More than a dozen of the participants in my virtual conference session this week for Ragan fessed up to having intranet chaos. Why is it that so many organizations allow their intranets and employee portals to fall into ruin? I’ll tell you why.

Because the big technology firms have utterly ignored the need for governance policy, process and tools. Just drag that technology in here, dump it on your unsuspecting employees, and everything will be peaches and cream. The technology is the “solution” after all. 

Here’s an example of what I mean. We’re working with a client to help them define their social media strategy: strategy, process for decision making, integration with business goals, integration with other communication tools and resources, etc. Straight forward? Not in the least. First, we are faced with the puzzlement of just what is “social media.” Next, we must understand the potential in their already installed platform (Microsoft Office SharePoint Server or MOSS). Finally, we can get down to the business process piece.

I naively contact Microsoft (ok, I’ve spoken with no less than five Microsoft people so far) to find out about becoming a Microsoft Partner so we might get better insight into the MOSS platform. Here’s what I heard:

  • “You don’t develop software?” No, we don’t.
  • “You don’t create solutions using Microsoft software?” No, we don’t.
  • “You don’t fit our model.” No, I guess we don’t.
But we can help their customers – our customers too – get more value by having a good governance approach in place. Proof that the biggies just do not understand intranet/portal governance. So for them and anyone else interested, here it is in a nutshell:
  1. Define the strategy for your intranet/portal and articulate how it supports business goals
  2. Define the business process that supports the management and evolution of your intranet/portal
  3. Identify, clearly articulate and measure the necessary roles in the process
  4. Equip the governing individual or body with decision-making tools and authority
  5. Equip the other roles with the skills, tools and community required to be great at their role (namely site admins and content providers)
  6. Establish clear standards and templates that are to be used to ensure a quality user experience
  7. Leverage your platform to automate as much of the governance process as possible (e.g., review, archival/deletion)
  8. Measure everything (e.g., usage, usability engagement, satisfaction)
That’s it. Eight steps. It’s not rocket science, but our experience has demonstrated that the vast majority of organizations do not pay attention to this crucial element of success. Until they achieve chaos!