In an ideal world, the intranet should be:
- Easy to read
- Targeted to audience needs
- Delivered in a suitable format
It seems like a lot of work, right? In fact it is, and there is no silver bullet. A quality intranet will depend on hard work, persistence and collaboration from all departments. Despite this, we should not start to manage content without a strategic view.
Today we select 3 strategic topics that your intranet team should consider when planning the next steps of content creation and governance. In the end, we provide some valuable sources for those who want to explore more these topics further. Have fun!
Understand Publishing Models
In order to plan a successful strategy to deliver content on your Intranet, it is essential to first identify the publishing model. James Robertson has identified 5 publishing models in intranets:
- Fully Centralised Publishing: All content is published by the central intranet team, with business areas contributing information via email, Word documents and other source documents.
- Decentralized Publishing: Business areas are responsible for publishing and managing their own content.
- Publishing with Review: Content is produced by authors within business areas, but goes through some form of review before it is published to the intranet.
- Federated Publishing: A hybrid model is followed, with each business area appointing a coordinator who takes responsibility for managing intranet authors within their area.
- End-user Content Contribution: Staff across the organization can contribute news items or content to the site directly, without a formal role as an ‘author’.
It is very important that the decision makers understand the strengths and weaknesses of your publishing model. There is no best approach to take, and the publishing model should be decided in accordance with the company culture and information management needs.
For example, the first model (Fully Centralize Publishing) makes easier to maintain consistency and requires less effort in training, however, there is a risk of overloading the owner and limiting the quality of content around a specific expertise.
On the other hand, the ‘Decentralized Publishing Model’ has the advantage of multiple authors, providing more up-to-date content. However, the consistency in this model is harder to achieve and can easily become chaotic unless it is well managed.
Other models such as ‘Publishing with Review’, ‘Federated Publishing’ and ‘End-User Content Contribution’ are becoming more and more popular, taking advantage of Social Features and Workflow capabilities found in the intranet platforms (especially in Microsoft SharePoint). However, poor quality content and overwhelming the central team are real risks when working with them. The governance plan should gather resources accordingly and define coordinators in order to achieve success.
Keep in mind that Intranets can also have multiple publishing models, depending the size, the maturity level and information structure. Actually, an intelligent strategy is establishing a mix of publishing models, considering different realities on the same intranet.
In conclusion, the key is to explore the benefits first and gaps of your publishing model and plan the content governance accordingly. Don’t forget to communicate and validate it with your team before moving forward.
The Highest Value Content Comes First
Many intranet teams seek to publish ‘perfect’ content across their sites. While this is a noble goal, it is unrealistic, and it often leads to burnt-out project plans. In truth, the majority of intranet teams have scarce time and resources, with low headcount responsible for managing an intranet consisting of thousands of pages.
In this scenario, targeting efforts at the highest value content is essential. A smart solution is applying the 80/20 rule from ‘The Pareto Principle’, which says that 80% of your outcomes come from the 20% of your inputs. It is applied in different areas such as Business, Marketing, Sales. And why not with Intranet Content?
‘The Pareto Principle’
Several cases in the market illustrate that in fact just a small portion of content is essential for the entire organization, and only this portion should have the highest standards. After that, running progressively looser standards to the rest of the content, respecting the resources available. This approach is not admitting defeat. Instead, it is about ensuring that the Intranet is maximally useful, recognizing that content quality is only one element of this.
Managing the People Aspects
Everything is done by people, and success depends on people and their competencies. The right content is produced if the right people are involved and doing the right things. Recognizing this, intranet teams should focus part of their efforts on involving and guiding people that are creating content.
Follow these 7 tips:
- Training and evangelizing are essential. We cannot expect authors, stakeholders and users to be Intranet specialists. That is the job of the intranet. Also, innovation is a process that naturally requires special guidance.
- Understand the motivations and goals of authors. Consider that each person can have different motivations. Link these motivations with the intranet goals.
- Help authors to be effective. The greater the skills, the better the content that will be produced.
- Build bridges between authors and the intranet team. Building, sustaining and growing relationships should be part of the Intranet plan.
- Encourage good practices rather than enforcement. Understand authors have several other duties to perform. Use soft approaches showing the results of good practices.
- Valorize face to face. Ensure that the intranet team is open to deal in person with stakeholders and authors.
- Understand internal politics. Make sure the intranet has been effective considering the company culture.
- Consider people aspects are important to build collaboration and create a strong Intranet. Explore a range of approaches, and be opened to adapt your strategy over time to fit changing circumstances and needs.
Need some help?
Sounds like a strategy you could use but need some help? V51 Consulting specializes in Intranets and can help you achieve your goals. Contact us for details.
Would you like to read more about content strategy for an Intranet? Check these materials:
- Designing Intranets – Creating Sites That Work by James Robertson
- Managing Enterprise Content – A Unified Content Strategy by Ana Rockley and Charles Cooper