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In a nutshell, we merged IBF and DWF into one service and changed our name to "Digital Workplace Group." The new name represents the broader set of services we've grown to offer, beyond an original focus on just intranets. We also changed the name of our monthly webinar from "IBF Live" to "Digital Workplace Live."
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Yesterday I started talking through the intranet managers ‘vicious circle’. Today we’ll complete the circle and then look at some strategies to break it…
Large corporate intranets often grow through islands of different practices, where local business units develop the intranet to suit their local needs without necessarily considering the wider global needs of the organisation. This fragmented approach hinders the development of an overall and shared governance model. Without overall governance it’s really tricky to have formal strategies in place, prioritise IT development and develop long term plans.
From a user point of view, consistency in the use of an intranet is vitally important, preventing a user from having to re-learn or re-understand every new site they come across. However this organic and unstructured approach makes it very difficult to enforce relevant standards and ensure this consistency.
Often good guidelines are developed, maybe by an intranet review project, a piece of consultancy, or by the central intranet team. However if the resources and processes are not put in place to manage, police or enforce those standards on an ongoing basis, the intranet continues to become fragmented.
The intranet team typically spends time fire-fighting operational issues and trying to support dispersed publishers and encouraging them to keep to standards in an informal way, that many do not invest enough time and resource into forward planning and strategy development.
Without this the intranet struggles to be taken seriously by senior managers – and we are just back where we started!
The good news is there are many tips, tools and strategies out there to help break this cycle. Several are detailed in DWG’s recent report, some key bullet points below;
- Develop a formal strategy that shows the value of the intranet to the business
- Communicate strategy upwards, sideways and downwards
- Develop a governance model with clear roles and responsibilities
- Enforce standards and guidelines
- Ensure clear board level ownership of the intranet
- Involve all relevant stakeholders in the development process
There are also many resources on the internet;
- James Robertson talks about creating the upward spiral for your intranet
- Martin White also has a good white paper on the subject of intranet governance : an introduction
However you start to improve your intranet strategy development and governance, my personal tip would be to remember one thing, sometimes forgotten in the politics of intranet management, the USER. Intranets which are managed through good governance, develop a consistent user experience, provide accurate up to date information and make life easier for the user can only be am improvement.