Tag Archives: publishing

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.


The lowdown on publishing standards

Publishing standards are key to providing the right foundation for your intranet.  Your organisation will invest in the technology needed to publish information but technology will not be enough.  For people to be more productive, they need to be confident in the integrity and reliability of what they use and technology alone does not deliver that.

Publishing standards make that critical difference.  They form the basis for your intranet’s user experience to be consistently good.  These standards need applying to different types of content and tools.  You can set up publishing standards based on the following requirements:

  • Information policies
  • User needs
  • Legal
  • Regulation

The publishing standards you should consider are:

  • Ownership
  • Timeliness
  • Security
  • Findability
  • Usability
  • Accessibility
  • Navigation
  • Copyright
  • Compliance

As well as making your intranet the best experience for people using it, you also need to make it a good publishing experience.  The better the processes and support offered, the more likely it will be that publishers will follow the standards.  Make it easy for publishers to seek the right guidance by providing it on the intranet, saving everyone’s time.

With confidence in the integrity of your intranet content and applications, people will want to use them more frequently and become more productive.  To ensure that this happens, you also need to take steps to ensure publishers comply with each standard.  Compliance, implemented in a smart way, can be simple, effective, and of great benefit to your intranet users.

Find out more detailed information and publishing standards best-practice examples in ‘Digital success or digital disaster?‘.  Try the introductory chapter for free.

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?

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

Great intranets need the right governance to succeed

For anyone who reads my posts, you will know I call myself the Intranet Pioneer.  Recently I met a friend and digital consultant who jokingly referred to me as the “Intranet Guv’nor” because of my book about governance ‘Digital success or digital disaster ‘ that helps show people how to manage their intranets and other digital spaces better.

While I appreciated the joke, it did make me think about the meaning of governance.  Depending on who you ask, you will get a different response on what they think it is.  Sometimes it even creates a sense of fear!  People think it is ‘bad’ because it will stop you doing ‘good things’ online.

What do I mean by governance?  It is a word which has been described in different ways by many people with lots of diagrams and flow charts.  However, the problem is not what governance is for – it is how you apply it online. So let me be very clear here.  Governance is good and can be easy to apply well within an overall framework.

A governance framework covers:

  • The roles and responsibilities for different participants in your organisation (intranet manager, stakeholders, publishers and users)
  • The standards and processes for making decisions and through which objectives are set for all information and applications
  • Monitoring the actions, policies and decisions of intranet publishers and users

I have found the best intranets help people to be more productive and effective.  A consistently good overall experience helps achieve these benefits. People need this every time they use your intranet.

Whatever people want to do, they need to be able to rely on your intranet delivering it.  It needs to give them confidence that it will always meet their requirements.  Without this, people will be less productive and effective with their work.

This benefits their organisation too. People use their intranet 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.

It is having a strong governance framework supports an intranet or digital strategy, aligned with the organisation’s strategy.

Book cover - Digital success or digital disastersFind out more information on how to avoid this conflict 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.

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.

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.