The Greatest Intranet Challenge: Governance

A study by the Worldwide Intranet Challenge in 2013 found that the biggest intranet issue facing organisations was convincing people to use it.

I’ll say that again. The biggest challenge was convincing people to use it.

If your employees need convincing to use a tool that was put in place to enhance and improve their work-lives, then something has gone very wrong hasn’t it?

If you already have an intranet, you may have experienced:

  • Poor internal communications,
  • Information and documentation all over the place with no one place to source the truth,
  • Departments working in silos or even against each other,
  • High staff turnover combined with poor engagement and efficiency.

You wanted your intranet to fix all this. So why hasn’t it? The answer may be lack of governance.

Does this sound like your intranet?

  • Little or no senior management leadership
  • No strategic goals or plan of activity to achieve them
  • Political wrangling between comms and the rest of the organisation
  • No content strategy or plan
  • Enough budget to launch but nothing beyond

This situation can lead to an intranet not fit for the purpose it was intended. Content is unmanaged and no-one with power or influence has either inclination or an understanding of what needs to change to achieve success.

The fact is that no initiative can revolutionise your organisation unless your processes and culture not only support transformation but have a plan to make the transitions required. Your shiny new intranet software platform represents the opportunity to do things differently and with the right ownership and management, changes can be implemented to support new ways of working.

Governance is the bedrock of intranet success

Governance is often seen as needless and many organisations have a ‘build it and they will come’ stance to the intranet; leaving the decisions, hard work and problems to one person or a small team. Little wonder then if things don’t work out as hoped. One person or mid-level team is unlikely to have the influence to change organisational working practices across the board.

What does the intranet governance team do?

Having an intranet governance team in place ensures that you have wide-ranging agreement about the intranet’s purpose and goals among the leaders of the business. It determines who is in charge, what decisions need to be made, who needs to provide input and help, and what may need to change in the business order to achieve your aims. It also ensures that the intranet is well resourced, both from a people and financial point of view.

Who should be on the team?

Senior leaders
The most successful intranets have c-level executives on their governance team. C-level management can cut through problems, make changes to policies and procedures and importantly, can lead by doing. They aren’t involved day to day but head up the governance team.
It’s also very useful to have your heads of department on board, especially if you want to source content authors from their teams.

Day to day intranet manager
Most intranets benefit from an element of day to day management. This doesn’t necessarily need to be a dedicated intranet manager but someone who can provide some central control and direction, monitor analytics and manage a content plan.

When you use an intranet like Interact, you don’t need specialist IT support to upload or manage content. However you will need them for server configuration (if you’re hosting on site), removing firewalls so you can stream video and social media feeds and upgrading PCs and laptops for sound among other things. Just because you can run your intranet day to day without them, doesn’t mean you don’t need them onside.

Content Managers/Authors
Intranets like Interact are so simple to use, anyone can create content with minimal training. Therefore it is very common to decentralise formal content management and authoring to various people around the business. With features like blogging, forums, timelines and online teams, anyone can generate useful and interesting content for the benefit of everyone.

Governance helps decide who is responsible for formal content and sets the standards expected in order to give your users a consistent experience.

Change isn’t easy

Woodrow Wilson once said, “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” It says a lot about attitudes to transformation. People find change difficult to process, particularly at work where they are likely the slave to, not the instigator of the change.

All change, even those we choose and is for the better, can be uncomfortable. Think about the last time you moved home. Yes you were buying your dream house but you had to pack and unpack your belongings and find places for it all in the new house. If you’re anything like me, it took months before you got rid of that last box and it was quite a while before you felt ‘at home’ in the new place.

That was a change you were the architect of, yet still it was quite tough.

Yet change must happen if your intranet is to find its rightful place in your organisation – as the hub of information and collaboration. Governance is the key to ensuring change is managed well, supported widely and accepted as the new order of things.