Building An Online Community – Organisational Intranet

Posted by | Information Architecture, Intranet | No Comments

You may find that colleagues, especailly senior colleagues are cautious over the implimentation of so-called community building or collaborative software. However, with the correct departmental governance and policing, and best practice of this area, community software can be utilised to its full benefit as a useful and integrated business tool.

Community building software can promote organic connections between colleagues. This will, as a by-product, act as a structured storage mechanism for unstructured corporate knowledge which otherwise would only be held between individuals in an un-retrievable unstructured manner.

These types of electronic storage mechanisms are used to great effect within industry leading technology companies such as IBM and Microsoft. Organically structured groups of colleagues are able to liaise from a single recordable point removing the obvious issues of geographical displacement. There is also an instant removal of cottage industries updating and managing phone lists, structure charts, etc. The community area can remove pressure from traditional means of business communication such as email.

Software such as Microsoft SharePoint MySite’s potential, for instance, can be realised if embedded within already established business processes. For the majority, people associate social networking with Internet based networks such as Facebook and MySpace; certainly at the opposite end of the spectrum and barely recognisable as productivity tools! The potential though to improve performance and cut costs is certainly possible should such an Intranet community be used productively and ring-fenced in a business setting.

The key to successfully utilising social media at work lies in comprehending it is very different in nature to its vaguely similar consumer cousins. With a different approach social networking can exploit the simple rationale pulling individuals into consumer resources: that of a simple purpose! Business social networking requires a defined business purpose with specific usage guidelines providing real leverage such as building teamwork, organisation around projects, and organically building a corporate knowledge base.

A community Wiki building a corporate knowledge base, for instance, categorising and built from what would otherwise be unobtainable unstructured data kept in varying hetrogeneous systems, paperwork, peoples heads, can be fashioned to store searchable data and information access to the entire organisation – of what would generally only be available to the few.

Historically, teamwork built through staff meetings, company team building workshops, team nights out, departmental parties, etc. are face-to-face interactions. The flip-side can be an electronically stored impressionistic sense of business activity formed around colleagues actively publishing activities around them. Largely self-organising and leaving a permanent organic record of communication around, say, a project otherwise not existing, can generate implicit awareness to colleague work groups.

Ultimately this can replace, but probably not in its entirety, traditional communication mediums such as the email list which lacks structure and is difficult to manage. An Intranet social network on the other hand provides many-to-many communication within a structured and collaborative environment.

First published on yaduk on Nov 16, 2009

Intranet – measuring effectiveness with sensible metrics

Posted by | Intranet | No Comments

Making nice graphs with such volume measures as “documents added, documents downloaded, community members etc.”, is all well and done, but the question that must resonate is “What real use are these to show how my business operates?!“.

Instead value drivers pushing forward action such as quality of information and process efficiency are the key to a successful and vibrant Intranet engaging employees.

But how do I measure these intangible elements?”

Ensure a governance and architecture process around the information posted to your Intranet. Allowing a swaith of colleagues to upload anything and everything will soon clog your Intranet with information, firstly that doesn’t respond well to web technologies (think PowerPoint slides), and secondly creates an undefinable dumping ground and mess.

Then your job is to design value driven indicators assessing the performance of these intangible elements guiding your strategic decision making and learning; organisational value derived from indicators assisting day-to-day decision making processes and organisational learning! Not data volume!

First published on yaduk on Nov 17, 2009

Ownership of Intranets? Information Architecture.

Posted by | Information Architecture, Intranet | No Comments

I was passed a fantastic link to Joel Olesons’s blog post on the Microsoft Developer Network at:


Though Joel’s post is essentially discussing the deployment of Microsoft Sharepoint in an Enterprise environment its essentially questioning the very core of what is an Intranet environment for any content management! Not only deloying technology but past/current Intranet structures too on whatever CMS!

Noted painfully is the central question missed time and time again of  “Who actually owns an Intranet?”. Large organisations inherently contain internal power struggles between various departments as a matter of course, but to miss the potential glue between these with a misconfigured and misunderstood “Intranet” is not only costly in technology itself, but also collaborative and  potential productivity that can be gained from having one in the first place. Siloed information architecture and strategy is the exact opposite of these key tenants.

Why do companies have an Intranet? Mostly because someone somewhere managed to convince those with the purse strings that it would increase these key tenants of collaboration and productivity or simply just in having a centralised communicative point. “Rhetorically” … why then are these points in their entirety lost and never fulfilled?

First published on yaduk on 21 July, 2009