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Organisations nowadays are complex, diverse and everchanging. Within this working environment intranet managers need to define their place in the organisation.
One way to help establish where the intranet manager fits in an organisation is a position description. Position descriptions describe the key or major duties and responsibilities of the position.
The intranet manager may inherit a position description with the role or more often intranet managers need to create both the role and a position description.
Generally there is a great deal of relevant information on position descriptions available in resources such as books, websites or the human resources department. This article outlines some of the specifics that apply to an intranet manager.
Why have one?
A position description has two audiences to fulfil, the intranet manager and the organisation.
Each organisation needs to accurately describe duties and responsibilities to ensure they have the right person for the role, determine any training needs and pay the intranet manager fairly.
On the other hand the biggest benefit for the intranet manager is to put some boundaries around the scope of the activites they undertake on a day to day basis. A position description can be even more crucial for the intranet manager role, as:
- generally the position is not understood
- intranet teams are often moved between departments and need to “break in” new senior managers
- most intranet managers have a broad degree of responsibility, in many areas of the business and need to be recognised for this
A job description for an intranet manager can be a tool to:
- gain direct management support for the intranet manager and the intranet
- ensure a clear understanding of the role and manage expectations
- help measure the intranet manager’s direct contribution to the organisation
- identify any areas for personal development of the intranet manager
Every organisation has a different emphasis on managing position descriptions from the non-existent to the strict, directive approach.
Obtain a balance between strategic and operational duties
Investigations into position descriptions for intranet managers showed a great variety of roles and responsibilities, the common themes being content management and liasing with stakeholders and other groups.
An intranet manager’s position description will always be a fine balance between strategic and operational duties. For example, the intranet manger may have recently moved from producing content, into an intranet manager role where the role may focus more on technical duties. At the other end of the spectrum the intranet manager could have been running a large intranet team for many years.
The actual duties will depend on many factors including:
- level of management support the intranet manager may have
- size of the intranet team
- size of the organisation
- suitability of the content management system
- whether content creation and publishing is decentralised or not.
Strategic activities are crucial for internet managers
This is a checklist of the potential responsibilities in an intranet manager’s role.
- Business awareness – what is going on in the organisation, what is important, how can the intranet contribute to the organisations overall goals.
- Goals and scoping – the purpose and stated goals of the intranet, is the intranet manager responsible for one area of the intranet or all of the intranet.
- Dependencies – who owns the home page, content, authors, publishers, content management system, related systems.
- Relationships – the relationships that support these dependencies within the team, business areas, IT, stakeholders, communications teams and general staff.
- Change management – Marketing the intranet to staff, communicating wins and initiatives, ensuring staff use the intranet effectively, allowing people to “let go” of old ways and embrace new improved practices.
- Intranet trends and best practice – what is happening in the market place.
- Technology – understanding the organisations technology offerings and being aware of the potential impact of any new technologies.
- Budgeting – how the intranet, associated staff, training and operational costs are funded; tracking costs and paying suppliers.
- System / information management alignment – How many other systems are accessed via or from the intranet, who owns these systems, what information is duplicated on the intranet, what information is best stored in other corporate systems.
Accurately describe duties and responsibilities
- Content – writing, creation, maintaining, auditing, reviewing, migration from other systems and meta data. Co-ordinate the update of content between many parties.
- Technologies – the intranet manager could have specific duties around graphics, HTML and other advanced web technologies.
- Content management system – selecting, implementing, managing, testing system updates, customising for the organisation.
- Content management community – support and training, providing advice, building ownership, finding new publishers and authors.
- Needs analysis – conducting regular needs analysis sessions, evaluating usability, recommending and implementing improvements.
- Design – information architecture and site layout, page design and standards.
- Policies and procedures – for content creation, page layouts, workflow and approval processes and home page governance.
- Contracts and service provider arrangements – manage, negotiate and implement.
- Day to day planning and management of tasks.
- Project management – planning, management and implementation of intranet initiatives.
- Team management – day to day staff needs, development, recruitment.
- Intranet usage – analysing site usage and trends, reviewing content and quality.
Sample wordings for specific duties and responsibilities are included on the next page.
Remember an effective position description needs to accurately describe duties and responsibilities. Review the position description at least once a year or where major changes in the intranet managers responsibilities occur.
Some sample position description statements
Position descriptions generally have an overall position objective and then go onto to the duties and responsibilities, the sentences below are a selection from existing intranet manager’s position descriptions.
Maintain knowledge and awareness of best practices and prevailing developments in web technologies, standards and requirements, and apply these to promote continuous improvement.
Analyse site information, including usage trends and statistics, undertake usability reviews and recommend aligned improvements.
Perform analysis tasks including: stakeholder analysis, user profile analysis, information structure analysis and contextual inquiry.
Perform user interface design tasks including: creating paper mock ups, creating HTML prototypes, design walk-throughs and draft UI design documents.
Assist in the development of procedures, policies and other strategic documents.
Evaluate the usability of the Intranet, identify problems experienced by users and suggest possible improvements to build the Intranet into a more effective knowledge management tool.
Administer the ongoing operation and development of the Intranet Content Management System.
Co-ordinate, write and maintain information and knowledge resources to ensure it is kept up to date and supports users of the system.
Develop and deliver training, both group and one-on-one, and provide advice and operational support to Intranet content authors.
Co-ordinate, write and maintain the content of the site, ensuring compliance with collaboratively agreed upon policies and standards and support the achievement of the intranets objectives.
Liaise with agencies and Non Government Offices to assist and encourage the uploading of information to intranet and to ensure content on the intranet is current, pertinent and meets cross-agency information needs in casework collaboration.
Approve content from web editors prior to publishing and ensure content meets “writing for web” guidelines and intranet style.
Build sites for areas without web content editors.
Change and communications
Coordinate the development and delivery of information projects within the intranet environment.
Co-ordinate network of web content editors and owners.
Liaise with Technology Services Unit staff and external service providers in relation to intranet/internet matters.
To the people who shared their position descriptions with us during the writing of this document:
Janet Kirkwood, Website and Intranet Coordinator – Caboolture Shire Council
Maree Callinan, HSNet Manager, NSW Government
Rebecca Rodgers, Senior Business Analyst, Blake Dawson Waldron
From this long list of potential responsibilities the intranet manager can not underestimate the key component that really falls into both the strategic and operational areas, relationships.
Ensure that the intranet manager clearly understands what their responsibilities are in respect of:
- their manager (may be different to the sponsor)
- other team managers in helpful areas such as knowledge, libraries, business analysis, change management, project offices, best practice and methodology teams
- information technology
- direct reports
- steering committees or working parties
- content author and creation communities
- and last but not least, the users – staff
Relationships are key for any intranet manager
Identifying skill gaps
For any role there are benchmarks as to the level of capability, generally if the intranet manager has the skills to perform:
- more than 80% of a role, there will be limited challenge for them and they may not last long in the role (putting aside work / life balance considerations and the fact that intranets are never as straight forward as they look!)
- if they have 60 – 80% of the skills required this is “comfortably doable”, they can achieve and expand their skills at the same time
- less than 60% is again doable, but there is a much higher degree of risk for the organisation and learning / mentoring strategies need to be put in place to support the intranet manager
Remember, the intranet manager does not need to know how to ‘do’ everything for the intranet. It is dependant on many variables such as:
- size of team
- skills within the team
Intranet managers need to evaluate their current capabilities
So how does the intranet manager establish where their current capabilities are in relation to the job description?
This is not an easy task for anyone, let alone an intranet manager who works in a role that is not generally understood.
An intranet manager can conduct their own evaluation by:
- self assessment
- reviewing the role and their current capabilities with someone trusted in the team
- discussing the variety of capabilities and experience with other intranet managers
Evaluations can avoid the one danger often seen with intranet managers, the over reliance on past experiences. If the intranet manager is from a communications background, often the focus will be on communications driven content, if the intranet manager is from an IT background, again the focus for the intranet can be on IT solutions.
This is only natural as we all focus on what we know and believe. A well thought through position description can be used as a catalyst to identify exactly what the intranet managers duties and responsibilities are and the breadth of the role.
What does success look like?
In some organisations, the job description will be used as a starting point for personal yearly objectives and measures. Sometimes this is called a performance agreement.
Many different systems exist to manage staff effectiveness, some organisations manage this process well, other organisations follow the mechanics but don’t always use the tools effectively.
Either way this is another opportunity to build support and recognition for both the intranet manager and the intranet.
So what does success look like for the intranet manager?
manage expectations of others
First like any other role the intranet manager needs to deliver what they have committed to, be flexible when needed to and always manage expectations of those around them.
Some ideas for success
Above and beyond that intranet mangers can also:
Link intranet goals to business goals
Generally business goals have clearly defined measures and these can often be related in some way to the intranet.
“Increase new product sales by 20%”
The intranet manager being able to demonstrate that they have worked with the product managers to revamp (or create) the product section on the intranet, conducted needs analysis on what staff need to know from the intranet and produced content to support this.
At the end of the year the intranet manager will have directly contributed to this 20% increase.
All successful intranet managers spend time with staff out in the organisation. The intranet manager needs to gather success stories and
ancedotes on a regular basis.
“In the call centre, all the team leaders were away and customer service had an issue about a complicated refund premium. We found the answer on the intranet and the customer was very satisfied.”
Relying solely on website statistics can be risky. However, if the intranet manager can match those statistics to improvements inefficiencies this is very powerful. For example, reducing the number of calls to the HR call centre on pay issues, with a matching increase in the usage of pay information on the intranet.
Ensure the intranet manager has an effective position description
A position description clearly defines the intranet managers unique roles and responsibilities. An effective position description can be used to:
- manage the expectations of their manager
- demonstrate the breadth of the intranet managers role
- identify any personal development needs