Category Archives: application

4 ways to measure intranet benefits

It is not enough to set up a governance framework to underpin your strategy. They are prerequisites for a well-managed intranet.  You also need to measure and demonstrate the benefits the intranet provides for your organisation, especially if your strategy needs further investment in the intranet or its governance.  Implementing technologies, e.g. SharePoint, doesn’t come without a price tag.

Traditional Return On Investment (ROI) financial benefits usually have the biggest impact on your organisation, especially on those approving financial spend.  However, there are other types of benefits with significant value.  You need to consider all of the following to justify the benefits of good governance:

  • 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 benefits are easier to measure.  Other benefits have greater prominence with your stakeholders.  The amount of benefit measured may also vary.  Sometimes you may find the amount is so large, the benefits can be difficult to justify as achieved.  You will need to judge the best benefits to justify investment in the intranet.

An example would be a change in people’s behaviour that increases productivity with time saved.  This may appear to deliver a large amount of benefits.  However, showing what people do with that time saved can be harder.  Are they working better or on other work tasks, or are they relaxing and having more time to talk with colleagues?  It can be demanding finding a suitable benefit.

You can choose how to measure the benefits your intranet provides.  You can also decide when is a good time to measure the benefits e.g. interviewing people before and after a major change to assess its impact on their work activities.  There are different approaches to take when you measure these benefits.  Examples could be online polls, in-depth interviews, audit, etc.  You need to consider how much time you have to measure the benefits, what resources you can call upon, and whether you need external expertise.

There are also benefits that come under the category of cost avoidance.  Publishing standards for security or accessibility help to change people’s behaviour.  That reduces the risk of unnecessary costs from their previous behaviour.

When you are communicating the benefits, I help clients to provide examples that senior stakeholders will easily recognise.  It helps to get their attention and support when you demonstrate how the intranet benefits your organisation.  It will depend on the benefit you are measuring to decide on the best approach. Nevertheless, whatever approach you choose, talk their language, explain your methods, and show easy to understand examples and comparisons.  Your stakeholders will accept the benefits more quickly.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more detailed information and publishing standards best-practice examples in ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Try the introductory chapter for free.

What is the right governance for a digital workplace?

My recent posts ‘What exactly is a digital workplace?‘ and ‘What is the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet?‘ generated some good discussions on Twitter and LinkedIn.  I want to stay with the digital workplace theme for my last post of 2015 and bring in how you manage it.

What is the right governance model for a digital workplace?  We know that a digital workplace is different from an intranet, even an advanced intranet, so how does that affect the way it is managed?

Maybe even more importantly is how you manage the transformation from an intranet to a digital workplace so you gain all the benefits and none of the drawbacks as it happens.

Who develops and implements the strategy?

Digital workplace principles need to be put into your own organisational context.  A group of senior stakeholders, representing key business areas and functions across the organisation, can steer your digital workplace strategy.  This enables a fuller, more complete picture of what is needed, the right direction to set, and who should lead, to be agreed and accepted.

What should everyone expect from a digital workplace?

Everyone should gain from a digital workplace although they will have different expectations depending on their roles and responsibilities.  This can vary from being more productive because all the applications and information are now accessible through to finding news and discussions with people who can help you solve work problems online.

Being able to connect whenever and wherever you need to from whatever device you have also reduces stress, avoids delays and improve your quality of working life.

What standards are needed for a digital workplace?

A governance framework is needed with publishing standards forming a key part.  Standards are needed for:

  • Legal requirements: accessibility, personal information available
  • Business requirements: usability, design, navigation, findability, ownership and information retention
  • Employee needs: terms and conditions that encourage people to want to work in a digital workplace
  • Security needs: confidential information protected, permissions model adopted
  • Technical support: platform functionality, server support, agreed levels of service.

Gaining confidence working in a digital workplace

Anyone who plans to work remotely, especially if they are the first person in that team, wants to have the same or better experience than where they currently work.  You gain confidence when the information and tools you need for work are always available to use.  You feel confident that your personal information is there for you (and only you) to use still.  You don’t feel any discrimination because you are working remotely from your manager, team, customers and other employees.

Only through consistently good experiences like this will it happen.

More informationBook cover - Digital success or digital disasters

For more information on how to develop the right strategy or governance framework I offer some great, practical advice, to help you in my book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  You can try it first by reading the introductory chapter to find out more.

What is the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet?

In my last post, I defined what exactly a digital workplace is.  But it can be easy to confuse an intranet with a digital workplace.  With advanced, hybrid, intranets there is a path that you can take to transform from one to another.

An intranet has a more limited role that a digital workplace.  Typically an intranet contains corporate news and documents e.g. policies. Publishing will probably use content and document management systems for accredited content.  A digital workplace will also have collaborative content and use:

  • Collaboration tools e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasts
  • Micro blogging tools e.g. Yammer, Twitter
  • Knowledge sharing/building e.g. team wikis and share workspaces
  • Applications/tools e.g. HR tools, online training, sales performance
  • Processes e.g. approving decisions, compliance checks

The organisation’s culture will encourage and see the benefits of a digital workplace.  It won’t succeed if that is not happening.  It is likely that people can access a digitalworkplace wherever they happen to be and whenever they need to.

It is also far more likely people can use different devices to access what they need AND the content or apps will display in a usable way because mobile devices are considered critical business tools by the organisation.

Advanced, hybrid, intranets will be somewhere between a traditional intranet with news and policies but not have an integrated digital workplace.

A good test is to see what the strategy and governance framework says and does.  The aims and scope as well as the user experience indicate how far down the journey you are.

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!

Managing the risks from mobile

Recently I have talked a lot about mobile ranging from selling the idea to senior people, creating a great mobile experience, how to develop a strategy to what are good governance principles.
Some organisations are starting to realise the potential of mobile working can help employee’s productivity, engagement, and their work/life balance.  But the reality is a lot of organisations aren’t there yet.  Most will provide a poor user experience and be reluctant to invest time and money developing a rich mobile user experience.
Security and risk are concerns that often create the barriers to further mobile integration.  How can you overcome these barriers?
In this post I will cover how your organisation can provide useful functionality for your employees while still mitigating or addressing the following risks:

Fear of the unknown

There may still a perception by some people in Legal, Security, and Regulatory parts of your organisation that because they don’t fully understand how increased use of mobile devices to access tools and information or share knowledge and problems can help it must be ‘bad’.
The best way to handle this approach is to research what other organisations have done with mobile.  You should focus on:
  1. Successful examples of adoption
  2. Competitors with your organisation who are ahead of you
  3. Lessons to learn where mobile hasn’t worked
  4. Prepare how and what you are going to share
  5. Identify the right stakeholders


People who do not fully understand why you authenticate can be over cautious and create many layers of authentication.  The ‘just in case’ approach will just strangle the use by mobile devices of the apps and content you need to use to help you with your work.

Why would you use your mobile to access something online that takes just a few seconds if you have to enter usernames and passwords several times before you can get to it that takes several minutes?  It’s just not going to happen.  You need to explain:

  1. What people are being asked to authenticate for e.g. use apps
  2. Why authentication is needed e.g. protect intellectual property
  3. How authentication can have maximum effect for minimal impact with ‘smart’ authenticating used only when needed and not duplicating at every level; different levels of authentication based on type of content or app to be used
  4. Building security into your mobile device so your authentication feeds through to the content and apps to be accessed if possible
  5. BYOD – is personal mobile devices the best way or should you stick with company mobile devices?

business continuity

Your organisation needs to be resilient and always able to survive whatever potential crisis it may face.  This means supporting your employees wherever and whenever they are using their mobile devices.  By having people in many locations your business is more resilient to these unforeseen events when they happen.  Mobile can help by:

  1. Removing the ‘single point of failure’ problem with office based people all in one location
  2. Accelerating the recovery time from a ‘crisis’ to provide service to customers especially if face to face visits are needed e.g. employees with mobiles in different locations
  3. Showing better value made in infrastructure and data centres investment with availability 24/7 for when mobile workers need to use it
Addressing these concerns with your key stakeholders will help you remove the barriers preventing you from giving your mobile users the functionality and good experience needed to help with their work.

How to be more productive in a digital workplace

OK, so you now have a digital workplace strategy showing the direction you need to move in; a governance framwework to show who is responsible for what with standards, etc, to give you a fantastic online experience; policies and values that encourage you to use a digital workplace and benefit from them.

Now I will show how you can be more productive using a digital workplace:


It is critical that the time you use in a digital workplace is not wasted.  That means having clearly labeled information, direct route to the information, able to use the information whatever device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) you have, and be able to edit the information as well as read it.

And it’s not just information, you need to find people who can help you or you want to share some knowledge with.  Having an easy to use people finder helps as well as finding collaborative content in discussion groups with other people with similar needs or interest.

Finally if you are mobile your time is limited.  You need fast access to apps and services you need to use e.g. booking travel, hotel room, invites for meetings, hire care.  The list is long but you need to get to each task in a short time and complete each task quickly.

IT capability

You need to have the right tools and access to gain the full benefits from a digital workplace.  Your organisation needs to fund and provide laptops, smartphones, tablets as well as an internet connection and monitor screens for homeworking.  Having the right choice of devices means you can always use the digital workplace whenever you need to – checking people finder, completing tasks, sharing information.  This means you can be more productive and aim for a better work/life balance.  No more waiting to get to an office before you can do your work.  And with the right device you can do your work better, maybe faster too.

You need reliable access to your digital workplace when you need it.  If your organisation gets it wrong then you probably won’t use the digital workplace so much.  Your IT network needs to be reliable for speed and availability.  If it is frequently down for a hour or so you won’t trust it and become reluctant to use it.  If it is slow then you will vote with your feet and stay in a physical office where you can contact people and work better.


You must be confident you have secure access to your digital workplace.  Your organisation needs to be confident it will not be abused by anyone away from their physical workplaces.  For example if you want to check your pay record online you want 100% confidence only you can do this.  Likewise if you need to access sensitive information online the organisation also needs 100% reassurance only those with the right permissions, like you, can use it.

To be fully productive you need to use these services with confidence about how secure they are in a digital workplace.


Your organisation needs to develop and have available the things you need to do your work.  Research will be needed before your digital workplace can be used.  You should be involved and asked questions like:

  • What is the information you need?
  • What applications do you need for your work?
  • What collaborative tools do you to share?
  • Will any device work in your digital workplace?

All of these need to be addressed before you need them.  It may take your organisation time, effort, and money to research fully what is needed.  However it will be seen as an investment in the months afterwards when you start using your digital workplace because it helps you to be more productive.

Please contact me if you need my help or leave a comment on this post.  My next post will cover how the weather can help your digital workplace.

What is a digital workplace?

Last week at the IntraTeam event in Copenhagen (Twitter #IEC12) there were many discussions about the digital workplace and what exactly is a digital workplace.

I thought it would be good to start a debate on what we mean when we say the digital workplace. Many intranet professionals want to find out more about the digital workplace.  Here is my view for you to consider and comment upon.

What exactly is a digital workplace?

I define the digital workplace as “Work is what you do, not where you go to.”

In a digital workplace you are able to:

  • Work in any location.  This may be at home, in your own or anyone else’s office, on the train, or ideally anywhere that suits you at the time you need to.
  • Do your work.  This may making a room booking, checking a person’s contacts details, searching for information you need, or reading the latest news.
  • Use any device.  This maybe your laptop, a shared PC, a smartphone (iPhone), or tablet (iPad).
  • Share information.  This means being able to use collaboration tools to help other people.
  • Search across all places where information is and you have permission to use.

What is the difference between a digital workplace and an intranet?

An intranet has a more limited role.  An intranet typically has corporate news and documents e.g. policies. Publishing will probably use content and document management systems.  A digital workplace will also have:

  • Collaboration tools e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasts
  • Micro blogging tools e.g. Yammer, Twitter
  • Knowledge sharing/building e.g. team wikis and share workspaces
  • Applications/tools e.g. HR tools, online training, sales performance
  • Processes e.g. approving decisions, compliance checks

It will help me and other intranet professionals if you can comment to agree, disagree, amend, etc, to create a shared understanding on the digital workplace.  Thanks in advance.