It is not often that I recommend on my blog information to read that I believe is helpful and easy to read. Today is an exception (not just because I played a very small part in its creation)!
ClearBox Consulting with Kilobox Communiqué noticed that while on the top level of intranet sites there is good quality content, as you get into the lower levels standards start to drop. Often people have been trained on the publishing tool but had little guidance on how to get the most from an intranet as a channel e.g. how to write headlines, how to phrase links, etc.
They have created an excellent set of 10 FREE guidelines, each 1-2 pages long, covering the following topics in plain English:
- Effective headlines: help people choose what to read
- Images: attracting interest and conveying meaning
- Links: how to link to pages and files
- Layout: how to structure articles for scanability
- How to help people search for, and find, your content
- Content: write for your audience, not for your boss
- Documents vs pages: when to use PDF, Word, and other formats
- Engage: writing to start a conversation
- Channels: how to reach the right audiences with your content
- Mobile content
I recommend you read and share these with your publishers to help improve the overall experience people have with your intranet.
Thanks Sam and Wedge!
Posted in best practice, communication, content management, engagement, help, intranet, mobile, publishing
Tagged best practice, communication, content, engagement, help, intranet, mobile, publishing
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:
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?
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
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
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
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!
Posted in intranet, content management, standards, governance, value, news, mobile, collaboration, digital workplace, communication, SharePoint
Tagged intranet, bt intranet, content, value, standards, governance, publishing, blog, mobile, digital workplace, collaboration, communication, sharepoint
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 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.
Posted in benefit, content management, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, value
Tagged benefit, best practice, content, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, value
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.
Posted in best practice, collaboration, community, content management, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, value
Tagged best practice, collaboration, content, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, value
I have seen many intranets over the years. One thing that always makes me sad is when I see a new intranet launched with a great design, clear structure, interesting content……but no or poor governance.
It is sad to see all the time, effort, and money slowly being wasted away as the effects of little or no governance inevitably start to take effect with more and more problems appearing as the weeks go by.
What governance problems? Where do they appear? What is their impact? Well, I’m thinking about these examples:
There is content published everywhere but no one to contact if you want to find out more or query anything that you have read. You spend lots of wasted time trying other people and ways to find out who is the right person to speak to.
No review date
You are not sure if the information is still up to date. It may be a policy, a news article, or a guide to help with a work activity. You don’t know if it is the current version and no one else seems to know either so again, you waste time trying to check if it can be relied upon.
review date is out of date
Even worse than having no review date can be finding it has been passed and the information is available but could be out of date. You waste time checking it is still reliable and wonder why it hasn’t been updated or removed. Maybe your confidence in the integrity of other content drops and you waste more time checking or use other sources?
No last updated INFO
It helps reassure people that a site is active and give them confidence the content is reliable and up to date if a last updated date is shown at the bottom of each page of content whenever it is edited.
It saves time if you have a standard feature for feedback in the same place on every page. It means people can easily ask questions, offer extra information, or clarify its use. Without it, people waste time trying to look for a feedback box, link, or heading. If there isn’t then people try to use other ways to find out what they need to know and can get dissatisfied with the intranet.
These are just some of the problems poor or no governance can cause when you launch a new intranet or site. It is possible to have a good, strong, governance in place for your intranet launch for no extra cost or time taken.
To find out how to do this the smart way please contact me.
Posted in benefit, best practice, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, usability
Tagged benefit, best practice, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, usability, usability standards
In my previous post in this series on mobile ‘Good governance signals right mobile direction’ I said mobile is one of the key drivers for the transformation of intranets into digital workplaces which could become mobile workplaces but progress is patchy. It is no surprise if I say setting the right direction for your organisation with mobile is critical. Having some good governance principles helps you to continue in the right way and underpin your strategy.
We also need to give people a great mobile experience. But what exactly does that mean? Here are my thoughts on what is needed to achieve this in my last post in this series.
Firstly, you need to make sure the people who will benefit the most are able to use a mobile device. You need to be clear who will benefit from having a mobile device. It probably will not be everyone. Even if it is, you will need to prioritise who has the greatest need. Factors like the number of people involved, time spent away from their place of work and what contribution they can make, will help decide the greatest need.
When you have the right people then you can find out what information and which services they most need, when they need to use them and how they need to use them, to be able to design and test for a good mobile experience.
Secondly, you need to choose which mobile devices are the best tool to help people with their work. For example, is it a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, or maybe a combination of more than one of these that is needed? Will you let people bring their own devices to work or will your organisation provide them? These decisions are critical and will depend on your organisation’s corporate values, type of employees, security, funding and speed of adoption. Once these decisions have been made you can then focus on how you start to create a good mobile experience.
Once you know how to support the type of devices and size of screens being used, and the main purpose people will be using their mobile device for, you can start to create a good mobile experience.
Lastly, you need to make sure you have the right infrastructure to support the needs of mobile workers in your organisation. This means access to the information and tools needs to be 24/7 and not just normal working hours. It means business continuity plans must include how people will still have mobile access to what they need for work. Your organisation needs to consider the different mobile operating systems and devices it will support; what is the cost; what should be the limit; which systems and devices will have most overall benefit?
You also need to give a fast connection when mobile workers need it for their work to the information and tools. Why would you want a mobile device if you find it takes ages to connect to any content or services you need to use?
Good mobile experience
So, what is needed for a great mobile experience? These bullet points help summarise the posts on mobile:
- A mobile strategy aligned to business needs
- Supported by a governance framework
- Helping meet the needs of people using mobile devices
- Research and test with mobile users
- Get the infrastructure in place
- Have a policy on using mobile users for business purposes
If you need any more information please contact me.
Posted in digital workplace, governance, help, intranet, mark morrell ltd, mobile, user testing, value
Tagged digital workplace, governance, intranet, intranet applications, mobile, publishing, research, usability, usability standards, user testing, users