Tag Archives: standards

My 2015 predictions

When I first got involved in 1996 with intranets people could only access them from their desktop PCs at their normal place of work.  The pages of content were hosted on a server probably in the same room or building they worked in.  What was on offer was limited to news, policies and some tools e.g. People directory.

Haven’t things changed a lot since then as we move towards 2015!

Intranets are transforming into digital workplaces offering people an amazing choice in information and applications and wider use e.g. you can collaborate with people in different locations, share and rate content and complete processes online.  You can access your intranet or digital workplace from any device e.g. smartphone, tablet and laptop from any place using wi-fi, etc., and at any time with data centres operating 24/7.

What does this mean for 2015?  Here are my predictions.

1. Take the right direction

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces.  You need to make sure you take the right direction and invest in the right technologies, skills, and resources.  In 2015 good digital workplaces will be created because there is a plan supported by a clear strategy.  Your plan, based on agreed business requirements, will have prioritise actions, and stakeholder support.  These are essential to have a digital workplace that supports your organisation.

2. consistently good experience

People will need to access your content and applications from any device, any time and from any place even more in 2015.  Their experience needs to be consistently good every time with publishing standards within a governance framework applied to make this happen to all content and apps.  People will then be familiar with what they access no matter what device they use.  Good publishing standards will mean productivity gains will be achieved as people avoid stalling while they check before they use anything.

3. know where everything is

More organisations will consider moving to the cloud in 2015.  But you need to manage this well to make this successful.  You a good governance framework to manage all the content and applications, with an information architecture that has the same scope and approach.  It’s no good trying to manage your content, etc., if you don’t where it is!  And if you don’t know, how can people find what they need for their work?  Plan the structure of your digital workplace to harmonise with your governance framework before you start.

4. show you are worth it

With the global economic climate unlikely to improve greatly in 2015, organisations will demand greater justification for any improvements you plan.  You need to demonstrate the benefits your digital workplace can provide.  Having a strategy, governance framework, and information architecture will indicate you do support your organisation’s goals.  However, to show the full benefits you will need to look beyond traditional financial ‘ROI’ to wider benefits that also help your organisation.  If you can do this, and you will have the resources you need in 2015.

Have you made any plans?  Good luck and have a great 2015!

SharePoint, Office 365 and moving to the Cloud

I was asked by Fredric Landqvist, my good friend and Information Architecture genius, to contribute to a series of posts on the challenges organisations face as they move from having online content and tools hosted firmly on their estate to renting space in the cloud.

We believe the way forward is to have a governance framework and information architecture with the same scope to avoid gaps in content being managed or not being found.  Both need to be in harmony and included in any digital strategy.

We will help you to consider the options and guide on the following steps:

  1. Strategy: Goals you are aiming for
  2. Plan: Moving content to the cloud
  3. Information Architecture: Structuring your content
  4. Governance Framework: Managing your content

You can also join our live breakfast talk in Gothenburg, or online seminar and final panel discussion and Q&A using G+ Hangout, the 20th November 8.00AM – 10AM Central European Time

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed contributing to them. :)

 

Intranet journeys to nowhere

I covered other ways of searching for information on your intranet under my post on Findability. I have kept it as a separate publishing standard because I believe navigation should reduce the need to use other ways to find what you need on an intranet. Good, logical, usable headings and menus help people to navigate to their destination quickly and easily.

It is only when navigation is poor and people can’t access the information they need easily that search queries increase and alternative methods are used more e.g. email people for a link to a site.  That’s why I recommend navigation has its own publishing standard.

You can have a publishing standard that splits the needs of your organisation from the site-specific needs for navigation by having distinctive menus and headings for each of these. You can combine them but there is an increased risk of people becoming confused as to their purpose and being unsure if a link or heading is to the same part or a different part of 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 by making content easier to read on your intranet gives three main benefits:

  1. People will have a much better experience and be more satisfied with your intranet. This will encourage people to more frequently and extensively use your intranet and save time reading information quicker to reach a strong understanding.
  2. You can encourage your publishers to realise that writing for the web can save them time by using less words to describe the purpose of their content and achieve greater satisfaction from people using it.
  3. Your organisation can see the increased satisfaction from people easily reading the information and gaining a quicker understanding to improve productivity.

This is the last in the series on publishing standards.  I hope you find them helpful when improving your intranet.

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.