shutterstock_74087128.jpg Intranet governance is critical to intranet success. Why, then, do so few organizations get it right?

Most intranet professionals agree, good intranet governance is critical for an effective intranet. It’s a popular topic. As James Robertson notes in his recent article about SharePoint governance, "the word of the event [the Australian SharePoint Conference] was “governance,“ to the extent that it was starting to be seen as an over-used term."

These days it seems that pretty much every intranet related problem can be solved with governance. Put the right intranet roles and responsibilities in place and the rest will take care of itself.

But as Lynn Warneke asks in her excellent article Top 10 Tips for Success With SharePoint #8,

Why is governing SharePoint still so difficult in practice? Why is good advice proliferating, but apparently without giving rise to equally abundant excellent working examples in the real world?”

Tom’s Story

I once worked with a guy who was passionate about risk reduction, business continuity planning and internal audits. Let's call him Tom. Tom believed these topics were not only the key to business success but could also cause world peace and eliminate poverty. Frankly, I couldn't think of anything more boring.

But this guy was tenacious and attended any meeting that was vaguely related to any one of these topics. He pestered, bothered, encouraged, educated, motivated and generally harassed people to make sure they not only understood what they needed to do but also actively engaged in doing these tasks. It would be reasonable to say Tom was not the most popular person in the organization. After all, "why do we need to keep the auditors happy, we have real work to do!"

It wasn't until after the full extent of the flood damage had been understood that people came to realize that Tom had just about singlehandedly saved the entire organization, along with the livelihoods of hundreds of people and their families.

The lesson I learned from this story, and how it relates to intranet governance, is that it is not enough to simply identify the roles and responsibilities required to manage and govern an intranet. That is the easy part. To really obtain buy-in for your intranet, you need a strong dose of persistence, energy and enthusiasm.

The key to successful intranet governance is not identifying roles and responsibilities, but change management. An unshakable and contagious belief that what you are doing is critical to the success of your organization is also helpful.”

In the Real World

In researching the characteristics of the most effective intranets through the Worldwide Intranet Challenge (WIC), this theme of change management, persistence and passion appears consistently in interviews with the managers of the successful intranets.

Josh Patel, the Intranet & Content Manager at Bupa Australia, whose intranet is currently ranked at #3 (from the 90 organizations who have participated in the WIC), has this to say when explaining the reasons for his intranet’s success:

We nag, chase, bribe, reward, acknowledge -- do whatever it takes -- to get people to contribute content to the intranet.”

Intranet governance is essentially about creating the right roles and responsibilities, deciding who owns the intranet, who should be on the steering committee, what the content authoring and approval process will be and answers to a range of governance questions. There are plenty of templates available that provide the basics of intranet governance such as the following:

However, intranet governance doesn’t explain how to convince, negotiate and nag those whose roles change as a result of the need to govern the intranet.

'Successful intranet governance is a story of successful change management'