Having just returned from vacation where I caught up on my online reading, I’m inspired to address a topic near and dear to my heart: who should do what when it comes to governing your digital workplace or intranet.

I read with interest this post about governance by Kelly Freeman with Interact Intranet. Generally, her commentary is sound. The section about who should be on the team is where I’ll elaborate.

First, there are many different roles to be played in governing the intranet. The governance team itself is just one. So, it’s important to  determine what you want that team to do. We typically recommend this body make strategic decisions, establish guard rails and enforce policy. If you agree with that, then this team should also prioritize and recommend initiatives for approval and recommend budget/funding plans. The team plays a pivotal role in ensuring leverage of the technology investment.

Second, members should include those who have something valuable to contribute, regardless of level or function. Not every c-level exec will have value to add. Your sponsors should participate, but weighing the team heavily with c-level suits may make it difficult to get necessary time. Instead, determine what perspectives you need for the group to make good decisions and ensure they are present.

Third, some functions are crucial to good decision making. These primarily include Human Resources, Legal/General Counsel, IT and Communications. The other one we add to this list is operations. Whatever your business, make sure you have some good thinkers from the revenue-generating side of the house.

Fourth, a larger group may make decision-making harder. We’ve worked with groups as small as three and as large as 30. The sweet spot is about 12; enough to ensure the right perspectives, but agile enough to move quickly. It’s not necessary to have every function represented, nor is it necessary to have every site manager or author on the team. In some organizations, those numbers can get into the hundreds. Best to set up a user group for them.

Fifth, identify a leader/facilitator for the team. Left to their own devices, unmanaged teams often wither. Your digital workplace governance team needs a leader; someone to schedule meetings, prepare materials, bug the members about reviews and attendance, and coordinate other resources that support the entire team. As Kelly notes about the day-to-day intranet manager, the governance team lead need not be a full-time role. But it is perhaps the most important role on the team.

So, in summary, when it comes to setting up a successful governance team, try these five things:

  1. Determine what you want the team to do
  2. Include people who have something valuable to contribute
  3. Ensure participation from crucial functions
  4. Keep the group from getting too large
  5. Identify a leader/facilitator

Happy governing!