Tag Archives: strategy

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!

Measuring the unmeasurable benefits

Having a good governance framework supporting your strategy helps you to manage your intranet better.  The benefits people using the intranet will experience include:

  • Consistently good experience whenever they access it
  • Confident they can rely on the information
  • Reassured by the integrity of the information and apps
  • Quickly find what they need
  • The intranet is the best way to help with their work
  • They can see the value of using it

However, intranet stakeholders will need more than good words about the benefits.  They need to see the case for investing in it as well.  That means making a financial case based on measurable benefits.  Having a well-managed intranet helps make it easier to identify and measure the benefits.

How will you answer with confidence the questions that people ask you starting with “Why…?” or “How…?” or “What…? and their statements starting with “You can’t…, You shouldn’t…, You won’t…, That’s not possible…”

There are different benefits you can measure. While they include traditional financial “return on investment” (ROI) benefits, they extend beyond that to wider benefits that good governance can support to cover:

  • financial benefits that impact on the bottom line of your organisation’s financial results
  • quantified non-financial benefits, such as improved productivity
  • unquantified non-financial benefits such as culture changes

Some of these may be familiar to you.  However, how you can use them, may be novel. They will help show wider benefits you had not considered before. This is especially so if you can combine these

It seems to be the larger the amount of benefits, the more difficult it is to measure accurately and to a level of confidence, that can convince your stakeholders!  The best chance of succeeding is to determine the method that will be most effective for measuring the benefits for your own particular audience.

It is what you measure, how you measure it and how you demonstrate the benefits.  That is critical to gain the support you need for, and the understanding of, good governance.

Providing clear examples that senior stakeholders accept helps you to get their attention and support when you demonstrate how your intranet is critical and beneficial to your organisation.

Lastly, you have a better idea what it is that you can measure and avoid wasting time trying to find out something that is very difficult.  You need to decide on the benefits you will measure, the way that you measure, and how you explain and show the results, that will help you to improve your intranet.

Without this, the full value of the strategy and governance framework you have worked so hard to implement will be unknown.  It is vital to show the benefits to justify the work you have done and to plan with confidence for further improvements based on the success of your intranet to your organisation so far.

Developing your Intranet Manager career: it’s all about partnerships

I have written a guest post for ClearBox Consulting on the need to invest at least as much time connecting with your stakeholders as identifying business requirements for technology.

In January, I wrote that intranets are transforming into digital workplaces.  As your intranet transforms into a digital workplace so the people you need to work with will expand and change.  That will involve you investing time building relationships with new and existing senior managers. They will be your stakeholders who will be at the top of your governance hierarchy.

Read more about how getting that balance right will be a giant step forward to likely success.

 

How much is your digital workplace (and manager) worth?

Do you know how much your digital workplace or intranet is worth to your organisation?  How would start to answer the question? With the global economic climate unlikely to improve greatly, organisations will want to know the full benefits to justify before investing in your plans.

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 three posts I have covered how this is a wonderful opportunity for you to make your digital workplace a great experience, how you need to find everything to avoid it becoming a barren digital desert, to encourage more frequent use and improve people’s productivity.

There are several steps you can take to improve the chances your plans will be approved.  To demonstrate the benefits your digital workplace you will need to look beyond traditional financial ‘ROI’ to wider benefits that also help your organisation:

  1. Have a strategy, governance framework, and information architecture that shows how you support your organisation.
  2. Demonstrate the full benefits of your plans.  Think about the top priorities and goals your organisation has and align with them.
  3. Find the right methods that can assess the different benefits you identify as possible to achieve.  This can be using surveys, polls, or more expert analysis.
  4. Consider the different ways you can show these benefits to convince your stakeholders.  Make sure you talk their language to help them understand your plans.

If you can complete all of these steps, you will have the best chances to gain the resources you need to implement your plans to transform your intranet into a digital workplace.

It may also help show the value you provide as well.  More on that in a later post!

Is this your ‘once in an intranet career’ opportunity?

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. In 2015 organisations are no longer just talking about ‘digital’.  They are now starting to take steps, sometimes slow and tentatively, towards transforming their online content and apps into something that is better coordinated.  People are also becoming better connected with their digital workplace or intranet whenever they need to be.

While this is great news for intranet practitioners, there is also pressure to make sure you take the right direction and invest in the right technologies, skills, and resources.  This is a ‘once in an intranet career’ opportunity to turn all your long-held dreams into the digital reality you have wished for.  It can also place a great amount of responsibility on you to get it right.

So, what do you need to do?  How can you turn this into your proudest moment in your career rather an underwhelming disappointment?

To successfully transform your intranet into a wider digital workplace where people can collaborate, have mobile access and apps on demand you need to consider what steps to take.  These should include:

  1. Vision: What does the future look like?  What will your organisation become in the future?  How will your intranet/digital workplace support it?  You need to be able to clearly answer these questions from your senior leaders.
  2. Direction: What is the right direction from your intranet?  How will you get from today’s intranet to the future digital workplace?  You need to be aware what your organisation’s strategic priorities are.  You need to see how your digital workplace can align with and support their achievement.
  3. Requirements: What are your organisation’s requirements?  Have you an existing strategy for your intranet?  You need to identify what exactly your senior leaders – stakeholders – need from you.  You also need to seek support from senior leaders for your plans.
  4. Plan: How are you going to complete your journey from intranet to digital workplace?  You need to be able to work out the resources needed, prioritise your activities, and timescales to achieve everything.
  5. Measure: What is the current position?  How does the transformation compare when it is completed?  You need to demonstrate the changes you have made.  You should measure the full value gained – not just the narrow ROI formula – to show how your organisation benefits from a digital workplace.

For me, these are essential steps to take when transforming your intranet into a digital workplace.  This could be the most important thing you do in your intranet career.

Make sure you research to learn from other transformations, both good and not so good outcomes.  Seek advice from people who have experience or you trust.  If in doubt, seek expertise to help you get it right.

You probably won’t get a second chance if it goes wrong so make sure you prepare thoroughly so you will succeed.

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!

It’s time for a change

I have been fortunate to work with and view many sites, intranets, digital workplaces, mobile and collaborative spaces since 1996.  Many technology features and fads aimed at helping people have a good experience have come and gone. However, throughout this time, having a clear strategy with good governance to support your intranet, has consistently been shown to help meet your organisation’s key priorities and add measurable value.

Your strategy sets the direction you need to move in with a clear scope and set of aims to be achieved, aligned with other related strategies and overall strategy for your organisation.

Your governance framework helps your strategy continue in the right direction.  It will show how you manage everything and how everyone can work together. It will cover scope, purpose, roles and responsibilities, publishing standards and support, and resources needed.

The main reason for a strategy and governance framework is the benefits to be gained from applying it well. The time and effort are the same but the impact can vary so you don’t always achieve a consistently good experience.

Measuring all the benefits and showing the value to your organisation of a critical business tool will improve your credibility and help to justify future investment.

With that in mind I have re-designed my site to focus on Strategy; Governance; and Measuring Value.

Please contact me if you want to find out more.