Tag Archives: plan

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 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.

A recipe for managing your intranet

There are many ingredients that go into your recipe for how you can manage your intranet well.  Few organisations are excellent with how they manage their intranet.  Even fewer are prepared for their intranets to transform into digital workplaces and take advantage of the benefits on offer.

It is no good looking at a menu for managing an intranet and choosing a few items from the menu that are easy to do.  If you are expecting by doing this people using your intranet will get an improved, consistent, experience you will be sadly disappointed.  If only it is that simple! :)

From first-hand experience as the BT Intranet manager and from the wider view when consulting helping clients with the right approach for their intranet this is my recipe to successfully manage your intranet.

Starters, entree or first course

  1. Have a set of business requirements: your business strategy, values and priorities will help you
  2. Have a set of user requirements: satisfaction surveys, online polls, feedback will be good indicators
  3. Know who your stakeholders are: the senior managers who will champion and support you

Main course

  1. Develop your intranet strategy: scope and align it with your business strategy
  2. Set a few key priorities: what will benefit your business most
  3. Create your governance hierarchy: roles, responsibilities, reporting lines
  4. Define your publishing standards: base them on business, legal and user requirements
  5. Design your information architecture: where people using your intranet expect to find content, etc.

Afters, Dessert or sweets

  1. Measure the benefits: Track your progress with your project plan
  2. User satisfaction: Survey people to assess any change in their views
  3. User engagement: Analyse your statistics for changes in usage

Following this recipe should give you a dynamic intranet, engaging content with plenty of energy for future improvements!  Why not give it a try or would you add any side dishes or change the menu? :)

SharePoint: what does good look like?

A little while ago I asked ‘Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad?‘.  I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Building on this theme I will be presented the keynote address at IntraTeam’s event in Gothenburg on 4 December ‘SharePoint: What does good look like for?’.

I will cover how your approach is critical to achieving a good SharePoint experience – for you as well as for people using it – with the need for a strategy that sets the right direction and a governance framework to help you keep moving in that direction every day.

I will also be showing examples of what I believe good looks like with SharePoint.  I can’t share all of these publicly with you I’m afraid – you will have to be at the event to see all the examples – but I can share some here.  I hope you find them useful along with my steps to a good SharePoint experience.

If you need any further information or help with SharePoint please get in touch.

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.

 

Selling the idea of mobile to senior execs

I was asked recently “How do you sell the idea of mobile to senior executives so they ‘get it’?”  Good question!  My experiences with mobile have shown me there are four questions you need to be answer when you need to promote the idea of mobile with senior managers and show the benefits a good mobile experience can bring.  They are:

Who are your stakeholders?

You know you need to gain sponsorship and support for your ideas with mobile.  But who are the right senior executives to be your key stakeholders?  You need to identify the senior people who:

  • Will be affected most by your ideas for mobile
  • Will be most influential in your ideas being adopted

They may not be the most obvious person so think carefully about who you need to build a relationship with so they understand what you want to do and what their role will be.

Without their ‘buy-in’ your ideas for mobile will go nowhere fast and, sadly for you, will probably just stay as ideas.

What is your strategy?

Have a proposal you can use as a basis for any conversation with  your stakeholders.  This needs to be some form of a strategy that sets out:

  • What you are aiming to do e.g. reduce time taken to solve problems
  • Why you believe this is needed e.g. improved productivity
  • What the scope of your strategy is e.g. apps, collaborating tools, governance
  • What are your priorities e.g first phase connectivity, second phase apps development
  • When will it be implemented e.g. 3 months for phase 1

You need to have this ready to show people and be able to answer questions about how it affects your organisation, stakeholders, and people who need to use mobiles or need to be more mobile in how they work.

What are the benefits?

You need to show what the likely benefits of people using mobiles and being more mobile can bring to your organisation.  Any benefits that show on the bottom line will be taken more seriously.  You need to consider:

  • Reduced office space needed as people work more from different places e.g. home, local hub, while travelling
  • Increased productivity as people don’t have to wait until they are using a PC in an office to act on requests or ask for help
  • Reduced travel costs as people share online, on calls, on video using their mobiles any work problems they need help with
  • More engaged people with flexibility to balance their personal life with work commitments and reduce stress

Some of these are obvious savings but can be harder to prove.  Your approach needs to show how you would measure these as well as indicate the benefits that can be made.

How will you implement it?

Make sure you have thought through how you can going to turn your idea for mobile into reality.  Don’t be so aspirational that senior execs can see it could be unrealistic and lose it and your credibility.  But it needs to inspire people by showing it can be done and justify their sponsorship by:

  • Getting approval and funding for it
  • Deciding who will lead the project and accept who makes the decisions
  • Having regular reviews of progress made
  • Identifying resources available to make it happen

Don’t fall over at the last hurdle by not having a plan showing how you can implement your idea for mobile.  It may show a lack of confidence in your abilities to make this happen.

You can find more information about mobile or contact me for advice.

Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad’?

Many people have asked me if I think SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’?  It’s a great question to ask but it is harder to give the right answer based on my experiences with SharePoint creating strategies, leading project teams, implementing  governance frameworks or just using the many features.

I have seen with each SharePoint version – 2003 to 2013 – how some new features help but other features can hinder how an organisation needs to use it….but one thing is clear, Microsoft don’t package up ‘good’ or ‘bad’ versions of SharePoint.

I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Here are five factors that can help you decide if SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’:

Strategy

It is important you have a strategy for your intranet or digital workplace that SharePoint can be shown will help to achieve. A strategy helps set the direction you are moving in.  It helps identify key priorities you need to achieve to help your organisation.  Timescales also help to manage expectations and show what is practical from what is aspirational.

You should not just have a SharePoint strategy.  That can lead to you delivering technology solutions that don’t meet the aims of your organisation or cover wider aspects of cultural change.  Your strategy must not be based on SharePoint: it should be wider and align with your organisation’s overall strategy and related areas e.g. IT, Comms, HR, etc. and measure the benefits.

Governance

You need to have a governance framework that underpins your strategy in the long and short term.  This means having clear roles and responsibilities, linking these together into a hierarchy with publishing standards, training and processes for new content editors.

Without a governance framework people could be unclear on the purpose of each SharePoint tool e.g. MySite, TeamSite, and how is the best and most appropriate way to use them.  Without a governance framework there can be chaos and a digital mess that can be very difficult to untangle and gain any benefit from for a long time.

Planning

Have a clear plan for why you need to use SharePoint, what you need to achieve, how you plan to achieve it, and when you need to complete each phase by.  This helps you to see what is the best approach and prioritise the way you introduce SharePoint to people in your organisation.

If you are planning to replace many existing online tools e.g content and document management systems and/or collaborative tools it is critical that you consider the impact that actions taken in an earlier phase could have knock-on effects during a later phase (which maybe 1-2 years ahead) e.g. permissions, SharePoint Designer.

Without any plan the consequences for your organisation and people’s online experience could be disastrous.  SharePoint is a very powerful tool and needs to be managed carefully!

education

You need to have a strong communication and training approach to anyone who will be touched by SharePoint whether that is your CEO, content editor or casual user or contributor.

People publishing and using SharePoint information need to appreciate that it is not all the same in its value (something I will be writing about in the future) e.g. a policy is unlikely to change frequently and be inaccurate but an opinion expressed in a discussion group may be inaccurate, incomplete, change next day.

People need to understand the differences in the information they use and behave accordingly in their judgement and actions based on how much value they place on it.

SharePoint is more than a change of technology, it can change business policies, processes and how people behave when they have a problem or want to share some helpful information.

business need

I have heard how IT have approached the business saying “we have this free tool option on top of X product that we’ve bought which we’re going to use for Y purpose”.  It’s a natural reaction to test out something for free but many organisations have found it doesn’t work out the way it is planned.

Firstly, you need to make sure you have a business problem that SharePoint is a good (note I didn’t say the best) technology solution to solve.  Sometimes I have seen the introduction of SharePoint create problems that didn’t exist before.

Make sure you involve people who will be affected by any changes you plan to make as early as possible who can also test these to see if they do help as you expect SharePoint to and feedback any issues to be acted upon before it is launched.

Your organisation needs to be clear on what the problems and their root causes are before considering whether technology, and if so, which solution e.g. SharePoint can best help resolve the problem.

summary

I hope this can help you to appreciate there are factors that influence why people feel SharePoint is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ apart from the technology itself.  It is more likely to be how you have approached and implemented SharePoint rather than the tools and features people can use that affects your view when you think about it more deeply.

Please leave a comment with your views and contact me if I can help in any way.

Tips to help you achieve a Digital Workplace

When you are proposing a Digital Workplace to your organisation you need to decide how to present this to your senior managers as well as what the benefits will be.  Here are a few tips I have found have helped me and my clients to succeed:

1. Don’t use any technical terms

Find out who you will be presenting, meeting, or discussing your proposal with.  Use the language that your audience understands best.  Don’t use technology terms or abbreviations.

2. Really understand what your organisation needs

What is the overall strategy for your organisation?  What are the key priorities?  How can a digital workplace support them?

3. Find a quick win

Try to identify something within your control, needs little time or money to achieve, but will make your senior managers look up and take notice because of the difference it will make when achieved.

4. Find something which will have a big impact

Maybe a difficult and inefficient process?  Maybe an activity that can make a big saving in money?  Maybe something which affects everyone?  It has to make a difference that will get everyone’s attention.

5. Show slides with before and after scenarios

You need to make sure you explain clearly with examples of what is happening now and how it will change afterwards.  Your examples need to show money saved, time saved, extra revenue, better productivity, etc.  They can be shown words or graphic but they must be clear and easily understood.

6. Be honest about timescales

Senior managers quickly get turned off from a project if the reality is different to the expectation you have set.  Make sure you can justify what you are showing.

Who should not own the Digital Workplace?

In my last post I asked ‘Who should own the Digital Workplace?’.  From my experience one function that I feel should not own the digital workplace is Internal Communications.

Communicators’ first priority is to communicate.  Their first reaction to collaboration between employees using blogs is to increase the frequency of communications and their prominence on the intranet.

But digital workplaces are used by employees primarily to do things or find information or people, not to read communications.  They still do read communications but it is not their main purpose or first priority.

This is a dilemma that communications will need to resolve as they find a new role that continues to add value to the organisation that is more strategic.  It is NOT a good approach to seek to own the digital workplace from the view of communications being its main purpose.  It isn’t.

While communications still has a key role, increasingly it is human resources, knowledge management and business functions that are largely affected by or have a high influence on how the digital workplace is created that are increasingly involved.

A group of senior representatives who are stakeholders in the digital workplace should form something like a digital board, responsible for strategy, high-level decisions, and priorities for collaboration, communications, tools, and mobile use.

This group should have cross-organisational recognition and support that needs to be seen to be acting in their interests.  A clear strategy and prioritised action plan for the short term with owners and timescales will achieve that.

But there still needs to be a leader of the digital board whose authority is accepted.  The obvious choice would be the CEO of the organisation.  However the reality is the CEO probably won’t have enough time to focus on leading the digital board.

The next best solution is for the CEO to nominate someone or, if not possible, for there to be a senior person who is naturally seen as the ideal candidate by other digital board representatives.  The main criteria are someone whose finger is on the pulse of the organisation, is involved and aware of the key decisions being taken, and has the respect of everyone involved.

It is essential to have the right people in place who own the digital workplace strategy and future direction it will take that will benefit both the organisation and everyone working in it.

Am I unfair in my views on internal communications?

Who do you believe are the best people and functions to own the digital workplace?

Should collaboration tools redefine internal communications’ role?

In my last post ‘Is your culture right for collaboration tools to improve internal communications?‘ I gave my view on the corporate environment needed to encourage internal communications professionals to welcome collaboration tools being used by employees.  Internal communications need to realise they are not the sole people who can communicate using the intranet.  Neither are their official channels the only route to communicate with other employees.

To embrace these challenges I suggest redefining the role of internal communications.  It is set in a model that is fast changing and risks becoming irrelevant.  The days when only managers or CEOs communicated business news and changes to their employees using internal communications will become extinct like dinsoaurs.  They need to adapt to the changes and recognise, like some progressive comms people have already done, the need to evolve and move forward and not resist until the bitter end.

I see the role for internal communications changing in this new world where employees want to communicate and collaborate with other employees as liberating and giving greater influence to the organisation.  Why?

1. Strategic

Take a step back from the day to day activity of preparing communications, checking channels are operating OK, and which day to send out a corporate message.  Think more about the value communications can have on the organisation, how employees perform, the direction it sets.

Encouraging employees to give their views on communications, even setting the agenda and starting communications on the organisation’s performance, ways of working can help encourage employee engagement.

Get more involved in the organisation’s strategy by influencing how communications in general, not just corporate messages, show the pulse of the employee’s attitude and engagement.  Work with HR and the intranet team to use the information on blogs, discussion forums and online polls to identify hot spots that are important to employees – what is working well, what could be improved – and help communicate through channels that employees choose to use with helpful information.

This will show the organisation is listening rather than just talking all the time to employees.  It also means employees use their time for more productive activities if their concerns have been accepted and acted upon more quickly.

2. Influential

Having a wider view of what is happening across the organisation brings a better insight to how its aims can be achieved from an internal communications perspective.  A more accurate and complete picture given will mean other senior leaders taking notice and seriously considering any points or issues raised by internal comms.

It will mean more major business projects and change programmes will want to involve internal communications professionals at the start so the right priority and consideration is given to their views.  It enables internal communications to start setting more of the agenda that will improve the organisation and employees’ engagement with it by its understanding of how employees communicate and collaborate to maximum effect.

3. Liberating

The main focus has been on the content of the communication being word-perfect and grammatically correct with the channels working fine for delivering it to the audiences on time.  The focus shouldn’t be on just that, important though it is to avoid badly worded, confusing, messages.  Instead it should widen to cover the wider impact of any communications.

So if you threw a stone into a pond it wouldn’t just be the size of the splash the stone made but the ripple effect that went as far as the edges of the pond.  Instead of success being the perfect execution of the stone being thrown, it is also the number and size of the ripples and how far they spread across the pond.

This can be achieved by starting online polls to ask for employees’ views, raising new topics in a discussion forums, responding with contructive comments to blog posts giving different views.  The aim is to explain and educate employees to understand better what has been communicated.  It is not to tell them they are wrong and only the internal comms sponsored message is right.

4. How to do this?

All of this is easier to read about than to do.  Don’t worry, I have first hand experience for several years of achieving this as well as helping other organisations with advice and detailed information.  If you want further help from me please contact me or find out more about me and what I can offer.

My next blog will give more practical examples of how collaboration tools can help improve internal communications.