Creating a new staff intranet is a daunting challenge at a major university.
Author Archive: James Robertson
James Robertson is the Managing Director of Step Two Designs, the global thought leaders on intranets, headquartered in Sydney, Australia. James is the author of What every intranet team should know and Designing intranets: creating sites that work. He has keynoted conferences around the globe. (Email James or follow him on Twitter: @s2d_jamesr)
When migrating to a new intranet, it’s important to establish the right authoring practices from the outset.
The starting point for a collaboration strategy is to create a catalog of what already exists.
Designing for mobility goes beyond just small screens and touch interactions, to encompass the user’s context and tasks.
There are three approaches to delivering mobile functionality for staff: native apps, mobile web or hybrid apps.
In this modern age, mobile devices should be supported when redesigning intranets.
Intranet redesigns involve a huge amount of work, so how do we make this the last big redesign that’s needed?
Organisations need to quickly start planning their support for bring your own (mobile) device.
The digital workplace offers a compelling vision of the future, but the right foundations must be in place.
Staff must have a single coherent online identity for the digital workplace to succeed.
All intranets must find a balance between global (common) and local (specific) information.
Social intranets aren’t a technology, they’re a philosophy and a new way of looking at how intranets work.
Allowing commenting on intranet news is an invaluable stepping stone towards a more social intranet.
Intranet teams can’t afford to be technology ignorant, but nor do they need to be geeks.
Organisations with a strong public brand and reputation are under growing pressure to deliver an intranet to match.
When examined more closely, the mobile enterprise means many different things, delivered in different ways.
It should not be automatically assumed that the one CMS will ideally serve both the intranet and website.
While broadly like any other intranet project, SharePoint intranets bring unique opportunities and challenges.
One of the greatest challenges for intranet teams is seeing other intranets and learning from them.
In this modern age, there is no reason to continue the 50 year-old practice of sending corporate newsletters.
When in the field, staff only want a few key things on their mobile devices, not the whole intranet.
The strength of enterprise search is also its challenge: how to pick which of the many features to use?
Intranets filled with ‘blah blah’ landing pages can make it impossible for staff to find what they need.
Mobile devices are changing the consumer landscape, and organisations must have an enterprise strategy to keep in the game.
There are many possible intranet policies that could be established regarding new windows and tabs.
At any given point, intranet teams must be able to describe: where we’ve been, what we’re doing, and what comes next.
Intranet teams, and business stakeholders, often underestimate the length of intranet projects.
Intranets can’t afford to be useful but ugly, and inspiration should be drawn from modern web design standards.
It is a mistake to assume that recognition that the current intranet is broken translates automatically into support for fixing it.
While giving staff access to the intranet from home can be beneficial, the rollout needs to be carefully managed.
Understanding common and important staff tasks underpins every aspect of intranet design and management.
It is widely assumed that intranet homepages need to be squeezed into a single screenful, but can longer pages be made to work?
Can we replace our intranet homepages with a Google-inspired search page?
When designing and structuring intranets, it is useful to distinguish between core content, and business-unit specific information.
Intranet projects are challenging, and it’s easy for teams to fall into common traps that can undo the good work being done.
The ‘three clicks rule’ is perhaps the most widely known web design principle, but it’s a myth.
The intranet should provide a human face to staff, and can do much to build and transform the corporate culture.
The intranet should have a section devoted to the intranet itself, communicating to stakeholders, authors and general staff.
There are many different uses for the intranet homepage, and a balance must be gained to meet business and staff needs.
The home page of the intranet should provide a one-click gateway to collaboration tools.
A central team needs to ask many questions to understand business unit and team collaboration needs.
There are many perceived and actual risks relating to enterprise collaboration, and there are many ways of mitigating them.
By planning projects carefully from the outset, intranet teams can build a strong business case.
There are three groups involved in the selection of a new CMS: steering committee or senior sponsor, the stakeholder group, and the evaluation team.
There are five fundamental publishing models for an intranet, and each has strengths and weaknesses.
Intranet business cases need to beyond dry numbers and recommendations, and target emotions and key business needs.
If intranets are to achieve their full potential, intranet teams must go beyond just reducing frustration.
There are three main sources of staff directory information: IT systems, HR/payroll, and staff themselves.
Following a core set of guidelines will greatly improve the effectiveness of staff interviews.
There are three main approaches to delivering custom functionality and interactive features on websites and intranets.
In most cases, the intranet team should own search, and the responsibility should not be left within IT.
There are two types of CMS users: frequent ‘power’ users, and less-frequent ‘business’ users. The needs of both groups must be met.
Staff directories are only useful when they contain all staff, even those without a PC or payroll number.
While basic metadata is routinely captured by most publishing tools, there is still widespread confusion about its uses and limits.
While collaboration tools are spreading rapidly, what has often been overlooked is the frequent need to include external collaborators.
There are three main ways of keeping a staff directory up to date: centralised updates, self-service updating and via integration.
Search doesn’t work out of the box, and up to 80% of the default functionality must be stripped out for general search users.
Some of the greatest value in a staff directory comes from the cross-linking, within the directory and to other resources.
Wikis can be used as both collaboration tools and as an intranet, and these are two very different situations.
Establishing team spaces for projects can be one of the most productive uses of collaboration tools, but they must be closed when the projects end.
Public-facing websites often have a strong marketing element to them, but do intranets need to be as polished in their design?
Explores the options for migrating content as part of a site redesign, giving tips and suggestions.
To help build team confidence, intranet teams should understand staff needs and the motivations of content owners.
To be successful, intranets must have a clear definition of their purpose and character, underpinning decisions about future directions.
Too many approaches to improving intranet content are destined for heroic failure.
Driving enterprise search to cover ever more content does not necessarily deliver better results.
There are two common ways of editing content in a CMS, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.
Before personalisation can be implemented, underlying LDAP or Active Directory implementations need to be cleaned up.
There is a simple answer to the question: how long will it take to choose a new CMS?
Intranet teams should use a range of approaches to track and communicate their success stories, to managers and the wider organisation.
This article explores the human face of collaboration, touching upon a range of enterprise issues and considerations.
This briefing outlines some practical steps that all organisations should take to help business areas and staff make the best of collaboration tools.
In the short-term, a ‘gardening’ approach to collaboration must be taken, encouraging good uses and cleaning up dead sites.
There is no one-size-fits-all collaboration solution and a portfolio of technologies should be put in place.
This article shares the winners of the 2007 Intranet Innovation Awards, providing a screenshot and summary for each winning entry.
Collaboration tools are vital, but left unmanaged, their spread can be anti knowledge sharing.
There are three main facets that can be used to segment staff needs for information: job role, business unit and geographic location.
More than just about finding the right CMS product, it’s also about obtaining a vendor who can support your needs for the lifetime of the solution.
Content management scenarios provide a ‘day in the life’ description of how the CMS will be used in practice.”
There are two key reasons for a staff member to come to the intranet: to find a specific piece of information, or to complete a specific task.
This methodology provides intranet teams with a new and powerful approach to planning intranet improvements.
The field of information architecture (IA) has much to offer those creating taxonomies, including a range of structured techniques for testing their effectiveness.
A simple rule of thumb when planning a site redesign is that the new site will be no more than 20% different from the current site.
All too often, 18-24 month information management strategies fail to deliver benefits, but there is an alternative.
This briefing draws a clear line between two separate functionalities: personalisation and segmentation.
Provide every staff member with a tailored and personalised single sheet of paper that covers what they need to file, and how.
This briefing explores the idea of intranet successes, how to identify them, and how to gain the greatest value from them.
If a CMS is not usable then it will not be successfully used by authors, and this can be assessed during product selection.
Explores a number of approaches that can be taken to build innovative intranets, all of which move intranet teams beyond just maintaining their current sites.
To be truly effective, intranets need to address three fundamental purposes: content, communication and activity.
The intranet team must guide, coordinate and integrate activities across all three fundamental intranet purposes: content, communication and activity.
The Intranet Review Toolkit provides a free way of assessing where your intranet is up to, benchmarked against industry best practice.
Organisations should abandon the search for ‘knowledge management systems’, and focus more closely on the specific capabilities required.
Intranet teams should be guided by two words when planning intranet activities: tangible and visible.
Out-of-the-box, search doesn’t work, and there is a small (but vital) piece of work needed to design and tune the search solution.
There is a ‘rule of thirds’ that can be used to categorise the main types of forms that exist on an intranet.
Organisations often make the selection of a CMS much harder than it needs to be. They do this by running into common pitfalls that impact on the selection and success of the CMS project.
The day the contract is signed with the CMS vendor, the vendor will show up asking: so, what are we actually implementing?
Usability and information architecture (IA) are core areas of expertise for intranet teams, and all organisations should take steps to build this expertise internally.
The most successful intranets are those that directly reflect the unique nature of the organisations they serve.
here are many staff that have little (or no) access to a computer during work hours, and there are two main approaches for making intranet available: kiosks and remote access.
The enemy of intranets is not resistance to change, it is apathy, which must be overcome to build support and resources.
Organisations are almost always better served by separating out the design and the CMS, and sourcing these from different providers.
An intranet concept is a single sheet of paper which outlines where the intranet is at, where it is going, and what it will deliver in the short-term.
This article provides a long (but still not comprehensive) list of ongoing tasks for intranet teams.
A very simple improvement to the intranet is to ensure that all staff login to the site in order to use it. This allows a number of immediate benefits to be offered, as well as providing a foundation for future enhancements.
It is not enough to focus an intranet redesign on just the home page, global navigation and page layout.
There is very real cost of the reliance on email: the duplication of information management activities, which has a significant impact on productivity, consistency and accuracy.
While news on the intranet home page is widespread, the question needs to be asked: how effective is it?
This briefing takes a different look at the role of intranet policies, and outlines five policies that all intranet teams should develop.
The intranet needs to have a strong brand, a sense of identity that, at a basic level, distinguishes it from the public website and other information sources within the organisation.
This article introduces two critical success factors for intranet discussion forums: a clear purpose, and a common community.
This article outlines nine steps that can be taken by all intranet teams to improve the effectiveness of search, covering both design and under-the-hood changes.
This article provides 10 words that describe successful intranets, including: innovative, productive and collaborative.
How good are the search capabilities built into CMS products, and when should you make use of them?
We are looking for the product that is the best fit to the organisation’s needs. What is rarely recognised, however, is that while we are evaluating vendors, CMS vendors are also evaluating us.
Much is expected of intranet authors, in terms of the quality, accuracy and timliness of published material. Yet, many organisations treat intranet authoring as a hobby.
Intranet teams must take on a strong leadership role, and drive forward the evolution and enhancement of the site.
Now that the early hype has died down, it is not surprising to find that portals have both strengths and weaknesses, which have a major impact on project success.
The intranet manager should be free to focus solely on managing the site, and not writing HTML or publishing content.
At the most fundamental level, search should work like magic: it should always give staff the information they need, even if they only enter a word (or two).
There are several key categories of documents that should be targeted as part of information management projects, while other documents can be ignored.
Beyond just helping staff to ‘find stuff’, search can play a valuable role in meeting broader knowledge management goals.
Intranet content and tools should be aggregated, to help staff find required information, and to complete key tasks.
Users are not all the same, and do not have the same needs. A key principle is therefore: you can’t usefully deliver information to users you haven’t personally met.
Effective information management is not easy. This article outlines 10 critical success factors that address organisational, cultural and strategic issues.
Search engine ‘best bets’ can dramatically improve the search experience, particularly on information-rich sites such as intranets.
This briefing outlines a simple scenario in which the intranet helps staff find key corporate information, while the documents accessed are stored in the document/records management system.
One of the greatest fears when selecting a new CMS is that the vendor will go bust, but more must be done that just purchasing from a ‘big’ vendor and hoping for the best.
Determining what an intranet is actually for involves gaining an in-depth understanding of staff (and organisational) needs and issues.
Efforts should be targeted at improving the quality of key information, while applying lower standards to the majority of intranet content.
When deploying a CMS across the whole organisation, the rule is: the more users, the simpler (and more usable) the system should be.
It is widely recognised that an intranet must be trusted, if it is to be regularly used by staff across an organisation.
All too often, centralised intranet teams find themselves battling with decentralised authors to enforce consistency and quality standards.
Much can be done to simplify search results pages, to make them easier to use for all staff to use.
Case study (July 2005)
This case study presents the findings from five intranet reviews across a range of organisations, each with very different results.
Intranets must be more than just a dumping ground for ‘second-hand documents’ if they are to be successful. Instead, a radically different policy needs to be put in place.
There are three clear phases to the adoption of a content management system. The activities and spending patterns during these phases needs to be understood, to ensure that sufficient time and resources are made available.
Staff in geographically isolated locations are most reliant on information sources such as intranets, and yet in practical terms they are the hardest to reach.
In-bound call centres deal with either queries or transactions (or both), and this has a big impact on the knowledge and information required.
While the goal of interoperability between content management systems (CMS) is very important, it is limited by the lack of implemented standards.
If intranets are to succeed, an upwards spiral must be created, where each success (no matter how small) leads onto further improvements.
Information must be managed on three levels within an organisation: corporate, team and individual. Tools and processes must be provided for each of the levels.
This article shares survey results and recommendations on the design and implementation of online staff directories, the most used element of most intranets.
The unspoken truth is that workflow often doesn’t work well in practice, leading to the question: is workflow the wrong metaphor?
You need to understand how staff look for documents in a business setting, in order to design suitable systems and classification schemes.
Online forms on a corporate intranet deliver clear benefits and cost savings. This article outlines a simple step-by-step approach to implementing online forms.
One of the first challenges when establishing an intranet is to determine who should have overall ownership of the site, and where the intranet team should be located.
This briefing contrasts the role of knowledge management in supporting both innovation and consistency.
The challenge is to deliver sufficient intranet content and capabilities, within the time and resource constraints. This briefing outlines a simple approach for balancing these factors.
This article presents a new perspective to rolling out a records management system, highlighting three critical success factors: the system, classification scheme and message.
While ‘knowledge sharing’ is a common goal for KM projects, it is often neither meaningful or effective.
All delivery channels (not just the intranet) must be considered when planning an overall information management and communications strategy.
While content reuse may be a goal of many CMS projects, it is often complex to implement in practice.
A critical success factor for an effective and sustainable intranet is the establishment of an intranet ‘community of practice’.
A successful knowledge management strategy must identify the key needs and issues within the organisation, and provide a framework for addressing these.
Implementing a CMS is not easy. Our experience has shown that there are five key aspects that must be addressed as part of the deployment project.
We are often asked whether we have seen the perfect intranet, and our answer is no. Read more to find out why.
The requirement for self-sufficiency should be addressed by all organisations looking to purchase a content management system.
AGIMO Better Practice Checklist, for those given the responsibility to determine CMS requirements and evaluate products.
AGIMO Better Practice Checklist, outlining a number of issues should be considered when designing and implementing search facilities.
AGIMO Better Practice Checklist, on the implementation of a content management system (CMS).
AGIMO Better Practice Checklist, for staff responsible for intranets, including those in website or intranet teams.
CASE STUDY (MAY 2004)
This case study describes the use of usability techniques to evaluate the the Keywords for Councils classification for Caloundra City Council’s document management system (EDMS).
The intranet can serve as a platform for knowledge management initiatives, via approaches such as collaborative environments, staff directories, wikis and weblogs.
While it is vital to ensure that the initial implementation project is successful, this is only the beginning of an ongoing commitment to growing the use of content management throughout the organisation.
Consider presenting requirements in ‘narrative’ format, as this provides a more complete description of needs, and gives much-needed context to vendors responding to the tender.
This article outlines a phased approach to creating a new corporate intranet when organisations merge, following the progress of the merger itself.
Search engine reports are one of the most effective tools for gathering user information and improving an intranet.
This briefing looks at the role of corporate policies within an organisation, and the need to better communicate their message to staff.
Open-source CMS has now matured to the point where it should be considered alongside commercial products, but is not without its weaknesses and issues.
Intranet teams should play a leadership and coaching role in the organisation, in order to ensure that the intranet is effective, up-to-date and usable.
This briefing provides an at-a-glance definition of terms for a range of information systems, including CMS, DMS and RMS.
Lack of project sponsorship is one of the greatest causes of IT project failure. For an organisation-wide platform such as an intranet, the need is even greater.
In the context of limited budgets and timetables, organisations must identify the most uncertain aspects of a CMS project, and concentrate management efforts on them.
There are two main publishing models used by content management systems: dynamic and batch publishing, and each has its strengths and weaknesses.
There is no single best authoring environment provided by a content management system. Instead, the authoring tools must be matched to the job at hand to ensure they are easy and efficient to use.
A redesigned site can be easy and quick to use, and perfectly structured, and still be useless. For a site to be useful, it must meet user needs, and there are a range of techniques for identifying these.
Staff induction is vital in getting staff up to speed, and ensuring they are productive. Yet most organisations have inadequate or ad-hoc processes in place.
In many organisations, the intranet competes with e-mail, file shares, document management and records management. What is needed is a clear policy about what these systems are for.
An important first step is to gain an understanding of the CMS marketplace. This briefing outlines a few of the practical ways of doing so.
A simple intranet feedback mechanism is an effective way of keeping an intranet up-to-date, and assisting with change management and cultural change processes.
The front-line environment must be understood when implementing knowledge management initiatives.
There are real problems with many tenders released, and it is valuable to revisit the purpose of a CMS tender.
The intranet goal ‘to efficiently disseminate accurate information’ is meaningless, and must be replaced.
This article explores the role of XML in the context of content management systems, focusing specifically on the business issues.
This briefing focuses on who to select for stakeholder interviews. It provides some general guidelines, and lists some areas of the organisation to involve.
Stakeholder interviews are a very effective way of gaining an understanding of an organisation, and can be considered a form of ‘knowledge mapping’.
While a CMS tender should focus on business requirements, technology issues will need to be specified, but in a way that ensures the best system is not knocked out of the running.
Gives a practical introduction to content management systems, and how they can benefit an organisation.
The success of a CMS depends it being used, and whether authors create content. It these two challenges makes the usability of the CMS critically important.
A multi-disciplinary approach is needed when establishing an intranet team. This briefing outlines the key roles required.
In answering this question, light will be shed on the long-term value of a CMS in capturing organisational knowledge, and its role in a broader KM strategy.
A successful intranet ensures that: staff needs are met, and the content creation processes are supported.
The results of a survey into consumer opinions about CMS vendor websites, conducted during March 2003.
This article outlines ideas for promoting your intranet, ranging from the obvious through to the very unusual. Somewhere in this list should be a few approaches that you can apply to your own intranet.
This briefing presents a simple checklist that will allow you to judge just how much work will be required to bring your intranet back to top performance.
The unique challenges facing a CMS project must be recognised and addressed if the project is to be successful.
Beyond using HTML, intranets and websites have very little in common.
By following a requirements-focused methodology, instead of feature-driven approach, the right CMS can be selected to meet your unique business needs.
This briefing helps to dispell the widespread confusion in the marketplace between document management systems (DMS) and content management systems (CMS).
Metrics are an effective way of setting project targets, assessing success, and tracking ongoing health. This article summarises a range of practical KM and CM-related metrics.
This briefing lists some very practical ways in which CMS metadata can be put to work.
A look forward to the future direction of the CMS marketplace, in January 2003.
A non-technical introduction to how a CMS can benefit any website, however small.
Twenty public-sector intranets surveyed as part of the Intranet Peers in Government forum.
Review of the Hunter Health intranet, which generated a wealth of strategic and tactical recommendations.
The real challenge is to maintain the quality, consistency and value of an intranet, well into the future. This article shows you how.
Outlines a disciplined approach to re-invigorating a corporate intranet, making it deliver real business benefits.
Content management systems should be made to meet specific business goals. Without a clear vision of these goals, it is impossible to track the success of the project, or ensure that the benefits are maximised.
There are considerable benefits to be obtained from the knowledge management frameworks, for both the KM community and businesses.
Without care and attention, a CMS can slide into a state of living death. Such systems can be revived by implementing a number of practical (and non-technical) activities.
KM has much to learn from usability, which can provide many useful starting points for structuring and managing KM projects.
There is no ‘correct’ answer to this question. To get the best business outcomes, you must understand the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches.
Why spend millions on managing content that no-one understands or needs? This article provides tips for getting the best value out of your business content.
Call centres are growing rapidly. They are also confronted with many challenges, and KM has much to offer in overcoming these difficulties.
There are a huge number of vendors and products in the CMS market, and comparing them is difficult. This paper describes tools, techniques and tips for selecting a CMS that meets your needs.
A case study describing how to deliver a successful searching solution. Provides guidelines on user interface design, indexing configuration, search engine weightings and more.
CASE STUDY (AUGUST 2001)
Read about the project to create a customised content management system for the NRMA. It now holds over 15,000 pages, and is constant use by a dedicated team of over half a dozen authors.
CASE STUDY (AUGUST 2001)
Read about the project to develop Frontline Help for the Newcastle Call Centre. This project deployed a full content management system, created a web-based delivery infrastructure, and captured large amounts of business information.
Card sorting is a very simple method of working with users to come up with a usable information design. A valuable tool for all information architects.