Tag Archives: standards

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!

For new intranets it is day 100, not day 1, that is important

With every intranet I have helped to create, encouraging people to be more effective and improve their productivity, two things have been at the forefront of my mind.  You need to:

  1. Be clear who is responsible for the content, design and structure of it.
  2. Have a governance framework that supports stakeholders, partners and publishers.

While it is vital you have a big impact when you launch a new intranet, it is not just about creating a great design on day 1.  It is the ongoing need to appeal to people to continue using it.  Content and applications that people need are, of course, helpful but having good governance is the only way to make sure the benefits of day 1 continue consistently through to day 100 and onwards during the lifetime of your intranet.

After nearly 20 years working with intranets, I appreciate how important it is to have a governance framework that:

  1. Keeps your strategy moving in the right direction
  2. Sets out who is responsible for managing it
  3. Matches publishing standards with business requirements
  4. Supports content owners and editors

These can be the crucial factors that help your new intranet.  Quicker adoption, increased usage and higher satisfaction are all achieveable if you take the right approach with governance.

I find these factors encourage people using your intranet to be more effective and improve their productivity, bringing greater benefits to your organisation.  It helps your stakeholders to see how your intranet can be a critical business tool that supports their key priorities!

I agree the digital revolution is cultural, not technological, and….

In Gerry McGovern’s latest post he says ‘Digital transformation is cultural transformation first and foremost. Some time ago, I dealt with an organization that had just installed collaborative software. The problem was that the employees saw no benefit in collaborating. Surprise, surprise, collaboration didn’t happen. Collaboration, first and foremost, is a cultural thing, not a technological thing.’

While I agree with Gerry as far as he goes, I also believe the type of governance deployed for collaborative content can be a major barrier to people adopting these tools.  Too often the governance used for accredited content e.g. policies and news articles, that are official and factual is also tried (and fails) for collaborative content.

A more ‘light touch’ form of governance is needed to remove the barriers that prevent people wanting to share their ideas or offer suggestions that may help someone with a work problem.  Here are some examples of what I mean:

  1. Posting on a blog or contributing to a discussion group should not need you to ask for permission before you start.  It should be ‘on demand’ so there is no delay between when someone needs to use a collaboration tool and being  able to.  Often the need is urgent and passes quickly so any barrier preventing its use could mean the content is lost forever.
  2. You should not need formal training before you use the collaboration tool.  A) the tool should be so easy to use it isn’t needed and B) understanding how to comply with the publishing standards such as ownership and content review dates shouldn’t be required.
  3. Usability and design shouldn’t be something you need to bother with.  The important thing is your content.  Make sure the template you use has the right functionality that people can just start using and understand easily.
  4. Adapt and embed as many of your publishing standards that are relevant to collaboration into the templates e.g. navigation menus, field for contributor to enter their personal details.

Taking this approach shows how the culture has changed from a ‘command and control’ view of governance many years ago for a limited amount of corporate content.  Now, many people can use a wide range of collaboration tools to publish their views and opinions and be comfortable with the experience and knowledge that the content is managed appropriately.

The governance adopted fits the cultural revolution and helps, not hinders, it.  Long may that continue!

10 best intranet designs…but you need good governance first!

When Nielsen Norman Group (NN/g) announced the best intranets of 2015 (hats off to Verizon as 3 times winners!) they said “While intranet teams continue to grow they simultaneously streamline processes and work faster, resulting in innovative designs. Common feature trends include: responsive design, search filters, flat design, and mega menus, to name a few.”

What did become clear to me is these intranets did not win by luck.  What NN/g didn’t say this is also because they have good governance, applied effectively, to build the foundations for well designed (and managed) intranets.

What do I mean by good governance?  Here are a few practical examples:

1. Have a clear strategy and direction set.  This should be approved by your stakeholders who help its implementation by openly supporting it.
2. Have a governance hierarchy setting out the roles and responsibilities for people involved with the intranet.
3. Develop publishing standards, especially for Usability, based on business requirements.
4. Most importantly, have the means to combine all these features of governance in a great way that results in the wonderful examples we can see with the winners.

These intranets didn’t win by accident but through managing their intranets well.  Good governance leads to great user experiences!