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How many people have you got in your intranet team? While the central teams responsible for the overall day-to-day running of the intranet are usually small, they interact with a much wider group of employees who contribute to the overall management of the intranet.
While some of this wider group have specialist roles, for example from IT, the vast majority of employees in this more extensive ‘intranet team’ are responsible for their own microsites or pages. Social and collaboration platforms usually operate along similar lines, with individuals responsible for different communities or team spaces.
Supporting the wider team
In any intranet and collaboration platform there may be different networks and communities of:
- site managers
- community managers
- local communicators
- super-users or administrators
- advocates and champions
A key role for the central intranet team is to support these communities, in order to:
- maintain standards and governance
- drive best use of the platform
- keep them engaged
Central intranet teams use a variety of tactics to support communities of site managers, content authors and community managers. In practice the same tactics extend to groups of super-users and even champions, and include:
- providing templates for sites and pages which drive compliance and best use
- running training, workshops and events, both in-person and online
- giving clear guidelines on governance, standards and roles
- providing a community area for the group to ask questions, swap tips and offer mutual support
- providing resources for reference, including documents and video
- tactics to engage, including gamification
Here are a few examples of how central intranet teams are putting these tactics into action for site managers and publishing communities.
Supporting site managers at GSK
GSK is a global pharmaceutical and healthcare company. A lack of governance on its global SharePoint intranet had led to an inconsistent user experience across hundreds of microsites, with many not brand-compliant. It was also hard to enact central design changes. To correct this, the central intranet team introduced a new brand-compliant microsite template based on common features.
However getting hundreds of site owners to convert to the new template was a huge logistical challenge, requiring a significant change management effort. The intranet team at GSK opted for site managers to take a self-service approach to implementing the template, carefully supporting site managers in a number of different ways.
An online site with relevant resources on the microsite was set up for site managers. Questions could also be asked via Yammer. In addition, a pack with guidance for external third parties was also produced just in case they were asked to be involved. Diarised training sessions were held using web conferencing software. These ongoing sessions were kept rolling through the year so site managers could convert to the new template at their own pace.
Another major aid was a simple ‘blueprint’ tool using PowerPoint. This allowed site managers to plan and visualise how their new site would look like by dragging components into a new design.
The combination of these change efforts resulted in hundreds of sites being converted to the new template, leading to savings in the millions of pounds.
- a self-service approach for site managers can be effective with the right support
- allowing site managers to decide when to convert led them to drive the change and spread out the support effort required
- support tools like the PowerPoint ‘blueprint’ planner don’t need to be complex to be highly effective
Resources for authors at Melbourne Water
Melbourne Water is a government-owned authority that manages most of the water systems in Melbourne. It has around 1,400 users on the intranet, including contractors.
To ensure the quality of content on the intranet every publisher undergoes training which covers how to use the content management system as well as required content standards. This has effectively created a new skillset in the company which is recorded in performance development plans and in the learning management system.
Training is a key component of the intranet governance model. Publishers cannot get rights to publish until they have completed the training. To support trained publishers, a detailed support centre is available with videos, guidelines, support pages, contacts and more.
- supporting authors and site managers should be aligned with or be part of the governance model
- initial training should be supported by ongoing access to resources
Training content authors at TAFE Queensland
TAFE Queensland is an educational institution formed from five separate organisations. A new intranet called SPOT is a central component of the strategy to unite the new organisation and cultivate a cultural identity.
After it was clear that content for the new intranet was not quite right in tone, training sessions were arranged to help content owners prepare material to the right standard. These were held face to face with just one or two content owners.
Authors were provided with a template to write to and a follow-up session was also arranged. All content was also reviewed before it was published.
To remind authors of how content on SPOT should read, the central intranet team developed the SPOTTED mantra, which says content should be:
- S Succinct
- P Plain English
- O One TAFE Queensland (not individual regions)
- T TAFE -tastic – not Gov speaky
- T True
- E Engaging
- D Direct
The mantra was emphasised in the training, with SPOTTED postcards also produced as a reminder of the required content standards.
- authors and site managers need support and training to meet expected content standards
- mnemonics, memory aids and cheat sheets can reinforce messages from training
It’s all about the support
How central intranet teams support communities of site managers, publishers and community managers is important. The resources, training and ongoing support they receive has a direct impact on the quality of the channels and related content and interaction.
How these communities are supported should be built into your intranet’s governance model and the activities of the central intranet team. Getting this right is an excellent foundation for building a great intranet that employees will truly value.