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One of the most important elements of the Intranet Operating Model is accountability. Accountability is about who does what within the intranet ecosystem. Who makes the decisions? Who takes ownership? What are the essential roles? Getting the right structures and roles in place is a cornerstone of intranet governance. It’s also vital for establishing wider, more complex governance for the digital workplace.
Ensuring accountability for the intranet is not just about having a strong intranet team at the centre. Intranet success is almost always an ensemble effort that involves many people throughout the organisation. The central team then play a critical role in helping coordinate activities and supporting the wider team of site managers, publishers, and other stakeholders.
Why accountability is essential
Having the right accountability set up for the intranet ensures:
- processes happen and tasks get completed
- standards are maintained
- decisions get made at the strategic, operational, site and even content levels
- there is trust and confidence in the intranet and its related content
- the intranet adheres to its original strategy and fulfils the role it was designed for
- the intranet is sustainable through its life cycle
Accountability and roles are organised in different ways from company to company and are heavily influenced by organisational structure and size, the scope of the intranet, resourcing levels and the strategic objectives of the platform.
In all cases, effective ownership and accountability happen at every level of the intranet ecosystem, from overall ownership to individual pieces of content. Below are some examples of organisations who have successfully implemented intranet accountability.
More information about each of them can be found in the Intranet and Digital Workplace Showcase.
Establishing clear intranet ownership at Philips
Philips is a global healthcare technology company with nearly 70,000 employees. It has a presence in over 100 countries and numerous business divisions and markets.
Recently the company introduced one new global intranet, replacing a complex network of individual divisional, regional and local intranets, all of which had different owners. This had led to a poor and fragmented user experience and multiple instances of the same content.
Moving to one global intranet for the whole company has required a strong governance framework, particularly relating to content. Underpinning the framework is clear central ownership of the new intranet by internal communications, who have been working with other partners and communications professionals across different markets and divisions to transition new content from old local intranets to the new central platform.
Driving cross-functional ownership at McKesson
Intranets and related channels have a range of different purposes and are often integrated with different applications. In practice, multiple stakeholders across different functions may need to be involved in ownership of the intranet and have a say in both its future strategy and in more operational decision-making.
McKesson is a global healthcare company headquartered in the US with a presence in multiple countries. Rather than focusing on a new global intranet, the company decided to invest in a number of mobile apps, many of which utilised content and features from the existing intranet.
In order to establish cross-functional governance, the intranet team set up a Mobile Center of Excellence involving members of Marketing (responsible for Communications), IT, HR, Security and Law. This meant that the mobile program involved all the necessary stakeholders from day one, and that they were actively engaged in the program.
The stakeholders in the Mobile Center of Excellence were also able to establish a sustainable process for progressing an app from an original idea, through development, to deployment on McKesson’s appstore, following best practices and any necessary steps involving risk.
Establishing clear site-level roles at Merck
Merck is a global pharmaceutical company with x employees. Headquartered in Germany, the company has a presence in x number of countries. The company recently introduced a new global intranet and collaboration platform called EVA, which is positioned as a ‘digital workplace’. EVA also features Merck’s highly distinctive visual identity and branding.
EVA has different types of spaces for communication, collaboration or both. Each of these is branded as a ‘room’ and covers use cases including locations, projects, topics, and processes. To ensure that EVA works optimally, the digital workplace team has developed a number of different roles covering ownership and processes associated with each type of room.
These roles include community management and content production. ‘Key room managers’ play a coordinating role for different organisations within Merck, with some responsibility for training and reporting issues back to the central team.
The required responsibilities for each role are clearly documented, with training available. The roles are also part of a wider governance framework including a central EVA team and a cross-functional steering committee. Site permissions and workflow for room provisioning are also aligned with the roles.
Involving application owners in the framework at Novozymes
Novozymes is a biotechnology company headquartered in Denmark. The company uses SharePoint to support a number of business processes and services including the company intranet. In order to establish governance, the company implemented a detailed system of SharePoint governance.
The framework establishes a series of managed elements (applications, processes, platform services) and business drivers, each of which has an owner, documented policies and mapped dependencies. Unusually, controls are carried out and reported on a dashboard to ensure compliance.
Novozymes’s SharePoint governance framework has multiple managed elements as well as business drivers, all of which have a clear owner who have various responsibilities. Screenshot appears courtesy of Novozymes.
The framework of ownership for each managed element ensures that the business owners of different applications involved in the intranet ecosystem, such as the enterprise social platform, the search capability and team sites, are all involved in decision-making. They also have documented responsibilities.
Clear topic and content owners at Philips
Philips’s intranet is driven by search and tagging of content. To drive success there is a clear governance model establishing ownership around different topics and content. A topic can be a subject, a location or even a division. There are also sub-topics. The different topics in the intranet help to drive the different tagging of content.
Topic owners have responsibility for overall topics while individual content editors are responsible for individual content on the intranet. To drive confidence in content, establish accountability and encourage feedback, topic and subject owners are clearly displayed on each page and are also easily contactable. This system of visible ownership helps to ensure content is relevant, accurate, up to date and meets required standards.
Intranets need accountability
At the end of the day, great intranets are run by great people. Having clear roles and responsibilities which establish accountability is essential for success, especially for stakeholders or members of the ‘extended team’, where the intranet is only a small part of their job.
If you’re planning an intranet project, it’s worth spending time to get the roles and structures right to make your intranet sustainable and successful.
(More information on the case studies quoted in this article can be found in the Intranet and Digital Workplace Showcase.)