Content management, leverage and the dark side of research

After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve started writing for SharePoint Pro Magazine again. Here are the latest articles. I’ll be more timely about posting them here for my subscribed readers.

Govern a SharePoint Intranet Effectively with Two Simple Content Management Techniques: A look at content review and site auditing

Why Organizations Don’t Leverage What They’ve Got: One explanation of why we just don’t use our technology to its fullest, wasting money and time in the process

The Dark Side of Site Audits and Requirements Definition: Examples of some of the scarier things we’ve uncovered for clients while conducting such research; all in the name of creating a better digital workplace

In addition to my writing, I’ve been doing some teaching. Two weeks ago I taught a program about Creating and Evolving a Great Intranet at the IABC Colorado chapter. Next week I’ll be teaching in Chicago at the ALI Intranet and Digital Workplace Summit. There it will be all about governance, one of my favorite topics.



Make up of your digital workplace governance team

Having just returned from vacation where I caught up on my online reading, I’m inspired to address a topic near and dear to my heart: who should do what when it comes to governing your digital workplace or intranet.

I read with interest this post about governance by Kelly Freeman with Interact Intranet. Generally, her commentary is sound. The section about who should be on the team is where I’ll elaborate.

First, there are many different roles to be played in governing the intranet. The governance team itself is just one. So, it’s important to  determine what you want that team to do. We typically recommend this body make strategic decisions, establish guard rails and enforce policy. If you agree with that, then this team should also prioritize and recommend initiatives for approval and recommend budget/funding plans. The team plays a pivotal role in ensuring leverage of the technology investment.

Second, members should include those who have something valuable to contribute, regardless of level or function. Not every c-level exec will have value to add. Your sponsors should participate, but weighing the team heavily with c-level suits may make it difficult to get necessary time. Instead, determine what perspectives you need for the group to make good decisions and ensure they are present.

Third, some functions are crucial to good decision making. These primarily include Human Resources, Legal/General Counsel, IT and Communications. The other one we add to this list is operations. Whatever your business, make sure you have some good thinkers from the revenue-generating side of the house.

Fourth, a larger group may make decision-making harder. We’ve worked with groups as small as three and as large as 30. The sweet spot is about 12; enough to ensure the right perspectives, but agile enough to move quickly. It’s not necessary to have every function represented, nor is it necessary to have every site manager or author on the team. In some organizations, those numbers can get into the hundreds. Best to set up a user group for them.

Fifth, identify a leader/facilitator for the team. Left to their own devices, unmanaged teams often wither. Your digital workplace governance team needs a leader; someone to schedule meetings, prepare materials, bug the members about reviews and attendance, and coordinate other resources that support the entire team. As Kelly notes about the day-to-day intranet manager, the governance team lead need not be a full-time role. But it is perhaps the most important role on the team.

So, in summary, when it comes to setting up a successful governance team, try these five things:

  1. Determine what you want the team to do
  2. Include people who have something valuable to contribute
  3. Ensure participation from crucial functions
  4. Keep the group from getting too large
  5. Identify a leader/facilitator

Happy governing!

Discovering your user voice

It’s always harder to invest time and resource upfront when you really just want to cut to the chase. The fun stuff. The creative challenge. Do we really have to sit around and listen to people first?

For communicators and designers working on intranets, that fun stuff is the branding, colors, fonts, images, etc. Doing research first is so boring!

My latest post for SharePoint Pro Magazine is a how-to for understanding your user voice:

Launching an Intranet: The Crucial Step You Cannot Skip

The more we invest in the crucial step of listening to users, the better able we are to address user needs, create business return on investment and establish an ever-evolving legacy of success.

I’ve recently started a new project for a new client. We are helping them create a roadmap for their SharePoint intranet, and part of the effort is discovering the user voice. We are using all the methods detailed in my article for SharePoint Pro.

Even after doing countless projects like this one, I still find it exciting to spend time with users, executives and other stakeholders. It’s fascinating to learn how they work, what drives them crazy and how the organization can get more out of their technical investment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to write about some of the project findings and how our client uses those findings to craft a sustainable digital workplace. Stay tuned!