Anyone familiar with intranets knows the pain of not applying best practices to content maintenance strategies upfront in an initial deployment. As part of a governance plan it is essential to design the maintenance strategy early on in a deployment.
The pain generally becomes apparent when trying to figure out why old content exists within the intranet or how to restructure content after reorganization. I have had the luxury of being part of many corporate intranet developments and privy to the management teams and activities behind them. Based on what I have seen there are a few quick and easy gems that help to reduce the management overhead of running an intranet. Please see below for the series of tips that collectively can free the time of an IT staff to focus on more pressing needs.
Content Owner – always include a link to contact information of the content owner, their manager and department on the pages that they have created.
Inevitably your intranet will grow over the course of many years. Over this period of time employees will leave, change departments, etc. It is guaranteed that people will periodically wonder why certain content may be out of date or if it still belongs within the intranet. You now have a simple fix.
Empowerment – an IT department is not allowed to post content for the business.
Due to the maturity of content management systems it is counterproductive to have IT posting business content. Their time can be much better spent looking at ways to automate process for the business or reduce the amount of time it takes to access and use certain systems. Learn more about how business and IT can collaborate to maximize value.
Peer Education – if someone wants to post content on the intranet they are required to take a quick course on the basics of how it is done. Once a member of a department or project has been taught – they are now responsible for empowering others in the group who wish to use the technology.
Just like tip #2 an intranet is going to be most successful when the content maintainers are empowered to manage their own content. By supporting bad habits and shortcutting the proper process the reliance on IT for these tasks will be reinforced. Learn more about Maximizing Portal ROI – Education, Production Capacity and Stewardship Delegation.
Search – add metadata to content to provide clean search results.
Tending to Metadata might sound impractical and create a high level of overhead for content contributors – but it is an essential part of making sure searching for data within the intranet is painless. This is especially true when then same keywords can produce a result set with irrelevant information. A good example might be people that work with products and or services that have various version numbers. Chances are that when you run a search the result set will contain very old data, in addition to the new data that you are looking for. This can be frustrating as we potentially can only search on relevancy or date, not both at once so by adding some simple metadata to indicate the version of the product or service that we are searching for. Learn more about Portal Governance.
Feedback – make it easy for users to send their feedback to content owners (see Tip 1 above)
If there is an issue with the content or a request about it, the owner can be quickly reached. This saves time for people trying to connect with various parts of their organization needed to complete their job and generally enhances the quality of the content within the intranet on the basis of feedback.
Insight – if your intranet platform has available search logs check them periodically
This provides a wealth of information about what is important to your users and indicates how the intranet and business teams might be able to better help them. If people are searching for various topics that do not have corresponding content within the intranet, it can potentially increase the value of the intranet for the end users by including content around what they were searching for, but could not find.
I hope that this list has been helpful and uncovered one of more items that have not been considered for your intranet deployment. Do you have any tips that you would like to share? Please feel free to drop me a line with your thoughts.