Category Archives: digital workplace

‘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.

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!

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 get the right balance for governance

To make sure you get the right balance and gain the full benefits of an intranet or digital workplace, you need a clear strategy and purpose for how well it is managed.  By following the direction set by your strategy and principles defining its purpose the next steps are to develop the governance framework.

Defining the scope of your governance framework creates clarity for people in your organisation on what is included or excluded.  This is important if your intranet transforms into a digital workplace. As your intranet changes in its size and scope, so your governance framework will need to change to reflect this.

Create confidence that you have a clear purpose for the intranet.  Show how it supports yourorganisation’s goals.  This will make it easier for you to make the changes needed to the way your intranet is managed and developed. Your organisation should be clear about the reasons for these changes.  It will then be confident they will improve its effectiveness, and benefit people using the intranet.  Sharing your strategy and governance framework with your stakeholders will reassure them why they are supporting you.

You need to define your publishing model.  You should design it to provide the right conditions for a consistently good experience.  This applies whether people are publishing or accessing information or applications on your intranet.

It may be that you start with one model and then change to another in the future.  This will depend on your organisation and your intranet’s needs. Here are four examples of publishing models for you to decide which is most likely to meet your requirements:

  1. Centralised
  2. Decentralised
  3. Outsourced
  4. Hybrid

Once you have chosen the publishing model that will meet your requirements, you should follow the principles for good governance, as you develop a governance framework that includes:

  1. Scope
  2. Purpose
  3. Roles and responsibilities
  4. Publishing standards
  5. Publishing support

When developing your governance framework, consider including the different types of content – accredited and collaborative – and applications.  You should also factor in how people use the intranet when implementing your framework.

Once you have your scope and purpose outlined, you need to ensure everyone is clear about their responsibilities.  Having a hierarchy that links all the roles together and shows their responsibilities creates that clarity.  It also helps everyone to understand clearly how their activities affect other people.  Making it available on the intranet also gives it transparency and can prevent any confusion or misunderstandings.

Your governance hierarchy should have three levels.  Firstly, the strategic level for roles responsible for setting the direction for your intranet.  The intranet owner, champion, stakeholder and a steering group are all roles who can have responsibility for your strategy.

At the hub level, the intranet manager is the conduit in the governance hierarchy between the strategic and operational levels.  This role implements the decisions made about strategy, direction and timing of implementation.  Good communication channels and decision-making help everyone to understand what is happening and how they may be affected.

Lastly, at the operational level, you have the intranet team members and the wider publishing community.  These roles are responsible for implementing the strategy operationally, with day-to-day activities of publishing, editing, managing, reviewing, updating and removing content.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more about practical best-practice examples in ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Why not read the introductory chapter?

Why you need good principles for good governance

Always remember why you are developing your governance framework. With this framework, your strategy has clear direction, relevance, and resources needed to continue the momentum created. The framework is essential for a well-managed intranet from which your organisation benefits and which provide a consistently good experience. This is what people love to find and will encourage them to use it more to help them more with their work.

The purpose of a governance framework is to ensure you balance business needs with the user experience. Every intranet is different depending on the size, type, and culture
of the organisation it supports. However, there are some key governance principles that are common to their success.  These principles are:

  1. Know your organisation
  2. Define the scope
  3. Put people first
  4. Achieve the maximum
  5. Compare and benchmark
  6. Do what you say you will do
  7. Keep it legal

You can find a detailed explanation of each principle in this post with slides.

While these principles will vary in importance to you when you develop your approach to good governance, they are all important. In particular, you ignore the first at your peril. It is critical that you know your organisation well so you can plan and prioritise as you develop your governance framework.

Once you are clear on the first principle, you can follow through the other six and apply them appropriately depending on what you require for good governance. Keeping to these principles will help you to set the right direction you need to take and adapt to any changes that affect your organisation.

It may take more time and effort to follow these principles when creating the governance framework. However, when you set this against time saved in future if your framework is awed, it will feel a wise investment. Having a firm foundation in place at the outset will give you the confidence to move forward in the right direction and with the right approach.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersMy next post will cover how to develop a governance framework.  If you can’t wait for this, you can find out now about how to develop the right governance framework.  For practical best-practice examples try ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.

The right intranet strategy in 6 steps

In my first post in this series ‘What are the benefits of good governance?’ I said that intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. With an increasingly complex set of information, collaboration tools and applications developing your intranet, setting your strategy in the right direction is critical.  Your governance framework needs to support this strategy and manage everything in your intranet.

1. Understanding

You need to develop a clear strategy that will set the direction and pace of improvement for your intranet. Firstly, you need to have a good understanding of what type of organisation you work in and where it is going. Once you know and understand the strategy of your organisation, you will be able to set the right direction for your intranet, ensuring that it supports the organisation’s strategic priorities.

2. Alignment

If you want your intranet to be relevant and valued, this must happen. It must also align with other strategies for business areas and functions that may affect your strategy e.g. IT and Communications. The strategy will set out the scope it covers and help you to develop the right governance framework you need for the intranet.

3. Governance

The strategy also needs to show that governance on a day-to-day basis will be at the heart of your plans, to help keep your strategy on course and in the right direction. It will be the firm foundation for you to build your improvements needed for the intranet to meet your organisation’s needs in the future.

4. Priorities

You can group the activities needed around the quick wins you can gain in the short term; the bigger achievements in the medium term that may take more resources as well as time to meet; with strategic benefits you can deliver in the longer term. Be realistic about the amount of benefits you can deliver so you do not raise expectations too high. You also need to be clear how you will measure these benefits to demonstrate the changes. This is critical to your integrity with stakeholders’ views and opinions on you and your intranet.

5. Understanding

You need to aim for a strategy that ts with your organisation’s values and purpose, not just its priorities. It is no good trying to get everyone to run before walking. You need to understand what the intranet needs most and how you can deliver that. Getting that right makes it much easier to apply the best governance that is most appropriate and will help.

6. Communication

Lastly, your stakeholders have to agree and adopt your strategy. To increase your chance of success, make sure you present your strategy in a way they can easily understand. Your approach should be to invest as much time connecting with your stakeholders as aligning your strategy with their plans and policies. Follow this approach and you will be more successful in gaining approval for your strategy and requests for funding with business cases.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersIf you can’t wait for my next post, you can find out now about how to develop the right governance framework.  For practical best-practice examples try my book ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Read the introductory chapter to find out more.

What are the benefits of good governance?

This is the first post in a series of posts helpng you to find out what the benefits of good governance.

Intranets are now at a jumping off point to become digital workplaces. Organisations are no longer just talking about ‘digital’. They are now starting to take steps, sometimes slowly and tentatively, towards transforming their online content and apps into something that is better coordinated. People are connecting better now with their digital workplace or intranet whenever and wherever they need to be. This is helping them to be more productive and effective at work.

While this is great news for you, there is also pressure to make the right decisions. You need to choose the right direction and invest in the right technologies, skills, and resources. This could be called your ‘once in a 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 the proudest moment in your career rather an underwhelming disappointment? For your intranet to transform successfully into that wider digital workplace where people can collaborate, have mobile access and apps on demand, you need to consider what steps to take.

In my next post I will start to explain how a strategy supported by governance will give you the strong foundation you need to improve your intranet. The strategy for the intranet will set the direction to help people to be more productive and effective with their work. Your governance framework will keep you moving in the direction you have set for your strategy. It will support it by giving people the consistency they require.

Combined, these will encourage people to use the intranet more. They will be confident with the integrity of the content and applications that help them. To achieve this, your intranet needs to become (or remain) a critical business tool that supports your organisation’s key priorities. It has to benefit the people who access it for their work whenever and wherever they need to.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersIf you can’t wait for my next post, you can find out now about how to develop the right strategy and governance framework.  For practical best-practice examples try my 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 available.