First day of stakeholder interviews

By: James Robertson Posted: August 6, 2002
Well, I'm very tired now, having completed 5 hours of stakeholder interviews, with 30 minute gaps in between. Overall, the questions held up pretty well. I haven't been successful in determining social networks, but the information gathering behaviours have been clearly identified. As hoped, we have also identified a lot of other issues that are prventing wider usage of the intranet (primarily around availability of PCs, culture and available time). One idea that occured to me after the first interview was to start documenting soundbites. These are brief verbatim comments from users about specific issues. I now have over a

Stakeholder interviews

By: James Robertson Posted: August 5, 2002
I'm back working with the Area Health Service tomorrow. The next three days will consist entirely of stakeholder interviews, finished up with a day of information architecture activities (card sorting). We've taken a different tack with the interviews than previous approaches. In the past, focus groups were convened to discuss how the intranet is used, and what changes could be made. This time, instead of focusing on the intranet, we'll be investigating what information is needed by staff. To this end, we'll be asking a range of questions: nature of the staff person's job key activities information needs current information

Refocusing an intranet

By: James Robertson Posted: July 27, 2002
I've just finished another two days of work with the Area Health Service, and I'm back in Sydney. The review of existing documentation and reports is now complete, as is the expert review of the current intranet. Overall, the current intranet scored high marks. It is consistent, fairly well structured, and the majority of the content is well-written and to-the-point. There is a lot of good information on this intranet. And yet, looking at the web usage statistics, it is clear that the intranet is not being used by most staff. The question is: why? Unlike most intranets, it's not

History of a health intranet

By: James Robertson Posted: July 23, 2002
Just got back from the initial meeting with the Area Health Service. I spent most of the day finding out more about the history of their intranet, the challenges of their culture, and their future plans. Overall, I was very impressed with how far they had managed to get, considering that they have had essentially no budget, and the intranet is just one year old (next week). The intranet was initially created by a single person within Public Affairs, and there are now just two staff dedicated to managing the entire system. They have implemented a simple distributed approach, with

Phone directory first; CMS second

By: James Robertson Posted: July 20, 2002
When in Canberra this week, we talked about CMS implementation issues. The same problem arose that has existed for all my other clients, with the potential to make the CMS very difficult to implement. Here's the issue: Before starting to develop a CMS solution, you need to deploy a fully-functional staff phone directory ("whitepages"). This should have the following features: Provides standard contact information: name, phone number, e-mail address, etc. Records which department and team each staff person belongs to. Identifies each staff person's job role. Records the relationships between staff (such as "reports to", or "managed by", etc) Accurate

Authoring options

By: James Robertson Posted: July 18, 2002
Following on from my work with the government department yesterday, I've just sent through my summary of the day, and my recommendations. Looking at the options for authoring, these were my high-level recommendations: Develop a range of authoring tools, matched to the specific needs of the content, audience and authors. No single authoring tool will meet all needs, without considerably compromising the quality and maintainability of the intraweb. A long list of potential document types have already been identified. Examine each of these in turn, against the following criteria: nature of the content (length; degree of structure; formatting and layout

Walking before running

By: James Robertson Posted: July 17, 2002
I've just spent the day in Canberra, doing some consultancy work for one of the government departments. With the plane flight there and back, it makes for a long day, but well worth the effort. The organisation currently has an intranet, of sorts. It has grown organically, and is developed using Frontpage. Each group has been trained to use Frontpage, and has gone away and created themselves a little subsite. Every section of the intranet looks completely different, and all changes are made directly to the live version. A scary system all round. Needless to say, they are looking at

Assessment, usability testing & KM

By: James Robertson Posted: June 26, 2002
Workplace assessment uses a variety of techniques to determine the competence of a staffperson, looking at areas such as: skills, knowledge, interraction with the environment and other systems. Usability testing uses a variety of techniques to determine how the staffperson interracts with their environment and other systems, to identify deficiences in these systems. Knowledge management uses a variety of techniques to identify areas where more knowledge is required, or processes are lacking. (Amongst other goals, of course.) Interestingly, they all use very similar techniques. It's just the goal of the activity which is different. For example, the course I recently

A rose by any other name…

By: James Robertson Posted: June 26, 2002
I received a comment today from Donna Maurer, who said: "Everything you do under the heading of 'knowledge management' is similar to a lot of things I do as an 'information architect/interaction designer/user-centred designer'" She then went on to say that she tries to avoid having a title, as it only causes confusion for her clients. Instead, she just explains we she does, and how it's useful. I couldn't agree more. This highlights one of our key challenges as a field: our identity. This is a two-edged sword: Many people now avoid using terms like "knowledge management" or "information architecture",

So where is the content in CRM systems?

By: James Robertson Posted: June 8, 2002
I've been to a few trade shows recently, and have browsed through the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) stands. From an outsider's point of view, these systems seem to be progressing in leaps and bounds, with many reaching quite a mature level. One question I've been asking the vendors: what information does your system provide frontline staff about the company's product line? Let me explain this question further. CRM systems are designed to capture a lot of information, and provide it to frontline staff in an easy-to-digest form, including: customer details transaction history sales opportunities cross-selling suggestions previous customer feedback The