4 October 2007

Intranet strategies

The day after Intranets 07 I attended a workshop by Tudor Goode on intranet development strategies. This was a very practical and informative session. It was good to work in small groups with attendees from other industry sectors on the exercises.

Villandry Garden by Fr Antunes (Creative Commons License: Attribution)

A stately garden was used as a metaphor for an intranet.

  • Intranet manager (governance) is the landscape gardener.

  • Intranets go through periods of organic growth which shapes it into an entity that reflects the organisation's culture

  • The gardener needs a clear vision - for intranets this is 2-3 years out, rather than 200 years for the manor garden

Leaving the metaphor aside, what are some strategies for intranet development?

  1. Articulate a clear vision of what the intranet will look like in 2-3 years focussing on purpose, goals (specific, measurable - to determine ROI), policies to support the goals and brand. Branding provides a sense of identity that supports the purpose.
  2. Identify the type of intranet. Where does it fit in relation to levels of interactivity and content? Simple information, collaborative space, high functionality portal.
  3. Plan some actions looking at the 3xP (People, Process, Platform).
    Involve the right people - sponsor group, content owners, skill sets.
    The list of skills/expertise I came up with in the activity : project management, facilitation, survey design, web design, technical knowledge, marketing, metadata, information architecture, knowledge management.

    Get the process right - is the working model centralised or distributed or (most likely) a hybrid? Get your tools in place for planning (eg. project plans), analysis (eg. user profiling, contextual inquiry), design (prototyping, style guides) and evaluation (eg. WAMMI, performance metrics). Hint: get a WAMMI on your existing intranet so you can show how much improvement has been made and demonstrate ROI.

    Choose the right platform - appropriate hardware/software/information architecture/user interface(s).
    Don't try to achieve the grand vision all at once, start simply but have a road map for the grand vision. Choose a technology to suit your organisation's skill level.
    Build the IA - a web structure analysis might prove useful (audit current intranet, nomenclature analysis, group structure exercises, synthesize results).
    One source - many views - metadata, metadata, metadata & taxonomy to browse, search or view based on multiple criteria.
    Determine what to automate -- addressing forms springs to mind immediately. There are so many forms that have to be printed, filled in and sent to someone, or just end up as an email.
    Design user experience - end users are the most critical stakeholder - they are expected to use the intranet daily - so make sure it works for them.

There was a lot of other good stuff too.