The evolution of intranets is happening even as you read this. Last month we took a look at the role planning and corporate communications play in this New Age of Intranets. Today we'll tackle content.
One of the great hassles with intranets is managing and updating content. It can kill what is an otherwise successful intranet. During the planning phase, clients will propose dozens of great ideas of what types of content to be shared. The hard part comes in with obtaining that content -- creating it, approving it, getting it posted -- on a regular basis.
Publishing is critical to the ongoing success of an intranet. When employees consistently see good, valuable and recent content, your site becomes sticky and you will achieve a better return on your intranet investment. Let's take a look at what this requires.
Quality & Quantity
"Content is king." Well, yes, we all know content quality matters. Is it useful? Accurate? Up to date? Engaging? However, context is essential, too, as is organization: the content must be well organized to make it readily findable. Otherwise the content is useless. You need solid taxonomy, tagging and a robust search capability to make this happen. Too much content and you get lost -- both as a publisher and as a user -- and too little content means it’s not useful. Goldilocks syndrome: your content needs to be “just right.”
With everyone and their grandmother using their phones for both personal and work needs these days, intranet access on mobile devices is essential -- because the intranet often straddles employees’ personal and work lives.
Case in point: checking on health insurance information needed for a doctor's appointment. This should be something employees can quickly do while in the waiting room filling out forms. If employees are unable to access their intranet on a mobile phone, they will cease to see it as a resource, and you will see a decrease in use and value of your investment. Make sure your intranet is responsive. If your information is in those pesky list libraries in SharePoint, make sure your partner and/or solution can manage that from a mobile perspective as well.
Ease of publishing is crucial to the success of the intranet. The temptation will be there when planning process and content requirements to gloss over issues with gathering, getting approvals and posting content. One example for this is images. No one would argue that images are compelling, drive engagement, and make for a great, personal experience on the intranet. However, plans must be made for:
- Gathering -- who will take the photos?
- Approvals -- if for example they are photos of company employees will you require their approval?
- Manipulation -- do you need a designer, or can you establish a standard aspect ratio to simplify things?
Video must be even more carefully thought out. A well designed solution will address these points. It pays not to cut corners.
"Governance" was a very trendy term a couple of years back. Proper governance was going to solve everything that was wrong with your intranet. The term quickly became overused, but it is still a key component to your content planning. Establish your RACI team for your intranet -- Responsible, Accountable, Consulted and Informed. The right roles and responsibilities will address many of the issues, and a proper content workflow, review and documentation will provide definition to the content lifecycle. That way you can keep control over what will ideally be an ever evolving and ever growing resource for your organization.
There is a key piece of the intranet puzzle that I didn’t address here -- collaboration. Collaboration is a much more organic and fast-paced source of content. Your intranet can serve as your collaboration platform, helping to reduce the number of disparate tools employees use daily.
When done properly, collaboration (and here I include social enterprise tools, but also project management and simple things like subscribing to a newsletter or corporate calendar and the like) extends your intranet so that it becomes a way for employees to actually produce work. We’ll take a closer look at that next month.