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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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IBF benchmarking Model looks at intranets from four different perspectives:

  • Strategy & Governance
  • Metrics & Performance
  • Communication & Culture
  • Design & Usability

One of the areas that I focus on is Strategy & Governance  which looks at how well an organisation manages and develops its intranet. This includes alignment with business strategy, senior sponsorship, enforcement of controls and risk management. In this post I thought I’d summarise some of the themes that seem to keep coming up:

Keeping decision-makers involved

Intranet managers understand the importance of having some kind of steering group in place and normally work hard to get stakeholders together. Unfortunately, what sometimes happens is that senior people begin to delegate their seat to a more junior representative. The representative feels unable to make a decision without consulting their boss, so the meetings cease to be productive. This shifts the business of the steering group to more operational matters, so even more senior people disengage and the steering group grinds to a halt. Counter-measures to this include:

  • Have clear role definitions and a charter for the steering group. Use the chair’s influence to resist delegation
  • Keep it strategic, not too large, and don’t meet too frequently (quarterly seems about right)
  • Consider a Working Group  below the steering group to deal with more detailed matters.

Strategy Communications

This continues to be a challenge for Intranet teams. Some have no documented strategy, so its hard to communicate, but even when they do they tend to focus on updating their main champion. As IBF has recommended before in the intranet manager’s challenge, it’s important to enthuse a much wider group of stakeholders so that they have a shared view of the purpose and value of the intranet. Have a communications plan and make use of informal channels such as opportunities for one stakeholder to influence another, rather than just the formal ones such as status reports.

Following-up on compliance

Standards and guidelines only really add value if they are observed. When we benchmark, we look for evidence that publishers are trained not just in tool use but also in the relevant standards for visual design, writing online, usability and legal compliance. Having a systematic way to check if the standards are working is valuable too. It can help identify where intranet managers need to intervene. A simple ‘health check’ report on sub-sites can be an easy (and non-threatening) way to begin that discussion with publishers that have drifted. In some organizations, publishing the health check scores will also stimulate competition and raise quality levels.

For more on this topic see:

About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is DWG’s Managing Director for Member Services. In addition to heading up service delivery, she is responsible for member engagement, retention and growth. Nancy also sits on DWG’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Digital Workplace Group, Nancy was a accomplished executive at JPMorgan Chase where she built and led a global team in desigining and implementing an award-winning intranet. She also led digital enablement and business re-engineering initiatives.

Outside work, Nancy is a wine maker, fundraiser, meditator, wife and mother of two.

Connect with Nancy on Twitter: @nancyatdwg or on Google +.


  1. Sam,
    That’s a really good post. It covers all the obvious pitfalls you can fall into as you make the journey to managing and developing an intranet well.
    In BT we’ve made good progress with IBF’s help to achieving best practice.
    One new area which is of great interest is Web 2.0 or social media or user generated content and how that is governed.
    We think we’ve made some real progress in 2008 which I’ve covered in a blog posting you may want to use as a practical example.

  2. Thanks Mark. I like BT’s approach of adopting a different governance approach to social media and flagging this to users. Any chance you could share some screen shots in your blog?

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