Tag Archives: best practice

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.

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.

3 steps to manage documents successfully

Governance doesn’t just cover intranets.  It covers wider areas e.g. digital workplace and smaller focused areas e.g. web sites.  Recently I helped to improve how a client managed their documents.

There was little guidance to show the best way to use the existing file sharing systems.  There was no clear connection between policies that affect how documents are managed and how they were being applied on a day-to-day basis.

There were no examples showing how documents should be managed or help, contact points or places to share a problem or knowledge.

I recommended a governance framework containing consistent, relevant, up-to-date guidance to help people make the right decisions when creating and managing a document.  It included:

1  Standards

The standards set out how people behaved when:

  • Naming a function, project site or document
  • Creating, updating, sharing, approving, archiving and deleting a document
  • Setting permissions
  • Understanding their role and its responsibilities

2  Help

Making the right advice available to reduce the burden on the Document Management System owner by:

  • Online discussion group, open to everyone to ask questions, share hints and tips, and help solve issues raised.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: create FAQs to answer the same questions being asked regularly that give the definitive answer that people can refer to and save time.
  • How to guides: Guidance in the form of ‘How to…’ guide that contain practical hints and tips on using the Document Management System.

3  Training

Support people needing face-to-face training on how to use the Document Management System with further online training that helps to reinforce the changes people need to make.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFor more practical best-practice examples of good governance try 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 available

Intranet governance book – print edition

When I first started as an intranet manager, many years ago, I didn’t know where to find good practices or guidance. Blogs came along that shared people’s experiences and, over time, accepted approaches used. Social media has brought many intranet managers together in a loosely coupled network, which is different to a decade ago when organisations had a vacuum around them, denying external conversation.

This networking is good and valuable, because you don’t always want to search and wade through off-topic pages. Just like in the workplace, you often want to ask someone. Your personal network extends the knowledge available to you, even more so than Google.

But still, people wonder where to start, how to learn about the different ways of approaching intranet management and improvement. There are only so many questions you can ask on LinkedIn and only so many slightly irrelevant blog posts you can tolerate!

When I was an intranet manager, I felt I needed a practical guide to intranets that I could always have by my side to help me. Something that was based on first-hand experience so I could easily learn from it and how it related to my intranet.

It’s here that I trust my book on intranet (and website) governance fills a need; ‘Digital success or digital disaster?’ is now available in print (paperback) for delivery worldwide. When you order the printed book, the ebook is sent to you immediately. So there’s virtually no waiting.

As I’ve written my book from my hands-on experience within large organisations, and from my recent work with a wide variety of companies, I hope ‘Digital success’ will stand the test of time and be a valuable reference for you. It’s 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’.

Following the guidance given in this book, based on best-practice examples, you can make the right decisions more easily. You will be more confident the decision you make will achieve the improvements you want. Make your life easier and your intranet better by keeping this book with you to help lead the way!

“A practical, systematic, approach to intranet governance. Every intranet manager would find value in going through this with their team.”
Sam Marshall, ClearBox Consulting

Oh no! Avoid sinister underwebs!!

Developing the best governance framework will give the right support to your intranet and organisation.  Don’t forget your governance needs to help, not hinder, how people use the intranet.  That is the best way that your intranet can support your organisation’s goals.

Governance needs people using your intranet to be confident in the integrity of the information and tools every time they use them. They can always rely on your intranet helping, not hindering, them with their work.

Getting the right balance is critical to avoid a sinister underweb.  You need to be pragmatic with your governance approach. It doesn not have to be perfect but it must be good enough to give people confidence whenever they use the intranet.  What exactly do I mean?  Here is an example:

If your ‘Official’ intranet is designed and branded to a very high standard, containing all the information people should need but rarely use, the problem is probably that governance is too rigid.

Publishers must follow a complex process especially when it comes to branding for the ‘Official’ intranet.  If their site has an image that deviates by a few pixels it can’t be published.  Yes, it can be that tight!  To add to their misery, the steps to final approval are onerous and take a lot of time and effort.

Naturally, publishers become frustrated and look for other options to publish their content more easily.  Over time, an ‘Underweb’ starts to sprout up and competes with the ‘Official’ intranet.

If left unchecked, you can have a bizarre situation with an ‘Official’ intranet looking beautiful, on-brand, but little content that people need for their work. Conversely, the ‘Underweb’ thrives although it is not completely on brand.  It has information and tools that people use for their work and it’s easy to use.

You need a good publishing experience as it is easy to create content and make changes to meet people’s needs.  You also need a user experience that is good enough.

The lesson here is to remember the purpose of your intranet.  It is to provide the information and tools that people need to help them.  Your governance must support this.  Research with people using your intranet what they like most and what they do not.  It will quickly help you to assess if your governance is helping or hindering people’s use.

This means you need a publishing process that is both easy to use and compliant with your publishing standards.  You also need people using the intranet to have a consistently good experience.  Achieving the needs of both groups means you will have more productive and effective people.  That is what your organisation needs most of all.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid sinister underwebs 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 available.