WIC Case Study – Part 1: Employee Publishing on the Intranet
November 2, 2010 4 Comments
In February this year (2010) I was required to conducted a survey on Brightstar’s Intranet, the InfoCenter. Before constructing the survey I decided to do a little research online and discovered that all the hard work had been done for me by CIBA Solutions and so we decided to take the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC).
To my relief our intranet faired quite well against the other (then) 32 organisations that had completed the survey and we rated just above average across the board. A little to my surprise, we actually rated #1, #3, #4 and #6 in a few areas. Due to the #1 (how often employees publish content) and #3 (improvements to the intranet) rankings Andrew Wright of CIBA Solutions asked if I would mind answering a few questions on these topics as a ‘WIC case study’ for top ranking Intranets.
Doing the case studies was actually quite good as it got me to take a closer look at why we rated so well in these areas and what the benefits and pitfalls were. I was then later asked to present on “The value of getting your employees to contribute to your intranet” at an event for the WIC in October and have uploaded the presentation I gave, with a more detailed blog post to come: Publish or perish – Intranets that work
I encourage anyone who is interested to take the WIC challenge. It is free to register and the information you receive is very valuable to any organisation with an intranet.
Employee Publishing on the Intranet Case Study
Our Intranet was implemented based on a distributed authoring model as we believe content is best managed by its owners and having a single point for publishing creates an unnecessary bottleneck. As the core team for supporting and driving the Intranet is quite lean (at the beginning only 1 person and now just 2 people to support the Aus/Pacific region) we needed departmental areas to be actively responsible for the content produced on their sections. The structure of the Intranet was largely built around our business and support services and this reflected the way we work as a business.
Originally the Intranet grew without a clear development or adoption strategy to encourage usage and uptake within the business. Development was driven by the needs and enthusiasm of a minority of teams. Control measures have always been in place to maintain reasonable consistency between sites, appropriate homepage content areas and access rights but there’s a lot more that needs to be done. Recently we have begun introducing greater governance and supporting this with training and style guides.
The obvious benefits of a distributed published Intranet are:
- It reduces the need to have a large Intranet team, allowing their efforts to be focussed on driving improvements to support business requirements, functionality and improve design
- Increases end-user awareness of Intranet amongst teams as most teams have a dedicated Intranet publisher
- The user/publishers of the Intranet have greater interest in the intranet and its content – particularly if their work is recognised in work plans and performance reviews
- Learning how to use a Content Management System (“CMS” is used broadly here) provides empowerment and a good development opportunity for publishers
- Theoretically, and you might find research to support this, people who are actively involved in creating something are more likely to see the value in it and to use it.
I would recommend having support materials that explain the importance of following set guides (based on W3C standards of course) in place from the beginning. The biggest advantage being that people understand why they should do things a certain way, and it avoids the need to retrain when such methods are eventually implemented once the Intranet reaches a certain level of maturity.
Also it is important that any dedicated publisher to the intranet is recognised for their work. It shows that the company (and hence management team) support the Intranet and are invested in its development. If your publishers don’t have their publishing duties incorporated into their KPI’s any related work won’t be on their high priority list.
Over the next 6-8 months we will be rolling out training and information sessions on our intranet with a focus on educating our end-users on it’s capabilities and how they can both contribute and personalise it (ie create personal views) to meet their specific needs.
** Future plans of the Brightstar Intranet have changed quite a bit since this case study in April. We are now looking at restructuring our intranet into two separate online spaces: one of collaboration and one for communication to better support the business longer term. Training is still quite a big part of this as we will be expecting our collaboration space site owners to take full control of their sites’ permissions, publishing and maintenance with less reliance on the Intranet team who will be focussing their efforts on the more structured communications orientated Intranet space and other support areas.