13 essential elements of SharePoint intranet governance

SharePoint intranet governance covers three of our favourite topics: SharePoint, intranets and governance! Governance is one of the key elements for the success of any SharePoint intranet – it covers the policies, processes and roles that ensure your intranet works optimally, keeps its strategic value and contains great content.

In the past, we’ve written extensively about the elements you need to include in your intranet governance framework, as well as governance for other 365 tools such as Microsoft Teams. In this post, we’re going to explore some of the primary elements you need for SharePoint intranet governance, although there may be additional elements needed depending on what you use your SharePoint intranet for.

1. Strategic bodies and cross-functional groups

A SharePoint intranet is a strategic, enterprise-wide investment that has both direct and indirect stakeholders. When driving buy-in across the organisation and ensuring alignment with corporate strategy and other initiatives and roadmaps, involving cross-functional groups in your SharePoint intranet governance has real value. Typically, this might include members of Comms, HR, IT, Knowledge and other support functions.

Depending on your size, culture and needs, as well as the maturity of your intranet, there could be two groups: a higher level steering group that discusses strategy and meets, say, quarterly, and an operation-focused working group that meets more regularly. There is likely to be information flows and escalation of different issues and decisions concerning the intranet between the two.

2. Information architecture, site scope and hierarchy

Information architecture is always a critical part of any intranet, for example, in defining the navigation. It’s also very important in determining the different SharePoint sites that comprise your intranet, and, if you are using SharePoint Online out of the box, the hierarchy of hub sites and ultimately the home site that can define your SharePoint homepage.

You may also need to decide on the scope of the intranet if you have existing SharePoint sites that sit outside the intranet estate. Card sorting exercises and further testing are a good way to ensure that your information architecture is user-centric. For your SharePoint site hierarchy, how you want internal comms news to roll up to different hub sites within your intranet can also have an influence.

3. Search and taxonomy

SharePoint search is increasingly being used for your intranet search, and it definitely needs governance to scope its limits as SharePoint search can extend right across your 365 tenant. Sometimes, this can lead to issues if files on SharePoint sites outside the intranet aren’t security-trimmed with the right permissions, as they can be suddenly exposed via search.

You may have some taxonomy items that are controlled via the SharePoint Term Store that contribute to findability; the definition and management of these terms will also need to be part of your SharePoint intranet governance framework.

4. Relation to other M365 channels

Office 365 and Microsoft 365 tools are increasingly integrated, and have some overlapping capabilities. In terms of governance, it helps to map out the relationship between SharePoint and other tools and channels in terms of integrations, user experience and which tools gets used for what content and communications. For example, you may want to delineate between when Teams gets used for more local, team-focused content and when your SharePoint intranet gets used for content that is of wider interest.

You may want to clarify the relationship between Yammer and SharePoint – when do you use SharePoint commenting, and when do you use Yammer? How are Yammer sites integrated? The future relationship between your intranet and Viva Connections may also need to be decided, as well as how you evaluate and introduce future additional tools and features to the 365 suite.

5. Personalisation and targeting

A successful SharePoint intranet will rely on personalisation and audience targeting to deliver a relevant experience with related content. The approach to personalisation and ensuring the integrity of your data needs to fall under your governance framework in terms of which groups to target, how this relates to other Office 365 groups, how the right metadata and tagging is added to content and how your Active Directory data is kept up to date, for example, by synchronising with your HR system of record. The tagging you use will also need to be aligned with your information architecture; this falls under how you control your taxonomy.

6. Approach to customisation, plug-ins and integrations

Many intranet teams are now choosing to use SharePoint Online straight out of the box, although others will use an additional “in-a-box” product like LiveTiles. In both these scenarios, some limited customisation might be in place to enhance design or add new features. Plug-ins might be utilised, and most intranets will also introduce some integrations.

In order to ensure there is tight management of the platform’s upgrades, as well as to ensure a good user experience, there needs to be governance in terms of control over what level of customisation is allowed, which plug-ins are in use and the integrations that are employed

7. Roles and responsibilities

A central part of any SharePoint intranet governance framework is working out all the different roles and responsibilities, relating to both central team and distributed roles. This needs to cover the management, content and technical aspects of all your intranet operations. Having clarity here means everybody is far more likely to meet expectations and carry out the tasks they have agreed to do, helping the intranet to run optimally. A RACI matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) is a good way to establish the different roles and responsibilities your framework should cover at a high level, including:

  • Strategy
  • Day-to-day management
  • Managing the intranet homepage
  • Central communications and content
  • Technical support
  • Development and integrations
  • Adoption and engagement
  • Design and branding
  • SharePoint administration
  • Search and taxonomy
  • And more!

There are many other important roles related to content governance which are also included below, and which support decentralised publishing on your SharePoint intranet.

8. Content strategy

At the root of intranet governance is a detailed content strategy that establishes what you want your intranet content to do, the benefits it will deliver, how you intend to deliver that content and how you will keep it up to date. This can cover elements such as the role of news and communications, different content types and buckets, the utilisation of imagery, how metadata is being used and even how you intend to measure success. You content strategy will be closely aligned with your digital communications strategy and your intranet strategy. From here, you can then define other content-related elements of your SharePoint intranet governance.

9. Publishing standards

Although there are many aspects of SharePoint intranet governance, ensuring the quality of your content is essential. An intranet with poor content is an unsuccessful intranet. Defining and documenting publishing standards will help ensure your intranet content is engaging, well-written, timely, up-to-date, accurate, purposeful and on-brand. Intranet teams who work with a decentralised publishing community should have detailed published guidelines available, as well as a more succinct summary of the main points to help content publishers maintain good content.

10. Content roles and responsibilities

Another key element of SharePoint intranet governance is the associated content roles and responsibilities. This might include establishing who is responsible for central content areas like your homepage, news centre and lists of apps and tools, as well as detailing the responsibilities and tasks of local publishers and individual page owners at a site or section level. Part of establishing content roles is ensuring there is clear and visible ownership of every page, driving accountability for your content.

11. Content lifecycle management processes and approvals

There should be several content processes within your governance, including any necessary approval workflows, author reviews of content, translations of content, action on user feedback about content and more. These should cover the entire content lifecycle, including archiving and deletion.

12. Terms of usage and other policies

Any SharePoint intranet governance framework is likely to need a terms of use policy for users about what they can and cannot post. This might cover acceptable usage, GDPR and privacy elements, posting copyrighted materials and also what happens if employees do not follow the terms of use. There are likely to be further related policies and processes, such as what happens when a person reports a piece of content or when content is archived.

13. Templates and webparts

You might establish site and page templates to help your publishers maintain their sites and drive consistency throughout your intranet. You may also want to restrict the use of particular web parts, although this is not always easy to do with SharePoint Online out of the box.

SharePoint intranet governance

SharePoint intranet governance can help create a successful and sustainable intranet that supports employees, drives value and provides great content. We’ve outlined some of the main elements in this post, but there will likely be other processes and policies to consider. If you’d like to discuss SharePoint intranet governance, then get in touch!

Microsoft Teams governance best practice

The governance of Microsoft Teams is a topic that clients keep on asking us about. Having effective governance in place is important, not only to manage risks around privacy and security, but also to make your Teams environment easier to manage and to drive adoption.  It is very easy for a Teams environment to get out of control with a sprawl of sites that is difficult to manage and negatively impacts the user experience; having robust governance will help make Microsoft Teams more successful and sustainable across your organisation.

The governance of Teams has never been more important. As the coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to switch to remote working almost overnight, Teams adoption has been dramatically scaled up and platforms rolled out. Expediency may have meant that not all organisations have had time to consider and prioritise governance. However, once the dust has settled it is important to think about how you can establish some processes and implement policies across the platform.

In this article we are going to take a deeper dive into the governance of MS Teams and some of the areas to consider. It is worth noting that Microsoft keeps on investing in MS Teams so it is very possible additional governance capabilities may be available by the time you are reading this! Well aim to keep this article up to date as changes appear.

Lets explore some different areas of governance relating to MS Teams.

1. MS Teams in your overall digital workplace governance framework

The overall governance of MS Teams needs to be considered in the context of your wider digital workplace or intranet governance framework and related content strategy. Governance covers the policies, processes, standards, bodies and other elements that will dictate how you run your Teams environment in terms of aspects such as overall ownership, security, support, training, strategic governance and more.

More specifically it needs to address:

  • Who is responsible for each Teams space?
  • What Teams spaces are used for and what other channels are used for
  • The use of other collaboration tools like Slack
  • Support and training an area we look at in more detail below.

2. Teams provisioning

Out of the box, Teams allows any user to set up a team and run it how they want. However, there are settings and options available that allow you to control the Teams provisioning process. This process is critical for effective governance and is your opportunity to put controls in place to limit Teams sprawl. Sprawl happens for a variety of reasons including duplicate teams set up by different people; teams set up by people trying out teams for the first time; teams that have a fixed lifespan but are not decommissioned. If you want to avoid Teams sprawl, you need to control the provisioning in some way.

The site provisioning process is also an opportunity to collect metadata about each team that can help you manage the platform later on, and even create model teams (Teams templates) spaces for different purposes. With an effective provisioning process, you can:

  • Put in approval workflow for the creation of a team and vary this depending on who is requesting the team or what the purpose of it is
  • Vary the type of team to be created based on different criteria, spinning up teams based on templates and even force people to use alternatives such as team sites or Yammer groups
  • Collect the metadata and information that can help with a variety of different areas; this is not only approval workflow and type of team, but also to support findability, the creation of central directories of teams, team owner review processes and more
  • Enforce policies such as team naming conventions.

Some of these topics are covered in more detail below.

Team provisioning in MS Teams straight out of the box is pretty limited so you either need to supplement it with a product like Wizdom for Teams which has an effective provisioning engine (and doubles up as a Teams intranet), or by building Teams customisations using tools like SharePoint, PowerApps and Power Automate and suited to your specific needs. We have worked with both approaches and they can be highly effective. When you take this approach, you also need to lock down the out of the box capability in the admin settings.

With Wizdoms provisioning capability you can create the provisioning experience from within MS Teams for users but then create, depending on the purpose of the site being requested and who is requesting it, varying approval workflows, a template for that Team space or even an alternative type of space such as a Yammer group, a SharePoint team site or Office 365 group.

3. Metadata and other information

The point at which you provision a team is your opportunity to collect any data you need about the team from the person requesting it in order to help with governance; using a product like Wizdom or  a customised provisioning tool allows you to create the form you need to gather all the associated critical metadata you need. This metadata can determine the rules to follow around workflow, type of site and more; you can also associate Power Automate (formerly Flow) to trigger even more complex workflows and notifications.

Other metadata and information to gather can also underpin critical elements of Teams governance such as:

  • Establishing who are the owners or users
  • Setting a review date to check the team is still needed
  • Level of security associated with the team
  • Tags to aid findability, for example in keyword searches on your SharePoint intranet or categories in a site directory
  • A clear description of the Team purpose.

Again, using Teams out of the box just does not provide you with these opportunities to implement robust governance.

4. Lifecycle management

Site provisioning is key, but so is also knowing when to close down a site. Using the metadata collected means you can put in effective processes around the proper lifecycle management of a Teams space. For example, putting in a review date and effective workflow means you can offer notifications to a team owner to review their team, and then additional workflow to delete or archive it based on the results of the review. This helps you to keep your Teams environment up to date and less cluttered, supporting a better user experience, while still ensuring compliance with wider information management policies relating to deletion.

5. Individual Teams configuration via templates

As already stated, using a provisioning engine means you can also create different templates for Teams sites depending on their purpose, with default channels set up, standard tabs, folder structures, integrations and even pre-set documents added. For example, your organisation may have a standard project methodology and you may want to automatically set up sites for users that have a channel for each step of your project methodology. Perhaps you may want to set up a site for marketing teams working on a bid that includes branded PowerPoint templates. Take a look at our video case study on a custom Teams provisioning tool using templates that we built for a private equity firm to help them better manage investments.

To make this effective you need to use a product like Wizdom, carry out a customisation or an expert-driven configuration. Although with out of the box Teams there is the ability to use a template by copying another site, users can only pick from a list of all Teams spaces which is simply not effective.

6. Other administration policies

Teams administrators usually working in the IT function or digital workplace team are also able to set important policies which can be implemented across the platform and again are an essential part of governance; these can align to your wider information management, data security and digital workplace policies. For example, you can control:

  • The navigation options for the whole platform, for example adding different Teams apps which can even be targeted to different groups and locking down different features
  • Messaging policies that impact the ability to collaborate externally, for example stopping all external users accessing spaces or more specifically viewing documents
  • Trusted domains for external users, for example only allowing email addresses from a certain organisation
  • Naming conventions for teams to aid findability
  • Default or suggested Teams for new starters based on their profile
  • Wider archiving policies
  • Define the format of certain types of information that cannot be added to a Team such as a credit card number.

7. Governance controls for individual owners

Each individual team also has a raft of governance measures such as who can access the Team, whether particular channels are private, what users can see within each channel and other configuration options.

8. Training and support

Another critical element of your wider governance of MS Teams is the training and support that helps drive adoption and best use. This might include:

  • Self-service resources on how to use Teams
  • The role of the IT helpdesk in answering queries
  • An expert support community
  • Targeted training
  • Guidance on when to use Teams and when not to use Teams
  • Campaigns to help drive usage
  • Local champions and coordinators
  • A central team responsible for strategy and adoption.

Optimising your MS Teams platform with governance

Governance is essential for your MS Teams environment, helping to minimise risk and make the platform more manageable, but also to optimise the user experience. If youd like to discuss any of the points in this article or need help establishing robust governance for Teams then get in touch!

Fifteen essential elements that should be on your intranet governance checklist

One of our most popular posts has been our intranet governance checklist, a list of some of the essential ingredients that intranet teams need to have in place to establish robust governance to make an intranet successful and sustainable. Given the evolution of intranets over the last three years, the growth of the digital workplace and other practices such as agile methodologies, we thought the time was right to revisit the checklist. You can check out our original list and then compare it to our new, more detailed list below.

Intranet governance are the elements that stop intranets failing

Governance sounds quite a dry topic and even more so if we define it as the collection of policies, processes, roles, standards, rules and guidance that makes your intranet run every day. However, it is essential, so perhaps another way to think about it is as those elements which stop your intranet failing.

Over the years weve seen many intranets that need rescuing. Adoption might be very low, content might be inaccurate, items may be very hard to find and trust from users and stakeholders has been eroded.  The reasons for failure are numerous, but along the way there is almost always a lack of intranet governance or governance that has been poorly executed or has simply evaporated over time. Interestingly the reasons we listed in our original post, are all still true today. To recap:

Lack of input from the business at design and after launch

When an intranet doesnt involve the business, it can end up lacking support and buy-in from stakeholders, and in turn credibility from users. It can also end up as a technology rather than business initiative. The lack of support means it is very hard to drive improvement, get good adoption, or achieve strategic relevance.

Lack of content strategy

Intranets rely on good content. Without a strategy around the content lifecycle and without a taxonomy or effective use of metadata, intranets end up a sprawling mess with out of date content and poor findabilty.

Lack of stewardship and support

Without guidance and training for business stakeholders, the intranet and its constituent sites lack quality and consistency. The intranet is confusing and effectively becomes a digital Wild West.

Lack of funding and resources

Intranets need people to run them and budget to drive capabilities and upgrades. Most intranets are already under-resourced. If they are not properly funded, they fail.

Poor technical infrastructure

A lack of technical governance leads to slow and buggy platforms, as well as barriers such as a lack of Single Sign-On. This leads to frustration and dwindling adoption.

Poor user experience

Weve been battling against badly designed and poorly structured intranets from day one. Users, content owners and stakeholders give up on an intranet with poor UX.

Lack of senior level support

If you dont have the support of senior stakeholders or different groups such as IT your intranet can not only lack resources, but also lack direction.

Lack of alignment to the digital workplace and related roadmap

Heres one we didnt mention last time around!  The line between intranet and digital workplace is increasingly blurred. If your intranet doesnt align to your Office 365 roadmap or other digital workplace plans and platforms, your intranet really is missing a trick and will be less relevant in the medium to long term.

An intranet governance checklist for 2020

Heres our view of 15 key elements you need to establish for robust intranet governance.

1.Intranet strategy and roadmap

A documented strategy and roadmap covering the fundamental purpose of the intranet, its current direction, how it aligns to your organisational strategy, and its key objectives and aims. Ideally this should also include criteria for success.

2.Steering committee

Most intranets for larger organisations have some kind of steering committee which represents different functions (IT, Comms, HR etc.) and may include the heads of these functions. A steering committee will sign-off strategy, make or ratify major decisions and generally make sure the intranet is going in the right direction. Some larger organisations have a more senior steering committee and more of a working group.  Groups have a purpose and meet regularly.

3.Roles and responsibilities and related ownership

It takes many different roles to run an intranet. These should be defined and can include individuals and groups. It can cover the central intranet team, your steering committee, as well as site managers, owners, and associated content roles. There will also be specialist and technical roles, for example in IT or covering search. As well as defining roles, associated ownership should be defined. The ideal way to do this is through a RACI matrix

4.Content strategy

A content strategy should define all your content governance measures and should understand the purpose of content, the types of content and how they are being delivered. A document content strategy should be based on user research and also align to your wider intranet strategy and roadmap.

5.Design and brand standards

Design and brand standards help to define the look and feel of your intranet reflected in site and page templates, but also how content should be laid out and some use of imagery, for example brand standards can also define element such as tone of voice. Generally, design and brand standards are usually already defined for external digital channels and may need to be adapted for internal-facing channels.

6.Publishing standards and related guidelines

Publishing standards should follow design and brand standards but are usually more specific, covering different types of intranet content, and could include elements such as guidelines for structure, tone of voice, formatting and spelling policies.

7.Technical and compliance standards and related processes

Like any other application, intranets will need to meet a number of different standards and criteria,  to ensure that they are compliant with legal and regulatory commitments, as well as being fully secure and being compatible with your wider IT infrastructure. Usually IT and risk due diligence processes will cover these elements, but when there are upgrades, changes or new circumstances (such as updated GDPR guidance or a security issue, for example) then your governance framework should have appropriate processes in place.  These standards will also cover elements such as authentications standards, password formats etc.

8.Usage policies

Its always sensible to have a usage policy on what can and cannot be posted on the intranet, for example. You may hardly ever have to refer to it and it may be largely common sense, but if someone does report inappropriate content it can be important to have something in writing to then guide any subsequent actions.

9.Content lifecycle management processes

Your content strategy will also help to define the processes around content lifecycle management. Managing your content through the lifecycle is absolutely essential to ensure it is accurate, up to date and findable. Lifecycle management includes approval processes, regular reviews (automated if possible) and archiving, as well as establishing clear ownership of content right down to the page level.

10.Approved tools

Digital workplaces are complex and involve multiple tools. Although not necessarily intranet governance, a digital workplace governance framework usually defines which tools are approved for use, something that can include publishing, communication and collaboration tools, all of which may involve the intranet. A related matrix of the best tools to use for what purpose can also be very helpful. A list of approved tools may also dictate the contents of a service or apps catalogue, usually available on the intranet.

11.Site provisioning and decommissioning

A really important part of any governance framework is to have a process around site commissioning and decommissioning This can mean sites need to go through an approval process before being created. Sites can mean content, team, community or collaboration sites. Having a process in place helps you to ensure that your environment remains tidy, minimises risk, avoids irrelevant or duplicate sites, helps you to gather important role and metadata information and more.

12.Feedback mechanisms

Your governance should include mechanisms to gather feedback and then processes to act on it. User feedback is very important for helping improve your intranet but also reporting where there are any issues. An intranet should have a system for users to submit feedback, give ideas and report offensive content. Additionally, you could set up formal groups of users, content owners and super users who can give more structured controlled feedback on a regular basis.

13.Support structures

A governance framework should include support structures to answer questions and resolve issues for users, content owners and super-users. The support structure may include the IT helpdesk but also communities of experts and even champions.

14.Training

Your governance should include the process for any training needed for content owners and editors, super users, authors, site or community managers or even users on the intranet. This may dovetail with training approaches for other elements of the digital workplace, for Office 365 and should include a process to introduce training for new joiners and those taking up intranet or collaboration-related roles. Sometimes the granting of permissions is subject to training being carried out.

15.Measurement plan

A measurement plan that is aligned to the criteria for success defined in the intranet strategy. This should define the metrics and analytics used to track success, any associated KPIs, and processes for evaluating metrics and then taking appropriate action to make intranet improvements.

Creating your own intranet governance framework

No intranet governance framework is the same, so youll need to create your own to suit the needs of your organization, stakeholders and intranets. Creating the framework also usually benefits from input from those who will be involved, as this can help to drive acceptance and adherence to the different parts of the framework.  Realistically it can also take some work to be able to implement all the elements, and it can also evolve over time. If youd like to discuss creating your own intranet governance framework or to let us know any elements that weve left out, when why not get in touch?

MS Teams and the digital workplace infographic

What can you do with MS teams in the context of the digital workplace and to help with increasing employee engagement?

At Wizdom, we want you to get the best out of the latest Microsoft technology. But first, it’s important to know a bit about what that technology does.

We created this infographic to bring awareness about MS teams in the context of the digital workplace. Employee engagement and solving business needs with technology, figuring out the why what and how of MS teams in relation to your business, is on the top of our minds.

MS Teams infographic

We have included a text version of the infographic below

Microsoft Teams

What can you do with MS teams in the context of the digital workplace and to help with increasing employee engagement?

MS Teams governance

What to think about when working with MS Teams

When you have a house, you make sure all the foundations are stable and the materials are high quality. With a digital workplace, the same, valuable infrastructure needs to be thought about, along with the possibilities of extensions.

MS Teams affords you the strong infrastructure needed with a range of options to extend and build on top of a sound structure.

MS Teams & communication

Meetings, project management, file management, notifications

  • Integrate Planner software to manage timelines
  • Keep track of internal communications
  • Get a hold of rogue data within MS Teams
  • Be social with your distributed workforce

Personalize your dashboard with the tools you need

MS Teams and data

Analyze what is working within MS teams and keep track of MS Team creation

Employee usage of MS Teams

By tracking the usage of MS teams, you can make sure it is used in the right way and cut down on governance sprawl.

MS Teams and security

Data loss prevention, security compliance, and policies & procedures.

By including a powerful provisioning engine, MS Teams has become more readily available for projects requiring organizational collaboration, external project management where sensitive information needs to be secured, and on a community level, where sharing information quickly and in a well governed way is of the utmost importance.

Have questions about MS Teams? Get in touch with us.

 

The original article was published here

Intranet governance infographic

The original article was published here

Why Intranets need Top-down and Bottom-up Support

How do you launch an intranet and then continue to successfully drive adoption? Its an issue many intranet teams tackle and remains a focus for their efforts. Unfortunately, theres no one simple solution or single ingredient X that delivers good adoption. Instead it requires a range of different tactics and approaches over a sustained period to make an intranet a true success and get everybody using it in ways which drive value.

Part of the effort to drive adoption needs to be change management, often reflected in communications promoting the intranet across different channels. Communicating about the intranet creates awareness but also drives employee buy-in. To drive adoption, employees dont just need to know a new intranet is there, but they also need to understand the why what are the benefits for using it?

Most of our clients have found in that promoting the intranet it is critical to take a top-down approach, highlighting senior management support, but also adopt a bottom-up approach involving endorsement from peers and colleagues. There are many reasons why this dual approach works best, including:

  • The use of social tools and intranets is rarely mandatory, and therefore you need to work on influencing the hearts and minds of employees to get them to use the intranet taking a dual approach maximises your chances of doing this.
  • Organisations are inherently complex and sometimes highly decentralised, and there can be more allegiance to local divisions or departments than the centre, so endorsement needs to come from central and local sources to be convincing.
  • Workforces are very diverse and to make the most sense, communication about the use of the intranet needs to be set in the framework of specific local, functional or team needs.

Lets explore some of these themes in more detail.

 

Why top-down approaches are critical

Involving senior leaders in your intranet launch and ongoing adoption plan is a must. Having them involved will help you increase intranet awareness as more employees will take notice of a message from your CEO rather than somebody less senior.

Top-down communication also gives the intranet a legitimacy and sets the strategic context for its use. Ideally your CEO is painting the bigger picture by explaining that the intranet is important and showing how it fits into wider organisational goals and strategy. This helps users to understand why the intranet is a must-use channel.

More specifically, communication and endorsement from senior management can also influence the actions of other managers who are tasked to deliver central communications to their teams and beyond. There can be a cascade or trickle-down effect with endorsement of the new intranet. This has most impact if senior leaders lead by example and continue to use the intranet in a highly visible way. Other senior managers, then middle managers and then their teams may follow suit in using the intranet and its constituent tools.

 

How to deliver top-down communications

Our clients and other organisations have used different tactics to show their leaders support and endorse the new intranet. For example:

  • Featuring senior leaders in a high-profile launch video promoting the intranet
  • Putting a senior leader behind some more traditional messaging, such as all company email or an announcement on the new intranet itself
  • Identifying a member of the C-suite as the owner or the champion of the new intranet
  • Getting senior management to announce a new intranet at a town hall or internal conference
  • Getting senior leaders to continue to use social tools such as blogs, communities or commenting on content, so they have a visible presence
  • Getting the CEO to encourage other senior leaders to also champion the intranet

 

Why bottom-up communication is also critical

Sometimes endorsement from senior management isnt enough to drive adoption, and a tandem bottom-up approach reflected in peer-to-peer recommendations of intranet use and more local promotion is required.

In larger global companies, in organisations built by acquisition or where processes tend to be decentralised and individual parts of the company operate with some autonomy, there can be some mild resistance to and skepticism about centrally-driven messages and initiatives. This does have the ability to negatively impact adoption for intranets.

There can also be some general skepticism about intranets, for example from employees who experienced a poor intranet at a former place they worked. If youve experienced an intranet which was only used for corporate messaging or was riddled with technical problems, then you may have low expectations and be less than excited about what an intranet can do for you.

Having local endorsement of the intranet from peers can override this. It can dispel any notion that the intranet is not a useful work tool. However, perhaps the most important factor is that when a peer recommends the intranet to a colleague they usually describe it in a way which references local roles, priorities and cultural sensitivities. They also may use the primary language of a local office which means messaging can be more direct and impactful.

While central messaging is important, local or peer recommendation helps employees understand whats in it for them and how the intranet can help them in their everyday role. It also potentially drives additional trust in the relevance of the intranet to them.

 

How to support bottom-up communications

Weve seen several ways that organisations help support bottom-up communication for intranets, including:

  • Organising a champions or advocate network to promote the intranet through different divisions, locations and departments
  • Providing resources for local champions to adapt to their own needs to promote the intranet to their peers
  • Running train the trainer programmes to help local champions teach others about the intranet
  • Focusing on local use cases and communities which will make sense to different parts of the organisation and show a relevant example of good use
  • Working together with local management and promoters to co-promote the intranet

 

Taking the dual approach

There are different ways to launch and promote an intranet, as well as keep up the efforts to drive adoption. And some tactics will work better for some organisations than others.

Whatever you try and do, you need both top-down and bottom-up approaches to do this effectively. The combined forces of leadership endorsement and peer recommendation creates awareness and the right context for its successful use. Then the maximum number of people possible can start to benefit from using your intranet.

 

The original article was published here

 

Your Worst Critics could be your Best Intranet Engagements Friends

Help engage intranet users with these 5 tips

User engagement is only extremely rarely won by a sole intranet team. It just takes more to engage an entire organization of users users of different age, gender, job and interests. In this post we give you 5+ tips to get this more by tapping into the energy of your organization and engage your users in engaging themselves and your joint colleagues. And, yes, part of this involves your worst critics.

 

1. Let Users Recognize Themselves in the Intranet

To be truly engaged, users will need to see a bit of themselves in the intranet solution. Offer
intranet tools that make it easy for staff to upload content, add comments, setup personalized content etc. Also, welcome intranet feedback and let employees know how (and when) their feedback will change the intranet.

 

2. Make your Worst Critics Fight for you

Identify colleagues that own a passion for the intranet and are able to spread the good vibes to coworkers. Sometimes these are to find amongst the worst critics of your intranet solution. Use this energy for something positive by making these enthusiastic people responsible for your common intranet success. When you have your task force ready: Train them, give them the resources they need, and publicly reward them when they succeed.

 

3. Cultivate a Debate Culture

Engagement needs to be backed up by a company culture that explicitly welcome staff to take part in the debate and voice their opinion. Offer a space for debate and dialogue on the intranet and make sure someone takes the first step and initiate a dialogue or take part in one. Also, make sure involvement is publicly rewarded ideally by a figure of authority.

 

4. Make your Intranet Mobile

More than 50% access internet home pages from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). Intranet users dont wish to act any different. Enable staff to access the intranet from the field and on the run. An intranet that is present whenever and wherever users need it is much easier to engage with.

 

5. Develop an Intranet Roadmap

An engaging intranet needs continuous nourishment. Make sure your intranet keeps offering fresh content, relevant functionality and continuous business value. And keep reminding users of this value gamification can be a help here! Have an intranet roadmap in place that involves functionality as well as editorial work and make sure you have sufficient resources to follow the roadmap.

 

+ the Essential Intranet Engagement Fuel

Even the most perfectly designed car needs fuel in order to drive and to be continuously refueled in order to keep driving. We find the fuel of intranet engagement being support from management. Not only does your intranet need resources provided by management to succeed, it also needs management to show intranet engagement by example. Show management that intranet engagement is an investment worth. You can do this by providing numbers proving your case e.g. by measuring intranet engagement.

 

The original article was published here

 

Thirteen ways to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams

The use of Microsoft Teams is growing very rapidly , with over 300,000 organisations already using the tool, but like any part of the digital workplace or any collaboration platform, you still need to work hard to drive adoption. This is particularly the case as the use of Teams in most organisations will be largely voluntary few employees are forced to use it and therefore there must be an effort to promote and support Teams. There are also many other tools which teams can use to communicate and collaborate effectively; from Slack to other tools within the Office 365 suite to the use of email.  So, adoption efforts also need to work in reference to the other options available.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Teams is a messaging and collaboration tool designed to allow teams to communicate with each other, share documents, add discussions and carry out tasks. Its an important tool within the Office 365 suite and is where Microsoft is investing much of its efforts by integrating communication capability such as Skype. Initially it was launched as a rival to Slack, but it has started to assume a greater role.

There is never one single approach which successfully drives adoption of digital workplace tools; a range of approaches works best. Here are thirteen ideas which weve seen our clients try in helping to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams.

1. Work out what adoption means to you

Before you can drive adoption of Microsoft Teams you need to work out what successful adoption looks like for you. Working out what you want to achieve for your business, and then defining the kind of adoption and usage patterns that will help you achieve those goals, will help you to focus on the right adoption tactics for Teams.

For example, you may wish to specifically drive better project management in your organisation, and therefore successful adoption might be a greater number of project teams working with Teams. Or you may have a more general goal to make communication more efficient across functions spread across different locations, and therefore your aim may just to drive the number of users in this group.  Having the right focus for adoption and knowing what success looks like will help you achieve your aims.

2. Use targeted communications

Traditional change management efforts are very likely to be part of your drive for adoption. As with any efforts, the more targeted the messages to different groups, the better. For example, communications should be framed in the perspective of the needs of specific groups.  Your messaging may also need to explore the bigger picture; communications need to explain the what and the how, but also why employees should use Teams, to win hearts and minds.

3. Give support resources

While communications help to drive awareness and buy-in, and usually give some advice on how to get started, support resources need to help users once they start using Teams. A dedicated area on your intranet, with some self-service resources such as FAQs, short instructional videos and even a support community where questions can be asked to super-users, provides an excellent backbone for driving sustainable adoption.

4. Get the right team behind Teams

Driving adoption for any tool is usually a sustained effort and you need the right team behind it. Factors to consider are whether people have the right skills and know-how to drive adoption, whether they have time and whether they have the right commitment. Its also worth thinking about who owns Teams and which departments are involved. For example, its not uncommon for IT functions to drive the usage of collaboration tools, but in our experience, they are not always the best equipped to lead what is a business change rather than a technological one.

5. Use peer-to -peer recommendation

Using peer recommendation through a formal network of local champions is often a successful tactic used by intranet and digital workplace teams to help drive the adoption of different tools. Like other parts of the digital workplace, local champions recommending the use of Teams can really help support usage.

Usually recommendations from peers may be taken more seriously from users, and come framed in the specific needs and of  local teams, as well as potentially in their native language. To support a successful champions network, however, you need to get the right people on board, and engage your champions through recognition and engagement efforts.

6. Use Teams for specific use cases

People get Teams far more easily when they can see specific uses for it. If you can use Teams for tangible use cases with obvious successful outcomes, then adoption becomes a much easier sell. Work out the use cases which are going to resonate with your organisation such as using Teams to:

  • co-ordinate activities within a department
  • help those working on a project
  • streamline activities for those working on a client account
  • drive communications which are too local to place on the intranet.

If you have very specific ways of working, its also possible to customise Teams see point number 10.

7. Get managers to experiences using it

Getting buy-in from managers is essential to encourage their team members to use Teams. A great way to achieve this is try and get managers to experience Teams early on. If there are use cases where your managers collaborate with each other, consider setting up Teams spaces for them so they are part of the set of early adopters and can get to know its possibilities and potential uses within their own functions.

8. Make it available and remove barriers

A key adoption approach for any part of the digital workplace is to remove any associated barriers for usage. Users wont use something which is too difficult to use or reach. With Teams, there are some baseline approaches that really help drive adoption, including:

  • Using Single Sign-On so users dont have to authenticate once on the network
  • Ensuring performance and load times are fast enough
  • Allowing access from mobile devices by encouraging use of the Teams app
  • Using the desktop app, if relevant for your organisation
  • Ensuring its easy to find Team spaces, for example via the intranet or via Office 365 (see below).

9. Integrate Teams into your intranet

Increasingly intranets are evolving into digital workplaces; acting as the front door to the wider portfolio of applications used across the enterprise as well as integrating with other applications. If you have a SharePoint Online intranet product like Wizdom you can integrate Teams into your intranet so that employees can find the spaces they need and keep on top of updates, all in their daily flow of work.

For example, to help drive adoption, we integrated Teams into Mulberrys intranet so that employees can reach the spaces they are assigned to via a landing page.   There may also be opportunities to add updates from Teams as web parts on different pages.

10. Configure or customise Teams to your way of working

Because Teams is part of the wider Office 365 suite and because there are also a range of apps which you can integrate into the tool its possible to configure and even customise Teams so it delivers more value. For example, if you have very specific use cases and ways of doing things, some customisation can be enormously powerful. For example, we have worked with clients to build workflows, create templates and even introduced knowledge management features and processes to make Teams even more business-relevant, helping to drive adoption. We recently ran a webinar about customising Team to your way of working.

11. Make sure there are notifications

Notifications for users are an essential way to help drive adoption of Teams. Were all for reducing the amount of email in the world, but the truth is that many employees still rely on email for their updates. If this is the case, enabling email notifications for Teams may prove to be important for driving usage.

12. Put some process and governance around it

Generally, Teams doesnt necessarily have to have significant governance around how it is used, but putting in just the right amount of process and rules can really help to support adoption efforts. For example, some form of site provisioning process can help ensure that each Teams space has a dedicated owner and manager who will help to drive adoption.  (Site provisioning for Teams is possible using the Wizdom intranet product, and separately weve worked with clients to even create provisioning for different templated Teams spaces.) It can also help to keep the number of sites down, aiding findability.

13. Give it time

Getting users to adopt new tools doesnt happen overnight. People are busy and there are always going to be laggards and sceptics who are highly unlikely to use it. However, the majority of users will come around and use Teams if you are realistic and give your adoption efforts sufficient time to really embed use of the tool within your organisation.

We love Teams!

At Content Formula we love teams and were confident your users will too. Use some of the approaches and ideas in this post to help drive adoption and get everybody communicating and collaborating. And if you need any advice on how your organisation can use Teams effectively, then get in touch.

Five key takeaways from digital workplace projects

One of the brilliant things about working at Content Formula is you can get involved with clients who are innovating and experimenting with the digital workplace. Even when implementations are more straightforward, theres often a fresh perspective or a new twist somewhere in the project. Sometimes you experience something new, while at other times you get fresh insight into things you already knew. There is always an opportunity to learn.

Over the past couple of years so weve been doing a lot of work with Wizdom intranets, building custom digital workplaces in Office 365 and SharePoint, implementing Microsoft Teams and deploying chatbots. Weve been busy! Here are five key lessons and takeaways from some of our projects.

1. You need to train your bot

Weve been very proud of our work at UK accountancy firm, Haines Watts. We helped the team introduce a new custom-built intranet based on Office 365, where all the content is tagged with controlled keywords. Our latest project has been to introduce a new chatbot named after the firms founder, Cyril  Watts. Employees can access Cyril via every intranet page and through Skype for Business. They can ask it key operational questions, to find information, and even discover a fact or two about the company.

One thing we have learnt is that you need to spend time to train your chatbot. Because the bot uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve performance, the more you talk to it, the more phrases it understands. We worked with the team at Haines Watts to train Cyril to respond to the natural language phrases used by employees. It was important to get Cyrils understanding up to a sufficient level, so that employees can see the value in using the bot, and drive adoption so Cyril keeps on improving. Training your bot is a critical step in any chatbot project.

2. Always plan for the unknown

A key tenet of project management is always to plan for the unknown, for example ensuring you have a little contingency in the budget and flexibility in your timeline.  Weve found that to be true for digital workplace projects.  With Office 365 such a reliable platform and with a mature, stable platform like Wizdom, its always tempting to assume everything will work like clockwork. And, to be honest, on the technology side of things, theres rarely an issue. But digital workplaces and intranets can be complex and sometimes theres an issue thats hard to spot until youre knee deep in the project.

For example, we recently worked with one client to upload policy information into a central policy library. But the metadata on the documents meant that we had make some modest development changes to make the content migration work.  Similarly when we worked with Moving Made Easy to help them build  their complex digital workplace, we needed to add additional elements to the design to ensure we ended up with the best possible solution.  Luckily both clients made provision for changes and we were able to deliver additional but critical enhancements without troubling budgets and timelines.

3. Carry out a soft launch

In the past there has always been an emphasis on making a big splash when you launch your intranet and digital workplace. And while its great to make some noise, in recent years there has been a move away from big bang releases to more iterative approaches.

I would urge clients to consider a soft launch now. Its just a more intelligent way to launch a digital workplace. We recently worked with UK iconic fashion accessory brand Mulberry and the intranet was initially launched to a much smaller set of users. Seeing the soft launch go smoothly gave confidence to key stakeholders and gave extra time for content owners to finalise their sites.  It also gave us very valuable feedback from users and on the back of this we made some tweaks and added a couple of new features which really made a difference.  The soft launch also resulted in a ready set of ambassadors whom were more likely to recommend using the intranet to their peers. The result was a better intranet and a head start on adoption.

4. Use offline channels for promotion

Because were producing digital workplaces we tend to think of digital channels as the best option to promote new sites and drive adoption. Were also setting a good example by exhibiting the type of digital behaviour were advocating.

Of course, you must promote digitally, but weve learnt along the way that offline channels can be the best way to promote a digital workplace.  For example, when we implemented a new intranet at global technology company Johnson Matthey, the intranet team carried out a highly effective roadshow to promote the intranet in places like China and the US.

Employees get bombarded with emails and information, and it s easy for them to get message blindness. Having a stand in the staff restaurant which tells you about the benefits of the new intranet can sometimes have more impact and drive awareness and adoption.

5. Always do your research

Getting a good understanding of how employees use the digital workplace, what their pain points are and how they work is essential to produce a successful intranet or digital workplace. You must spend time interviewing users, running workshops, observing working patterns and running surveys. Every single project Ive been involved in has always reminded of the importance of this.  There are usually some very specific points uncovered in interviews with users and stakeholders which lead to a key detail in how we design the solution.

In virtually all our projects at Content Formula we run a thorough discovery process where we carry out a lot of interviews, crunch the data and gain some insights. This has two additional benefits to driving good requirements. Firstly, it creates trust and engagement with users who feel they are being listened to, and which can directly impact adoption after launch. Secondly, having data can silence uninformed stakeholders who might want to make design decisions based on their assumptions. Again, Im always glad weve undertaken a thorough period of user and stakeholder research.

Learn with us!

As we go forward with Office 365 and the digital workplace therell be more to learn in the coming months. If youve planning a Office 365, intranet or SharePoint project, why not get in touch and benefit from our extensive experience? There may be opportunities to learn together and try out new approaches. The futures looking exciting in the digital workplace!

Seven essential elements of a global intranet project

One of the most valuable aspects of a great intranet is that it allows employees to come together in a single place to communicate and collaborate. This has particular value in global organisations, where employees work in scattered locations across multiple time zones. A global intranet brings employees together and feel more like one company.

Projects to establish a single intranet in large, global organisations can be challenging. The logistics of dealing with a large group of distributed employees, the sheer amount of content on the intranet and potentially merging existing local intranets into one global platform is not always straightforward. And while using a product like Wizdom is much quicker than building a custom platform, projects can still take a long time once you factor in planning, research, testing, content migration and more.

At the recent Wizdom Conference in Copenhagen we had some strong case studies of global intranet projects from companies such as Ørsted, Ramboll and GEA. Here are some of our thoughts on the essential elements of a successful global intranet project.

1. Do your research

Global intranet projects will involve a large number of users and stakeholders, not only from different business divisions but also from locations around the world. Those involved must reflect the diversity of a global workforce with different types of employees in various roles, including those working in offices, production plants and frontline roles.

A successful intranet is designed around a thorough understanding of employees and their needs. Because of the diversity of the workforce who will be using your intranet, it is critical to spend time finding out about different working patterns, needs, pain points and perspectives. This can only be achieved through an extensive discovery and user research period that covers all your different groups of users.

There are multiple techniques to carry out effective research including interviews, workshops, surveys, observation, usability testing, developing personas and more, but it is always worth spending the time and effort. User research also creates buy-in from employees who feel they are being listened to and see that their needs are being considered for the new intranet.

2. Create a vision that everyone can buy into

With so many different stakeholders, inevitably there will be many differing ideas and opinions on what the new intranet should do and deliver. Having a strong vision for the new intranet that everybody can buy into allows all involved to work towards the same end goal. It also helps gets users and stakeholders excited about the project.

At the Wizdom Conference, we heard how Ramboll developed a new vision for the global intranet to be an integrated digital environment, Digital Workspace, that allows employees to communicate, collaborate and deliver excellence whenever and where they may be working. Communicating the vision helped the wider team to deliver a consistent message to users and stakeholders, as well as establish clarity and focus.

3. Work on getting the governance right upfront

Governance is a wide topic covering the various structures, polices, roles, rules and processes to make sure the intranet delivers value and runs efficiently on a day-to-day basis. Establishing governance up-front (and making sure everyone buys into it) will allow your intranet to develop in a more sustainable and successful way, and ensure you have high quality content. The need for robust governance is particularly acute in global intranet projects so it can stop local teams going off and doing their own thing and undermining the high quality of your intranet.

For example, at GEA the team established various different roles with associated responsibilities to provide clarity over intranet, news and content ownership. These included portal owners, task or content owners, local news creators, global news editors, intranet owners and IT.

4. Use personalization to balance global and local content

One of the key capabilities of a modern intranet is to deliver personalized content which is targeted to the individual employees based on their profile. A global intranet should know some details about the person who is viewing the content and then deliver news and pages based on attributes such as the location that person is based, the division or function they work in, the language they speak or their level of seniority. This local content should appear seamlessly together with global content to ensure the intranet is relevant and useful to every employee.

Getting the balance between global and local content is not always easy and requires ensuring all profile data (usually sourced from your HR system and synchronised with Active Directory data) is correct. Teams must also work with local content owners to ensure they produce relevant content, and also deal with the logistics of multi-language content.

5. Focus on content and its findability

An intranet is only as good as its content, and a new intranet project provides the opportunity to make sure content is useful, relevant, well-written, accurate and up-to-date. And of course, getting the content right also means making sure it is easily findable. In global intranet projects two important practices help with these elements.

It is important not to just migrate your existing content. Instead spend time to identify the content that is valuable and rewrite if it necessary. For example, Ørsted used analytics and standard criteria to identify which content should be migrated, reviewed or deleted. If youre migrating content from multiple existing local intranets, its a must to review it carefully.

The second key practice is to develop a global information architecture (navigation) which is based around the way employees think and work rather than organisational structures. The only reliable way to achieve this is to work with users and carry out extensive testing, a practice that both Ørsted and GEA followed to produce intuitive, task-based information architectures that a global workforce understands.

6. Establish a realistic roadmap for launch that also involves change management

Its essential to have a realistic roadmap for the launch of your global intranet. Global intranet launches are often done across multiple phases, either because the central team is too small to fully support a single big bang global roll-out, or because different features and capabilities are being introduced more gradually. At Ramboll the team released several core components of the digital workspace before the full intranet launch and continue to release new features.

Intranets also need ongoing change management efforts to help content owners and users get the best out of the platform. For global intranets it is often best to physically visit some of your key locations to help with launch. For example, at GEA the team carried out a post-launch engagement roadshow covering editor training, feedback sessions, promotional activity and more.

7. Perseverance is key

Because of the complexity and length of a global intranet project, there are going to be times when things dont run so smoothly or take much longer than expected. Project teams running global intranet projects need perseverance and patience.

At the conference we heard first-hand accounts of some of the challenges including one company who had to work at the same time as a major corporate transformation exercise which the new intranet would help support. But the project team had to keep the transformation plans secret, which was very difficult when you are working with hundreds of users to shape the new intranet!

Of course, once you get to the launch of your global intranet and get great feedback from users, it always feels worth all the efforts that youve made!

Global intranets are always worth the effort

Global intranet projects take time but theyre always worth the effort. They provide a fantastic channel to help keep employees informed, support them in their working day and connect with colleagues from all over the world. As well as driving engagement and efficiency, they also provide a springboard to develop global digital workplaces. Using many of the elements above will help teams to deliver highly successful global intranets.

The original article was published here

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