J. Boye Aarhus ’09 Intranet Track: Day One, Session Two

Setting up an intranet governance framework in the context of decentralised publishing by Ernst Décsey, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Faced with the challenge of setting up decentralising content publishing using a new web content management system, UNHCR were challenged by senior management to provide publication policies and guidelines to guarantee the quality of material published on the new system.

Ernst presents a comprehensive framework for web governance at different levels. I liked that while it was simple enough to read and understand easily, they took the time to make it relevant to users and to communicate it, the CIO sending a memo to all staff stating the purpose explicitly. It’s even displayed to users as they log in:

– primary tool for internal communication
– place to publish and find information
– place to collaborate
– entry to online workplace

There are similarly easy to read sections covering roles and responsibilities, content approval, intranet access and the intranet content structure.

Feeding The Monster by Mark Wyatt, Environment Agency

Mark gave a captivating presentation about the challenges facing the Environment Agency following an intranet content management tool update – and I forgot to take notes.

Starting with the statement that the perfect publisher is different for every organisation, Mark talked about the aftermath of the introduction of a new content management system. With over 700 content publishers and a central team of five content editors, there was an imbalance which left the publisher community feeling a lack of support from the organisation and too much content of low quality. With the situation tending towards the chaotic, they acted to reign in the content managers, reducing the number by 90%.

They took a top-down/bottom-up approach, building support with senior stakeholders to get the right governance in place and highlighting the potential costs of failing to comply.

At the same time, they formed a network of senior publishers – recognising those who produced quality content – and improved communication and collaboration, giving them forums to share good practice and discuss issues. A three-strikes rule for all publishers introduced the threat of withdrawing publishing privileges for anyone whose content failed to measure up.

Mark said the content publishers have welcomed these guidelines, which is understandable since they provide clarity, improve overall quality and ultimately recognise their role as important to the organisation’s success. Managers on the other hand struggled to accept the minimum standards, even while they supported the cost benefits.

Armed with these light constraints, the intranet has been brought under control and while Mark felt the system was optimised, he admitted it wasn’t perfect.

His best learnings warned against becoming seduced by the pursuit of perfection:
– you can’t build a theoretical community
– you can’t take a one-size fits all approach
– you can’t do it in isolation to the culture and workings and strategy of an organisation

A good perspective on working in the real world.

Web Idol

A tradition at the J. Boye conference sees a group of content management vendors line-up for some abuse at the hands of a panel of expert judges. Hence representatives on stage for seven minutes putting SharePoint, eSpirit, Kapow, Terminal4, 23 Video and SiteCore through their paces.

The biggest surprise I got was when Terminal4 showed their product which has exactly the same user interface for setting up navigation as BAT’s bespoke tool SiteBuilder. Coincidentally, their tool, Piero told us, was aimed at occasional users. And the whole experience was very SiteBuilder-like.

Oddly, SiteCore was the only entrant who tried to engage the audience with a story, featuring characters, something meaningful which encapsulated an end-to-end experience. All the other entrants merely tried to demonstrate features. Kapow showed a useful-looking tool for migration, 23 Video a white label tool for setting up video sharing sites which featured some impressive-looking analytics and SharePoint touted its similarity to existing Microsoft Office applications.

SiteCore naturally romped home with the audience’s vote, proving that if you want to communicate with people, tell them stories they’ll understand. The story supplies the context and there are no awkward “…so what I’m going to do here is…” moments.