Tag Archives: governance

Accessible content for everyone and every device

Everyone whether they have a disability or not needs to have the same experience when using any intranet information or applications. Employees with a disability may use devices to help them. Your intranet needs to be compatible with these to avoid risking breaking the guidelines and any law that applies in the country where the person works.

Accessible content is also easier to adapt to use with mobile devices e.g. smartphones, tablets, and laptops with their different screen sizes. Try thinking of accessible content as being a step further on from it meeting your usable standard.

If your intranet has information or applications that are not accessible to all employees, you will be breaking the web accessibility guidelines. Legislation and codes of practice based on the latest World Wide Web, Web Accessibility Initiative (W3C Accessible content WCAG 2.0 AA) guidelines will apply in most countries. US Section 508 and UK DDA 1995 are two examples. These guidelines are at three levels, A, AA, and AAA covering the most basic problems to the most advanced problems experienced by people with a disability when using your intranet.

Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in this series of posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Reduce the risk of sensitive information leaks
  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Improve people’s quality of work

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people with disabilities to use your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People with disabilities using your intranet will have the same or similar experience to anyone else. This will encourage more frequent and extensive use because the intranet is accessible and usable and meets the needs for everyone.
  2. You can encourage your publishers to make their content and applications accessible to meet their legal requirements. There is the added, sometimes overlooked, benefit that accessible content also displays well in other devices such as tablets and smartphones if it meets accessibility standards.
  3. Your organisation complies with a legal requirement. It can also see investment made in your intranet has the benefit of being available in other devices that help with new ways of working and while mobile.

My next post on navigation will be the last in this series.  I hope you have found them helpful.

Publishing content: Use it, don’t abuse it!

Content that is easy to use does not appear like that by magic.  It is having standards on usability, supported by training and guidance, that helps to make this happen.

Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in this series of posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Reduce the risk of sensitive information leaks
  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Improve people’s quality of work

Information must be usable and valuable to people who need to use it.  Features and functionality need to make it easier for people not just implemented for the sake of it. They should help people to share views, discover other people and their skills, find the right information and use what they find with the minimum of effort and time taken.

Your publishing standard should encourage employees to engage and influence the look and feel of your intranet as well as sites, applications, and tools. Embracing this approach through research, feedback with clear and transparent methods will help embed this and help to improve the overall consistency of your intranet user experience.

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people to use information easily on your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People using your intranet will have an easier and better experience. This will encourage people to use it more frequently and extensively because the intranet is consistent and usable and meets their needs
  2. You can encourage your publishers to use the publishing templates with the usable design, layout, features and functionality be showing that more will use view their information.
  3. Your organisation can be reassured the investment made in your intranet is justified by the increased use made by people to help with their work.

Do you worry about the content you can’t find?

Do you worry about the content you can’t find?  If you can’t find the information, how can you possibly manage it?  Can you afford to take that risk?

Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in this series of posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Reduce the risk of sensitive information leaks
  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Improve people’s quality of work

It is vital that all information is easy to find by people who need to use it for their work. The amount of extra effort required by a content owner to publish findable content is minimal. However, the impact can be dramatic for the people who need to use it. It is important your intranet search engine can give content the right priority so people can find it using logical words or phrases.

In my experience intranet search engines have received an undeserved press by people using them to find or rather not able to find the content they need. People’s expectations have risen with their internet experience with little consideration of how Google achieves this. There is a phrase I have heard many times to explain this problem of “garbage in – garbage out” which I can understand.

As well as search engines you can use global and site menus to help people navigate quickly to information and tools they need to use.  An A-Z or coproate wiki can also help by providing a central source of knowledge with links to various parts of your intranet or digital workplace for easy journeys.

Benefits

Knowing that you are helping people find the right information gives three main benefits:

  1. People using your intranet will save time by finding the information more easily. Having a publishing standard on findability that encourages content owners to use all available tools to help people reinforces this.
  2. For you it is also important you can reinforce the right behaviour with content editors by having mandatory fields for metadata. This supports your guidance that sets out why it is worthwhile adding metadata and the content to your A-Z.
  3. Your organisation can be confident of improving productivity with a good search engine and its scope means there is all published content is searchable and indexed.

Why is the Scottish referendum similar to intranet governance?

Last week the people of Scotland took part in an historic vote to decide on the level of democratic governance they felt best met their requirements.  Did they want to have a full devolved level of governance where they made all their own decisions?  Or did they want to have a framework balancing the right level of central direction or strategic governance while meeting local requirements?

I thought it sounded familiar and I realised how our intranets have a similar approach.  If your intranet is out of touch with what your organisation, users, and publishers need to help them then you haven’t got the balance of governance right.

So, what are the lessons we can draw from this to help how we manage our intranets – whether they are based in Scotland or global?

  1. Keep in touch with everyone involved in how your intranet is managed and used.
  2. Find out what they require and plan how to meet their needs.  No last minute pledges that are not fully thought through!
  3. Have a framework with roles, responsibilities for all levels that can be flexible to meet new priorities.
  4. Make sure your approach to governance is in tune with the culture of your organisation and mood of people using your intranet.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask people what their view is and hold the equivalent to a referendum to find out.

Can you risk your sensitive information leaking?

Can you risk your sensitive information leaking?  Many organisations find it difficult to see the benefits from publishing standards.  I remove the barriers to show the benefits from each publishing standard in my next few posts.  Publishing standards aim to:

  • Reduce the risk of sensitive information leaks
  • Improve the overall user experience
  • Make people using your intranet more satisfied with it
  • Improve people’s productivity
  • Improve people’s quality of work

Information needs to be correctly categorised so people can access all the content they have permission to view and use. Balance the different needs so information that people can access is easily available and does not hinder their work by unnecessary logins or passwords. Your organisation must also feel confident sensitive information is not at risk.

Permissions need to be correctly set so information complies with your organisation’s Information Retention Policy. This also applies to applications e.g. HR information about pay and performance, which can contain sensitive information. The different levels of permissions needed by your organisation will vary depending on its culture and purpose.

You also need to consider at the site level as well as at the organisational level. Here owners of a site can decide who has permission to use their site for different activities. This will vary depending on the publishing tool used and the culture within your organisation.

Data Protection, particularly Personal Data and European Union rules for its use and storage, may affect your intranet systems, particularly Human Resources systems. Within the European Union, it varies on what is published about individuals and even how it is published. Some information needs permission from an employee before it can be published. For other countries it can be shown without this within the same organisation.

You need to take advice from HR and legal experts to ensure your intranet and content owners comply. Sometimes it is better to take extra time and steps to keep good employee relations and follow your organisation’s values and culture even if strictly you do not need to for some employees.

Copying any content, especially an image, photo, or multi-media file, from another website to insert on an intranet site can be an infringement of copyright unless you have permission from the copyright owner.

Benefits

Knowing that you are protecting sensitive information across your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People using your intranet will be confident the information they are using has the right level of permissions set and they are able to rely on who has access to any sensitive content.
  2. For you it is also important from a governance view to have confidence the correct people are using the right information. You have integrated your training, guidance and support for publishers to help establish a common understanding. This prevents sensitive information being available to people who should not permission to see it.
  3. Your organisation can be confident your intranet complies with its information security policies. The risks of sensitive information leaking are reduced which could risk damaging to its brand and reputation.

Are there other benefits you have found?  Please let me know.

In my next post I will cover content needing to be found.

Why sites keep you coming back for more

The sites I use most frequently for the latest news or to order something I want to buy or to help me with a problem e.g. travel directions are not unique sites. There are alternative sites I could choose to use but I don’t. I keep using the same ones. Why is that?

Firstly the site I keep using obviously meets my needs but if we take news sites as an example there are many that provide the latest news. It is not just that it provides me with news, there are other reasons why. A new design may be compelling for the first time and new features may also encourage me but to keep me coming back again and again it needs something more.

It is more likely to be the consistency in the look and feel; navigation to help me find related content quickly; help when I need to find out more e.g. contact the content owner so I am confident that I can rely on what I read as being accurate and up to date. In other words it is a place that is well-managed and applies some form of governance to give me a consistently good experience whenever I use it. That is what keeps me coming back for more.

When I think of some of the great internet sites I use like Amazon, Wikipedia, BBC News, it is because they also have a great governance framework which is the foundation to giving me a great experience every time I visit them. Without it these sites would miss something which would sooner or later make me try an alternative.

The same analogy that I have applied to a web site will also apply to any mobile app, intranet, digital workplace or collaboration tool. The size and complexity of the online space being managed is irrelevant. The same principles of governance will always apply. Those which are well-managed will be used more because they give a more consistent user experience and can be relied upon more to provide whatever you need.

Since 1996 when I first started my journey with intranets, collaboration tools, digital workplaces and mobile workspaces I have appreciated how important it is to have a governance framework that supports its purpose. It can be the crucial factor that causes a quicker adoption, increased usage and higher satisfaction with people to help with their work.

How to succeed with mobile collaboration

On day 2 of the WCMS14 conference I ran a workshop about mobile collaboration. People can help each other or can ask for help to collaborate. Having mobile access means you can do this whenever you need to and not have to wait any more. To achieve this there are four areas to focus on:

  1. Make it easy
  2. Manage it smartly
  3. Technology has to meet business needs
  4. Involve people with mobiles

1. Make it easy

The main point is to create an overall consistent experience for people whatever device they use. With more mobile devices than traditional PCs being sold now, organisations should put the need of mobile people first.
By removing the barriers, mobile users don’t need extra logins to be able to collaborate online. It should also be possible to collaborate while offline and the tool synchronise and update automatically.
Research with mobile users what they need most to help them collaborate online, what experience it needs to be and identify tools with the best adoption rates and understand why.

Manage it smartly

It is important that any governance is built to help people collaborate while mobile and not hinder this aim. By extending existing publishing standards to cover mobile use appropriately you continue with one governance framework. The same applies to roles and responsibilities for content and app owners as well as intranet managers.
The findability of content is critical. Having one search engine that covers all the information architecture helps to achieve this. The decision over whether you have one version of the content or app which is responsive to different designs or different versions for each size screen will depend on the information architecture you develop and on security needs.
How long is it before information become knowledge? Your answer to that will decide whether all your collaborative content stays online and is searchable or is archived after a period of time or inactivity or removed permanently. There are no right or wrong answers but you do have to decide what is best for your organisation.

Technology has to meet business needs

Make sure you have the right solution for the right business requirements. This means being very clear what you need before you start to research the technology that can meet your business needs. It will probably also mean you don’t choose the top solution, partly due to the costs, but also because it provides features and functions that you have no immediate or foreseeable need for.
Any technology for mobile collaboration bought or developed needs to be configurable and shown to work with existing systems and platforms.
You need to consider how many operating systems your organisation will support for the different mobile devices used for mobile collaboration. This needs to cover the issue of BYOD. A balance needs to be struck which may be something like x number of operating systems will be guaranteed to give a good mobile user experience and support y mobile devices. You can choose other mobile devices but you should not expect to be guaranteed a good mobile experience.

Involve people with mobiles

You should not assume what collaboration tools people with mobile devices need. You need to research their needs not just make something accessible from a mobile device and say the experience is good enough.
Involve people at the earliest stage of developing the user experience. As soon as the development is good enough for basic use it should be thrown open to mobile users to test out. They can feedback any problems or improvements that will help them to collaborate better to be acted upon.
A perpetual beta development status can be adopted for the mobile collaboration tools to avoid long delays in improvements, the need for major re-launches. Small, incremental, changes can be made quickly based on clear feedback and involvement from mobile users.
Lastly the testing can be a formal User Acceptance testing approach or more informal and open to anyone with a mobile device to use at any time. The process needs to be transparent and a playground/sandpit available where all development can be tested out. This may need IT to change its approach!

Summary

  1. Remove barriers that prevent adoption
  2. Have one governance framework
  3. Right mobile collaboration tools that meet needs
  4. Involve people who use mobile