Your Digital Workplace: Why Governance is Not Just Software and Hardware

By Stacy Wilson

What does governance mean to you? If you're in IT, it typically means managing software and hardware.

However, when it comes to your intranet, there is much more to governance, including these aspects:
1.    Content
2.    Roles
3.    Collaboration
4.    Taxonomy
5.    Social behavior
6.    Brand
7.    Measurement and ROI
8.    Recognition/engagement
9.    Communication, training and adoption

Don’t forget those broader people and process pieces in your governance model, and remember that the intranet is just one part of the larger digital workplace.

SharePoint is obviously an important part of this broader view, but there are many other technologies that make up the digital workplace. The intranet and other uses of SharePoint are just one way that employees experience their virtual work.

As it is difficult to separate governance of the intranet from these other tools, I like to think of governing the digital workplace as a whole.

Connecting Intranet Strategy to Business Strategy

Your strategic decision-making for the digital workplace should be driven by your business goals.

What is your business trying to achieve? What is the culture of the organization? What values does it live by?

Some organizations draft strategy statements, which is a great start, but not enough.

We want the strategy to serve your governance team in decision-making. So, we use this 5-step process:
1.    Review all business material (goals, objective, mission, vision, values, foundations), and identify keywords most connected to or influenced by the digital workplace.
2.    Prioritize, selecting the top 4-7 of these that have the most impact.
3.    Define each individually.
4.    Draft a single question for each that when answered points strategically to the optimal direction.
5.    Construct a scale so you can give a numeric rating.

For example, one of our clients values leverage, which they defined as:
Leverage – get the most from our people, information, and technology globally, sharing knowledge and stories and connecting with each other – even when mobile – to grow the business.

The two-part decision question for leverage was:
Can we leverage it globally and does it help us leverage other resources and grow?

When faced with approving a new technology, addition (e.g., site), or change to the digital workplace, this is one question they consider before making a decision. It goes with six others to complete their decision lens.

Some take this one step further by creating a rating scale so as to prioritize the many competing projects that inevitably ensue from a successful intranet or digital workplace launch.

Who Should Do What?

Once the strategy tool is clear, it’s best to map your desired processes. Mapping desired processes surfaces the roles required to manage your digital workplace day-to-day and long-term. Typical roles include the following:
1.    Site/view owner (strategic)
2.    Content author
3.    Publisher (tactical)
4.    Site manager (technical)
5.    Strategy or governance team
6.    Governance team leader
7.    Subject matter experts
8.    Infrastructure lead
9.    Superstars/street team (to mentor and teach)

Several of these match well to SharePoint’s built-in roles (e.g., site manager). Others do not and require configuration. Some have little interaction with SharePoint itself, but need special resources to be successful (e.g., content author).

We recommend creating specific role descriptions that work like job descriptions. It defines required skills, responsibilities, training, education, etc. It also describes role measurement. A scorecard helps the individual incorporate objectives into a personal performance measurement plan.

Measurement methods include usage data, surveys, polls, usability testing, roundtables and interviews.

Using Policy, Guidelines and Standards to Drive Behavior

Employees are generally pretty smart and behave appropriately in their virtual work arena.

RELATED: 14 Governance Guidelines To Consider for Your Intranet

Still, most organizations desire more formal accountability mechanisms, and many employees need guardrails; this is what policy, guidelines and standards are for within the governance model.

The three are often mixed up, so definitions and intent help clarify:

  • Policy: what all users must do or face consequences including dismissal
  • Guidelines: what all users should do
  • Standards: practices established for all to adhere to, often embedded in templates and layouts, that create consistency in brand, look and feel, user experience, etc.

Some guidelines apply to all users and others are for those in a particular role (see above).

Guidelines can help you evolve the governance model. The following are great examples of guidelines that ensure a sustainable digital workplace:

  • Language guideline: if there is a corporate language, how language is handled on local sites, how authors should approach language needs and translation, how language is addressed in social spaces
  • Content review guideline: when content should be reviewed, what happens if a review is missed, when and how content can/should be archived or deleted
  • Governance model review guideline: when and how the governance model is reviewed and updated, how feedback is gathered in the interim, how changes are reported to those in governance roles

You can see that good governance goes well beyond software and hardware. If you govern well, your investment in SharePoint and other digital workplace tools will deliver great business ROI.

For more guidelines, check out "14 Governance Guidelines to Consider for Your Intranet."

I’ll be teaching a workshop on digital workplace governance at ALI’s Intranet and Digital Workplace Summit 2014 in Chicago in July, covering this content plus a lot more!

Stacy Wilson, ABC, Eloquor Consulting, helps companies communicate more effectively with employees in the digital workplace. Her specialty is supporting governance, usability and content improvement for digital workplaces/intranets, along with change communication for technology change such as ERP implementations. Connect with her at LinkedIn or on Twitter

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