Category Archives: collaboration

‘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.

 

Is your intranet a campaigning tool?

Have you been asked to support a campaign or issue that you feel strongly about?  I don’t mean someone asking you in the same room.  I am talking about finding out using social media like Facebook posts or tweets on Twitter.

Campaign groups like 38 Degrees and Sumofus are very successful in focusing people’s attention on an issue, engaging their support and transforming that into action that is effective in achieving its aim.

The speed with which support can be gained is very impressive.  The method of giving your support is very quick and simple.  The ripple effect from publicising progress gains a momentum of its own.

I am sure we can all think of recent successful campaigns.  Probably most of you have supported a campaign because the issue meant something to you…..

……which got me thinking (I know, that’s a dangerous thing for me to do! )

Would organisations have the courage to use their intranets as a business tool to identify barriers to employee satisfaction and productivity using a version of these tools?

Accepting that factors like communication channels, inclusive culture need to be working well, would tools like this help organisations avoid long-running disputes or make business decisions without being aware of the full picture?

In the UK (still part of the EU!) if an online petition reaches 100,000 signatures it has to be debated by MPs in Parliament and people who signed are updated on its progress and the outcome of the debate. (the latest was whether Trump should visit the UK or not).

So, with my governance hat on I believe this could benefit organisations and add to an intranet’s reputation as the nerve centre with a few simple rules.

  1. Avoid moderation.  Employees want to be trusted to have a free hand in the views they express and the range of support and how to gain it.  Most employees are able to see whether an issue is a genuine or just someone raising a personal gripe.
  2. Set a time limit for the length of the campaign.  You want to identify the burning issues that could quickly cause problems rather than those that will keep chuntering on for ever and are unrealistic.
  3. Set a sign-up threshold for issues to achieve before action is taken.  You could make that an absolute number e.g. 1,000 or a percentage of total employees.  An upper limit could mean that when the top-level of management next meet the issue is given a minimum of time to be raised and a decision to be made.
  4. Give this channel/tool the appropriate prominence and senior management support.  Employees need to realise it is not a gimmick but a serious approach to tap emerging thoughts and issues.

I am sure some of you will think this is unnecessary or even ridiculous and create nothing but problems.

Others may think ‘What is the downside?’ ‘What is there to lose by trialling it and seeing what happens?’.

You decide….!

Governance’s growing importance

During 2016 I have heard more and more people talking about:

  • the importance of good governance,
  • the need for a sound foundation,
  • clear roles and responsibilities,
  • publishing standards

that underpin and help their intranets and digital workplaces to be well-managed and successful.

It has been heartening this year to go to conferences and see examples demonstrated of good governance principles being applied successfully.

Governance is not a phrase or concept but something critical and practical that needs to be applied correctly so your intranet and digital workplace can succeed.

We work in different:

  • organisations that may be large, complex matrixes or small, simple structures
  • cultures that may be open and democratic or central and autocratic
  • publishing models with a central team or decentralised so everyone can publish content
  • publishing technology that needs to be managed and meet your requirements

How your intranet and digital workplace is managed is critical to its success.  Your requirements are understood by senior managers.  Your priorities are clear and accepted..

But where the problems start is knowing how to achieve this.  That is where the examples shown by intranet professionals help guide people.  They help to explain the ‘how’.

It is something I have worked on in different roles for the last 20 years.  There is no ‘one way’ to do this.  My book sets out different approaches and my blog posts also help shed light on what you could do.

I hope as we start to look forward to 2017 that you find the best way you can improve your intranet and digital workplace.  By finding relevant practical examples that meet your requirements you can make the improvements you want.

How to make a great start to 2016!

The start of a new year gives you the chance to make a fresh approach.  One area you may consider is improving how you manage your intranet, digital workplace, collaboration tool or site.

Have you a clear strategy that is aligned with other business area or function strategies?  Is it supported by a strong governance framework?  Most importantly, do people have a consistently good experience?

I have found having these helps people to be more productive and effective.  A consistently good overall experience helps achieve these benefits.  People need this every time they go online.  Whatever they want to do, they need to be able to rely on it.  It needs to give them confidence that it will always meet their requirements.

This benefits their organisation too.  People use it more frequently.  They are confident they can easily find what they need.  They know they can rely on the integrity of the information and applications.  Most importantly, it will help them with their work.  Organisations recognise it supports their business requirements.  They are viewed as valuable, even business critical, in achieving their strategic goals.

How do you achieve this consistently good experience?  Is it using a publishing technology?  Is it the visual design?  Is it the access people have?  It may well be that some or all of these do contribute to this.

However, having a clear strategy aligned with your organisation’s strategy, supported by a strong governance framework definitely helps.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersBased on 20 years experience, I have written for you ‘Digital success or digital failure?‘.  It is a practical, experience-based approach to growing and managing a successful intranet, digital workplace, collaboration tool or site.

Every approach is based on my experience with many practical examples, strategic guidance and quick tips to help you plan or turnaround an unloved intranet, digital workplace, collaboration tool or site.

Buy a copy of my book and keep it by your side so you can refer to it whenever and wherever you need to!

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 exactly is a digital workplace?

Recently several people have asked me what exactly is a digital workplace.  I start by defining the digital workplace as:

Work is what you do, not where you go to.”

While the digital workplace will vary depending on each organisation’s size, culture and structure, you will be able to all of these:

  1. Work in any location:  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.
  2. Complete tasks work online:  Make a room booking, checking a person’s contacts details, searching for information you need, or reading the latest news.
  3. Use any device:  Use your laptop, a shared PC, a smartphone  or tablet anytime, anywhere.
  4. Share information:  Be able to use collaboration tools to help other people.
  5. Solve problems: Ask for help from people you may not know in discussion forums and shared workspaces.
  6. Search:  From one place across all the places where information is and you have permission to access.

Of course, how your digital workplace is managed with a governance framework is critical to how good and integrated the experience will be.  You can find more here on how to get it right.

I will post next about the difference between an intranet and a digital workplace.