Intranet governance is like the classic story of the blind men and the elephant. Each one feels a different part of the elephant, and comes to a different conclusion.
Is intranet governance about:
- policies and guidelines?
- design and branding?
- steering committees and decision-making?
- ownership, roles and responsibilities?
- content management practices?
- rules for collaboration and social tools?
The answer is: all of these, and much more besides. That’s what makes governance so challenging (and so important); it’s also what makes it hard to discuss, because the same word is used to address different things.
Over the years, we’ve written a lot about intranet governance, providing practical insights into the various elements of governance. What’s been missing, however, is an overall map for governance. This is where the Intranet Operating Model comes in.
Introducing the Intranet Operating Model
This new model outlines all of the elements involved in successfully governing (and growing) an intranet. At a high level, it provides a framework for a strategic approach to governance, as well as a structure for documents and decisions.
At the heart of the model is the overall direction and vision for the intranet, which must be clearly defined before governance is considered. (After all, governance is just a means to an end, not a destination in itself.)
Arrayed around the core are six high-level categories. The three blue hexagons are about guiding the management and governance of the intranet. The three green hexagons address the doing aspects of delivering and sustaining a great intranet.
Each of these items is explored in the following sections.
Where is the intranet heading, and how fast? Successful intranets are established with a clear purpose, and governance is established to help achieve this outcome.
This includes having:
- clear vision and strategy
- concrete roadmap
- stakeholder engagement and alignment
For more on this, read the article Align intranet strategy with business objectives.
Why are we establishing governance? A clear set of guiding principles determines where to focus efforts, and how to make decisions.
Common principles include:
- align with business goals, and maximise business value
- align and coordinate intranet activities across the organisation
- ensure sustainability of the intranet
- establish accountability and clear decision-making processes
- mitigate business risks, and avoid potential problems
- support ongoing intranet growth and enhancement
Note that your guiding principles will vary, to match the broader business context of your organisation.
What level of quality should we achieve? Sustainable intranets are underpinned by a clear set of standards, policies and guidelines.
- branding and visual design guidelines
- content writing standards
- usability and user experience standards
- IT and information management policies
Who does what? Clear accountability and responsibilities ensure that necessary work is done, and key decisions are made.
This includes defining:
- steering committee, or equivalent
- project and/or intranet team, to deliver the initial intranet redesign
- content ownership and publishing responsibilities, following a decentralised publishing model
- overall decision-making processes, for large and small changes
How do we improve the intranet, in big and small ways? The intranet will constantly be changed and improved, to match emerging organisational needs.
To deliver improvements effectively, the following must be put in place:
- project management methodology
- resources and budget allocated (for projects and ongoing/recurrent)
- change management methodology
How do we manage all aspects of the intranet? Intranets require ongoing management, to guide their evolution and to ensure that they meet desired goals and standards.
- publishing model (taking a ‘graduated’ approach)
- content lifecycle (including review and expiry)
- search management
- community management (to support collaboration and social capabilities)
How do we sustain and support the intranet? Intranet success needs to be fostered and supported, and relationships between the intranet team and the wider organisation need to be clear.
- support model for content owners and publishers
- service-level agreements between the intranet team and the business
- formal intranet training services
- intranet community of practice
Establishing good governance in the real world
While the Intranet Operating Model provides an overall map, there are many decisions to make, and actions to take, to put governance into practice.
Beneath the model sits a comprehensive methodology developed by Step Two, including document templates and a self-assessment model. Over time, we will be releasing more of the elements.
In the meantime, get in touch if you’d like some consulting assistance from Step Two, to help establish intranet governance in your organisation.