Tag Archives: Employee Commitment

Ten lessons learned from successful intranets

Not all intranets are created equal.

Great intranets increase productivity, knowledge sharing, collaboration, communication and delivery on strategy. Lousy intranets are at best repositories for leave forms, but more dangerously, with the advent of social media and employees’ concomitant expectations from their experiences on the web, they can become bottlenecks and a source of frustration and disengagement.

Here are ten lessons that we have learned from developing Intranet strategies for large corporates.

Hard code the organisational strategy into the intranet

Interactive tools on the intranet enable much more robust interaction between employees and departments. It lets employees do things far more effectively and quickly, including the wrong things…

The organisational strategy needs to be examined in terms of where it is going, how it is configured to get there and the key performance areas in order to support each employ on the intranet.

Profiling

By profiling each employee we can customise the intranet so that they only see what is relevant to them, this reduces information overload and communication fatigue. Profiling also enables us to attach employees to certain projects, track on line behaviour, understand organisational networks, or to search for employees based on their skills and experience and availability.

Process

Processes are the glue within the organisation. The more effective the processes, the more effectively the organisation functions. Buy evaluating which processes are responsible for creating the most competitive advantage and optimising them on the Intranet, you create high performance organisations.

It is important to bear in mind that technology must enable organisations, particularly with new social media functionalities. Organisations shouldn’t be squashed into processes within technologies.

Integration

There are other technologies in the organisation which could be integrated into the Intranet to provide useful data, for example MS Outlook could be integrated into SharePoint 2010 to ensure that only available employees are surfaced when searching for resources across the organisation for projects.

Other technologies which we have found useful to integrate include SAP which supports the organisational processes for servicing customers and SAS data-mining tools.

Have a strong content governance structure

An intranet is only as good as the relevancy and currency of its content. Ensure that roles are defined; owners, authors and approvers are trained; content management functions are built into the job responsibilities; and process champions are identified.

Ensure user adoption

Due to the federated structure of large organisations we recommend that you get inputs from all the different business units and departments during the course of the project.

Several rounds of usability testing should be conducted during the design and development of the intranet.

Road shows, timely communication through emails and web meetings and efficient internal marketing should be conducted throughout the roll out.

Reserve time for beta testing where users from different departments do multiple ‘test drives’ and provide feedback.

Technologies are better adopted when people see the purpose of using them, they are intuitive and when they make the user look and feel good, yet another reason to profile employees and map the digital processes to the way they work in the real world.

More isn’t necessarily better

A portal with a lot of outdated content has very little value.

During the planning stages of content migration, identify which content is outdated or irrelevant. Conduct content identification exercises with your departments using content architectures and migrate or create new content as applicable.

Strong search is important

Search is the most frequently used functionality on any Intranet, be it people search or content search. Provide different ways of searching, but keep it simple. The majority of users like to just key in a keyword, press ‘enter’ and be provided with relevant results.

The intranet should help many people be more productive, using their time to full potential instead of trying to find information for half the time.

If you are using SharePoint 2010 create document libraries which enable information to be created once and updated in one place despite multiple views, that way all the information on the intranet will be kept consistent.

Listen

Listen to what users have to say. Provide multiple avenues for gathering feedback and be open to feedback regardless of how harsh or positive it might be. Listening to the users is the best way of identifying user behavioural patterns and enabling you to keep improving the Intranet.

The intranet isn’t an IT-driven initiative

Many companies think of the intranet as an IT-driven initiative. This isn’t true and should not be the way an intranet is approached.

As the department responsible for improving communication, Corporate Communication is the champion of the communication, the same goes for the role of HR and line management in employee relationships, and operations in process optimisation.

It should be a partnership with IT bringing new ways of using technology to the forefront and enabling the company through tools that support their workflows on the intranet.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets

Profiling for Effective Enterprise 2.0

To many organisations an Intranet is merely a repository for documents and some kind of informative web interface where news can be published. Unfortunately, this thinking governs how modern Intranets are being designed for the future and limiting their potential value to the organisation.

Despite having access to web 2.0 tools such as wikis or blogs, the teams have not realised that the modern Intranet is an incredibly powerful tool. Often a decree will emanate from the IT or Financial Manager that employees will not be given their own profiles because they will waste all their time socialising.

Employee profiling is what gives the power to the Intranet. These days we employ knowledge workers for their intellectual ability to ensure competitive advantage in a rapidly changing business world. These knowledge workers are required to collaborate and innovate our organisations into the future.

When we profile employees we bring additional abilities to the system and enhance the value of each knowledge worker.

Employee profiling consists of attaching various data to an employee profile which could include name, department, contact details, skills, experience, projects worked on, thought leadership areas etc. depending on your organisational strategy.

These profiles enhance the user experience of the Intranet because we can use the variables to enhance the search functionality based on where the employee fits in the organisation, for example the kind of information a marketer is likely to be looking for is going to be different to what a corporate governance official will need. By profiling the individual, it is possible to filter the search results to suit the employee’s requirements. In the same way we can improve collaboration by matching experiences, positively impact project success rates by identifying skill sets from elsewhere in the organisation.

Employee profiling is also a very effective way of engaging on a personal level with employees because peoples profiles are an extension of their personal brands and by acknowledging their value through a public profile within the organisation, companies can go a long way to growing employee loyalty.

Segmenting employees by functional area, skills, projects, experience, seniority or interests will enable us to communicate in a much more granular way, with the employees having their own customised view of the Intranet based on what they will find relevant and useful. This reduces communication fatigue and the spam of “all at” eMails that are deleted along with the eMails that we want our audience to read.

Assuming your employees profiles are a nice-to-have is very short sighted, employee profiling is critical to the future of your organisation.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication and manage brand conversations with consumers.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za

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Filed under Business, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Semantics, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

Using the Balanced Scorecard to design your Digital Strategy

The Balanced Scorecard1 was developed by Kaplan and Norton as a strategic approach and performance management system, which enables organisations to translate a company’s vision and strategy into implementation. It works  from 4 perspectives:

  • Financial perspective;
  • Customer perspective;
  • Business process perspective; and
  • Learning and growth perspective.

These perspectives are a useful departure point for translating Organisational Strategies into implementable Digital Strategies.

The Financial Perspective

Timely and accurate financial data is always be a priority, but the emphasis on financial issues can lead to an unbalanced situation with regard to other perspectives, therefore we use the financial perspective as a quantification of the success of the other elements of the Digital strategy and programmes.

The Financial perspective is satisfied when we are able to capture financial information to report on the period. Generally, when implementing a Balanced Scorecard Digital Strategy, we determine which numbers we will be interested in seeing at the end of the financial period and how we will quantify the success of the implementation and applications.

These numbers could include ROI on the digital investment, percentage increase in sales, reduced cost of attrition and recruitment, increased margin on innovation, R&D etc. The numbers are determined by the organisational strategy and the metrics which the organisation choose to report on. They could be as simple as Balance Sheet and Income Statement line items.

The Customer Perspective

Using the Customer perspective to develop digital strategies should be the most lucrative aspect of the digital strategy.

The customer perspective elements of the Digital Strategy include providing information through the website, sales enablers including eCommerce applications, customer self service where customers can manage their own portfolios through extranets, building communities of value where customers can network and engage with each other, crowd-sourcing initiatives so that the customer can help the organisation design products, using social media such as blogs to educate the customer, social tools to create and retain relationships and a host more applications.

When developing customer facing applications it is important to note that these are not just transactional applications and that the their value is also derived from the data that we can collect around the clients which may be lead indicators of future value. For example on-line community satisfaction is a lead indicator; if members are not satisfied, they will find other suppliers that will meet their needs. Poor performance is a lead indicator of future decline.

The Business Process perspective

This perspective refers to internal business processes. Key applications for digital strategies include the development of collaboration tools, document management, content management, online project management, leave management and in-situ knowledge management tools to name a few. These applications are more successful when accessed through the Intranet, and perceived by the employee to be part of the Intranet, rather than a stand alone application.

Learning and Growth perspective

This perspective includes employee training and corporate cultural attitudes related to both individual and business improvement.

The Intranet is the key application for managing employees, programmes that can be run through the Intranet include employee relationship programmes, on-line learning and education, strategic behavioural alignment, succession programmes and performance management dashboards.

Management by Fact

The use of the Balanced Scorecard enables us to measure our Digital Strategies, applications and implementations effectively.

The goal of measuring is to see more clearly and to make wise long-term decisions. Measurements are derived from strategy to provide critical data and information about key processes, outputs and results. Data and information needed for performance measurement and improvement could include: customers, sales, market, competitive comparisons, supplier, employees, cost and financial data. Analysis uses data to determine trends, projections, and cause and effect. Data and analysis is used to support a variety of company purposes, such as planning, reviewing company performance, improving operations, and comparing company performance with competitors’ or with ‘best practices’ benchmarks.

A major consideration in performance improvement involves the creation and use of performance measures or indicators. A comprehensive set of indicators tied to performance requirements will align all business activities with organisational goals.

1 Kaplan, R.S. and Norton, D.P. (2006) Alignment Using the Balanced Scorecard to Create Corporate Synergies Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

24 Comments

Filed under Business, eMarketing, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

Creating Productive Work Environments using Enterprise 2.0

Intranets are not known for their dynamism, employees do not gleefully consult them when they get into work, but all that is set to change with the advent of the Interactive Intranet

An Intranet is a private computer network that uses Internet technologies to share any part of an organisation’s information or operational systems with its employees. In the past Intranets were created as a form of hierarchical communication between the organisation and its employees, but with the advances in the web, modern Intranets are becoming dynamic communication systems for organisations and their employees to engage and collaborate with each other. This has important implications for the business.

The Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a term used to denote the balance of the rewards and benefits that are received by employees in return for their performance at the workplace. Personal job satisfaction is increasingly becoming a major factor where financial factors were key motivators in the past. EVP is critical to attracting, retaining and engaging the right people. This is where the power of the modern web comes in, in creating Interactive Intranets that foster job satisfaction and productivity.

Frederick Herzberg’s two-factor theory of intrinsic/extrinsic motivation distinguishes between: Motivators; (e.g. challenging work, recognition, responsibility) which give positive satisfaction, and Hygiene factors; (e.g. status, job security, salary and fringe benefits) that do not motivate if present, but, if absent, result in demotivation.

The factors that motivate people can change over their lifetime, but “respect for me as a person” is one of the top motivating factors at any stage of life. Interactive Intranets enable employees to profile themselves and build their personal brands within the organisation. Knowledge Workers, are motivated if they feel they are seen and heard and recognised for making a contribution. They require ongoing accurate informative feedback for performance management.

When organisations recognise that the Intranet is the strategic backbone to their business, then they can use individual employee profiling, linked to their performance metrics to manage, recognise and communicate with knowledge workers more effectively.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

2 Comments

Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Web 2.0

The Importance of Usability Testing

How many times have you tried to download an application or use a newer version of the same software only to give up in frustration when you can’t navigate your way through to what you need? The adoption of technology is predicated on three basic tenants, it must be easy to use, useful and make you look good – simple really. If your application is not user friendly, chances are people will not come back, nor recommend it to their network, and your effort will be wasted.

It is often said that software developers must not write the user manuals because they don’t understand the problems that a user experiences. This is where usability testing comes in. It is an important step in the development of any application that we check to see whether the application is designed to fit the users’ needs.

Application usability is achieved by first understanding the users’ needs, their actual goals, challenges and limitations they face, or the unique or unexpected ways in which they use the application. These needs are determined by collecting data on representative users’ interactions with the application. This data must be objective, based on actual performance, as well as subjective, based on the users’ impressions and preferences. It must include measurements such as task time, errors, learning rate, satisfaction, cognitive load, level of frustration etc.

Once the users’ needs and challenges have been clearly defined, then this information should be incorporated into a specification for the developers to build the application.

An important part of usability is the testing of the system after it has been built. It is often a good idea to collect the data of a fictitious user who would be using the application and to run through the entire process from start to finish, as though you were the user. This illuminates any gaps in logic that may have crept into the application.

Once the user testing has been tested on a fictitious character, then real users need to test the application and criticise it in a controlled environment. Only when you get the thumbs up from real users should you unleash your application on the market.

It is important to remember that your application remains in permanent beta with constant and never ending improvements and as such, usability testing is a constant step in your application development.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

2 Comments

Filed under Digital Communities, Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Semantics, Web 2.0, Web Marketing

The Semantic Intranet

A Semantic Intranet is an Intranet which can enhance the way employees collaborate because it uses “meaning” to understand the content of the documents stored within its infrastructure.

It is an intelligent tool which separates the meaning from the format and enables this information to be used anywhere.

Whenever documents are created they are allocated snippets of meaning, called metatags, which the Intranet uses in its search to “understand” the content of a document an make it available to the user. Imagine being able to “Google” your Intranet for meaningful content when on a project. You could search for the relevant skills in your organisation and other documents created for similar projects.

There is a frustrating disconnect between Intranets, knowledge and work processes in many organisations. Even the best technology struggles to make sense of the unstructured and meaningless information that burdens most enterprise information systems. Organisations are finally beginning to understand the value of connecting knowledge and process into a seamless experience.

Semantics are effective way to make information systems smarter. If a corporate memory becomes semantically activated, corporate applications can help the users access the corporate memory. The content of the Intranet, the document standards, and meta-information are determined by the organisation, therefore a corporate dictionary could be employed to provide the meta data for documents, and if this dictionary is properly structured into a business ontology, or mind map of metatags, then the Intranet can become a tool for managing actionable knowledge within that business.

Semantic technology means that the power of Intranets to deliver relevant and useful information when needed may soon be fully realised. This is achieved through strategic alignment with the organisational goals, an enterprise view of information flows and a focused understanding of how individuals in an organisation work.

The Intranet should be the strategic backbone of the organisation and semantics may turn it into the powerful and valuable information system it should be.

About Digital Bridges

Digital Bridges creates high performance organisations by unlocking the business value of the web. We create digital strategies, user requirement and functional specifications for Intranets, websites and web applications. We also develop and implement social media strategies and create powerful digital brands using eMarketing and Communication.

Digital Bridges is technology agnostic and partners with great technology companies in order to ensure that our solutions are fit for purpose and deliver on organisational strategy.

Digital Bridges approaches the web from a management consulting position and relies heavily on rigorous academic thinking as well as business experience. It is headed up by Kate Elphick who has a Law degree and an MBA from GIBS. Kate has spent the last fifteen years of her career on the business side of the IT industry with companies such as Datatec, Didata, Business ConneXion and Primedia. Her skills include innovation and growth through marketing, communication, collaboration, knowledge management, human capital, performance management, process engineering and BI.

Digital Bridges has a broad range of experience working with significant, successful clients in the Financial, Gaming, Tourism, Pharmaceutical, ICT, Legal, Airline, Professional Services, Media and Public Sectors.

To find out more about Digital Bridges, please visit www.digitalbridges.co.za or contact Kate Elphick on katee@digitalbridges.co.za.

3 Comments

Filed under Enterprise 2.0, HR Intranet, Interactive Intranets, Semantics, Web 2.0