If you want your Intranet to be powerful, we need to have a little chat about what stands in the way of its success.
Did you cringe when you read this title? When you begin to imagine all the documents, policies, forms and what not, does your pulse race a little? Is it possible that a lack of intranet governance has created a situation that is at a minimum the root cause of why your people can’t find the documents they need? Is it that we are terrified of deleting documents because of the litigious sociality we live in?
Why are we so afraid to open the corporate junk drawer and look inside? I know why; it’s overwhelming! Where do you start? What do you keep and where should it go? As your blood pressure rises as a result of the enormity of the problem, and a trickle of sweat forms on your brow, you feel like you have opened Pandora’s box. Where do we go from here?
Intranet Solution Hoarding Challenges are Quite Consistent
Okay, take a deep breath, just remember, a waterfall starts with a single drop of water. You can’t ignore the problem once you have admitted you have one, nor would you want to. Your organization can change, but it will take a little effort. You are not alone.
BONZAI’s Solution Delivery Team Weighs In On Common Intranet Challenges:
“The challenges, I would say, are more similar than you would think, because at the end of the day, we’re dealing with an intranet solution. We’re not building different types of software or applications”.
“Intranet challenges are quite consistent. Typically, people can’t find information or their intranet is very old, so they have a lot of outdated content in there. They need that cleaned up. People always say ‘search sucks’ and we have to dig into what that really means for them”.
“There’s a whole host of things that clients mention time and time again, it’s quite consistent, and we try to build those answers into our delivery process so that we can answer some of those questions and help solve the issue. We pride ourselves on being proactive in supporting organizations to remedy the common intranet challenges that they face.”
Many Hands Make Light Work
The first step is knowing that you don’t have to do this all by yourself. Most organization know that data hoarding is a problem, and with just a little help they can tackle the issue head-on once and for all. You may have heard the saying ‘it takes a village’? For this next step, it certainly does. What you need to do is find other people at your organization that agree that the issue of not being able to find important information at your company is a problem worth solving. Once you have Identified your Caped Content Crusaders, it’s time to get started with the first step, a content audit. At BONZAI, we have prepared a methodology for our awesome clients to make this easier. It really helps.
I want to warn you that many people will say that all their content is important, none of it needs revision, and all of their documents must certainly be kept. In our experience over the last 5 years, we have found that the holiday menu from 2007 may not be crucial or another really good example is that outdated pager policy, does that policy really have a place on your Intranet?
The truth is, all content owners have the same frightening outlook at the potential of having to review all of their existing content, and they just don’t know where to start. This is where your Caped Content Crusaders come in to save the Data Day! Stay vigilant, this is one of the most important elements for an outstanding Intranet. Content is Queen on the Intranet, so the purging must happen. If you need help, let us know, we have a complete tool kit and process to make light work of this important activity!
3 Key Elements of SharePoint Intranet Information Architecture
1. Who are the Consumers of the Content?
It’s essential to define the users of the new intranet solution and discover the information that’s most important to them for the new digital platform. Other considerations that influence the consumers of the content are physical location, the device used to access the platform and details of their tasks for completion.
2. What Context do we have to Consider?
Sometimes there’s a specific line of business or focus that needs to be highlighted while also taking into account the optimal communication style. Is the intranet solution focused on formal, informal or a mixed style of communication? Specific labels and terminology that are familiar to users should also be considered. Organization specific Information and/or lessons learned around change management or organization culture should be incorporated as part of the contextual information architecture.
3. What Content Should be Available on the Intranet Solution?
Great intranets are often a result of organizations that invest in training for content authors and define the content publishing process so that they can have great content produced by trained content authors. Content on the intranet ought to follow an approval process so that it’s final and authoritative when it’s published on the SharePoint intranet. When looking for information, people typically take a task-based cognitive approach so it’s better to organize content by task rather than segregating information by department.
Clean Data and Elegant Information Architecture = Powerful Intranet Search
Some organizations believe that an off the shelf Intranet product can transform the experience for their end-users. This is not usually the case. It’s important to partner with a firm that deeply understands information architecture, and has the expertise to help you understand the best way to approach a new SharePoint intranet for your organization.
If we continue to build on the hoarding analogy, the first step is addressing the problem of too much content. The second step is a thorough clear-out of what remains. The third is organizing your content to ensure ease of finding information fast. The key to creating a sustainable intranet solution is implementing a robust governance plan to ensure the intranet receives the proper upkeep that it deserves. A ‘little and often’ approach to reviewing content is essential to creating a lasting intranet that grows in tandem with your organization.
The same ideas are what makes for an outstanding Intranet experience your end users will LOVE.
Once you have completed a content audit, the only data that remains on your SharePoint intranet will be of value to your end users. You have identified content that needs refreshing, and lastly, you have uncovered gaps where new content needs to be created.
Your Intranet Governance plan defines how your intranet will be managed before and after go-live, and who is responsible for what. Your plan has defined effective content publishing models, approval workflows and permissions, as well as any other new policies and guidelines needed.
Governance roles and responsibilities will help to ensure ongoing success if everyone knows who’s on the intranet governance team and what their role is. Popular governance roles include corporate champions, project owners, systems administrators and content authors.
The important work you do in advance of launching your new Intranet is key to creating an experience that will help your people find what they need with ease. Your efforts will also make certain that you never find yourself in a messy hoarding situation in the future!