Tags: digital workplace, governance, sharepoint 2010, standards, strategy
I am really looking forward to my first time at the Congres intranet conference, Congres 2013 (Twitter #intra13), on 18 and 19 March in Utrecht, Holland. Many people have told me about the great time they have networking with other intranet people and learning from the workshops and presentations given by great speakers.
I am very pleased to be asked to run two workshops on SharePoint and the Digital Workplace on the first day and a breakout session on the second day. For those of you who have not heard about this (where have you been ?!) this is the fifth annual Intranet conference designed for senior managers, communication people, information and IT professionals engaged in intranets, enterprise social media and corporate employee portals.
Speakers this year include Luis Suarez – The Evolving Knowledge Web Worker, Euan Semple, Eaun Semple – The Future Proof Intranet, business as usual?, Jonathan Phillips – The Coca-Cola Intranet: from research to delivery and Steven van Belleghem – Internal Communication is dead.
Congres 2013 (#intra13) offers you the opportunity to learn about current innovative intranet solutions, new developments and best practices. In addition to acquiring all that knowledge, the networking as a big factor at the conference.
And if you want to find out more about how to plan and implement strategies for the Digital Workplace and SharePoint and how to manage them, join my workshops and say “hello’ in person as well as on Twitter, etc. I will be very pleased to welcome you!
Tags: collaboration, content, digital workplace, governance, publishing, standards, usability standards, users
In my last post on the digital workplace I talked about how you need a strategy to help you create a great digital workplace. Remember you’re not just doing this for the sake of it! Your aim is to demonstrate how it will support your organisation’s strategy and key priorities.
Once you have your strategy agreed you need to build a governance framework to help you to implement and manage your digital workplace. It is important all your digital workplace is managed to give the maximum benefit to your organisation, individuals and collectively, everyone. The right level of governance needed will balance the rewards to be gained while avoiding any risks. That doesn’t come naturally but through you establishing a good governance model.
The aim is to create a great online user experience that encourages people to feel comfortable shifting their how and where they work to a digital workplace. To do that you need a governance framework that includes:
You need to have a governance hierarchy that starts at the top with who is responsible for the digital workplace and flows through to who uses the it to publish, collaborate, complete tasks or just view content.
Who is responsible for developing the strategy, implementing the digital workplace and managing it? It is difficult for one person to have the knowledge, experience, and authority needed for so many key roles and activities. Neither is it best for it to be one person.
The best solution is to have a steering group with senior managers from key parts of the business most affected by or have most influence on your digital workplace. These senior managers should have decision-making authority not someone who has to refer back to his/her line manager and delay matters.
There may be dedicated roles for people responsible for collaboration, ways of working, etc., but they should ultimately report in to the steering group. You need to avoid competing groups of people implementing conflicting standards, designs, and ways to use the digital workplace. That gives a confusing and poor experience for anyone using it.
You really need a consistent level of governance across your digital workplace. By consistent I don’t mean the same but what everyone should expect.
People who publish in the digital workplace accredited types of content (policies, news, etc.) need a more rigorous approach is needed than for collaborative content where opinions and views change and require a lighter touch of governance.
People using the digital workplace to view content, complete tasks or share knowledge with each other, expect its look and feel to be similar. Tools can have minimal branding without great costs or customising. Features need to encourage you to use them more such as help links, contact points, with easily laid out and functional designs.
Integrating the different parts of the digital workplace is needed so they are seen as being connected and encourage you to use it more and feel comfortable.
One way to gain consistency is to have standards based on the needs of the organisation, regulation, legal and users. These can be applied appropriately across the digital workplace depending on their use. For accredited content (policies and procedures) you will apply all or most standards. For applications e.g. HR processes, it’s probable that most will apply too. But for collaborative content e.g. opinions, you will apply a lighter touch.
Alternatively you can create standards that only apply to certain information and applications to meet the purpose people need to use it for.
The aim has to be about getting the balance right. You don’t have to be too restrictive and stifle innovation and collaboration. But you can’t to be too loose and inconsistent and risk sensitive information leaking out. It’s not easy but the right balance is critical.
For me, this is the critical goal to aim for. Are you confident using the information and tools in your digital workplace? Does it encourage you to use the digital workplace more?
The answer has to be ‘YES!’ to these questions. Having the right governance framework with standards consistently applied and clear roles and responsibilities are vital to a successful digital workplace.
Tags: best practice, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, usability, usability standards, users
Has your intranet got content littered all over it which isn’t very useful to people needing to use it?
By litter I mean no or little thought has been given by the owner on how people need to have this information presented so it is easy to use. Examples can include:
- Links to documents instead of content on an intranet page
- Poorly worded content that doesn’t make sense
- Poorly constructed content that is hard to follow
- Poorly presented content with the wrong balance of images, text, and video
I wonder how many intranet professionals are nodding their heads as they recognise some of these examples being on their own intranets! Yes, it is irritating and creates a poor user experience.
So, how can you make your intranet look neat and tidy? I recommend you consider these:
- Usability standard that sets out what the user experience should be
- Feedback button so people can report back on bad examples
- Document library for content that has to be shown in its original format (legal document)
- Training for publishers on tone of voice
- Training for publishers on how to ‘write for the web’
- Guidance on use of different media with best practice examples
- Audit content and encourage/persuade/force publishers to publish it following best practice
And you can always contact me if you need more help and advice.
Tags: accessibility, best practice, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, training, usability, value
I have reviewed many intranets and have been amazed at the variety of publishing standards and how they are enforced. These vary from no publishing standards through to everything being locked down depending on the importance of complying with standards. More importantly it is the amount of time, effort, and money that is used to enforce people to comply with the standards when they publish information.
I sometimes think organisations lose the plot and forget to look at the costs being spent for the benefit being gained.
Your intranet needs standards to make sure your organisation complies with business, user, regulatory, and legal requirements in any country it operates in. The best approach is to have ‘smart’ standards that need the minimum time, effort, and cost which achieving the maximum effectiveness and benefits. How many of these questions can you answer “yes” to?
- Do you train your publishers on what your intranet standards?
- Do you also train your publishers on why your intranet has these standards?
- Do you educate and support your publishers with guidance to understand more about your standards?
- Do you embed any of your standards in the publishing templates e.g. branding, navigation menu?
- Do publishers need to comply with your standards before their content is published e.g. images need to have alternative texts before they can be used?
- Do you review content for compliance?
- Do you remind your publishers if their content is non-compliant?
- Do you remove content if no action by your publishers to comply?
- Do you measure how compliant your intranet is?
- Have you measured it more than once?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions then award yourself a gold medal!
If you answered “no” to any of these questions perhaps you had better contact me?
Tags: best practice, governance, intranet, publishing, sharepoint 2010, standards, training
SharePoint 2010 gives you the opportunity to upgrade your technology to meet the current and future needs of your business’ intranet. You can make other changes to improve business effectiveness at the same time. In my last two posts in this series I gave some tips on the user and publisher experience your business needs so it is ready to use SharePoint 2010. This post covers governance.
- An intranet governance framework will underpin the user and publishing experiences. It will include roles and responsibilities, information architecture, standards, policies and processes.
- An information architecture is needed to show where all content will be hosted in SharePoint 2010. It needs to take account of future as well as short term business needs.
- Publishing standards are needed to meet business, regulatory, legal, and user requirements. They should be embedded wherever possible into SharePoint tools e.g. owner shown on footer of every page to be completed before page is published.
- Accessibility: meeting the legal needs of disabled people
- Usability: ensuring productive use of the intranet
- Ownership: information managed by owner clearly shown
- Currency: information integrity is assured by review date
- Sensitive content: permissions set so only right people see content
- Roles and responsibilities for managing and publishing information defined, agreed, and implemented for day 1 of SharePoint 2010 e.g. Site Collection Administrators.
- Intranet Steering Group: Senior stakeholders representing key business functions to regularly review the strategy and key activities to implement it. The Intranet Manager should report to theis group.
- The Intranet Team will implement the strategy agreed and develop and manage the intranet to meet the business’ needs. They will ensure owners will comply with business policies and legal requirements.
- All publishers need to be trained before they are able to publish. Publishers will need to comply with publishing standards. Publishers will either be a Site Administrator if publishing for a site or an Author if for part of it e.g. a page of content.
- SharePoint Designer can change the look and feel of pages and navigation structure that has been agreed by the Intranet Team. It needs to be used carefully with selected people approved to use it.
- A process will be developed for all requests to publish being approved before being set up for the right part of the intranet
- A Domain Name policy is needed at the top level of an intranet. A ‘friendly names’ approach should be adopted from a usability approach and avoid elongated URL addresses.
- A top level taxonomy that is a blend of functional and organisational names is needed. It should be presented on each page as a drop down menu that a publisher has to choose from. More than one heading can be chosen if applicable. Further words can be added by the publisher at their discretion to enhance the search experience for anyone trying to find the right information.
I hope these three posts on governance and the user and publisher experience help you with implementing SharePoint 2010.
Tags: best practice, content, governance, intranet, publishing, sharepoint 2010, standards, training
SharePoint 2010 gives you the opportunity to upgrade your technology to meet the current and future needs of your business’ intranet. It also enables other changes to improve business effectiveness to be made at the same time. In my last post I gave some tips on the user experience your business needs so it is ready to use SharePoint 2010. This post covers the publishing experience.
- All site collection administrators, site administrators, and publishers need to be trained before they start using SharePoint 2010. The training should be a blend of face to face and online modular training depending on its complexity.
- The look and feel should be consistent – either ‘out of the box’ or corporate branding - so it is familiar to all publishers. It also cover the intranet standards – why as well as what they are – and need people to show they understand and will comply with them.
- While the training will mainly be for publishers there will need to be training for Site Collection Administrators and Site Administrators. The training needs to cover their roles, how they manage the intranet and comply with the publishing standards.
- The training content and method of delivery needs to be tested and shown to educate publishers in SharePoint 2010 best practice and publishing standards.
- A process should be developed so people who need to publish can request permission to publish. This will be approved by their manager and the Site Collection Administrator will set permissions and space to publish.
- The process should cover all publishers to request permission, show they have been trained, alert the approver(s) to decide if it should proceed before being implemented.
- You need to decide on your approach to reviewing all types of existing content – news, video, blogs, and audio. Your approach could include content no longer needed being deleted and people pointed to more relevant content if needed. If the content is still current and needed, it can be updated to meet the publishing standards and right tone of voice.
- An overall project plan and owner needs to be agreed who can give updates on progress.
- Once all content has been reviewed and updated it will be ready for migration. All content needs to be signed off by the owner. Ideally meta data must be added from the taxonomy with extra relevant words and phrases added to help people find the right content.
- When content is migrated it needs to be aligned with your information architecture. It also should appear in search results.
- All new content published from day 1 needs to meet the publishing standards and have the right tone of voice.
In my next post in this series I will cover how to get your business ready for SharePoint 2010 governance.
Tags: governance, intranet, publishing, sharepoint 2010, standards, strategy
In all the time I have been involved with SharePoint 2010 the one area which causes the most discussion and raising of concerns is SharePoint Designer. For those new to SharePoint 2010, SharePoint Designer is a fantastic/awful feature which helps/ruins the look and feel of pages and add/remove functionality.
As you can see by my use of language it can be a fantastic feature that can help people to innovate or can cause anger and frustration if used differently and causes problems with the user experience.
To quote Microsoft “Using SharePoint Designer, you can rapidly create SharePoint solutions in response to business needs. Compose no-code solutions that encompass a variety of common scenarios, from collaborative sites and web publishing to Line-Of-Business data integration, business intelligence solutions, and human workflows, all leveraging the building blocks available in SharePoint in an easy to use environment. Developers can use SharePoint Designer 2010 to get a quick start on SharePoint development projects.”
And that’s the challenge because SharePoint Designer can be great when used in line with business needs but can be a nightmare if used by someone who maybe isn’t aware of even worse, doesn’t care, what impact using it has.
So is SharePoint Designer a friend or a for you? Well, it can be both or either really! It is how you choose to use it on your intranet.
If you have a culture that has a loose governance and your organisation is strong on innovating then you will probably see SharePoint Designer as a great tool which helps you to make big changes using this technology that help improve effectiveness.
If you have a very controlled environment where your organisation seeks permission before trying something new/different then allowing people to use SharePoint Designer will be an anathema to how you want your intranet to progress and be managed.
In reality most organisations will have an intranet that is managed somewhere between these two examples. What you need to do with SharePoint Designer is no different to how you approach any technology used on your intranet.
- What are the benefits of people using it?
- What are the risks of people using it?
- How can you manage it?
- How does it fit with your intranet strategy and plans?
When you have answered these questions you will be in a better place to know whether SharePoint Designer is a friend or foe!
Tags: accessibility, collaboration, governance, intranet, sharepoint 2010, standards, usability standards
How can you do this? Firstly you need to be clear why you have standards. The reasons why usually include:
- Legal: web accessibility, copyright and image rights
- Regulatory: compliance with country and international agreements
- Business: content reviewed regularly and up to date
- Users: content ownership clear, easy to use and find
Your intranet standards need to:
- Improve the overall user experience
- Make people more satisfied
- Increase productivity
- Save costs
- Benefit the business
When using SharePoint 2010 I recommend five standards you must include. These cover the different types of content and tools that you can use with SharePoint 2010 ranging from accredited information through to collaborative discussions.
You need to be clear that all your information is managed and has an owner. Intranet managers need to be able to contact an owner if there is a problem with their content quickly and easily. People need to know who to contact if they need more information not shown or wish to check about anything that has been published. You need to reassure your senior managers that any risk has been removed of non-compliance from information not managed.
Your employees must be confident they are using the most up to date information. You need to clearly show a review date, in line with your information retention policy, for people to see. Your content must be reviewed regularly and be removed if it is no longer needed and out of date.
SharePoint 2010 permissions need to be correctly set so people only see the information they have permission to see. Get these right at an organisation-wide level to save time and effort later. Owners (site administrators) of content can decide at a site level who can have permission to create, edit, as well as view content published.
Your information must be usable and valuable to people using it. Use SharePoint 2010 webparts to create the experience research with people has shown is needed. Train your publishers on ‘tone of voice’ and ‘writing for the web’ to help achieve this. To use the full range of SharePoint 2010 features well you must make it easy for 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.
This is not an optional extra. It is mandatory. You need to go that extra step beyond usable content and make sure your content is accessible to everyone whether they are impaired or not. It needs to meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Legal requirements do vary from country to country. For the UK AA level is the current expert recommendation.
What you need to do is check standards are complied with. This can be achieved by using people or outside auditors to check content or better still, if you can afford it, an automated compliance checker tool.
Tags: benefit, communication, digital workplace, governance, intranet, sharepoint 2010, standards, strategy, value
Why is SharePoint 2010 so widely used? I believe it is because it offers for the first time one technical solution that meets many business needs rather than just one.
If you want to improve knowledge sharing you will have many tools to consider. Again if you need to manage your documents you will have a wide choice of vendors. But if your business has more than one need or can see how solving one will create other requirements then a solution like SharePoint 2010 comes become more attractive to consider.
What if your organisation needs employees to use your intranet while away from their place of work? There are huge savings in office costs and increases in productivity if employees can use the intranet to help them with their work while they are mobile.
Before we can consider if SharePoint 2010 can help meet these needs and provide these benefits there are other important steps to take first.
Why is your organisation considering mobile access to your intranet? You need to develop a strategy aligned to your overall business strategy that sets out how providing this need will help to improve the performance. Without a clear, agreed, mobile strategy in place there is little chance of creating a successful business case for a solution that can help employees. You need to research which content and tools are most needed while employees are mobile.
Who should be responsible for sponsoring the implementation of your mobile strategy? You need to find a senior representative who will champion this or, better still, a board or steering group of senior representatives from business functions across your organisation. Make sure the role is clear, and you have the authority to make the decisions needed, supported by funding.
Who needs to use a mobile device for their work? You need to be clear which employees will benefit from having a mobile device. It probably will not be everyone. Even if it is, you will have to prioritise who has the greatest need. Factors like the number of employees involved, time spent away from their place of work, what contribution they can make, will help decide the greatest need.
As well as having a champion for the use of mobile devices your governance framework needs to include the standards for owners of content and tools to follow so mobile devices can be used by employees. Roles and responsibilities need to include meeting the needs of mobile users for content and tool owners. The content and tools must not be a complete duplication of what exists already.
Will you let employees bring their own devices to work or will you provide your own? That decision is critical and will depend on your organisation’s corporate values, type of employees, security (more below on this), funding and speed of adoption. Once that decision is made you can then focus on what devices your organisation provides or you recommend employees have that offer the best experience for what they need to do while mobile.
How can you be sure the right people only are using your intranet? It is vital you have a representative from your Legal team involved as well as from IT. You need to find the right balance of secure but easy access. It is no good if it takes ages to authenticate who you are before employee can access your intranet. But you do need some intelligent software working in the background to ensure you know who is accessing content with a mobile device.
As I said at the beginning most organisations are either considering using SharePoint 2010 or are in various stages of rolling out to meet their needs. One of these is increasingly the need to provide content and tools that is needed by employees while mobile.
The problem with SharePoint 2010 is the ‘out of the box’ experience can be a bit underwhelming. It is a text only version which most mobile users of internet sites will feel is like going back in time. It may be improved by the next release of SharePoint but can your organisation afford to wait that long?