Category Archives: best practice

‘Digital success or digital disaster?’

When 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 governance has been neglected.Book cover - Digital success or digital disasters

Even a strong and appropriate strategy will founder if the governance isn’t in place to execute it.  Governance is the foundation for a great intranet, and by ‘great’ I mean an intranet that everyone find easy to use, helps them with their work, and supports their organisation’s goals.

I have blogged about intranet governance but my book offers a lot more than I could ever drip-feed via short posts.  This book helped crystallise my thinking around governance, and delve deep into my past experiences as intranet manager and consultant.

Take a look at my book called ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’ if you have a problem with your intranet, collaboration site, digital workplace or mobile workspace that needs better governance.

It is published through Intranätverk and offers you my experience, guidance, and tips for you to consider as a toolkit to improve how you manage your intranet.

Collaborative intranets for engagement must be accessible to everyone first

My thanks to @dianarailton who tweeted an article ‘UK retailers still failing to meet web accessibility standards‘.  With so many barriers in stores if you are disabled, shopping online from the comfort of your home is an attractive option.  Furthermore, under the Equality Act 2010 all retailers must provide access to their goods online as well as in store.

There were several common themes why all of the web sites failed to meet the Level AA of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.  This means that disabled people would face difficulty in buying a product on each site, with half of the sites completely inhibiting people at certain points in their journey.

The Equality Act 2010 applies to intranets as well as external sites in the UK.  Other countries have similar laws their intranets need to comply with.

Are you serious about engaging with people and collaboration?

How can an organisation engage with all its employees if a minority cannot use the intranet?  How do employees collaborate using the tools on the intranet if some people cannot access them?  First, your intranet must be accessible for this to achievable.

When I hear people talk about making their sites accessible, some still think as long as the design can be read by JAWS for people who are blind.  It does!  But the scope is far wider than that for a site to be truly accessible to everyone.

It is accepted that 10-20% of people have some form of disability.  This includes people whose finger joints become stiff or eyesight needs glasses and the size of text to be enlarged.  Most of these disabilities happen just through the normal ageing process and wear and tear on life at work and home.

For your intranet to be fully accessible these barriers that prevent employees fully engaging and collaborating must be removed.

How to make your intranet accessible?

Wearing my governance hat I believe you need to take the following steps:

  1. Have a governance framework that covers how content is published and who is responsible for creating and managing it.
  2. Have an Accessibility publishing standard that refers to the WCAG guidelines and explains how a publisher creates accessible content.
  3. Have publishing templates that mean content can be enlarged to allow everyone to read it.  Have images with mandatory fields to describe what they show as alternative text for people unable to view the images.
  4. Provide training to help educate your publishers to understand why this is important and how they comply.
  5. Audit random samples of content to ensure it complies with the Accessibility standard.

If you put all these steps in place you will have a solid foundation for your intranet.  You can encourage people to engage with your organisation and to collaborate with each other.

You can then be confident you can reassure your stakeholders this will happen.

 

Intranets: a book that covers everything

‘Intranets’ is an anthology that covers many aspects of intranets with each chapter in the book covering a different topic relevant for your intranet.  I kept thinking as I contributed to it “If only this book had been available when I worked with intranets”.

Other organisations’ intranets are one of their best-kept secrets with no access to see the hidden gems or maybe worst horrors.  They are hidden behind firewalls which make it hard to learn from others’ successes and failures.

‘Intranets’ shows many examples with practical advice on what to do to replicate these or maybe how to avoid making a mistake.  Many people like me who have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly with intranets have contributed chapters to help your understanding and share our knowledge of intranets.

An intranet can deliver great value and be useful for everyone working within an organization.  Intranets aims to give you a guide on how to create a modern and useful intranet – through continuous improvement and governance (of course!).

You can read this book from first to last page or read each single chapter separately. The book is for intranet managers, or those wanting to understand intranets. It is also a good read for managers, communicators or anyone who wants to learn about intranets!

Digital equality for a better work/life balance

I have read with interest recent articles and events that show how intranets and digital workplaces are helping to create a greater sense of freedom and better work/life balance leading to more equality.

It is a view I have held for many years since I experienced the benefits working from home at BT with flexible hours and clear responsibilities and priorities to help me.

Equality

In the UK official figures show that women aged 25-54 are more stressed than their male colleagues, with this pressure peaking for those aged 35-44, when many women are juggling family responsibilities, such as caring for children and elderly parents.

One way of relieving some of that stress would be flexible hours and location policy.  However this can normally only be achieved if the culture is right and you have remote access to the information and work processes on the intranet.

Reduced working hours

In Spain, the employment minister, Fátima Báñez, announced a push to let Spaniards finish work at 6pm, rather than 8pm. The government has also said it is willing to consider, as part of a series of measures designed to improve work-life balance, reversing the Franco-era decision that put Spain in the wrong time zone.

Some companies in Sweden are moving to a six-hour working day in a bid to increase productivity and make people happier.  “The eight-hour work day is not as effective as one would think,” says the CEO of Filimundus.

“To stay focused on a specific work task for eight hours is a huge challenge.  In order to cope, we mix in things and pauses to make the work day more endurable.  At the same time, we are having it hard to manage our private life outside of work.”

The aim is for people to be more motivated to work more intensely while in the office.  Again without access to the right information and work processes on the intranet this will be more difficult to achieve.

Work/life balance

Working Families is a UK work-life balance organisation. The charity helps working parents and carers and their employers find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work.  They also share best practice with case studies highlighting the achievements of winners and nominees for Top Employers for Working Families Special Awards.

Work related stress already costs Britain 10.4 million working days per year. The human costs of unmanaged work related stress extends far beyond this. A key way to protect your mental health against the potential detrimental effects of work related stress is to ensure you have a healthy work-life balance.

Summary

The examples for the Flexible Working category show this is not rocket science.  It is something that organisation of different type, size and purpose can succeed with.

I am NOT claiming that a good intranet or digital workplace will magically lead to this happening.  There are many factors to be considered and acted upon.

What I AM claiming is that a strategy for people having access to the right information and work processes whenever and wherever it is needed.  Careful planning to implement the strategy is essential.  Making sure everything is well-managed and can be relied upon being accessible and reliable.

It doesn’t happen by chance or overnight.  Organisation need to realise the value of their intranet or digital workplace first and to understand how it is the foundation for improving people’s productivity.  That’s where we need to step up to the mark!

Secrets of a well managed SharePoint intranet presentation

Recently I had the privilege to speak at SharePoint Congress 2016 about the secrets of a well-managed SharePoint intranet.  Using my book ‘Digital success or digital disaster‘ as a reference I covered the need to have an effective strategy to set the right direction for your intranet.

You need a good governance framework to make sure you continue in the right direction.  It give the strong foundation to manage your intranet on a daily basis.

What became clear from my conversations with intranet professionals during the day is that governance has a higher priority now.  Each version of SharePoint is more complex and challenging to be managed effectively.  What was needed and how that can be implemented are big questions that people find difficult to answer completely.

My presentation can help answer some of these questions.  They can be found here along with other related presentations that may be helpful to you.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersIf you want more help on governance you can find out more detailed information and examples in ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Why not try the introductory chapter for free or contact me?

 

A roadmap for SharePoint governance

A ‘well-managed SharePoint intranet‘ is a phrase you rarely hear.  Why?  It is because SharePoint’s complexity can overwhelm you. What are the right steps to managing all the SharePoint features you need to use?

There are many publications on how well SharePoint can be managed, but few written by people with first-hand experience who achieved this. As the former BT Intranet manager, I implemented and managed a SharePoint intranet and, since leaving BT, help clients with their SharePoint challenges.

Using examples from my book ‘Digital Disaster or Digital Success‘ I will show you how the right strategy, governance framework and smart publishing standards give you a well-managed SharePoint intranet. I will help you avoid the most common mistakes people make. I will also show the benefits you gain from taking the right approach.

At SharePoint Congress 2016 on 22 September in Utrecht my keynote presentation ‘The secret of a SharePoint intranet‘ will cover what you need for a well-managed SharePoint intranet. After my keynote I will hold a breakout session to explain the next steps you need to take in ‘A roadmap for SharePoint governance’.

This session will explain how you take the right steps that help you to manage SharePoint permissions, roles and responsibilities, features like Master Pages, Content Types and SharePoint Designer. Developing a governance framework that covers all of these will help you discover the secret to a well-managed SharePoint intranet.

I hope to see you at SharePoint Congress 2016. It is a fantastic chance for you to find out more about SharePoint from some great speakers. If you can’t attend, then you can find out more about managing SharePoint intranets successfully from my book.

 

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.