Tag Archives: publishing

Great intranets need the right governance to succeed

For anyone who reads my posts, you will know I call myself the Intranet Pioneer.  Recently I met a friend and digital consultant who jokingly referred to me as the “Intranet Guv’nor” because of my book about governance ‘Digital success or digital disaster ‘ that helps show people how to manage their intranets and other digital spaces better.

While I appreciated the joke, it did make me think about the meaning of governance.  Depending on who you ask, you will get a different response on what they think it is.  Sometimes it even creates a sense of fear!  People think it is ‘bad’ because it will stop you doing ‘good things’ online.

What do I mean by governance?  It is a word which has been described in different ways by many people with lots of diagrams and flow charts.  However, the problem is not what governance is for – it is how you apply it online. So let me be very clear here.  Governance is good and can be easy to apply well within an overall framework.

A governance framework covers:

  • The roles and responsibilities for different participants in your organisation (intranet manager, stakeholders, publishers and users)
  • The standards and processes for making decisions and through which objectives are set for all information and applications
  • Monitoring the actions, policies and decisions of intranet publishers and users

I have found the best intranets help people to be more productive and effective.  A consistently good overall experience helps achieve these benefits. People need this every time they use your intranet.

Whatever people want to do, they need to be able to rely on your intranet delivering it.  It needs to give them confidence that it will always meet their requirements.  Without this, people will be less productive and effective with their work.

This benefits their organisation too. People use their intranet more frequently.  They are confident they can easily find what they need.  They know they can rely on the integrity of the information and applications.

It is having a strong governance framework supports an intranet or digital strategy, aligned with the organisation’s strategy.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid this conflict sinister underwebs from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.

Oh no! Avoid sinister underwebs!!

Developing the best governance framework will give the right support to your intranet and organisation.  Don’t forget your governance needs to help, not hinder, how people use the intranet.  That is the best way that your intranet can support your organisation’s goals.

Governance needs people using your intranet to be confident in the integrity of the information and tools every time they use them. They can always rely on your intranet helping, not hindering, them with their work.

Getting the right balance is critical to avoid a sinister underweb.  You need to be pragmatic with your governance approach. It doesn not have to be perfect but it must be good enough to give people confidence whenever they use the intranet.  What exactly do I mean?  Here is an example:

If your ‘Official’ intranet is designed and branded to a very high standard, containing all the information people should need but rarely use, the problem is probably that governance is too rigid.

Publishers must follow a complex process especially when it comes to branding for the ‘Official’ intranet.  If their site has an image that deviates by a few pixels it can’t be published.  Yes, it can be that tight!  To add to their misery, the steps to final approval are onerous and take a lot of time and effort.

Naturally, publishers become frustrated and look for other options to publish their content more easily.  Over time, an ‘Underweb’ starts to sprout up and competes with the ‘Official’ intranet.

If left unchecked, you can have a bizarre situation with an ‘Official’ intranet looking beautiful, on-brand, but little content that people need for their work. Conversely, the ‘Underweb’ thrives although it is not completely on brand.  It has information and tools that people use for their work and it’s easy to use.

You need a good publishing experience as it is easy to create content and make changes to meet people’s needs.  You also need a user experience that is good enough.

The lesson here is to remember the purpose of your intranet.  It is to provide the information and tools that people need to help them.  Your governance must support this.  Research with people using your intranet what they like most and what they do not.  It will quickly help you to assess if your governance is helping or hindering people’s use.

This means you need a publishing process that is both easy to use and compliant with your publishing standards.  You also need people using the intranet to have a consistently good experience.  Achieving the needs of both groups means you will have more productive and effective people.  That is what your organisation needs most of all.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid sinister underwebs from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is available.

How can new publishers comply with your intranet standards?

Implementing publishing standards that meet your organisation’s requirements helps create a consistently good experience for people accessing your intranet.

They are critical to you implementing a successful governance framework.  The publishing standards will support your intranet strategy, publishing model, roles and responsibilities.

All your content owners and editors need to comply with the publishing standards.  Knowing this, people will access your intranet and use it more, confident in the integrity of the content and applications and aware that you ensure publishers comply with each standard.

And that can be the weakest link in your governance framework!  How do you continue to provide that consistently good user experience with new publishers?

I am talking about publishing accredited – news articles, company policies, etc. – content, not collaborative – blogs, discussion groups, etc. – in this post.

Your governance framework must cover how you manage new content owners and editors.  This is the best way to sustain the baseline you have established for best practice.  Without it, people will inevitably see a decline when they access your intranet.  Their productivity and effectiveness risks declining and affecting their overall work performance.

There are five actions that you need to consider taking so new publishers are good publishers:

  1. Induction training on how to use the publishing tool.  This is not just about what to use it for.  It includes how to use the publishing templates.  It needs to covers features like global navigation bar, content owner, review and last updated dates.  By explaining why this is important it helps encourage best practice.
  2. Have good communications channels so new publishers can keep up to date with the latest news that affects them.  Publishers should be able to ask other publishers for help and get answers.  New publishers should feel they are fully informed about how they use the intranet.
  3. Offer clear online guidance and best practice tips on how to publish on the intranet.  Reinforce this when you contact content owners and editors e.g. email, discussion group, conference call or webinar.
  4. Invite all new publishers to join a discussion group covering publishing topics to help develop a broader understanding.  It is much easier (and cheaper) to have peer-to-peer conversations where practical tips are shared quickly with each other.
  5. Have one set of publishing templates that you manage.  Keep publishing simple and easy to encourage best practice.  One publishing process will save content owners and editors’ time.  It avoids the temptation to try alternative methods or create more templates.Book cover - Digital success or digital disasters

Find out more information on how to manage your publishing community and intranet from my new book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.  A license to share the ebook with publishers across your organisation is also available.

What is the right publishing model for your intranet?

Last week, I ran a workshop at Intranatverk with an enthusiastic group of intranet people to cover what is the best publishing model for their intranet.  The slides I used for the workshop are available for you to share: Four intranet publishing models.

I took this subject from my book  ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘ which covers all the other areas of intranet governance you need to develop when improving how your intranet is managed.

There were three main conclusions from people at the workshop:

  1. The publishing model was relevant.  Most people said their intranet used the hybrid model which combined the centralised and decentralised model moulded to meet their organisation’s requirements.
  2. The centralised model could not be adopted if collaborative tools are used.  It is impractical to expect people to comment on a blog post or contribute to a discussion thread by sending their content to another person to publish on their behalf.
  3. The outsourcing model is best applied in two scenarios.  Firstly, when an organisation is young and small it can’t afford to employ someone full-time on their intranet but can afford an external specialist when needed.  Secondly, translating content from one language to another can be expensive and hard to justify the cost of a person/people to carry out this activity perfectly.  An external specialist to call upon when needed can be a cheaper and better option to consider.

The publishing model you choose needs to meet your organisation’s needs.  It also needs to fit within a wider governance framework that includes your publishing roles and responsibilities, standards, and support.

All these are needed to give an overall great, consistent, experience for anyone using your intranet.  Achieving this helps people to be more productive and effective and so benefiting your organisation.

I wrote a book about governance: ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersWhen an intranet loses its usefulness over time, and people become disengaged and end up working around it rather than through it, I often find that the strategy and governance have been neglected.

Even a strong and appropriate strategy will founder if the governance isn’t in place to execute it.

I see governance as the foundation of a great intranet, and by ‘great’ I mean an intranet that is useful, useable, and supports the organisation’s goals and people’s needs.

I often blog about intranet governance, but my brand new book offers a lot more than I could ever drip-feed via short posts.  Writing a book has helped crystallise my thinking around governance, and delve deep into my past experience as an intranet manager, and as a consultant.

Take a look at my book now – it’s called ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’ and I mean for it to be relevant to intranets, collaboration, digital workplace and mobile workspace governance, while focussing on intranets.

I’m so pleased to have it published through Intranätverk, it’s been great to work with Kristian Norling and his team.  Seeing the final book on my tablet has made the months of writing all worth the effort.  I’m thrilled to be able to offer you my experience, guidance, and tips and hope you’ll consider my book a toolkit to better governance and a better intranet.

Please take a look at what the book offers you and your organisation – this is a ‘business book’ that should help organisations of every size, but I also hope it’s of interest to individual practitioners and ‘lone intranet managers’. I think this book can support you.

* Digital success or digital disaster? – Book available now.

* Follow me on Twitter – let me know what you think!

How you can avoid your digital workplace becoming a barren desert

Do you know where everything is in your digital workplace?  It’s an easy question for me to ask.  However, the answer may be more difficult for you to answer.

In 2015, intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces.  People are increasingly using different methods to connect whenever they need to.  When they connect it is to find information, use apps, share some news or ask for help with a work problem.

In my last two posts I have covered how this is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your digital workplace a great experience, encouraging more frequent use and improving the productivity of people using it for their work.

By combining a clear information architecture with a good governance framework you create a thriving digital workplace, not a barren desert where there is little chance of finding that oasis of vital content you need.

To successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplace where everything may be in the cloud with people accessing it from any device, anywhere and at anytime, you need to consider these steps:

  1. It is critical your governance framework and information architecture are synchronised and have the same scope.  You should have one person with overall responsibility for making sure this happens.  You also need a common understanding of what they both include.  Making this transparent on your digital workplace so other people can see them helps any gaps or overlaps to be spotted quickly and acted upon.
  2. You need to agree what that scope should be.  Is it for accredited content, collaborative content, and applications or only some of these?  Whatever the scope is, you need to communicate it clearly with stakeholders.  You also need it approved so you have the authority, should you need it, to contact anyone operating outside of its scope.
  3. Your governance framework needs to have the roles and responsibilities set out with a hierarchy showing reporting lines for strategic and operational activities.  It also need to include the publishing standards for your content owners, editors and application owners to comply with.  This is essential for a consistently good experience for anyone using your digital workplace.
  4. Your information architecture needs developing to meet the requirements of your organisation.  It should become an overarching structure for all your content and applications. Get these right and you have the ingredients for a consistently good user experience, achieving two aims:
    1. Help people using your digital workplace to quickly find what they need for their work and to be more productive.
    2. Help publishers and app owners to easily find the right place for their accredited and collaborative content, and applications.

Try to avoid a piecemeal approach by implementing only some of these steps.  That can lead to confusion and a poorer experience as people keep adjusting to the changes.  It will also lead to less productive employees and less frequent use of your digital workplace.

That is something you need to avoid by considering how all the steps can be adopted and the full benefits gained for your organisation.  Now, that’s a good message you want to communicate, isn’t it! :)

Is your digital workplace experience good or bad?

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. In 2015 organisations are no longer just talking about ‘digital’.  People are increasingly using different methods to connect whenever they need to.  When they connect it is to find information, use apps, share some news or ask for help with a work problem.

In my last post I recommended you have clear business requirements, the right direction set with a strategy, support from your stakeholders, and measures agreed that can demonstrate the benefits of your approach.

You also need people to have a consistently good experience every time, with every device, from every place to successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplaceWhat can you do make this happen?  I recommend you consider the following:

Within a governance framework you need to implement publishing standards for everything people use across your digital workplace.  People need to be familiar with what they access, no matter what device they use.  This saves time with people not stalling while they check everything before they start using it.

This is easier said than done though!  Firstly, you need to identify your business requirements for your publishing standards.  Once this has been done, you can then develop what publishers need to do to implement each standard.

The difficult bit is getting your publishing standards applied to all your content and apps, whatever device someone is using to access them.  But you have to do this to be consistent.  Without achieving this, people may doubt what they are using because it may look different and the experience vary too much.  For example:

  1. Ownership: Every piece of content and app has an owner who can be contacted for further information.  Think about how you need to show this for each device people may use.
  2. Timeliness: Every piece of content has a review date that gives people confidence they can rely on it being accurate and current.  Again, think about how this can appear for every device.
  3. Findability: Every piece of content and app, in whatever format is needed for each device, is indexed by your search engine so it can be found quickly.  Making sure it is properly tagged by your publishers will also help people find what they need more easily.
  4. Usability: Every piece of content and app should consider mobile users first.  That can be a big change of focus.  More and more, people will use a smartphone or tablet to access what they need.  Test your content and apps with these devices to get the user experience right.
  5. Navigation: Every piece of content and app needs to be linked together so you can quickly move from one to the other.  Menus need to work with every type of device and will need testing before implementation.  You don’t want oasis of content that are disconnected from each other by a digital desert.

You will need to include in your governance framework how you can achieve this.  Publishers will need to be trained on how to use the publishing tools obviously.  For collaboration tools that really should be by following simple guidance because they are very easy to use.

However it must also cover what your publishing standards are, why they need to be implemented and most importantly, how that will be achieved.  You need this for a common platform of knowledge and understanding across your publishing community.

Follow up the training for your publishers by educating them with simple processes to publish content, develop apps, etc., and support their publishing needs with guidance, Frequently Asked Questions, discussion groups.

Taking this approach will help give people a consistently good experience every time, with every device, from every place to successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplace.