Category Archives: collaboration

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

Your publishing standards toolkit

In my last post ‘Looking under the intranet bonnet‘ I explained how publishing standards are the foundation to a consistent user experience. The problem I find is that most organisations have publishing standards – usability is the most common one – but how they are implemented can be flawed.

I recommend you follow the next steps and use it as part of your publishing standards toolkit.  The other part of your toolkit will be the publishing standards.

  1. Frequently I find there is no agreed scope for the application of publishing standards.  Is it just for news and policies?  What about applications or collaboration tools?  Agree the scope in line with your strategy, action plan, and roles and responsibilities.
  2. Then it is about how these publishing standards should be applied.  There are many different approaches that I recommend depending on their needs.  The main aim is to have a consistent method that improves the publisher and user experience.  It also reassures organisations that content is secure, especially sensitive or personal information, and managed well.
  3. I find organisations do not appreciate the benefits of a well governed intranet or digital workplace until a crisis occurs.  Then you find funding is not a problem and the problem is fixed as quickly as possible!  You need to have some way to measure their impact.
  4. A culture of risk management supported by policies, training, communication and education helps to ensure the value of well-managed information through publishing standards is critical.  This will vary from organisation to organisation but it is essential and cannot be ignored by wistful and over optimistic thinking.

When you have removed these barriers to an improved and more consistent user experience you will be able to apply your publishing standards and, this is real key to success, show the benefits from taking this approach.

In my next post will be on the first publishing standard and the benefits from applying it.

It is not too late to suggest a publishing standard or leave a comment on whether you agree or disagree with the points I have made in this post.

I am going to Intranet Now. Are you?

I signed up today to go to Intranet Now, the conference / unconference about intranets and the digital workplace. I am looking forward to going because it is:

  • about the Intranet NOW – practical case studies, real experts, and advice;
  • serious about how the intranet serves its business;
  • concerned with engagement, collaboration, and communication;
  • not dominated by any one technology but illuminated by examples of good practice from many;
  • a place to learn from others (sharing mistakes as well as successes);
  • curious and open to new ideas with room for experimental and left field ideas;

I also want to find out if the governance of intranets and the digital workplace is improving and if so, how that is being done.

It will be a great chance to meet new and existing friends face to face instead of virtually for a change.

There is an early bird discount on  Intranet Now tickets until 24 July so don’t delay, get your tickets today!