply with them.
  • While the training will mainly be for publishers there will need to be training for Site Collection Administrators and Site Administrators.  The training needs to cover their roles, how they manage the intranet and comply with the publishing standards.
  •  The training content and method of delivery needs to be tested and shown to educate publishers in SharePoint 2010 best practice and publishing standards.
  • A process should be developed so people who need to publish can request permission to publish.  This will be approved by their manager and the Site Collection Administrator will set permissions and space to publish.
  • The process should cover all publishers to request permission, show they have been trained, alert the approver(s) to decide if it should proceed before being implemented.
  • You need to decide on your approach to reviewing all types of existing content – news, video, blogs, and audio.  Your approach could include content no longer needed being deleted and people pointed to more relevant content if needed.  If the content is still current and needed, it can be updated to meet the publishing standards and right tone of voice.
  • An overall project plan and owner needs to be agreed who can give updates on progress.
  • Once all content has been reviewed and updated it will be ready for migration.  All content needs to be signed off by the owner.  Ideally meta data must be added from the taxonomy with extra relevant words and phrases added to help people find the right content.
  • When content is migrated it needs to be aligned with your information architecture.  It also should appear in search results.
  • All new content published from day 1 needs to meet the publishing standards and have the right tone of voice.

In my next post in this series I will cover how to get your business ready for SharePoint 2010 governance.

How to improve communications using collaborative tools

In my last post ‘Should collaboration tools redefine internal communications’ role?‘ I gave my view on the corporate environment needed to encourage internal communications professionals to welcome collaboration tools being used by employees.  But which collaboration tools can you introduce and improve internal communications too?

I recommend researching employees’ needs to find which are most needed and likely to be adopted.  Some contact with senior managers to understand the corporate values will help too.  Let’s start by increasing employees interaction with existing communication channels before we move on to new collaborative tools.

When a new article is published on the intranet employees normally have no easy opportunity to show how valuable it is, what their views are or the effect it has.  Introducing a few features can help to change that.

Rating

Employees are able to rate how useful the information has been.  The higher the rating, the more useful it is.  It helps show internal communications what is most valued by employees and encourage similar messages to be published.  More importantly it shows what is not useful and could be reduced or stopped.  This information helps plans for future communications that have the best impact.

Comment

Employees are able to comment on the news item.  A comments feature gives freedom to express positive and negative views.  It also enables other employees to see these comments and show if they dis/agree with what has been said already.  This helps internal communications to understand better how useful, complete, and relevant it has been.  It helps internal communications to improve future messages and empowers employees to influence these by expressing their views.

Like

Employees are able to show they like the news item.  This helps internal communications understand how valuable and useful the message has been to employees.  It is a simpler approach to rating content (see Ratings) and gives a basic indication by the number of employees who how liked the message.

Share

Employees are able to share news items with other employees who have a similar need or interest.  This helps spread news more quickly using the channels that employees prefer to use rather than the formal, existing, internal communication channels with other employees.

How I can help

I have several years’ first hand experience improving communications and helping other organisations too.  Please contact me if you would like me to help you:

  • decide on the right collaboration tools
  • communicate better using collaborative tools
  • improve internal communications
  • research employees needs and attitudes
  • train internal communicators

My next blog will cover how blogs can help improve internal communications.

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.

10 ways to increase intranet adoption

Since 1996 I have been pioneering the best ways to increase adoption of new tools on the intranet.  For the 9 years as the BT Intranet manager and since then as a consultant, I have experienced different ways organisations have encouraged adoption of technology.  My top 10 ways are:

Research what people need

Ask what their biggest pain points are.  What could be made easier?  What is missing from the intranet?  What is good and they want more of?

Prioritise improvements

How important is the task to the person and to their organisation?  How many people are affected by this?  How frequently is it happening?

Early adopters to become ambassadors

Identify adopters who have the most urgent need to try something new to solve a business problem.  Involve adopters in proposed changes as early as possible to get their buy-in.  Satisfied adopters will be your best ambassadors and spread the word.

Make the first experience a good experience

You need to encourage not discourage usage to avoid unnecessary costs in extra effort.  Act on early adopters’ feedback.  Test with usability experts.  Compare with existing best practice.

Advance communications so no nasty surprises

Manage peoples’ expectations.  Clearly explain what it is you are offering and where they can get advice, training and help.

Consistent navigation

Give people a bridge from wherever they were on your intranet to get to another part more easily.  Show the same headings and position on every page.  Find out what are the best navigation headings that would help people most.

Personalise and target information

Give people the relevant information they need.  Give people the applications they need to use.  Give people confidence their personal information is secure.

Embed standards into templates

Reduce the barrier for publishing. Make it as easy as possible to do.  Focus on what is important – the quality of the information – not how to use the technology.  Consistently apply governance.  Embed standards in the templates.

Compliance tools give users confidence

Standards need to be enforced when publishers’ behaviour falls below best practice.  Compliance tools enforce important standards – business, regulatory and legal requirements –  and minimise time and administration.  Users’ confidence in the integrity of the information must not  be compromised.

Clear responsibilities and roles

Who is responsible for managing the intranet strategy, standards, IT infrastructure?  What should everyone involved – publishers, contributors – need to do?  Align intranet roles with performance management and job descriptions.

Create a brilliant digital workplace with me

To have a successful digital workplace (which I define as ‘work is something you do, not a place you go to’) it is vital organisations have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully.  It needs to become the natural way of working so everyone is more effective and productive and your organisation more efficient and successful.  For me a digital workplace can include:

  • people working from any location (or mobile) rather than their office workstation.
  • IT infrastructure providing the same or similar experience wherever somone uses the digital workplace
  • people being able to collaborate, search, complete tasks as well as read the latest news
  • people choosing how to do ‘things’ – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
  • the organisation measuring the benefits and encouraging people to use the digital workplace

So, does your intranet look or feel like a digital workplace?

Is it meeting your organisation’s needs – now or in the future?

Does it offer the right tools that people are able to use easily?

Have you the right governance and standards to make your digital workplace successful?

If you have answered no, maybe just shaken your head sideways, then I can help and work with you.

I have first-hand experience of creating, implementing and managing a digital workplace that is one of the best in the world.

Whatever help you need, maybe a call, presentation (online or face to face), workshop, training, consultancy or implemention, I can help.

I will be posting in more detail over the next few weeks on the principles for a great digital workplace to entice you. :-)

So, why not use make your life easier and use my first-hand experience and wider intranet knowledge for your benefit?

Just let me know with a comment, email – markmorrell.ltd@gmail com, Skype (mark.morrell58), call +44 (0) 771 338 5309 or even visit me in Brighton!

SharePoint strategy + implementation – ask a pioneer!

Are you planning to start using SharePoint 2010?
Do you need help with your SP2010 implementation?
Are you unsure of your SP2010 governance, standards, strategy?
Are you unsure how to use SP2010 for collaboration, content management, document management or search?
Are you looking at alternatives to SP2010?

If you have answered yes, maybe just nodded your head slightly, then I can help and work with you.

I have first-hand SP2010 experience of planning right the way through to post-implementation……and have got the scars to prove it!

Whether you need a call, demonstration (online or face to face), workshop, training, consultancy or implemention, I can help.

So just let me know by a comment, email – markmorrell.ltd@gmail com, Skype (mark.morrell58), call +44 (0) 771 338 5309 or even visit me in Brighton! :-)

Why not use my first-hand experience and wider intranet knowledge for your benefit?

The difference with SharePoint 2010 content

In my last post ‘It’s how you use SharePoint 2010 that decides the value it brings 2’ I covered how vital it is to set the right level of permissions for people using the information published.

In this post I will show how people can distinguish different types of content in SP2010.   The value to be gained by your organisation can vary tremendously depending on how you achieve this.

You can break SP2010 published content in to two types:

Accredited

Accredited content is official, authoritative, reliable & up to date.  People will able to trust it,  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.

Collaborative

Collaborative content can be owned by everyone, an individual or community.  It can be open to anyone to contribute or comment upon the information.  It can be an opinion expressed on a blog posting or a wiki article for others to contribute to and improve further.

Branding

The best way is to brand the content types differently.

SP2010 ‘out of the box’ functionality is good enough for most people publishing and viewing content.  So, you can use this for your collaborative content.

Customising the SP2010 masterpages with your corporate branding for accredited content will show clearly the difference from what is ‘out of the box’.

To keep costs down design the branding so that it is minimal – enough to make a difference so people spot it when they use the content – but easy to maintain the masterpages.

With SP2010 you can have a page published with both types of content shown on it.  This is because you have different webparts – sections of the page – that can be inserted by the publisher.

You need to consider very carefully if you need to extend the customising to each webpart.  The costs and maintainability will increase greatly.  It is best to test out with a sample of people what is needed, if anything, so they can distinguish accredited from collaborative content in each webpart.

As with any planned changes, test as early as you can with a sample of people, act on their feedback, be flexible in what the final versions could look like.

That will give you the greatest chance of success of maximising the value your organisation can gain from using SharePoint 2010.